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Elimination Diet – A Cure for What Ails Us

Today is day two of our food elimination diet. My husband and I are embarking on an adventure together, no, more of a challenge. Between us we have the following minor health ailments:

  • Dandruff
  • Psoriasis
  • Acne
  • Redness
  • Blotchy patches in face
  • Itchy neck

None of them are severe, but they still plague us and I’ve decided enough is enough. Since determining that food triggered our son’s eczema, we figured we’d try to conquer our health issues by eliminating certain foods as well.  It may work. It may not. It may work for some ailments and not for others. Time will tell. I just hope we learn something from this because it won’t be easy by any means.

Here is what we’re eliminating:

Dairy (Cow, Goat, Sheep)

This won’t be so bad as we don’t drink dairy milk (we do almond milk instead) and only occasionally eat cheese, yogurt, and ice cream. There are great ice cream alternatives, thank goodness, but we’re not Diaya “cheese” fans. So, cheese will be the most missed in this category.

Gluten

A definite challenge. We love bread. I’ve tasted Tristan’s gluten-free varieties and they just don’t compare. Poor kid, he doesn’t know any better, but we do. Thank goodness my in-laws recently purchased a bread machine. They make wonderful gluten-free bread, so we’ll be relying heavily on that during this diet. I’ll need to spend a few days cooking up some good gluten-free muffins to keep on hand, which will make Tristan really happy. And we have an amazing pancake recipe.  We do eat a lot of quinoa, brown rice, and millet, so we’re set for the gluten-free grains. While we’ll miss certain types of bread, we do have some good alternatives lined up.

Peanuts

Not a problem at all. They really aren’t very healthy compared to all the other wonderful nuts available, so we don’t keep peanut products in the house. We use SunButter (which I realized today has cane sugar, so it’s off limits now to my husband and I L), almond butter, and pumpkin butter. All very yummy. We also enjoy nuts by the handful like almonds, cashews, walnuts, etc.

Sugar (Refined and Cane, but honey, maple syrup and agave are ok)

Oh man. This will be the next hardest thing I’ve ever done after drug-free natural childbirth.  But unlike birth, I’m not looking forward to this AT ALL. Sugar is my friend. I love sugar and it loves me. We belong together. Removing it from my diet goes against everything I’ve ever known. I come from a long line of sugar fanatics. My husband will be ok, but I may not make it out of this in one sane piece. If you know me, you understand that I’m not exaggerating – I really wish I were. BUT, my addiction to sugar is EXACTLY why I need to remove it from my diet.  I’m sure my body will thank me even if my mind is unable to do so at the end of all this :)

Alcohol

I really enjoy a nice glass of wine and the occasional beer. Liquor, I can take it or leave it. My husband has a beer every night and enjoys wine with me on the weekends. This one will be hardest on him.

Why eliminate these foods? They cause inflammation in the body, which can lead to most of the health ailments listed above, plus things like cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and even Alzheimer’s disease. Yikes! Some of these foods also cause too much acid in the body, which can lead to a very long list of health issues. http://www.care2.com/greenliving/are-you-too-acidic-symptoms.html So, the plan is to cleanse the body of these foods, then see how we feel.

*If you plan to start an elimination diet, always speak to your healthcare professional. These diets can be very hard on the body and you want to ensure you maintain a healthy, balanced diet containing the appropriate vitamins and minerals.

How long is an elimination diet?

That varies by source and I suppose there is no right answer. For Tristan, we removed certain foods from his diet for 30 days before beginning to reintroduce the foods in the food challenge phase. I told my husband we’d do this diet for two weeks. I’m hoping we start seeing changes in our bodies by then because if not, I’m sure I’ll have a hard time encouraging him to continue. Ideally, I’d like us to go for one month.

How to reintroduce the foods?

This part is known as the challenge phase and is another part of the diet that really fluctuates depending on the source. For Tristan, I used Dealing with Food Allergies in Babies and Children by Janice Vickerstaff Joneja PhD RD. Dr. Joneja recommends giving small quantities of the food three times per day, each time building up in the dose.  This is done on Day One of the food challenge. Day Two no challenge food is given. Day Three the food is given in larger quantities than Day One and three times per day, again each time building up in dose. Day Four no challenge food is given. If at any time any sort of reaction occurs, no matter how small, the challenge is stopped. So, I suppose my husband and I will stick to this method since it worked really well for our son.

*Like with the elimination diet itself, the challenge phase should only be done under the care of a healthcare professional as a serious allergic reaction could occur.

I purposely waited until after the holidays to start this diet as it’s hard enough feeding my son on a special diet when we’re visiting family and friends, much less the entire family. Since there was no urgency to tackle this diet my husband and I elected to ring-in the New Year with our last glasses (hopefully only for a short while) of celebratory champagne. Cheers!

Happy New Year! I hope 2012 brings you much happiness with your loved ones!

Click here for an update on our diet progress.

Click here for the diet results.

27 Comments Post a comment
  1. Found an interesting connection….langerhan cells, I’m looking into it further…

    http://mhperpetuallearningcurve.blogspot.com/2013/04/vitamin-d3-and-langerhan-suppression.html

    Like

    April 10, 2013
    • Thank you for sharing this. It’s made me think about how vitamin d3 added to creams for eczema may really help. Some studies show it’s harsh on the skin, but I bet those were horribly refined, chemically exposed versions. Something to think about….

      Like

      April 10, 2013
  2. Sammy da Bull #

    Hi there,

    had done an elimination diet, and after being off gluten for a few weeks, just changed my skin and mind enormously.

    because I’ve been a vegetarian for 5 mths now, my muscles have wasted away (im a guy!) so started back on whey protein isolate mixed with fresh coconut water. Seemed ok, for a few days so i tried adding coconut cream to help fatten me up.

    well, seems like that may have triggered my acne again and mindset not so great either.

    Do u think is the coconut cream, coconut water or protein that is doing this?? I have a feeling its the cream. Thought i’d ask.

    Also, how long do u usually see a reaction to a food once added??

    Like

    February 4, 2013
    • Hi Sammy- That’s wonderful that you found gluten was a trigger! Question about the whey protein – are you dairy free? Because whey is derived from dairy and can be a huge trigger for many people with eczema and other health conditions. My first thought is that it’s the whey that’s causing you to react, BUT I personally cannot have any coconut product for more than one day in a row or I react. Perhaps one of the coconut products is building up in your system and causing a reaction. It’s best to rotate foods for nutrition and overall healthy – is there something you could rotate with the whey and coconut? Speaking just to the coconut – what are the ingredients of the coconut products you’re using? The cream most likely has added sugar and some preservatives. Something to think about there too. What I’d recommend is to stop eating all those things for one week. Then add just one back in at a time for a few days, if you don’t see a reaction, add another item back in for a few days, and continue this until you find what’s bothering you. And being vegetarian means you can still be very athletic and strong – some of the world’s best athlete’s are vegan. Just do a quick google search on vegan athletes and you’ll see tons of info out there that may help you with protein sources and such. I hope this helps! Jennifer

      Like

      February 4, 2013
      • Sammy da Bull #

        Thanks for the quick reply Jennifer! I really appreciate people helping out others, its becoming a rarity these days, so just wanted you to know that! :)

        I;ve been majorly dairy free for quite a while (few years), as it does seem to cause breakouts too but mainly cos milk causes disgustingly bad breath.

        Cheese I have stopped the past 10mths or so.

        I;ve stopped the the coconut cream for a few days. And seems like it has stopped breaking out. Just waiting for these ones to heal. I would put it down to that.

        Forget what it had in it, I’ll go to the supermarket and check again.

        I know that coconut water is ok, cos I’ve had it while i’ve been ok. I like it with the whey cos it seems to make it smoother and lighter and neutralises the dairy of the whey….well, thats what i think.

        I’m lifting weights again, and its been really hard due to the atrophy. But i’ll persist and get there.

        People really need to know about food allergies. Wish I had known 10 years ago…or even 5 yrs. Would have made a huge difference in my life.

        I will keep u posted on how i go. Keep up the good work Jennifer!

        Like

        February 7, 2013
      • Hi Sammy –

        Interesting about the breath as bad breath is a sign that something is being poorly digested – probably in your case milk. Thank you such kind words! I love connecting with others with eczema, allergies, and asthma – so I’m happy to help! Please stop by and comment any time. You may like the FB page as well – very interactive. Good luck with the coconut cream elimination – I hope that’s the answer for you! Good luck. Definitely do keep me posted, please! Jennifer

        Like

        February 7, 2013
  3. Kia #

    Great job! I’ve been on this exact diet for a long time. I had AWFUL eczema on my hands for years. I had to quit my job it got so bad and I probably went through 3 vans of Dermaplast a week (numbs it right up n takes the itch away, however, it does not cure it but it is the best temporary relief I’ve found. (this is the spray they send you home with after childbirth). So I cute out gluten first and saw great results but if I ate a piece of bread it was right back. Then it came but even fr
    cutting out gluten for a solid 2 years! So I then cut out dairy and probably 50% of my sugar intake. I also never eat process foods, something I’ve done for over 10 years. So after the dairy n sugar n gluten out I am probably 90% cures of my hand eczema though I do get it on my body in the winter from the cold. I should also mention that in the 6 months of solid gluten-free, dairy-free, and low sugar I lost over 40 pounds and the only exercise I get is from (sometimes intense) housework and staying home with a toddler. I always recommend people to gongluten-free really because a solid 3 days without it will take away and bloating or heaviness you have in your gut and you WILL have more energy. It’s great that you did this and I’m sure you still follow this diet to some degree. Great job!

    Like

    July 15, 2012
    • That’s wonderful! I’m so happy for you that you’ve really helped improve your eczema by leaps and bounds. So great to hear! It really is amazing what gluten, dairy, and sugar can do to the body. I just discovered sugar really wears me down as well – I was quite sad to see this, but I’ll just have to limit my intake from now on. I found that maple syrup is ok for me though – so thrilled to know that :) Thanks again for the works for encouragement! I’d love to know if you have any blogs or recipe books you’d recommend…. Jennifer

      Like

      July 16, 2012
  4. I’ve read on some other site that dairy seems to be a major factor in causing acne. Thankfully for you, there doesn’t seem to be any dairy in your diet.

    Like

    April 23, 2012
  5. Donna #

    I just want to wish you the best and tell you that I shall be following your blog with great interest. I’ve suffered badly with eczema all my life (I’m 34) and finally I’ve had enough. I’m sick of the stares and the well meaning comments (that just make me more self aware).

    Anyway, my hospital did patch testing to work out what affects me externally and I was delighted to find I had an allergy! Oddly it was to the only things that actually soothe me. Lush Dream Cream and Dream Wash. I’ve used them for 7 years and they soothe big time. However, I didn’t know that I had an allergy which doesn’t actually react for 2 days hence me not ever putting 2 and 2 together!

    Since stopping those 2 weeks ago and using Hydromol instead I’ve drastically reduce my eczema and I’m ecstatic! However, food is still causing break outs. I know for a fact now that tomatoes are a big cause and deep in my heart I know chocolate is another. I’ve just sat her and ate quite a bit of it (the rebellious child in me!) and had a big break out. I just cannot stop eating it until I’m told factually by a doctor.

    I eagerly await my referral to come through now. I’ve asked to go on an elimination diet but I feel I’m not strong enough to do it alone.

    Hope you didn’t mind me sharing all that!

    I will keep popping back for updates. :-)

    Like

    February 2, 2012
    • Hi Donna – Thank you for sharing your story! And no, you are not alone and you can do the elimination diet. It really wasn’t that hard at all. The best advice I can give you is to make sure you fully stock your pantry with lots of things you can eat before you start your diet. Sounds easy, but you must think of sweet treats that you may not be able to buy and need to make yourself. You can do it! Please check back with us and let us know how you’re doing. Also, you can post my FB page if you like. I’m sure everyone will want to cheer you on.

      Regarding the tomatoes, you probably don’t have to give them up completely. My son is sensitive to them too and he can eat pink, yellow, or brown tomatoes. They all taste pretty much the same, but have lower acidity levels. Try them to see if they work for you too. I’ve made tomato sauces and such from them. Plus, I think you’re in Europe, you maybe able to find low acid tomato products at your local health food stores. Ask them if you don’t seem them in stock. Many times stores will custom order for you.

      Regarding the chocolate, it could be something in the chocolate products and not the chocolate itself. Cow’s milk, gluten, and soy can all be disguised in chocolate products of all kinds. To test if it’s really the chocolate, just buy some pure baking chocolate with nothing added – 100% chocolate. Bake something with ingredients you know you can have – make fudge with alternative milk or chocolate milk with alternative milk.

      You’ll do great! I won’t wish you luck because you won’t need it!!!

      Jennifer

      Like

      February 2, 2012
  6. When I was pregnant with my second son, I eliminated all the foods that my first son was allergic to at the time from my diet…dairy,eggs,peanuts/tree nuts,sesame,fish,shellfish and I believe I either eliminated wheat or really cut back on it…it’s been 13 years and at the time life was a bit crazy! One thing I did notice was how clear my skin was…of course I took that to be the fact I was pregnant. I was off dairy for the first year of breastfeeding my second son…tiny bits of milk in my diet would cause him to break out in eczema on his forehead. To make a long story shorter…I discovered that drinking milk caused my skin to break out in acne…my son’s dermatologist confirmed that the only studies conducted that can find a relationship between a food and acne is dairy…interesting as studies also confirm a relationship between dairy and eczema. I also suffer from IBS. My stomach tends to act up with greasy food, too much coffee, alcohol and soda. I also find if I consume too many bread products(possibly the gluten) my stomach will feel bloated. I also am a sweet tooth and try to satisfy it with 70% or more dark chocolate as a treat after dinner with some green tea and fresh fruit. I also use local honey and organic molasses to sweeten my oatmeal and try to stay clear of indulging in my love of baking creations.lol I will definitely follow you and your elimination journey with your husband. I do believe you will discover a difference…I know I feel great eating cleaner…although I do cheat now and again…something I can do as I am not allergic to anything except walnuts. Good luck! Oh and Happy New Year! P.S. How have you used Daiya Cheese? Have your tried Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds in a Mac and Cheese or Pierogi? It may convert you…check out my blog for the recipes…let me know if you try them and what you think of them. Susan H. @ The Food Allergy Chronicles

    Like

    January 12, 2012
    • Hey Susan – Do you find you break out from any milk? Ice cream, yogurt? That’s really the only format of dairy milk I was consuming, and in baked goods. Cutting it out altogether will be interesting. I’ve heard there is a connection between acne and sugar. I wonder if only cutting out refined sugar is going to make a difference. I get these small breakouts on my nose and they are driving me crazy. I’ve noticed it’s gotten worse since I stopped breast feeding my 2nd child. I’ll have to think about that one. I wonder if I made any diet changes. Almond milk, that’s only think I do consume now and didn’t before. We have tried daiya and it’s ok, but really artificial tasting I find. I saw your blog about the pierogies and they look good! But it also looks like a lot of work. I need to find a nice cold afternoon to work on some with the kids.

      Like

      January 13, 2012
      • Hi! Yes, giving up drinking milk has made a big difference in my skin. No more acne issues. I limit the amount of cheese and yogurt I eat as well…basically cheese on pizza friday. My sugar intake is very low…I don’t add any to coffee or tea or cereals. A favourite jam of mine is by St. Dalfour…their Mirabelle Plum is awesome on toast! I got hooked on it from my mom. She is a type 1 diabetic who lives a very clean and healthy life. She has had diabetes since her 30’s and has suffered no ill effects…fingers crossed…so far! The ingredients for the jam are as follows: Mirabelle plums, concentrated grape juice, natural fruit pectin and lemon juice. They come in a mulitple of flavours. PC sells them. Let me know what you think. Yes, the peirogies take up a good afternoon…but then you can freeze them for quick go-to dinners…worth it if you can spare the time! Let me know if you do. Susan H. @ The Food Allergy Chronicles

        Like

        January 13, 2012
      • I’ve tried that brand of jam and it’s very good. It’s been one week and so far and no change in my skin :( Sigh.

        Like

        January 16, 2012
      • I am sorry to hear that your skin still is not clearing…that is frustrating and puzzling! Do you take any essential fatty acids such as evening primrose, flax oil or a fish oil? Michael,Matthew and I are all on evening primrose oil, Michael takes flax oil and Matthew and I take a fish oil (Michael has a fish allergy). Evening Primrose works well for my PMS and it helped to even out Michael’s temperment as a child. Susan H. @ The Food Allergy Chronicles

        Like

        January 17, 2012
      • I take 2 TBS of ground flax seed every day, but that’s it. I’ve thought about adding a fish oil and a probiotic. We’ll see how the diet goes, if things don’t change enough, then I’ll definitely add some more supplements. How did the primrose help Michael’s temperment?

        Like

        January 17, 2012
      • Michael had a hard time keeping still…we called him busy boy! Hard to put a finger on it but he seemed better able to focus…to handle difficult situations. He seemed calmer. Even my husband noticed, he made a comment one night at the dinner table about how Michael seemed more relaxed.

        Like

        January 17, 2012
      • Sounds like my son. Maybe we’ll start a mother and son supplement.

        Like

        January 17, 2012
      • I meant to add that Michael is also on a probiotic. It contains no dairy,corn,wheat,gluten,soy,nuts,peanuts,eggs,fish,shellfishyeast,GMO,artificial colours,flavours or preservatives. It is by Inno-Vite, DDS Original in vegetarian capsules. There is a children’s version which Michael used when he was younger. I purchase it at SuperCenter. I believe Michael suffered from leaky gut syndrome so I put him on probiotics to help build up his good bacterial culture. He has been on it for years. I really believe it has made a big difference and is one of the contributing factors in maintaining his good health.

        Like

        January 17, 2012
      • I’ll keep that one in mind. We tried a probiotic free from everything – it was rice based. I didn’t see that it made any difference really. But, it’s really different for everyone.

        Like

        January 17, 2012
  7. Hi Jennifer,
    Ambitious eating plan. I’ll be eager to follow your inspirational progress! Since I blog for SunButter, I just wanted you to know there is a variety made with sunflower seeds only (no added sugar or salt or anything!). It’s labeled “Organic” and more info is here: http://bit.ly/h3nsAv
    Take care.

    Like

    January 11, 2012
    • Thanks! That’s good to know! I’ll take a look next time I’m at the store. It’s amazing that sugar is in everything. I’ve been really shocked during this diet at what I can’t eat.

      Like

      January 11, 2012
  8. Gah sorry my keyboard was lagging so there was a typo! I meant to say:

    Hi Jennifer!!

    Sounds awesome, can’t wait to read your progress and results, if you’re posting them on here. Just curious though, how will you know which food is the trigger if you’re eliminating them all at the same time?

    Happy New Year btw!

    Like

    January 11, 2012
    • Hi – Thanks! Happy New Year to you too :) I hope I have progress to report. Ha! It’s going really well actually. When we do the food challenge phase and add each food in individually we should be able to see what’s been triggering certain conditions. At least, that’s the goal.

      Like

      January 11, 2012
  9. Wow you are bold to do all of them at the same time!! Way to tackle health issues the natural way. Looking forward to seeing the results :)

    Like

    January 10, 2012
    • Ha! Bold? More like crazy!! :) But I figured it was better to get it all out of the way at once.

      Like

      January 10, 2012

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