How a Food Journal Can Help Your Acne

If you think food is triggering your acne, then keep a food journal for one month to identify the triggers. Eliminate those foods and see if your acne improves in following months.


You woke up with a pimple on your chin and immediately think, “Damn that chocolate chip cookie last night.” Was it the cookie? Or was it the glass of milk that accompanied it? Or how about that slice of pepperoni pizza from two days ago?

What foods do cause acne? The frustrating truth is that we don’t know for sure. But we do know that a well-balanced diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and good fats is healthy for your body and your skin.

Fortunately, no one knows your skin as well as you. So if you think food is triggering your acne, then keep a food journal for a month. Every day write down everything you eat and drink, and assess your level of acne. Is it mild, moderate or severe? Then use a highlighter to mark your worst breakouts. See what you’ve eaten in the prior 72 hours. Eliminate those foods that triggered your acne. See if your acne improves in following months.

Let us know what you discovered!

Photo credit: FCC, mac.rj

4 Back-to-School Habits For a Healthy Family

4 back-to-school habits for healthy family: Get more sleep, eat meals together, exercise together, and limit time on digital devices.


Millions of kids across the country will be starting school this week and learning new routines. It’s not a bad idea for moms and dads too. (Starting new routines, not retaking 6th grade).

Even if they don’t need help with fractions, your kids could you use some help from Mom and Dad. Kids who see parents engaged in healthy behaviors are more likely to follow their lead. With that in mind, here are few tips to help make back-to-school time a little easier and healthier for the whole family.

1. Sleep TIme: Establish a light outs time when everyone needs to be in bed. Kids need anywhere from 8 to 11 hours of sleep per night, depending on their age, activity level, and personal needs. Parents could benefit from more sleep too. So set your alarm at night to tell you when to go to bed to ensure you get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep. And don’t hit the snooze button when it goes off.

2. Eat Meals Together: Studies show that children who eat meals with their families are less likely to have behavioral problems, more likely to do well in school, and more likely to have a healthier diet. It doesn’t have to be dinner. Any meal counts, including breakfast.

3. Digital & Device-Free Time: Set a time, maybe 30 or 60 minutes a day, when everyone in the family has to be digital and device-free — no texting, emailing, tweeting, or pinning.

4. Move Together: We all know exercise is good for us. It’s especially important for kids. According to Let’s, 8 to 18 year-olds spend an average of 7.5 hours a day using digital devices such as computers and cell phones, while only 1/3 of high school students get the recommended level of physical activity. Set times when the family will do something fun and active together: it could be Sunday morning bike rides, Friday afternoon swims, or nightly dancing to Wii. My 10-year-old niece highly recommends Just Dance 3 with Katy Perry.

What are your healthy family habits? Please share them with us below.

Photo credit: FCC, USDAgov

What Causes Premature Graying?

Premature graying is almost always caused by genetics. Stress does not cause gray hair.

Guppy 2

Stress. Cigarettes. Junk food. Bad karma. None is responsible for premature graying. For that you can blame Mom or Dad.

Hair turns gray because the pigment cells stop making pigment, or color. Melanocytes are cells responsible for skin and hair color and are found everywhere in your skin and in the base of each hair follicle. In everyone, these hair-based melanocytes eventually peter out. For most people this begins around the age of thirty-five. By age 50, 50% of people are 50% gray.

Some people go gray sooner. If you’re gray before 20 years old, it’s called “premature graying.” This is almost always hereditary. If you’re prematurely gray, talk with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.

Photo credit: FCC, Werwin15

Food Friday: Sweet, Savory, Sensational Watermelon

Watermelon season is almost over, so here are 4 tasty ways to enjoy the health benefits of watermelon.

watermelon slices

Watermelon season is almost over, so while they’re still around, slurp them up as much as you can. Cause the ones you’ll find in February won’t be nearly as juicy and sweet.

Watermelon is not only low in calories (about 50 per cup) but high in fiber, water, and flavor, so it keeps you full long after you eat it. It’s a great source of Vitamin C and a good source of Vitamin A. It’s also packed with lycopene, a carotenoid with antioxidant properties, that gives it its red color and its disease-fighting power.

Eating watermelon is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, macular degeneration, and many types of cancer, especially colon. Since your body absorbs lycopene better when it’s combined with a little bit of fat, consider adding some olive oil or avocado to your next watermelon salad.

Here are 4 refreshing ways to enjoy the health benefits of watermelon:

1. Power Boost Smoothie: Blend 1 cup cubed watermelon, 1 cup strawberries or blueberries, 1 cup reduced-fat milk of your choice, and ice.

2. Sweet Morning Fruit Salad: Combine watermelon, honeydew melon, and cantaloupe with fresh peaches, lemon juice, and mint for a refreshing summer salad.

3. Savory Watermelon and Avocado Salad: Combine mesclun salad mix, watermelon cubes, diced avocado, cubed jicama, sliced green onions, cilantro, and mint in a bowl. Toss with olive oil, lime juice, cayenne pepper, and salt. Sprinkle with a little crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese, if desired.

4. Watermelon Salsa: Combine diced watermelon, raw corn kernels, diced red bell peppers, sliced green onions, minced jalapeño, and diced avocado. Toss with a little olive oil, lime juice, and salt. Serve with grilled shrimp, fish, chicken, or pork tenderloin.

Got other ways to enjoy watermelon? Please share them below.

Photo credit: Susan Russo, Flickr, Food Blogga

The Truth About Fasting for Weight Loss

Fasting will help you lose weight, but at a cost. Fasting slows down your metabolism, setting you up to gain back the weight plus more when you start eating again.


When it comes to losing weight quickly, it seems fasting is di rigeur. I really wish it wasn’t.

Do periodic fasts help you lose weight?

Fasting is when you go without food, and there’s no fewer calories than zero. Fasting definitely will cause you lose weight. But there’s a hidden cost. Every time you fast, your body goes into prehistoric starvation mode telling every cell, Slow down, there’s no food. By slowing your metabolism you set yourself up to gain back the weight plus some the next time you eat.

Slow and steady wins the weight loss race.

Photo credit: FCC wwarby

There Is No Such Thing as a Safe Tan

There is no such thing as a safe tan. Tanned skin is damaged skin and increases your risk for melanoma.

Too much sun!

Tanned skin is damaged skin. It’s that simple.

Lots of people think that getting a “light” tan is protective against sunburns. It’s faulty logic. When your skin tans, or (more aptly, burns), it’s the direct result of DNA changes in your skin cells. Those cells are permanently damaged.

A new study from the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences shows a direct link between UV-induced melanin formation (tanning) and the formation of melanoma in mammals. Skin melanoma is the deadliest of all skin cancers. Look at these statistics:

  • One person dies of melanoma every hour in the US.
  • In the US the percentage of people who develop melanoma has more than doubled in the past 30 years.
  • Melanoma is the most common form of cancer in 25-29 year olds.
  • Melanoma is the second most common form of cancer in 15-29 year olds.
  • Melanoma is increasing faster in females 15-29 years old than males in the same age group.
The only safe tan you can get is no tan at all.

For more information about melanoma, visit the American Melanoma Foundation and the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Photo credit: FCC, Alan Light

Food Friday: Morning Glow Avocado Breakfast Smoothie

Avocados are high in B vitamins which reduce skin inflammation. Make this avocado breakfast smoothie for glowing skin.

cayenne spiked avocado and orange smoothie

Many of my female patients tell me they love making natural facial masks with avocado. I can understand it. Because they’re high in monounsaturated fat (the good kind), they’re moisturizing on your skin.

I don’t apply avocado facial masks, but I do eat lots of avocados. I live in San Diego. It’s required.

Avocados are high in B vitamins, which reduce skin inflammation, and vitamins C and E, which have anti-aging properties (so you’ll look younger).

Avocados are ideal for breakfast. The healthy fat fills you up and keeps you full so you’re less likely to snack mindlessly later in the day. Try some mashed avocado sprinkled with salt on toast. Add diced avocado to your egg white scramble. Or make this avocado smoothie.

Spicy Avocado and Orange Smoothie

Makes 1 serving

1/2 medium ripe avocado, squirted with lime juice
1/2 small frozen banana
2/3 cup orange juice, preferably freshly squeezed
1/2 cup almond milk (or milk product of your choice)
1 teaspoon honey
A pinch of cayenne pepper

1. Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Add more orange juice of milk if you like it thinner.

Variations: Feel free to play around with ingredients. Instead of banana, try mango, fresh pineapple, ripe pear, or frozen raspberries. Like it sweeter? Skip the cayenne and add a little extra honey, or use agave nectar. Don’t like orange juice? Replace it with apple or pomegranate juice or milk of your choice such as skim, soy, rice, or nut milk.

Photo and recipe by Susan Russo of Food Blogga.