It is time to make some changes. (I also changed my blog theme – I felt the old one was hard to read and I think this one is better!) Changes that, in all reality, will be terribly hard and even potentially socially ostracizing, but that hopefully will provide a great deal of help to my skin.
As soon as the holidays pass, I am going to try the Food Elimination Diet to help manage my eczema. I’ve never been one for New Year’s Resolutions, but I may well start this on January 1st just because it’s an easily memorable starting point and you have the whole psychologically motivating aura of a fresh new year. I’d start it tomorrow, but I would be setting myself up for failure by doing it right before the holiday!
The Food Elimination Diet removes the BIG SEVEN of allergens:
And yes, I mean removing them all at once. In addition to this, there are a few other foods/drinks that I plan to avoid, because of experiences with them in the past that leads me to believe my system does not take kindly to them. These are:
And then, just because they’re really not good for anyone, I am going to try and avoid refined sugars and artificial sweeteners. It’ll be no good if I follow this elimination diet but stuff myself with Gummy Worms out of sheer desperation!
If I wanted to, I could get REALLY crazy and eliminate all nightshade vegetables (besides tomatoes, that’s potatoes and eggplant) and foods that have a moderate cross-reaction with latex (apples, carrots, celery, melons, and oh yeah, also potato and tomato). The verdict is still out on if I will actually do this too.
This begs the question. What the hell am I going to eat?? Although it sounds very spartan, there are many foods available. I plan on eating a lot of rice, quinoa, oats/oatmeal, vegetables (esp. green leafy ones like spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower), beans, squash, some fruits, pure maple syrup as sweetener, and oh yes…. MEATS.
As someone who has been a quasi-vegetarian and has never liked most meats, even from early childhood, the thought of actually having to buy and cook raw meat for myself frankly disgusts and intimidates me. I like fish, and I like bacon, but other than that I’m pretty ambivalent. The thought of red meat is revolting (I haven’t had it in years on principle), and the thought of turkey or chicken is also gross. I will eat it ONCE IN A WHILE (like at someone’s house, out of politeness) but cook it for myself and then choke it down? Ugh.
At the same time, I don’t believe that I can get a perfectly well-rounded diet using just beans for protein. As chicken and turkey are foods that are very low on the list of allergens, I think that this is an adequate trade-off to try for healthier skin.
From what I have been reading online about the Elimination Diet, people with eczema and other conditions have had excellent results with it, helping target exactly which foods bother them. But, you need to follow it exactly. No cheating and saying, “oh, well I didn’t have any gluten today, but maybe I can have just one cookie”. Or, “Well, I’m not sure if there is soy in these egg rolls, but I’m only eating a few of them”. This mentality is why my previous stints of ‘food elimination’ were not very helpful – because ultimately I ended up cheating.
So, I will avoid all of these foods for at LEAST 4 days – it may take up to three weeks – until I see improvement in my skin.
Then, I can start adding back foods one at a time, eating a new food 1 to 3 times a day and monitoring for any symptoms. During this time, keeping a food diary is very important, as any ‘reactions’ may not come on immediately. Basically I plan to add a new food about every week, as I think this will be enough of a time span to see what effects it may have.
Basically I will not be able to go out to eat at all during this time, and will have to prepare all my own food. I will also have to be prepared with PLENTY of food on hand at work, because if I get hungry, I will be subject to temptation.
I will also likely have to explain this diet to my family and in-laws. My in-laws have a standing tradition that we go out for breakfast every other week, and they’ll need to understand why I’m not eating ‘normal’ foods. (Really, I have no idea at all what I would eat in a normal restaurant on this temporary diet. Bowl of lettuce and cucumbers??)
I will need to get over my abhorrence of meat and learn how to cook it. I’m okay with this if it helps me, and I have some time over the Christmas break to plan shopping lists and recipes and meals for this Elimination Diet. I will also not be able to have many packaged foods. All I can think of right now for packaged snacks is rice cakes and Rice Chex.
I also anticipate feeling very deprived and depressed. Yeah, this is a very restrictive thing, and I’m going to be eating foods that I don’t actually like. Therefore, I will head this off by having some sort of non-dietary ‘treat’ or ‘reward’ system for myself – like if I make it through the challenge, I get to buy myself new running shoes or something.
And, before I set forth on this elimination diet, I might just have to have one final splurge. I almost never eat dairy because I feel that it bothers me, but I’ve been craving pizza for days…. 🙂
Have you ever tried some form of eliminating foods for your health conditions? Has it helped you? Any advice for me?