Before I found out about TSW and started the process, I was going crazy trying to chase down the trigger for this ever-worsening, spreading rashy “eczema” that I had. Before focusing on food, I tried a lot of other things. Some of them were good ideas; some of them were pretty ridiculous:
- Changing or eliminating most of my facial and body products
- Changing my laundry detergent
- Drinking only bottled, distilled water (as I thought maybe something from the city tap water was to blame)
- Selling my car (because it was old and had an A/C leak and I thought maybe toxic emissions were leaking into the cabin and giving me a rash)
- Filing an anonymous OSHA claim with my workplace, thinking that I worked in one of those “sick” office buildings
- I thought about getting a water filter for the shower but I never got around to it
- Wearing zero jewelry as I thought maybe I had suddenly developed a severe nickel allergy that oddly would have spread all over my body
- I drank diluted vinegar 2x daily since I read this could help (it was gross)
- I went to a homeopath and took a remedy that seemed to make things worse
- I went to a holistic doctor and spent a bunch of money on multiple appointments and special supplements that seemed to really do nothing
Looking back, these are clearly the frantic scramblings of someone that had NO idea what was going on with her suddenly-haywire skin….but someone that was absolutely desperate to find out. Then we get into the list of all the food-type things I tried:
- I went on the elimination diet and then, when that didn’t seem to do anything, the Candida diet.
- I considered trying the Paleo diet and the GAPS diet but thankfully I discovered TSW before I had to do any more diet stuff.
- I was even considering going on this crazy “few foods” diet where you only eat chicken, rice, pears, and a few other foods. How miserable would THAT be?!?
- I gave up so many things in succession, or simultaneously, feeling that they were somehow linked to my skin’s condition – coffee, tea, sugar, chocolate, dairy, wheat, eggs, fish, meat, nightshade vegetables, bananas, foods that are moderately related to latex, nuts, corn, soy, citrus, tomatoes, garlic, onions, and there’s probably some things I missed.
Needless to say, being on these diets or avoiding all these foods was HARD. Even though I didn’t give up ALL those foods at once, there were times when I was avoiding MANY, MANY foods. The constant reading of ingredients, the not being able to eat in restaurants, the sheer planning that had to be involved in making and packing food, and so on. It truly made me empathize with anyone who has to be on a restricted diet or give up foods for life. I lost weight and I didn’t need to lose weight. I was constantly crabby and deprived. I felt like food ruled my life and I was afraid of eating anything, even though I did still eat. My husband got frustrated and fed up with what seemed like a never-ending chase. I wasn’t fun anymore because I was so obsessed with food. I never went out with friends because I didn’t want to have to explain why I couldn’t eat anything. I felt hopeless and futile and like I had developed weird food allergies that I would never be able to figure out. (You can click on the “Food and Diet” subject link on my blog and read about all the past things there!)
Then TSW entered my life, and I finally had a name and a description for this wackiness that my skin appeared to be possessed with. And as I entered and moved through it, along with moving through divorce proceedings, I was too weary to obsess about food any longer. I had been on the Candida diet, but finally – I no longer cared, and I gave up. There’s only so much one can take. I went back to comfort foods with gluten and sugar and corn. I ate food that my mom had made that was full of nightshade vegetables. I sat alone in my bed and munched chips with garlic and onion. I drank diet pop and tea and coffee here and there. I got really daring one day and stuffed myself with pizza and cheese bread to see if anything would happen, since I thought dairy and tomato sauce were my nemesis.
And you know what? Ever since I started going through TSW, I haven’t been able to truly link a single food to the condition of my skin. All those theories I had about dairy and citrus and chocolate and bananas making things worse – I really don’t know if that’s the case, because I’ve eaten all of these foods without noticeable incident since TSW began. And this makes sense, because a few years ago, before my skin started acting up, I could eat anything at all with no apparent reaction. So it just didn’t make sense that suddenly, in adulthood, I would have developed all these food sensitivities, and it’s an absolute relief to know that in all likelihood, I probably have NO food sensitivities. This also supports the mindset that it really doesn’t matter what you eat in TSW – sure, many people feel better about themselves when they eat “clean”, and I’m all for doing that, but if I’m itchy and restless and I want some pizza or chips on occasion, I’m going to indulge that, since – in the grand scheme of things – it isn’t going to affect how long my healing takes.
This past week when I was out of town in another state, I ate pretty crappy, as I am wont to do when I am “on vacation” and not near my beloved raw kale and carrots. But I reveled in being able to eat whatever I wanted, because 4 months ago, entering a restaurant would have struck me with trepidation and self-consciousness. I had greasy foods like fish and chips, a dish at an Asian restaurant that probably contained just about every big food allergen known to man (shrimp, gluten, nuts, eggs, and soy), and there was even one night that a friend kept buying me rum and Diet Cokes. Alcohol used to ruin my skin – I would wake up with my face all red and dry, so I really hadn’t had any amount of alcohol in YEARS. I was afraid to! So this was another test. And guess what? I woke up the next day no worse for wear. Yes, I did flare on my week away – namely on my limbs and groin area – but I attribute this more to just being away from home and not in my usual environment. If these things were truly making me react, I feel that I would have more of a “whole body” reaction, and the parts of me that are mostly “healed” – my stomach, hands, neck, and face – did not really have any sort of flare. Since I’ve been back at home, my skin has been going through the normal process of recovering from a flare – clearing up, redness fading, cuts and scabs healing, the whole deal, so this really was just another flare in the whole grand cycle of things, and not base d on what I put in my mouth.
So I really have to thank TSW for setting me free from the apprehension of food and drink. Another positive to focus on with this burden we TSW’ers have been given!