Food Intolerance is Intolerable

Food Intolerance is Intolerable

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.

Nutritional Advice

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-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. Offering digestive support.  As stated earlier a healthy gut will help with healing eczema but will also aid recovery with many other health problems.

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.

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.

Skin Improved

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!

Too Skinny

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.

Food Intolerance

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…

Food Porn

My Man’s Homemade Pizza

And like a sexy story about food and sex? Here you go…

Food Matters Food Intolerance
Food Intolerance for Catch Up Week

16 thoughts on “Food Intolerance is Intolerable

  1. I don’t know how I missed this the first time around, but it’s a fascinating read, May. I have a food intolerance, and need to be more careful with what I eat, but in no way as bad as you had it. BTW, that pizza looks delicious!
    ~ Marie xox

  2. When you have intestine conditions like IBS and Crohn’s, you have to do exactly what you were doing, and it is also how food intolerances are still tackled today. I have been looking into Foodmap because I have been told by more than one doctor that I have IBS so I have been trying to figure out what is making me feel miserable. I know that there are some foods that make me feel bad. But I have also realized that they only make me feel bad when I eat too much of them. Reading your post, I think I will give it a go, and do the whole cutting out and then find out what the culprits are and slowly introduce them into my diet again. I have always had a bit of an intolerance to dairy, so I guess I start there. If May can do it, I can do it tooooo!
    Also, I love the location of your picture, and you in it too, of course. So beautiful!

    1. So pleased this post has inspired you in some way DS. Because i can be a bit of a control freak I really followed it rigorously and I think that was key to my success. Wish u luck. Any questions – u know where to find me x

  3. Really interesting, I’m glad you were able to work out what helped your skin. G has eczema too, but not sure he has tried diet as a means of controlling it. He has read your post too, infact it was he who reminded me to read xx

    1. I would really recommend the book I mention too – I have not looked at the latest versions in detail but they are cheap and the original was so helpful in so many different ways, some amazingly healthy recipes xx

  4. So much of our overall health is related to gut health. And what you put IN your gut largely affects the health of it. Food can work wonders when we’re eating the right things for our individual needs.

  5. As a long term psoriasis sufferer I feel your pain – literally. Finding the solution that works for you can be a long, painful process and self esteem can take a hammering. I’m so glad you found a way to manage yours.

      1. I have tried cutting out various foods in the past, but nothing has worked. The trigger mechanisms for eczema and psoriasis appear to be very different even though the outward appearance can be similar.

        I have been through all the steroids with varying degrees of success, and I now use medication which suppresses the immune system. I’ve had a few years of clear skin now because of this.

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