I have suffered on and off with eczema all my life. As a child others didn’t want to hold my hand thinking they could catch it. It was not until I was much older that I realised food intolerance played a part.
Food Intolerance is Intolerable
Eczema and Steroid Cream
The doctors knew little about it except to tell me to drink more milk (I was a skinny kid) and dollop the sores with steroid cream. Lucky I seem to have genetically strong skin. Otherwise by now it could be thoroughly ruined.
I soon came to understand that hormones were a factor. When I started my periods at 14 the eczema improved until it virtually went by the time I was in my early 20’s . However once I had my first child, and the hormones were a little messed up, it returned with vengeance. Not only that after receiving her first vaccination as a baby my daughter Darling Near Miss, had her initial out break too.
Now I had a reason to finally get to the bottom of it.
Having a Baby
I contacted the eczema society but they were still then in the throws of wrapping the skin in bandages soaked with steroid cream. I felt there must be something more I could do which was less harmful.
My hands blistered and became so badly infected that I couldn’t bath my own baby. This had such a detrimental affect on my self esteem. Then I remembered a dalliance I had had a few years earlier with vitamins and went off the the library. I came back armed with some phone numbers and am really going to plug a company called Higher Nature who came to my rescue.
In those days they offered free phone consultations with a qualified nutritionist and from that first call my journey began.
They suspected my problems were linked to an intolerance to certain foods. They adviced some supplements and a change of diet. The vits/mins were easy. Flax seed oil, probiotics and a strong general multi vitamin. It is known that those with dry skin problems are low in omega oils particular omega 6 . The flax helps to re-balance this issue. Another common complaint, that often goes hand in hand with eczema sufferers, is gut problems. Probiotics help build up good bacteria and improve food digestion too.
There was one other supplement I used. Something called citricidal. Basically this is simply grapefood seed extract which has anti-
Now the diet I chose to follow was a little more radical. Back then – late 90’s – there really weren’t many reliable tests to work out which food a person may have a problem with. TBH I am not sure if there even are today. So I went with the “stop eating any of the possibilities” diet. With the thought of introducing things gradually after a few month of being on this regime.
The diet could include some meats and fish but the trouble was at that time I was quite a strict vegetarian so I basically became a vegan on a limited diet.
I cut out all dairy and wheat/gluten/yeast products and eat only organic fruit and vegetables to eliminate pesticides. I also included tofu and a soya mince.
Products laced with sugar were also a no-no. As too much sweet stuff is known to cause/aggravate problems like candida. Which in turn can trigger an auto immune response and an eczema outbreak.
Amazingly, within 5 days my eczema began clearing. For example my arms had been covered from shoulder to the tips of my fingers. By the end of the third week I was just left with light scarring which of course disappeared as the years went on. I was shocked to say the least. I never expected such a quick and drastic improvement. But I followed the instructions I was given to the letter. Never deviating. I read all labels and made all my own meals.
I cooked everything from scratch. Any herbs or spices I added myself. For example I could not risk buying a curry sauce so I would make my own. That was when I learned what went into an Indian dish. I bought an amazing nutritional recipe book – the first edition of Cooking Without by Barbara Cousins. It gave simple tips such as if you are working – which I was as well as looking after my baby – make sure each time you cook one of the meals to make it twice as big and freeze half for another day. Also eat the leftovers for breakfast. I can hear many of you calling out “Yuk”. But when you are not having ordinary bread or any dairy, leftovers become a tasty prospect for breakfast and often work out well at keeping your hunger at bay until lunchtime.
Example of my Meals
Broccoli and cauliflower Bhaji – Very basic. Include spices such as cumin, garam masala and turmeric.
Rice Pasta – Cook then mix in cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, sheep’s feta cheese.
Bean Chili – All kinds of beans. Onions. Fresh Chili. All spice. Serve with rice or jacket potato.
The important thing was to never include too many ingredients. Keep everything as tasty as possible but also as basic. I understand that this may sound a little extreme and hard work. It was. But when covered in open sores, extreme measures were called for.
After a month my skin was brilliant. However I had lost a lot of weight. And because I had just had a baby my muscle tone went with it. Don’t get me wrong this was not through lack of eating. I eat LOADS. But it was all foods that worked well with my insides and because I was eating as a vegan, and avoiding gluten and sugar, there really was not much fat content in my diet. Although I was careful to make sure I made up full proteins when preparing meals.
I am a little shy of 5 foot 9. These days I weigh in around 65 Kg. Back then I was comfortable at 60Kg (being younger). However, after being on the diet for three months I went down to 52Kg!
I knew I would have to start introducing other foods as I was getting what can only be described as nasty comments about how skinny I’d become. The trouble was I felt in control of my self and my eczema. I liked that feeling and was scared my skin would get worse. And to be honest I had grown to enjoy the food I was cooking. It was just sometimes inconvenient and not easy when managing a baby or wanting to go out for dinner.
My local Indian restaurant was great and told me exactly what was in their dishes. It turned out that a vegetable dansak with boiled rice fitted in perfectly with by diet.
But the day came when I decided I would eat some dairy and wheat. And of course I was sick. Making me realise I had to introduce foods very slowly and one at a time. Which I eventually did do.
My skin remained fine and I learned some things about food intolerance
An intolerance is not the same as an allergy, which often causes instant distress and may always be an allergy to you.
An food intolerance can build up in your body over time, irritating the gut, which then leads to other health problems.
If you stop eating a trigger food your body can accept it again in the future.
However, never eat trigger foods on a daily basis.
As time has gone on I understand that I should only eat certain things such as milk, cheese and wheat based bread, at the most two or three times a week. By keeping variety in my diet, and cooking from scratch I now enjoy almost any meal without a problem to my gut or skin. I feel blessed about that.
Update Oct 2021
I recently had the misfortune of being exposed to toxic mold. This once again aggravated all my skin problems. However, once I had removed myself from the hazardous situation, I once again followed my advice from above and am happy to say my skin in 90% improved. Although, I am still working though some other health issues because of the inhalation. But time is a healer…
And like a sexy story about food and sex? Here you go…