How I (Almost) Cured My Adult Acne Problem With Gluten & Lactose Free Diet And Hypnotherapy — Day 48 of 99 Days of Wander

Anna Rova
Anna Rova
Mar 4, 2017 · 17 min read

I know what it’s like to be almost asleep in the arms of a lover and already be thinking about how to “face” him in the morning without makeup. “Actually, I’ll just keep my makeup on for the night, maybe he won’t notice,” I was telling myself. Or even worse, I thought I would wake up earlier to put makeup on (that happened too!)

The mornings after were quite painful, especially, if I really liked the guy. I tried to look away, pretend I’m doing something else trying to sit on his left just so that he doesn’t notice this thing on my left cheek. Being surrounded by all the clear-faced pretty girlfriends didn’t help either. I’m not even going to start with “beauty” magazines. Baz Luhrmann was right: “reading beauty magazines will only make you feel ugly.”

The dating situation is the most painful because it leaves us, girls, feeling most vulnerable… But being in front of 20 people with a face full acne and about to deliver an important presentation is something taken to another level. I knew they’re looking at me like I’m some sort of a sick fragile animal. I knew they’re probably not going to take me seriously and are sitting there and counting the pimples on my face instead of focusing on my message. “Especially that blond pretty one. Jeez, when did everything become about looks? I know I’m smarter than half of the people in this room so why does it matter how my face looks like? I think I’m working from home tomorrow.” And so some days I stayed home because I couldn’t “face” them all.

It was so painful and real that I wished I had some kind of an internal disease like the rest of the world… At least I would be the only one to know. I’d lie to the rest of them, but who cares. I just wanted to escape.


Lactose.

The actual miracle happened in July, 2016 when Anna was having a coffee chat with Kara in Barcelona. She was mesmerised by this girl’s story of having a fructose intolerance for about 10 years and being blind to it all. She heard stories about this woman’s struggles through mood swings and energy loss, through chronic tiredness and stomach problems and constant visits to doctors and therapists only to be diagnosed with “chronic stress.” She was being blamed for working too much and having a mental disorder. They wanted to put her on Zanex (or whatever that f*cked up thing is called that they give people to calm them down like they’re some sort of animals when instead, they just need to understand who they really are and get some help on loving themselves again and forgiving their parents for all the fucked up things they’ve done to them…) Ufff, sorry, went off the rails here.

And so one day Kara accidentally stumbled upon some homeopath doctor who had run a couple of simple tests and told her she has a fructose intolerance. Apparently, this affected Kara in many ways imaginable and unimaginable… for 10 years.

And so I sat there thinking “this woman is crazy just like the rest of the “dietary” fanatics. (sorry, Kara, I really did think that not knowing that you’re about to change my life ❤)

Kara also accidentally mentioned her brother who had had an “adult acne” problem forever. He had tried a lactose free diet for 30 days and it worked like magic.

“Wait… ‘adult acne?’ WTF is that? Oh shit, I think that’s what I have! Adult f*cking acne! I’m an adult, I have acne… LOL I have an adult acne problem! So it’s not a teenage thing anymore, the struggle is real!”

And here we go again.

And so being excited and enthusiastic about trying this #lactosefree diet thing (eyeroll) for a month, I have set on my lactose free journey and never looked back.

To this day I haven’t been tested for the actual intolerance. I haven’t found a proper easy way to walk by amazing cheese choices and not have a pinch inside. But what I know is what my face tells me. In about seven days the quality of my skin improved incredibly. I didn’t completely get rid of the acne, though… they were coming out less but they were still coming out. But lactose or, mainly milk, was eliminated from my diet.

What’s wrong with me!?

Hypnotherapy (it’s all in your subconscious.)

Okay, time to get serious again. Accidentally, Kara’s friend, Jessica Boston, was a hypnotherapist. I was like “oh my god, no… I will not let some charlatan hypnotherapist lady hypnotise me and then do whatever she wants with my mind…” I was scared.

But after talking to Jessica she said she actually helps people with skin issues and it has worked in a couple of cases… She said she can’t promise anything but we can try. I really liked Jessica (more so I liked how beautiful and calm she was and her energy had drawn me to her. I tend to trust women who have that kind of energy.)

Epic Barcelona dinner with girls and Jessica, the great energy hypnotherapist (first one to the right)

This is not the place to tell you about my session with the awesome Jessica because you probably don’t even want to be taken into the dark tunnels of my mind. I can tell you that I cried a lot and I realized a couple of important things about myself, my past and my “adult acne” problem.

Long story short, the acne on my face was a way for me to still rebel against my father, my family and the world. As a teenager I did rebel physically and emotionally by not coming home on time and being punished for it but doing it again anyways. By skipping full days at school, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. By threatening to commit suicide (a couple of times) only to get attention and love. By actually packing my shit and leaving my father’s home because I couldn’t stand my evil step mother anymore. By doing whatever the hell I wanted with my life.

I was rebelling and my face was rebelling with me.

But the problem was that I wasn’t a teenager anymore and I didn’t have to rebel. I was on my own, an adult, supposedly doing what I wanted to do. Well — as it happens with the subconscious mind — the story I was playing to myself internally was a very different story.

I was still the little Anna who’s constantly in the “me against them” world. By “them” I mean pretty much everyone. My family, who was still treating me as a teenager constantly advising and telling me what to do with my face, my money, my work and my life. My colleagues and bosses, who were also telling me what to do and what not to do so I can be a good girl, get a promotion and succeed in life. My friends, who were all trusted advisors and always knew better about how I should live my life. Society in general, that constantly was bombarding me about how I should dress, wear makeup, what books I should read, what college I should attend, how I should achieve success and how I should be politically correct all the time. That’s a lot to handle for a young woman in her 20s.

And I didn’t know how to handle it. I wanted all of them to leave me alone. I wanted all of them to stop telling me what to do because I f*cking knew what to do all my life. Jeez, give me room to breathe, to think, to have my own opinions and thoughts and decide for myself. Stop living my life and living your own dreams through me. I am my own person, I have my own life. Please understand and respect it. I will be okay. I will survive. I will be fine.

At some point I started doing EFT a.k.a tapping:

“No matter what happens, I’ll be okay.

No matter what happens, I’ll be okay.

No matter what happens, I’ll be okay.”

And so I was rebelling against all of it. In my own way. Subconsciously. And my precious beautiful face was the only sign of this internal rebellion.

WOW. Boom.

Of course, the problem was mine and not theirs.

I cannot control what they tell me and how they behave. I can, however, control how I react to them. And so I did some changes. I told my family that I know they love me and want the best for me but they had to try and stop telling me what to do. These days I just listen and nod and say “okay, okay” but I have taught myself to disassociate from the situation and let the “advice” just pass through me like sand through stones. The advice itself is not bad and oftentimes it is good but I created a mental filter for myself.

Same goes for the rest of “them” — it doesn’t bother me much. I taught myself to stay true to who I am, what I want, what I think is important and necessary. I guide myself through my own emotional guidance system (get ready for a little bit of woo-woo from Abraham Hicks), intuition, sixth sense or whatever you want to call it. I look at the world and before acting, implementing or writing anything down I sit there and I think “Is that true for me? Do I agree with this? Does this make sense for me?” That’s it, that is the secret :)

Jeez, this post is supposed to be about gluten and lactose and food. It has turned into a self-development and “understanding your issue” post. Oops, I did it again.

Gluten.

If you want to read more about the #glutenfree phenomenon, here is a post on The New Yorker and here is an interesting post from Tim Ferris on his readings from Robb Wolf on the danger of gluten.

I stumbled upon a gluten free diet after I paid a visit to the dentist who told me I gotta be careful with the grains and processed foods I eat because those foods don’t have the necessary nutrients I need for my body. I’m not a food geek and all this is boring for me but I started thinking… Maybe my acne problem is also related to that.

So I started researching how even my blood type can affect my food intolerances and whether it can have any effect on my skin. I kept stumbling on how I should try a gluten free diet but ultimately that I should probably just live with the the paleo diet.

And so on September 1, 2016 I eliminated gluten from my diet. Thirty days into this diet and what happened to my skin was practically a miracle. I actually started getting less and less daily acne on my face. After six months I know that whenever I have bread, pizza or pasta I shall have a pimple on my face in about 24–48 hours. Same goes for milk, cheese or ice-cream. Ice-cream and bread have become foods that I never eat but only taste from time to time. All these foods that I loved so much as an Eastern European child are gone from my food choices.

the kitty knows how I felt.

Was it hard? Yes it was. It still is. From time to time I also can’t say “NO” to a piece of delicious pizza or cheese. Even McDonalds (okay that happens like once in four months but it does happen. poop. I said it. I am human.) I am getting there step by step. Today my daily food choices do not contain gluten or lactose about 92% of the time.

I feel great, my face is almost clear, I have more energy and space in my mind and my stomach.

Most importantly, I now have a conscious relationship with food. I choose the food I eat every day, just like I choose to be with my man every day. I actively think about it. I don’t mindlessly follow my lust and stuff my plate with whatever my eyes see that looks delicious. I have a controlled approach to food.

I am constantly aware: does it have gluten or lactose?

This way of eating and choosing food assures that I eat the healthiest most of the time. Yes, I slack off sometimes. I am trying to be gentle with myself. “Okay, you want this burger really really bad. Have it. But be aware of the consequences… tomorrow you will have a pimple on your face. Ready to accept it? Go.” Sometimes I go. Sometimes not. It is a constant struggle but also a tremendous satisfaction when I make it.

For those of you freaking out about the fact that there will be nothing to eat, think again. A whole world of new foods and delicious meals have opened up to me! Hell, I even made an avocado chocolate mousse at home the other day and it was delicious.

If Mihaela Georgescu from Romania can do it, you can do it too :) She is a huge fan of the low carb diet (not necessarily gluten or lactose free but still has the mindful eating lifestyle.)

All the information is out there, you just need to look for it. Especially these days when the world is going crazy about dietary options and a healthier lifestyle. It’s up to you how you make your choices.

Yes, you will be the annoying one at the dinner table and at parties. Whatever. Your friends and family will have to learn to respect your choices. If they don’t — sorry, time to let them go. Please choose yourself because no one else will do it for you.

Important: I never knew or have thought about the fact that my diet can have an effect on my skin or my face… That to me was just impossible. “Diet=skin” just didn’t make an equation in my head. My stomach or my internal organs will let me know if the food I eat is bad or good. Not my skin or my mood or my energy levels.

I was wrong.

Food is what fuels my body, my mind and my energy. We all kind of know it but we don’t really practice it. Same goes for cigarettes and alcohol. We know it’s bad but we still do it. I still drink alcohol. But I don’t smoke anymore. Finally, since I’ve been in Brazil since January 23, I am smoke free again and couldn’t be happier.

Travelling with such a diet is the hardest. Rarely on airplanes they have gluten and lactose free options so I have to think of it in advance. Luckily, most long-distance flights and big airlines will accommodate my special dietary requests. I also try to have fruit and nuts with me whenever I go.

Mind you, I am not 100% there yet but I am slowly getting there. Bottom line is that I am aware of what I eat, I make my daily food choices and I work on my subconscious and don’t let others guide my life choices.

Stress & Smoking.

The first mini-miracle happened in May, 2015 when Anna left her job in Malaysia to travel full-time and become a digital nomad. She also had finished reading the “Easy Way To Stop Smoking” book by Allen Carr about two months before. She had put down her last cigarette after smoking sporadically for about 10 years (she always thought that smoking 4–5 cigarettes a day is not a big deal really, and it doesn’t mean that she is a smoker. Yeah, right.)

As soon as she left a toxic work environment and was out of it and with no cigarettes to comfort her personal issues, her skin said “YES.” It has improved tremendously and she felt that the world is hers and she is free.

Not so fast, darling…

Although her skin has improved greatly and stayed a bit better even after she started smoking again (oh dear, smoking is really a drug addiction) — she was still having acne break out with a speed of 2–3 per day: chin, forehead, cheeks.

And so she forgot about it again. Well, she didn’t really forget, she pretended to forget, patiently squeezing out lots of foundation cremes and concealers out of their tubes to cover up her acne (and “forgetting” to take it off when there was a man by her side).

She was actually covering up her inner issues of rebelling against the world, fighting against the injustices of her past situation. Of course, she didn’t know back then. It wasn’t time yet…

Now a bit of history.

Anna always had an acne problem. When Anna was a teenager the acne on her face really bothered her because of two reasons: boys and girls (wait, but that’s like everyone, right? ;)

Right.

The teenage Anna was constantly comparing herself to the “perfect face” girlfriends. However, she still considered herself better than all of them because she was sharp and very witty. The pretty girls didn’t have to work as hard for it. Boys liked that. Boys liked Anna because she was a rebel and was up for anything. She was smart and adventurous and a couple of pimples on her face wasn’t really a problem because honestly, everyone had them here and there.

So Anna went through her troubled and tough teenage years buying all kinds of “ClearSkin” care products and taking advice from aunties, teachers and various kinds of life advisors about how to have a clear skin. “It’s all teenage hormones, darling, it will go away, don’t worry…” they said. Anna didn’t bother much with the acne because she had more important things to deal with like her evil step mother, a conservative father, her trip to the US for a year and working summer jobs.

So Anna tried not to worry but still was was going on constant visits to the dermatologists and cosmetologists for facial procedures and hormonal tests. That continued all the way through college. But in college Anna didn’t have a big issue with it either because again, she knew she was better and smarter than the pretty girls. Anna thought “in life you gotta be one or the other: smart or pretty, right? Just like boys: rich but asshol-ish or poor but nice, right?”

Wrong.

At one point she kinda gave up because she was tired of it all. Her “fighting acne” energy tanks were empty and she was done. She had a boyfriend, she had an awesome job living in tropical Malaysia. She had “made it” so who cares what’s wrong with her face and the fact that there is no cure?

The only problem was that Anna wasn’t a teenager anymore. She was a grown up woman with full on adult responsibilities of a full-time job, bills to pay and a cat to take care of. She convinced herself that her acne problem was something permanent and maybe one day a miracle would happen and she’ll understand the root cause of her problem and will be able to cure it.


It is important to mention that Anna was a pretty healthy child with occasional headaches and stomach issues. She has been told by her parents that she had something called chronic gastritis but she never understood what that was… She kind of guesses that all children go through some sort of a disease and stay in hospitals when they’re little so it was all good.

It is also important to mention that Anna comes from a culture where a “healthy lifestyle” is not really a thing, mostly because people are just trying to survive on low income. Vegetarians, gluten free, lactose free or vegan people are some sort of really weird humans who don’t know what else to do with their lives.

So Anna really thought that #glutenfree and #lactosefree are really stupid trends followed by women who got nothing better to do than scroll Instagram and Facebook all day long in search for followers and fame.


My “adult acne” problem was as much dietary as it was a deep personal issue. If you have tried everything like I have, maybe it’s time to try a lactose free diet for 30 days, then eliminate gluten for another 30 days and see how you feel. Get tested for food intolerances. I would also suggest working with a specialist that can go deep into your subconscious because acne can be a personal issue or a problem that not even you can actually realise.

xoxo,

The “Acne-free” Wanderova


August 2018 Update

My acne problem actually didn’t go away… I slipped. Life became too chaotic and crazy and I couldn’t keep up with my diet. I’ve been travelling the world as a digital nomad and had other priorities…

The truth is I was also desperate and ready to give up. I realized that a simple gluten-free and lactose-free diet just wouldn’t do it. The issue was much deeper than that.

I actually gave up after watching another self-proclaimed-acne-healing-expert-19-yearl-old Youtuber gave us all the wise advice to just go and get probiotics as well as L-Lycina supplement. So blindly Anna went and got that because by now she WAS READY TO TRY ANYTHING.

“Break your leg – it will heal your acne” – Anna pretty much would follow that advice.

So I kind of gave up…

Until I got pregnant.

And then found my naturopath.

Right now I’m 19 weeks pregnant and again am on the gluten-free, lactose-free and a bunch of individual ingredients free diet. “But Anna, you gotta be very careful! Doesn’t the baby need all the nutrients it can get??”

Well, I can assure you and I had to also convince myself and understand that NOTHING in pizza, pasta and bread has nutrients that baby needs. Calcium in lactose I substitute with other sources like nuts, green leaves and other things. Eliminating gluten and dairy has automatically eliminated unnatural sugars so I am off all chocolate, waffles and most desserts. Even if a dessert is gluten-free, it will probably have lactose (and sugar for sure) so I don’t eat it and don’t crave it. Of course, I slip sometimes!!! But then I don’t feel well. I get my sugars from fruits which I eat too much I think to compensate for the “lost” artificial sugars 🤫🤔🤦🏼‍♀️

I make sure to have enough protein every day. There is a lot of restrictions in my diet like red meats, white rice, shell fish, capsicum, garlic, lettuce, tomatoes so I just eat everything else I can that has a lot of nutrients. (All this is based on the biochemistry test I did in an Australian lab to see what products are causing intolerance/inflamation in the body.) And indeed, last night, for example, I had sushi and immediately felt puffed up and balooned! Crazy stuff! If I stay away from these foods I feel great. I know it now because I tested it!

(Regarding sushi while pregnant. I had been craving it for 4 months now and got inspired by Dutch pregnant women from the “Stuff Dutch Moms Like” book to just eat whatever I really want and listen to my body. It is a personal choice, really. There is so much caution around EVERYTHING during pregnancy, it’s like we’re treating a disease. First trimester is risky indeed, now I feel like whatever I eat will be fine but I am still cautious, of course. Some women smoke marijuana dueing pregnancy andtheir babies are healthier than ever, yo! 🤪 So after I had fresh sushi, I’m like yeah, whatever. Done that, no more.)

The reason for all this restrictive diet is actually fighting acne and healing my gut flora. Acne situation got and still is pretty severe 😔😣 Despite all the info on pregnancy helping with acne, it isn’t my case…

I’m working with a naturopath to restore my gur flora as well as support my pregnancy with necessary nutriets and minerals I need. We can’t fully address thw acne situation yet because it would be too invasive during pregnancy but we still decided to go ahead and I’m so happy we did. I’m getting Magnesium, digestive enzymes, Vitamin D3 and prenantal supplements that are all natural based on her recommendation. I’m feeling great. I feel how body is working and restoring and producing a healthy baby in the process.

I’ll keep updating this post until I figured the acne situation out!!

Anna Rova

Written by

Anna Rova

Femininity & Feminine Embodiment Coach | Girlskill Podcast Founder & Host girlskill.com

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