It’s official… if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, autumn has officially arrived. The leaves have changed, pumpkin spiced everything is for sale, and sandals and shorts have been swapped out for boots and sweaters. And as the seasons change, your skin will also need to adapt to avoid drying out and breaking out. To help you navigate this seasonal transition, here are 5 steps to an acne free autumn:
1. Remember to stay hydrated.
This may seem like common sense, but as temperatures drop, your inclination to drink water may also go down. Plus, the summer typically has you eating more water-rich fresh fruits and vegetables. In the fall, you may find yourself wanting denser proteins and grounding root veggies. These foods often contain less liquid, and actually require more water from your body to digest fully. So it’s really important to keep drinking your fluids even if you’re not feeling thirsty. If you’re feeling cooler, instead of opting for regular ol’ water, keep a pot of tea handy for you to sip from throughout the day. Or, for a savoury, nourishing super-food option, try sipping on broth. Using broth to make soups and stews is another great way to keep your fluids up this autumn.
2. Eat seasonally.
The easiest way to eat seasonally this time of year is to make a trip to the farmer’s market. Or, if there isn’t a farmer’s market near you, then look for fruits and vegetables in your grocery store that come from local growers. If your food has to travel from a different hemisphere just to make it to your grocery store shelf, then it isn’t in season. At this time of year, you can typically find these foods that are fresh and in season:
apples, artichoke, arugula, basil, beans, beets, broccoli, broccolini, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, celeriac, chard, chestnuts, chilis, collards, corn, cress, cucumber, dandelion, dill, edamame, eggplant, fennel, garlic, gourds, grapes, hazelnuts, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, micro greens, mustard greens, onions, parsnips, peas, pears, peppers, plums, potatoes, radicchio, radish, rutabaga, salad greens, shallots, spinach, spring onions, sprouts, squash blossoms, sunchokes, tomatoes, turnips, walnuts, winter squash, zucchini.
Eating these foods as close to their harvest date as possible is going to ensure that they are the most nutrient dense, and nourishing to your body and skin. One of my goals with my skin and nutrition clients is to challenge them to start listening to what their bodies are craving. As you start to tune in and notice what your body is really craving, you may discover that as the leaves turn you intuitively want more warming and grounding foods. These are primal cravings, and come from a place of your body knowing what’s best to keep your systems in balance, and prepare you for the coming winter months.
3. Forget detoxing.
Maybe you overindulged a little this summer – a BBQ one weekend, followed by a camping trip the next? A few hotdogs and drinks later, and you may be wanting to kickstart the fall with a detox. Unfortunately, autumn is not the time to cleanse or detox. This is the time of year where your body is preparing to slow and hunker down for the darker days ahead, and to do this, it needs grounding and building foods like protein, and root vegetables. You can still put your body in a gentle detox-state by simply cleaning up your diet and removing inflammatory processed foods, but it’s best to avoid doing any drastic detox programs – save these for the Spring!
4. Chew your food.
This step is really critical any time of the year, but especially so in the fall and winter months. Digestion starts in the mouth with chewing your food, and optimizing your digestion is critical for having clear skin this fall. The primary reason that we even eat food is to get the nutrients we need for our body to function, but we need proper digestion in order to unlock these vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients from the foods that we eat.
Chewing your food really well is the easiest thing you can do to improve your digestion. When you chew your food, you’ll make it easier on your stomach to do its job to mechanically break down proteins, and prepare carbohydrates and fats for absorption in the small intestine. When your food is broken down as completely as possible, you’ll minimize any bloating, lethargy that comes from eating larger heavier meals, and increase your body’s ability to absorb and assimilate the nutrients it needs to feed your skin for a clear complexion.
5. Get your beauty sleep.
As the days get shorter, and nights get longer, take this cue from nature that it’s time to slow down. Make getting 8 hours of sleep your goal, and your body will thank you in spades for the extra rest. When you sleep your body goes into rest and rejuvenation mode, repairing your organs, such as your skin, and keeping your hormones in balance.
If 8 hours seems impossible, condition yourself by just trying to go to bed 30 minutes earlier for an entire week, and then build from there. The more sleep you can get before midnight, the more rested you will feel in the morning.
I also recommend creating a nighttime ritual to help you wind down and prepare your body for rest. This can be as simple as having a candle-lit bath, reading a book for 20 minutes, or spritzing your pillow with a lavender and chamomile essential oil spray and then taking some deep breaths before turning off the light. Avoiding screens like your computer, iPad or TV for an hour before you hit the hay will send your brain the right signals that it’s nighttime.
Not sure which step to start with? Any one of them is going to serve your body in a nourishing way. I am an advocate for progress over perfection, so I challenge you to pick just one step to focus on implementing this week. Then when the week is over, check in with yourself and see how you feel. Was it really hard? Was it easy? Could you try another step in the coming week? Or should you keep focused on mastering your first one until it feels like second nature?
I would love to hear what you think of these steps, and if there are any that you think you’d like to try this week. Leave a comment below and share your progress!