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May 18, 2009

The Eating Diaries

eating foods that are good for you

Skin Deep
Chow doen on antioxidant- and zinc-rich oysters, dark chocolate, and blueberries for a clear complexion.

Photo Credit: Craig Cutler

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Beauty Bites
I want to prevent persistent breakouts

By Yael Kohen, 29

Over a few short weeks last summer, my skin went from crystal clear to alarmingly blemished, a strip of deep, red zits sprouting up across the right side of my jawline. My doctor said a hormone imbalance was causing the flare-ups and prescribed a skin-friendly birth-control pill, which would take three months to work. But I was desperate for results, stat.

That's when I came across a new study citing acne reduction in people on the low-carb South Beach Diet. While I was already a pretty healthy eater, I'd noticed that my intake of splurgey treats—bagels, burgers, saucy Chinese food—had crept up in the past year. Never a fan of strict plans, I called nutritionist Lisa Drayer, author of The Beauty Diet, to see if some tweaks to my current regimen could help clear my complexion.

At my first session, Drayer mapped out her top 10 beauty foods (see sidebar), recommending I eat at least one per meal. She also set some ground rules:

1. Cut out refined carbs and limit sweets—they cause hormonal changes that lead to blemishes.
2. Add omega-3-rich foods like salmon and walnuts to reduce inflammation.
3. Up my intake of zinc-filled, skin-repairing foods such as crab, oysters, and dark-meat poultry.
4. Drink plenty of water and only one cup of moisture-leeching coffee a day. Alcohol, which amps up skin redness, is out for two weeks.

Minus the there-goes-my-social-life vibe, the diet seemed easy enough—brown-rice sushi didn't taste so different from the regular kind, and I should've nixed the 4 p.m. cupcake long ago. What suffered was my bank account: Salmon is one of the pricier items at supermarkets, and blue-berries—which I was to eat every morning for their antioxidant-rich, antiaging benefits (as if acne wasn't enough to worry about)—can cost about $5 per pint.

Otherwise, on most nights at home, I could handle sautéing spinach with tomatoes or heating up Trader Joe's tasty Sweet Potato Bisque as a side to store-bought rotisserie chicken. For dessert, I'd pop a few squares of dark chocolate and eat an orange for the kick of collagen-boosting vitamin C. But it was the weekends that were the toughest. One Saturday night, after drinking several vodka sodas (I was at a party!), a case of the munchies had me chowing down on a burger at midnight (oops).

Even so, after a few weeks on Drayer's plan, I noticed an improvement: The acne started to clear, and my skin felt miraculously smoother and more hydrated. It was motivation enough for me to add her healthy-eating principles to my daily diet—even if just part-time. As for the antiaging perks? I'll let you know in 10 years.
Check out Lisa Drayer's Top 10 Beauty Foods

NEXT PAGE >> Power Bites: Eating for Energy

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