Updated: Nov 20
One of the most important factors in our skin health is definitely our gut health. As I share extensively, optimizing your gut health can make a huge difference for your skin, especially for those with inflammatory skin conditions.
But many people have had unhealthy dietary habits for their whole lives. Sadly, most people aren’t really taught to eat healthy food in the modern world, and it’s very common to have a bunch of dietary habits that are destroying your gut health. When you think about shifting to a healthier, plant-based diet, you might feel overwhelmed. It seems like you have to change everything about what you eat. How can you ever make this happen?
How dietary change tends to go
I’ve seen quite a few people give up their health journeys. They consider how much they need to change, and it seems impossible, so they just don’t even bother trying. Because they feel like they can’t do everything, they decide to do nothing instead.
I’ve also seen people go all in – changing everything about their diets all at once. Absolutely no processed food, gluten, or dairy. Only healthy plant-based food, ever. While this may go great for a little while, it often starts to feel unsustainable after a while. In many cases, as soon as the person has just one slip-up – maybe eating a single piece of cake at a wedding – they simply give up. Once their “perfect streak” is broken, they don’t see the point of trying anymore, and they’re right back at square one.
These are the two extremes of the approach to dietary change. Both of them generally fail, although in different ways. So what can you do instead? I recommend being gentler on yourself, and taking a more gradual approach.
One step at a time
Instead of trying to achieve a “perfect” diet all at once, you can choose to take a more gradual approach. Ideally, you should still start by learning about nutrition, and considering which aspects of your diet you’d like to shift. During the learning phase, you’ll want to think about where you’d ultimately like to end up with your diet, and try to determine all of your current habits that don’t quite line up with that goal.
However, instead of immediately trying to shift everything to match up with your ideal, just choose one relatively small change to start with. For example, maybe you want to add one serving of green leafy veggies every day, or maybe you want to replace your afternoon soda with herbal tea.
For at least a couple of weeks, just focus on that one change. Try and stick to your new plan every day. If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up – just try again the next day. Keep focusing on just making that one change as often as you can.
Over time, your new plan will become a habit. This may only take two or three weeks, if you’re consistent. Sometimes, it takes longer. However, it’s inevitable that, eventually, you’ll find that you’ve developed a new healthy habit. At that point, it no longer feels like an effort to stick to the new plan. It’s just automatic, because that’s your habit.
After you feel like your new habit is solid, then you can consider adding another new habit. Again, consider what you’ve learned about healthy nutrition, and think about the various ways that you could shift your current dietary habits to move towards healthier nutrition. Then choose just a single shift to try. Again, focus on that one new habit, trying to stick with it every day. Of course, you’ll also want to keep the habit you previously developed – hopefully, this will be pretty easy, since you were consistent with it long enough for it to become automatic. Focus on your new habit, until it also becomes automatic.
Basically, you just build things up one habit at a time. If you reach a point where it feels like it’s hard to stick to your plan, don’t add anything new for a while. Just stay committed to the habits you’ve already worked on, and keep strengthening those. After it feels easier to maintain what you’ve already developed, then you can consider adding something new.
Support for your nutritional goals
It can be very helpful to have support at multiple phases of this process. You’ll definitely need a reliable guide to help you learn more about nutrition, so you’re armed with the knowledge you need to decide how best to improve your diet. It can also be very helpful to be connected with a community going through a similar journey. They can help you to stay motivated and committed, and can offer tips to help you through any rough patches.
I’ve designed Mind Gut Skin Academy to offer exactly these types of support. I know how powerful it was for me to improve my nutrition years ago – it made a huge difference for me and my chronic skin condition. If you’re looking for a guide who understands the journey that you’re on, and a community to share the journey with, I invite you to learn more about MGS Academy. The brand-new version of the program will be launching soon – you can learn more or get on the waitlist here.