Elimination Diet: Discouragement

I’m on Day 10 of the Elimination diet, eating raw kale and swiss chard (this isn’t quite as miserable as it sounds, as I like feeling virtuous from eating raw greens), and feeling quite discouraged as I have seen NO OVERALL IMPROVEMENT in my eczema.

My legs are scabbed and scratched.  I can’t stop from itching at them at night.  I have the same lovely torso and back rash that makes me thankful it isn’t bikini season yet.  My arms still get itchy.  All of this is the EXACT SAME as it was when I was happily eating gluten, corn, nuts, and other commonly allergenic niceties.

Does it normally take longer than 1-2 weeks to see improvement?  Does this mean I am ‘intolerant’ to some other kind of food?  Did I mistakenly eat something ‘bad’ for me?  Should I start all over and ONLY eat chicken, brown rice, and kale?  Should I give up?  Is it something in my environment not under my control?  Will I have a skin revelation in a few days if I wait it out and magically get better?  Does no improvement mean that I am not intolerant to corn/soy/dairy/eggs/nuts/gluten/fish?  So many unanswered questions.

Regardless, I refuse to believe that this is “something I just have to deal with”, especially when I had multiple years almost eczema-free.  I am going to stay on the diet for another 4 days (so 2 weeks in total) and see what happens.


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14 thoughts on “Elimination Diet: Discouragement

  1. Courtney says:

    I definitely know how you feel, I’m super frustrated and discouraged with my skin too even with being off of nightshades and eating a vegan/gluten-free diet! Have you ever explored the possibility that it might be emotional/stress related? There have been a few times in my life where my eczema would NOT get better even thought I was living on water, rice, and green veggies. I would spend my days in hives and break out for absolutely no reason, it seemed. I once had a doctor tell me she thought it was purely emotional and I was pissed at her at first. But just because I was desperate I went to a counselor and within 2 weeks my eczema had almost completely cleared up! I didn’t even know what I was stressed/upset about, but it came out in some therapy.

    I just realized the other day that I think I am in the same position as I have been before. My eczema is sticking around because of stress/emotional things I need to work through. In fact 2 days ago I was sobbing my eyes about because my face was SO BAD. I realized that I needed to call a certain family member of mine and chew him out, tell him how I felt about his recent actions. What do you know, almost immediately my face started improving. My skin gets bad when I don’t stand up for myself or when things are hanging in the air unresolved, I’ve noticed.

    Anyway, yours may be environmental or food related for sure, but looking into the stress release/emotional release may not be a bad idea. 2 years ago I went to a counselor and when he asked why I was there I just said “my eczema won’t stop flaring and I don’t know why.” Again within a week I was on the road to recovery. Exercising REALLY helps my skin too b/c it releases stress and pumps the endorphins.

    I really hope you figure out what is causing your ongoing flare. It is just the worst!

    • @ Courtney – Isn’t it terrible?!? At least I can commiserate with you – since you probably feel the same, you’ve given up all these foods and haven’t seen the improvements you were looking for either! You make a really good point about the stress/emotions. I’m quite an introverted person and don’t often let my emotions really get OUT. My husband keeps saying that he thinks it is stress related and I “just have to live with it”. Well the first part may be true, but I don’t believe that I have to live with it.

      I’m glad that you were able to have such a favorable response in the past with therapy AND that you were able to get your emotions out recently and see some improvement right away! And I know you have a wedding to look forward to soon which can be very stressful (yet sooooo exciting) in itself so I hope that you can relax and de-stress and continue to see some improvements!

      There actually is a huge unresolved issue hanging over my head, and if it’s stress related, this is the biggie that would be causing it. My in-laws and my parents are both on me to have children, they really want grandchildren. My husband used to bring it up all the time too, but lately he’s gotten more ambivalent. I am really just not a huge kid person and never envisioned myself as a ‘mother’ type. I tried to make myself embrace the idea and want kids, but it’s just not who I am right now and I can’t help that. I was actually going to post about this and how it was one of my biggest stressors, but Amanda wrote such a good post on it that I wouldn’t have had anything different to say, and I recall us both commenting on it and your encouraging words to me there. If I ever do have kids someday I would want to wait a few years. I’m 26 but I completely feel I would not be ready for it yet (if at all). So maybe just THINKING about that family pressure is stressing me out! And I can’t really talk about that issue with anyone since it’s like everyone but me wants me to have kids, so therapy/counseling would be an excellent idea for me to try. I’m glad you brought that suggestion up! 🙂

      • Courtney says:

        Oh wow, yeah I would wonder if that underlying stress over the child issue is contributing to your eczema. That type of stress is something that is constant, even if you aren’t necessarily consciously thinking about it every day, ya know? It may not be a bad idea to try out some counseling to see!! It can’t be more expensive than the drugs/lotions/hopeful cures you probably buy constantly to see if ANYTHING will help the dreaded eczema (that is if you are like me) heheh.

        Also, do you chew gum?? My eczema gets noticeably worse when I chew gum. Any type of gum. I stopped about 6 months ago and that has helped some!

  2. Jennifer says:

    Chin up! You’ll find your triggers, just stay patient. Give it a at least one full month and don’t forget to gradually reintroduce the foods one at a time, even if you don’t think they’re triggers. You may be surprised. Check out the GAPS diet. That was our next step if the elimination diet didn’t help my son, which it did, thank goodness. MANY, many people have said it worked miracles not only on their eczema, but there bodies in general. Definitely something to consider. Good luck! You’re doing great! It’s really hard to stick to a diet like this. Good for you!

    • @ Jennifer – After reading all of your helpful comments yesterday, I think I will be regrouping and “starting over” in essence with the diet since you made a good point with the olives and the oatmeal possibly containing allergens. I went home and looked at my oatmeal and it did NOT specify gluten free! I also was eating chicken breasts that had a marinade containing rice vinegar, and your comment about not being able to eat such foods yourself made me wonder if that could be a trigger for me. Also I was giving up nightshades but I didn’t know that peppers were included in that family, and I ate them a few times on this diet.

      I am SO glad that your son was able to be helped with dietary changes and it really gives hope to me, and i’m sure to other eczema sufferers out there. I’m going to look more into the candida diet and GAPS, and then regroup and restart another challenge diet. First I think I will eliminate ALL nightshades and mold/yeast foods for a good few weeks and see what happens, and THEN go back to an elimination diet if I don’t improve.

      • Jennifer says:

        It’s so hard, isn’t it? Having to read every single thing on the ingredient list AND understand them….I feel like sometimes they’re half written in Japanese. Not to mention all the hidden stuff. This journey is going to really open your eyes to what you put into your body – so that’s a great start! I wrote a post about how my son’s eczema led us down a much healthier eating path, so we’re forever grateful for that.

        Have you asked your natural doctor about candida? It would be interesting to hear what he/she says. I’m surprised she didn’t mention it before. What kind of doctor is she again? For GAPS – I believe there are a few bloggers who have written specifically about going on GAPS for eczema. You should check them out.

        I’m glad I can be helpful to you. I feel like I’ve been through so much with my son and heard from so many others dealing with their own eczema or their children’s – due to The Eczema Company. So, I’m glad when I can help share what I’ve heard. Obviously everyone’s body is different and eczema can be triggered by so many different things, but at least we can all trade off ideas on new things to try. I know we’re all desperate to find the one thing that works! Right?!

  3. Amanda says:

    That’s got to be so frustrating! I’m sure you’ve examined it to death but what was different in your life when you were eczema free?

  4. @ Amanda – 2-3-ish years ago was the last time when my eczema was very minor and quite controlled on a consistent basis. I also had absolutely no food sensitivities (to my knowledge, as I experienced no symptoms) and I could use a great variety of skin products on my skin.

    When my skin started getting more sensitive gradually and my eczema began to rear up, I thought about what had changed in that time period, and have come up with the following possibilities:

    1. I got married in 2010 and moved to a different nearby city/different house. We keep the house very clean and I drink Brita-filtered water (even tried drinking purely bottled water for 2 weeks in case it WAS tap water causing this, but no change), but I guess there is still the potential of having some environmental toxin. I’ve thought about looking into putting a filter on my shower-head in case there IS some toxin in the water, maybe I should try that.

    2. I got very sick with Mononucleosis in 2010 a couple months before my marriage. I was sick for 2 weeks, and although I am generally very healthy and barely ever even get colds, I am wondering if it compromised my immune system in some unknown way, slowly causing some kind of systemic imbalance that didn’t show up until months after the fact.

    3. As mentioned in other posts, I took birth control for about 3 years and stopped this past summer. I thought maybe it threw my hormones out of whack, but I’ve had those plus thyroid tested and everything was normal.

    4. Stress – Although I don’t necessarily FEEL stressed (but I am the type that internalizes stuff – not good probably, haha), this could potentially be a factor too, as Courtney references (I will talk more about my take on stress in my reply to her). I also started going back to school around this time of the eczema worsening gradually, and although I love school, it does place many demands on my time on top of my full time job.

    • Jennifer says:

      It sounds like you’ve uncovered some pretty big changes in your life that could have contributed to your eczema. With the Mononucleosis, did you have to take antibiotics? If yes, that is a HUGE factor in creating a candida overgrowth. Same with birth control…..you may be on to something here…..

  5. @ Jennifer – Since this was 3 years ago, I don’t remember offhand, but I KNOW they had me on multiple oral medications and I also got an injected shot. I’ll have to look at my old paperwork when I get home and see if I can find the names of the meds, but I’m pretty sure that antibiotics were included in the mix. Candida could be my issue!

    • Jennifer says:

      My candida symptoms are very different from yours, but there is a whole slew of symptoms that candida can present. And mine only started one year ago. I was on birth control for years, but had been off of them since around 2007. No real big thing created my candida issues all of a sudden – for me they must have been growing for years and finally my body just couldn’t take it anymore. Every is different. I have had a nasty sweet tooth ever since I can remember though and that is a pretty common sign. Not sure if you get sweet tooths or not….but again, it doesn’t affect everyone in the same way.

      Good luck – I’m excited for you!

  6. @ Jennifer – Yes, I have to say the silver lining in all this is that I am discovering new recipes and new healthy foods. I was always pretty health-minded but this is really helping
    me refine my diet. The hidden ingredients are TOUGH! But I suppose it just is a lesson to buy fresh/make your own whenever possible.

    I’ve been to two natural doctors in the past couple months – one was a naturopath and one was a holistic doctor. The holistic one was the doctor I have seen a couple of times. I told her all about my history and the mono and the birth control, and that I strongly felt there was some kind of systemic imbalance, although I didn’t know much about candida at the time so I didn’t bring it up. I AM also surprised that she didn’t mention it since she seemed to bring up every other possibility under the sun. (I haven’t seen either of them since, as I
    got tired of spending money on doctors and supplements that weren’t doing anything, and decided there were other things I could try myself first.)

    Exactly! We all just want the thing that works! I think it’s more the frustrating journey of FINDING hidden triggers/causes than staying away from them! I’m excited too now that I’m armed with some new knowledge and things to try!

  7. @ Courtney – LOL yes I have a whole cabinet full of failed lotions and stuff. Hmm, yes, I DO chew gum! Not in excess but maybe 1-2 sticks a day during the week at work. I was going to give it up because of the whole artificial sweetener thing, but then I thought “Oh its just a tiny stick of gum, how bad can it be”. That’s an interesting correlation. I will have to try your suggestion!

  8. […] is time to regroup and start fresh.  Thanks to the great comments on the post where I got discouraged on Day 10 of the Elimination Diet, I am armed with new knowledge to heal my skin.  I DID break the […]

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