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Our Eczema Trials: Elimination Diet (How You Can Do It Too!)

our eczema trials: elimination diet

Try an elimination diet and stop eating the foods harming your body.

An elimination diet really isn’t that hard and for many it provides a great sense of relief when food allergies or intolerances are discovered. In truth, it’s deciding to do the diet and embracing your decision by fully planning and preparing for it, that’s the hardest.

Why an Elimination Diet?

After years of worsening eczema and unsuccessful attempts with multiple doctors to identify the triggers, I finally realized I could no longer put off an elimination diet for my son. It was time to figure out which foods were aggravating his eczema when allergy testing all came back negative. The best way to do that, according to many health professionals, in fact it’s considered the “gold standard” for food allergy diagnosis by many pediatricians, is by conducting a food challenge. A food challenge is when certain foods are consumed in small doses and then the individual is monitored very closely, in a physicians office is best, to determine if the food causes any reaction in the body.

Food challenges are the only 100% accurate way to prove a food allergy exists, other than a history of reactions with specific foods. Allergy testing is not usually reliable as false positives and false negatives, like was the case with my son, can frequently occur. In order to successfully conduct the food challenge, it’s best to remove the foods in question from the diet completely for a given amount of time in the form of an elimination diet.

Overwhelmed? Embrace the Diet and Plan, Plan, Plan.

When I finally decided to move forward with my son’s diet, the planning seemed very overwhelming. It’s best to work with a physician or nutritionist when planning the elimination diet to ensure all the proper foods are eliminated correctly AND to guarantee you’re not putting your or your child’s health in jeopardy. Removing nutritious foods from the diet means they need to be substituted with equally nutritious alternatives and this can be tricky if you’re not very well versed in a healthy eating and nutrition.

Not only is balancing nutrition hard, but it’s VERY difficult to remove staple foods from your diet. Many of the foods that should be eliminated have been in your or child’s diet since not long after you took your first bites of food as a baby. Perhaps, your body has been used to these foods for so long, that slowly over time a reaction has been building up (in the way of eczema or asthma. You don’t always consciously think about these foods because they’re part of you. You’ve never had to think about it before. So eliminating these foods is like learning a whole new language. You must become a thorough label reader, understand the confusing and misleading world of “may contain traces of,” recognize alternative names for foods (and there are many), and learn to cook with substitute ingredients.

Find the Right Resources

My mother-in-law is a super health food fanatic, so I relied much on her expertise. I also referenced “Dealing with Food Allergies in Babies and Children,” by Janice Vickerstaff Joneja, PhD, RDN. This is an EXCELLENT book that discusses food allergies in-depth and then offers detailed steps on how to conduct elimination diets for various ailments – one of which is eczema! Using Dr. Vickerstaff Joneja’s plan, made things much easier. Her book told me exactly what to eliminate and for how long.  We followed her eczema elimination diet to the letter and it improved my son’s skin tremendously, within a matter of days. When it was time to add the eliminated foods back into his diet, by way of a food challenge, we immediately were able to identify which foods were triggering his eczema as he became very itchy after eating most of them, occasionally with hives. In some cases it took a few days of consuming the foods to see a reaction. In the end we identified the following as eczema triggers for my son: dairy, gluten, soy, and corn. We later also identified through trial and error that many tree nuts cause similar reactions for him.

I’m happy to say that through an elimination diet, we saw major improvements in my son’s skin! This was one of the biggest wins in his battle against eczema. I cannot recommend elimination diets enough.

Yes, it’s hard, but you CAN do it. Here’s how:

1)    Embrace the decision 100%.

2)    Arm yourself with the right resources: physician, nutritionist, books, friends for moral support, etc.

3)    Identify the foods to avoid and ALL the alternative names for these foods.

4)    Have recipes ready to go and your pantry stocked.  Plan on spending a few hours at the grocery store carefully reading labels and finding new food substitutes.

5)    Go for it! If you feel the need to cheat, think about why you want to cheat. Is it because you’re craving one of your favorite boxed/processed chocolate chip cookies that are no longer ok to eat? Then make some using alternative ingredients. Trust me, the alternatives are actually really good!

Here are some great bloggers featuring amazing, healthy recipes that are allergy free, some are top-8 allergy free. Prepare some of their recipes in advance and prevent the desperate need to cheat by having your favorite foods with alternative ingredients on hand and ready to go.

Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen – super healthy recipes from a nutritionist.

Gluten Free Goddess – most recipes are free of more than just gluten.

Tessa the Domestic Diva & Real Food Allergy Free – check out their Allergy Free Wednesday Recipe Hop!

Grateful Foodie – practical recipes for the family.

Allergy Free Alaska – gluten and dairy-free.

Allergy Free Yumminess – check out my Pinterest board full of amazing allergy free recipe finds from around the blogosphere.

Looking for more info and tips on how to complete an elimination diet? Check out my guest post for ScratchMeNot “What’s an Elimination Diet Really Like?”

Have you tried an elimination diet? Did you see results?

74 Comments Post a comment
  1. Allison #

    I just need to say thank you so much for this post, primarily because it led me to the book by Joneja. We’ve spent the last 2 months following the elimination diet to the letter and we did our first challenge yesterday with a DEFINITE reaction. I can’t believe it – a textbook case. It was so helpful to use Joneja’s book with this.

    Like

    June 7, 2014
    • Hi Allison – I’m thrilled the book helped you so much! We found it was great as well. I do hope you continue to see healing. Keep us posted! And congrats! Jennifer

      Like

      June 17, 2014
  2. kristin #

    hi! I’m so glad I came across your website… Do you have any sample meal plans available or a post where you elaborate on what you have your baby for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks? I want to started on this immediately to hopefully change my daughters eczema condition! Thanks!

    Like

    May 15, 2014
    • Hi Kristin – The Whole Life Nutrition cookbook does have an elimination diet section and there are recipes, but no meal plan. If you’re interested in doing GAPS Intro diet for the elimination diet, this ebook is great and has plenty of meal plans. I’d recommend it! It’s what we used.

      Like

      May 27, 2014
  3. HI

    I have a three month old who broke out about a week and a half ago with terrible eczema all over his face and body. It is weeping, open sores. It was infected and we put on antibiotics to stop the infection. As I am breastfeeding, I immediately began an elimination diet. I am not eating all grains (incl oats as I have other children allergic to oats), dairy, eggs, soy, nuts – but my baby is not showing any signs of improvement. How long until an improvement should be noticed?
    Also there are so many recommended creams on this site. Can you please tell me what is best to use as a good moisturizer and for the weeping eczema?

    Like

    January 21, 2014
    • Annie, I’m so sorry to hear this about your son. Poor little guy! And hugs to you, you’ll get through this. You may want to consider eliminating sugar and starchy veggies (potatoes) as well. It’s really hard to say how long it may take until you see improvement. It can take a day or two or many months. We’ve just started the GAPS diet and I know we’re going to be on a modified diet for months and months. Have you tried moving to a more natural laundry product and house hold cleaners as well? Do yo have pets? Carpets? Things to consider. I hope you get through this soon! Jennifer

      Like

      January 27, 2014
  4. luckysponge #

    So happy that you found the root cause of your son’s eczema. Your son is lucky to have a mother who wouldn’t give up on solving the problem. I’m on the hunt for my own root cause after 20 years of living with eczema. This year I had enough and started an elimination diet 3 weeks ago, which led me to your blog as I’m searching for how to do this properly. Yes, crazy to start it during the holiday season, but it’s been easier than I thought. My skin has improved dramatically, which feels like a miracle! But it’s not completely cleared up. Would it be OK to reintroduce foods now or should I wait for my skin to be completely clear? How long can that take?

    I have given up wheat, dairy, soy, corn, eggs, night shades, peanuts, and citrus. I am pescetarian, so I did not give up fish (which I eat only occasionally anyway), legumes, or tree nuts. Should I consider giving these up too if my skin doesn’t completely clear?

    My doctor said that she’d be happy to do an IgG food sensitivity panel after the elimination diet to see if that reveals anything.

    I’d be grateful for your advice. Thanks!

    Like

    December 30, 2013
    • Hi Wendi – Good for you! You’ll start the new year with a better understanding of your skin and the triggers involved. That’s great! After 20 years, I’m sure you must feel so much relief to find some answers. I’m certainly not a doctor, but what I’d do is try to add each food in over a four day period to see if you have any flare ups. If not, then it’s probably safe to keep that food item in your diet. Once you’ve added or or tried to add all the removed foods back into your diet, then see how you’re doing. If things still aren’t perfect. You could certainly try removing legumes and tree nuts and see how it goes. Unfortunately there is no one exact correct way to do an elimination diet. You just have to try and see how it goes. If one way doesn’t work, try another. And remember, while food is often one part of the puzzle, it is usually not the only answer. Make sure you look at your household cleaning products and laundry are products – go as natural as possible there too. And look at environmental and seasonal triggers as well. Good luck!

      Like

      January 6, 2014
      • luckysponge #

        Thanks for your advice, Jennifer! That is reassuring there is “no one exact correct way to do an elimination diet” because I’m winging this. Good point about environmental triggers… I make my own natural cleaning products and used green products for years before that. It’s something that folks need to remember, though—it’s not just what you put in your body, but also on your body that can contribute to eczema.

        I should mention, that I had been experiencing some joint pain in my hands that has also disappeared! It’s so exciting to be at this point!

        Best wishes for a happy 2014.

        Like

        January 6, 2014
      • That is exciting! Congrats! To improved health in 2014!

        Like

        January 6, 2014
      • luckysponge #

        One quick follow up question about reintroducing foods… As I add foods back, like night shades for example, can I add all night shades during the 4-day period, or should I add potatoes for 4 days, then peppers for 4 days, and so on? Thanks!

        Like

        January 6, 2014
      • I would play it safe and reintroduce each separately. Just to be on the safe side.

        Like

        January 6, 2014
  5. yn #

    Hi there
    Great blog. Learning a lot from you. I’ve 8 month old baby with pretty bad eczema. Right now her neck weeps badly and one arm is dry and scaly and knees have some weepy spots. Back of knees have dark patches. I am breastfeeding and supplementing with soy. Looking to stop soon as it’s getting difficult to find time during work to pump. Just wondering if you put your son on soy formula?

    Your story with steroids sound familiar. We’ve largely gone off it and are managing with herbal creams. Very interested in the homeopathic and tcm cream and will put in order soon. Please tell me you deliver to Singapore. Thank you.

    Like

    October 21, 2013
    • Hi there – I’m sorry to hear your little one is suffering right now. We do ship to Singapore, although it seems to take quite a while for orders to be received over there. I’m not sure why. I think the Calendulis Cream and EczeHerbal balms are great places to start – fingers crossed you find one that works really well for your child. Regarding soy formula, personally, I don’t recommend it at all as almost all conventional soy is genetically modified and honestly, dangerous for anyone, especially children. GMO free soy formula would be an option, but there are several countries that have banned soy formula, I believe New Zealand is one of them, based of the abundance of hormones found naturally in soy. For most adults who consume soy here and there it’s not a big deal, but for children consuming soy formula or milk frequently, there are some that think it’s harmful. But that’s debatable and something you shoudl research yourself to see how you feel about it. Formula is hard because there are not a lot of great products out there – most are loaded with either corn or soy derivatives that contain genetically modified ingredients and then they add quite a lot of sugar. I would highly recommend meeting with a holistic nutritionist or naturopath about your concerns for finding a healthy, nourishing formula for your child.

      Like

      October 24, 2013
  6. Reading this post for encouragement tonight … my 8 mo old son is exclusively breast-fed right now and I’ve been on an elimination diet for him since April 1. He has challenge-tested allergic to eggs, dairy, cocoa, tree nuts, coconut, fish and sesame seeds. Tomatoes and soda increase his eczema as well. I am intolerant to wheat, gluten, oat and corn. Feeling totally over this situation!! He and I had whooping cough when he was 3 weeks old – I think it lowered his immune system. It’s been hard to keep up the diet! I will check out a couple of the spots mentioned above.

    Like

    June 23, 2013
    • Hi Nicole – It’s so hard to stay motivated sometimes – it can feel hopeless. I know the feeling. Stay strong and you’ll figure it out. It’s possible he has some other food sensitivities or maybe it’s environmental, stress, or pet related. Also, don’t forget about detergents and cleaning products! You’ll get to the bottom of it. Don’t give up! Jennifer

      Like

      June 25, 2013
  7. For all you people struggling with an elimination diet, it can be daunting but totally worth while. I took my 1 year old son to a naturopath and when I walked out I was stunned…what the hell am I going to feed my child. For 6 weeks he couldn’t have dairy, soy, gluten, rice, potatoes, corn oil or products of any kind, bananas, avocado, strawberries, walnuts, peanuts, potatoes, sugar of any variety, beef, pork, eggs, fish, seafood, turkey…there’s probably more but I can’t remember off hand now, that was a year ago.
    He hasn’t had an ear infection since (he had 8 in 4 months), he has totally got rid of his candida, he doesn’t have eczema at all anymore, his behaviour is 100% calmer, he sleeps through the night, his poop doesn’t burn his bottom.
    It’s crazy how badly food can affect someone, but at least he can eat grass fed beef, any pork, any turkey, strawberries, rice and bananas now.
    Gluten is a whopping big no for my son, it doesn’t cause him eczema anymore but his behaviour and sleep pattern is horrific.
    He still doesn’t eat dairy in general but can eat grass fed butter and mature cheddar with no eczema.
    Sites like these are your best friend with support and in experimenting with cooking, it really isn’t that hard…once you see all their symptoms disappear it is such an amazing feeling.

    Like

    May 22, 2013
    • Thank you so much for sharing your experience, Alison. I hope that your comment may help convince someone on the fence about going through with the diet to finally go for it. It’s very inspiring to hear how you helped drastically improve your son’s health. Congratulations to you and your family! Jennifer

      Like

      May 22, 2013
  8. Simone #

    How can one do an elimination diet if one is still breastfeeding? Since the effects of certain foods can appear days after you eat them, how can you find out which food was the trigger?

    My baby got eczema on his face when he was 4 weeks old and it lasted for about a month. I was besides myself since I had no idea that babies can be affected by eczema. Being desperate, and not knowing what to do, I used on his face the Earth Mama Baby Angel diaper balm and i saw an immediate change for the better. I also used Calendula Cream by California Baby (even though they changed their formula last year and I didn’t know it) and within a month his face was clear and stays clear. His body, however it’s another story.

    He had just a patch of eczema on his legs, didn’t bother him and he didn’t scratch until I started feeding him yogurt around 6 1/2 months. Mind you, this was organic yogurt as I refuse to give him anything that it’s questionable, full of GMOs, pesticides, or growth hormones.

    Once I started giving him the yogurt, within a week, the eczema exploded on his tummy and on his legs, later on his back and arms, and then the itching started.

    I stopped the yogurt and I started giving him probiotics as our holistic doctor recommended to heal his gut since she said that it might be the problem. I also started taking probiotics and now it’s been 3 months.

    I used any cream imaginable, some worked some didn’t. I used and still do the Baby Balm by Badger, very good, also Body Butta by Bubble and Bee Organics.
    When his skin got inflamed and red, I used Natralia, it does wonders especially if the skin is oozing. This cream dries the skin and calms the redness, but then you need to put some good moisturizer as Body Butta on it.

    Since I am still breastfeeding him, I stopped all dairy for about a month or so, but it didn’t seem to make much of a difference.
    I’d like to do an elimination diet to see what kind of foods could be potential triggers but honestly I don’t know where to start just because of the fact that effects of a certain food can appear days and days later.
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Like

    April 23, 2013
    • Hi Simone –

      Thank you so much for your comments. Please note that I am not a doctor or nutritionist, I’m just a mom who has done a fair bit of research on all aspects of eczema and specifically on elimination diets and natural healing. In your case, I’d recommend sitting down with a holistic nutritionist to make sure you’re diet is balanced and then remove all dairy from both your and your child’s diet. Do this for at least two weeks and then add it back in slowly over a four day period. See how he does. If this helps, but does not heal him completely, try the same with gluten, soy, and eggs – all major eczema triggers. Again, work with your nutritionist, but also take a look at the book I recommend in the post – Dealing with Food Alleries in Babies and Children. There is a great step by step elimination diet and process to follow. In addition to the probiotics (which need to be dairy, gluten and soy free, definitely confirm), try adding a good balanced fish oil. Your naturopath can help you with is and the diet as well. Good luck and keep me posted! You can do this! Jennifer

      Like

      April 30, 2013
  9. Neisha #

    Hi Jennifer,

    I posted weeks ago and you were so kind to respond. We have been on the elimation diet for 2 months now and he got really bad, then better for 4 days and has been bad ever since. He is off all egg, dairy, soy peanuts, wheat gluten. My son is 15 months and covered head to toe. We’ve seen allergist, holistic drs, dermatologist etc. he is on fish oil, hemp oil, vit d, multi vitamin, probiotics and biotin. Please any advise is appreciated. My fear now is introducing foods back into his diet and we have now caused an allergic reaction. I do believe in the diet but he hasn’t gotten better…

    Neisha

    Like

    April 16, 2013
    • Hi Neisha –

      Hang in there. To heal the gut, I’ve heard it can take a minimum of 3 months up to several months. Hard to wait, I know. We had a lot of luck with Dr. Reckweg’s 23 and Homeodel 43 and Immunoplex Moducare, when my son’s skin was severe and we were eliminating foods. The food and the supplements you mentioned and the homeopathy I listed here really all worked well together. You just have to find the right magic combination for your son. When you add back in peanuts, if he reacts, don’t forget that other legumes could be triggering eczema as well….beans, peas, for example. If the diet doesn’t work for you – talk to your practitioners about the idea of candida yeast overgrowth and possibly the GAPS diet. Also, what have you done to eliminate environmental triggers? Dust, mold, etc? Do you have pets, carpets, drapes, blinds? Do yo have a good air purifier and HEPA vacuum? Fingers crossed for you. Hang in there! Jennifer

      Like

      April 17, 2013
  10. Neisha #

    How long should it take to kick in? We just started the elimination diet for my son who is 13 months. He has the worst excema i have ever seen, open soars, blood, itchy as can be… the whole nine yards. We started it 1 week ago and although it seems to be calming on parts of his body, it seems worse on his face and he seems to be so much itchier. He is on a soy, egg, dairy, nut, glutton, wheat free diet. Please let me know your thoughts, this has been so hard.

    Neisha

    Like

    March 10, 2013
    • Hi Neisha – For us it only took a couple of days to see results once we eliminated the right combination of foods and removed his other triggers – laundry detergent (switched to soap nuts) and cut out acidic foods like tomatoes and oranges, etc. Are you working with a nutritionist or allergist that could help you through this? I’d give it two weeks (although one month is better) and then start to add the foods back in. It’s possible some of those foods are triggers, some are not, and there are some you have yet to eliminate. You chose the correct foods to eliminate to start, but if nuts are an allergy, then it’s possible other legumes are too – like beans and peas for example. Please don’t get discouraged – you are doing the best thing for your child and you WILL figure it all out. And I’m sure you’ve done this, but have you verfied the food you are serving is free of all traces or possible contamination of the foods you’re eliminating? I found that to be the hardest part. Also, have you considered supplementing with fish oil (with certified low mercury levels) and probiotics (vegan and soy free)? His flare ups right now could be because he’s pushing out the toxins from his body OR it could be because he’s eating more of something he’s allergic to as a replacement for something you’ve eliminated. For example, you removed all gluten, so maybe he’s eating more rice or oats (make sure they are gluten free). Hugs! You’ll get through this.

      Like

      March 10, 2013
    • Simone #

      Neisha,

      Try Natralia cream for open sores, it dries them but then you need to put a good moisturizer on baby’s skin. It’s not the perfect solution, but at least you won’t have open sores.

      http://www.walgreens.com/store/c/natralia-eczema-%26-psoriasis-cream/ID=prod6150057-product

      Like

      April 23, 2013
      • Thanks Neisha – those homeopathic ingredients in that cream sound really interesting. Thanks for sharing. Jennifer

        Like

        April 30, 2013
  11. Fran Black #

    My daughter is 12 (almost 13) and has had eczema all her life. Every doctor had a different opinion. Some said she was outgrowing her allergies, etc. but my “mom instinct” told me different. I felt like something was still wrong with this child. My answer came when I met another mom with a little girl that had eczema 10x worse than my child. At first I thought she was really crazy…telling me it was gut issue…blah, blah. But then she discovered LDA (low dose antigen) and I started to listen. We went to a DO allergist that found my daughter allergic to 14 foods, maybe more. And she has been on elimination/rotation diets and candida, too, since August 2012 and what a tremendous eye opener it has been! After the 30 day elimination diet…she was like a NEW child! Her skin cleared and her eyes and mind really opened it. She was pleasant, cooperative. And like others have said…once you started ADDING foods back in…you really noticed the difference! Eggs and beef make her itchy almost instantly. Other foods make her uncooperative and crabby as can be. It is really amazing. We are now doing the LDA treatment for her because we felt that it would be impossible for a young person to avoid 14 foods and many of them big ones.

    Like

    February 20, 2013
    • That’s wonderful! I’m so happy to hear you’ve found the answer for your daughter! Did you see Breanna’s guest post about LDA and how it’s helped their family? http://itchylittleworld.com/2012/09/27/allergy-and-eczema-improvements-with-low-dose-allergy-treatment-lda-guest-post/

      Like

      February 21, 2013
  12. Great post, lots of info here! I’ve considered doing an elimination diet, but not for any specific reactions – just to see if it would HELP. We deal with high functioning autism and some of its cousins, so there’s just too broad of a scope here to pick something to test for – at least, in my mind. Looks like you found some major ones – going GF is a big deal change! Kudos to you!

    Like

    January 23, 2013
    • If you’re considering doing an elimination diet for general health, take a look at this one by Whole Life Nutrition. It’s the my husband and I did and it really helped us see little food intolerances we had that altered our bodies an health in various ways.

      If the thought of a whole elimination diet is too overwhelming to consider for your child with autism, then maybe just try going completely gluten free for a while. There is an excellent book by Dr. Kenneth Bock about all the growing childhood epidemics. You probably would find it interesting. Here is some info on the book, “Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies.”

      Like

      January 24, 2013
  13. mirandakay #

    I had to go on an elimination diet when I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome many years ago. It seems like my food tolerances have chaanged over the year. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

    January 23, 2013
    • Thanks for the comment Tanya – did you figure out your new intolerances? What was causing your fatigue?

      Like

      January 23, 2013
  14. Wow love this article and I’m going to be forwarding to my close friend who has a daughter that suffers from eczema. She is in her teens now but I’m sure this would help. What a great job doing this and the commitment it takes. Thanks for all the other websites and information you provided.

    Like

    January 23, 2013
    • Hi Pam – Thank you so much for the kind words. I’ve been through so many hard times with eczema, so now that we’re through the worst part, I just want to help others see some eczema relief as well. I hope your friend is able to find some answers for her daughter. Thank you for stopping by.

      Like

      January 23, 2013
  15. Yup, elimination diets are GREAT. :)
    After I lost over 25 pounds through Weight Watchers and got lifetime membership, I still felt horrible. I’d already been reading on how a gluten free diet might help w/different things like exzema and autism. But I had NO IDEA that it could affect SO MUCH. After taking gluten out of our diet, my oldest and youngest and I see TONS of improvement. Even in moods and memory! But I still think that there might be more… Looking at maybe soy. Or at least conventionally grown soy….

    Like

    January 23, 2013
    • Hi – Yes, soy can be really hard on the body as can dairy, not sure if you consume a lot of dairy or not. For reasons you stated, my husband and I did another elimination diet. This one – http://itchylittleworld.com/2012/05/28/elimination-detox-diet-getting-started/. It really helped me figure out that certain foods make me itchy, sugar gives me headaches, gluten makes me sleepy, and soy/mushrooms/yeast/anything moldy like cheese/fermented foods make me very bloated and I cannot digest them well. To say the least, the diet was a real eye opener.

      Congrats on your amazing weight loss! I encourage you to heal your body by determining what foods are aggravating your digestion. Think about how much better you can feel. Good luck! Thanks for stopping by.

      Like

      January 23, 2013
  16. Have you tried an elimination diet? Did you see results?
    I have never tried an elimination diet. I have thought of it because I have itchy skin, mostly at night. I believe it’s caused by stress. Reading your post is having me thinking again about an elimination diet. I haven’t proven it’s stress, but I could prove it is (or is not) food related if I did do an elimination diet.

    Like

    January 22, 2013
    • HI Cheryl – you sound like me. I did an elimination diet as well, a different one, because I get itchy too. Through the diet I found out it’s from eating certain foods for more than one day in a row. I guess it builds up in my system and wreaks havoc on my body. The guilty foods for me were coconut and almonds. I LOVE both these foods, so I now just make sure to not eat them every single day, but try to skip a day between eating them. Maybe for you it’s stress or maybe it’s some different foods. Either way, an elimination diet would help you figure it out finally. Here is the diet I did – it wasn’t too bad and the book made it super easy to follow. http://itchylittleworld.com/2012/05/28/elimination-detox-diet-getting-started/

      Thanks so much for your comment and for stopping by.

      Like

      January 23, 2013
  17. sgrcom #

    We don’t suffer from eczema, but I had no idea it could be caused by foods like that! I do want to start eliminating things from our diets though…get less processed and more natural/whole foods!

    Like

    January 22, 2013
    • Yes, that’s a great way to think. The more processed the more room for unnecessary additives, preservatives, dyes, and things like GMOs. Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Like

      January 23, 2013
  18. My three year old has severe eczema and is allergic to eggs, nuts, soy, and dairy. It is really hard to find foods that fit with her diet. So, I will be checking out some of the books mentioned here and adding you to my Google Reader. I am so glad that I came across your blog, really made me feel like I was not alone in this battle of … itchy skin.

    Like

    January 22, 2013
    • Hi Sheree – I’m so happy you stopped by! Many thanks to Blogelina for connecting us :) I hope some of the books are helpful for you. Please let me know if I can ever help in any way. Thanks for your comment!

      Like

      January 22, 2013
  19. I never knew eczema can be caused by food allergies. Thankfully the kids don’t have eczema but this is good to know. Food changes are hard but once you get into routine it does get easier.(We’ve just switched over to using as much Organic as possible)

    Like

    January 22, 2013
    • Oh yes, the organic switch. We did that too, in order to help my son’s eczema – it’s funny because I wrote a post about that very topic. http://itchylittleworld.com/2012/04/04/how-eczema-led-our-family-down-a-more-natural-organic-path/ Going organic is expensive, but very helpful in avoiding many harmful pesticides. Did you see that the AAP has finally acknowledged that it’s not healthy for children to be exposed to pesticides? I think that acknowledgement is way over due. Don’t you?

      Like

      January 22, 2013
  20. We pretty much avoid Red #40, though it sneeks in occasionally. You have some great information in your post for people considering an elimination diet. Done properly it is “the gold standard.” Thanks!

    Like

    January 21, 2013
    • Yes, definitely the gold standard – I just wish more physicians were eager to suggest it to parents and patients. I feel that the days of the food challenge are so far behind us. Red #40 is a great food item to avoid – lots of behavior modification is associated with it, as I’m sure you’re aware. Thanks for your comment!

      Like

      January 22, 2013
  21. Elimination always sounds overwhelming so I’m glad you broke it down to something manageable. If we ever need to do an elimination, I am confident now that we could do it with a little planning and knowledge.

    Like

    January 21, 2013
    • Hi Angi – I’m glad I could help! Thank you for stopping by!

      Like

      January 22, 2013
  22. This is so interesting. My husband suffers from eczema, I wonder if he would benefit from an elimination diet. It seems like we’re always chasing our tails on this one!

    Like

    January 21, 2013
    • Hi Emily – Thanks for your comment! Yes, it’s quite possible food could be triggering his eczema. Would he be willing to give up gluten, dairy, soy, and a few other foods to see if it makes a difference in his skin?

      Like

      January 21, 2013
  23. Jennifer, this is so informative! While no one in my immediate family has eczema, my brother-in-law, niece and nephew all have it. I am going to pass this article to my sister.

    Like

    January 21, 2013
    • Hi Kelli – Thanks so much! I’m glad you found it interesting. I hope it can help provide some relief to your brother-in-law and his family!

      Like

      January 21, 2013
  24. amothersdesign #

    I agree that elimination diets are not impossible. I have removed dairy, soy, corn, sugar, gluten, eggs and peanuts from my diet. I will testing each food to see which I have the reactions with. It is amazing how much better I feel with the foods removed. I don’t think that most people realize that they may have minor intolerances to many foods.

    Like

    January 21, 2013
    • Definitely not impossible, but certainly a challenge – if they weren’t, I have a feeling most the population would try them to uncover the root of various illnesses and ailments – don’t you agree? So happy the diet helped you!

      Like

      January 21, 2013
  25. michellemuckala #

    I love that you were brave enough to do elimination. I actually have an friend that admitted her son’s eczema was due to a food allergy but there was “no way she was spending all that time looking for the source” and on steriods he went.
    My daughter started having issues when she was four, lots of stomach pains. When she lost two pounds (went from 22 pounds to 20-already VERY little) in a matter of a few months, I had to do something. We went off dairy and gluten, and found very quickly it was gluten. I actually did this when she was two when my momma instinct kicked in that something wasn’t right-it’s amazing how many people will make you feel it’s all in your head, or that you are just doing one of those health kicks. We don’t do much dairy, but she is SO much better without any gluten.

    Like

    January 20, 2013
    • Thank you – I didn’t feel brave at the time – I felt overwhelmed :) But after having completed the diet and having found my son’s eczema triggers – I feel elated and so grateful. Good for you for working out your daughter’s triggers. It’s certainly not the easy path, but it’s so worth it!

      Like

      January 21, 2013
  26. Jen #

    This was an interesting article. I am thankful that, while my oldest had a few spots of eczema here and there, it was not bad at all and easily soothed (but not cured) with creams. We never had to do any kind of medications or anything for it, and he grew out of it by the time he was 2 years old. Now my youngest is having issues digesting milk fats (not the same as lactose intolerance), and I am wondering if two of my older children have had the same issue. I am starting him on coconut milk to see if he does better on it. I was buying him non-homogenized whole milk, and he was doing a lot better – until the ONLY store that sold it stopped carrying it. I’m hoping he’ll be able to get the fats he needs from the coconut milk – it’s sad to see him slowly losing weight because he can’t absorb it from the cow’s milk. If he gains weight on the coconut milk, I think I will just switch the whole family over to it for drinking. Aside from the two littlest ones, we mainly use it for cereal, anyhow.

    Like

    January 19, 2013
    • By milk fats, you don’t mean casein, right? I think that’s a protein. Really interesting as I’m unfamiliar with the intolerance to milk fats. Have you tried goat and sheep’s milk to see if he reacts the same? What about cheese vs. milk vs. yogurt? All the same reactions? Fingers crossed for you on coconut milk – it’s really yummy stuff!

      Like

      January 20, 2013
      • Jen #

        It is definitely the fats. He cannot digest them properly, and it causes him extreme constipation and weight loss. I could tell he was losing body fat – his skin was starting to get baggy on the insides of his thighs. The doctor only put him on a laxative. I had a hard time with that, because that would only help with his constipation, and not the issue of fat absorption. I did a little digging, and found that people who have the problem can usually absorb the fat in non-homogenized milk, because the fat is not bound to the protein – that is what causes the problem, the two being bound together. When I switched him to the non-homogenized whole milk, he was doing a lot better. No constipation issues, and he filled out again. When I had to go down to 2% milk, he started getting scrawny again. I’m trying him with this coconut milk, with the hopes that he’ll get what he needs from it, but I’m also going to ask about raw milk at the local Amish store. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find someone to sell me some if the coconut milk doesn’t work out.

        Like

        January 20, 2013
      • Have you thought about raw milk? Not sure how you feel about it – but I’m sure you can find a local farm that could supply you with some. Check out Westin A. Price foundation for more information. I tried it once, because we wanted to see if my dairy allergic child could tolerate it – he couldn’t, but it was the BEST tasting milk I’ve ever had.

        Like

        January 21, 2013
    • Simone #

      Jen,

      I don’t know where you live, but Organic Valley has non-homogenized organic milk and you can find it at Whole Foods and probably other stores.

      Like

      April 23, 2013
  27. The only thing I have tried eliminating from my daughter’s diet is Red Dye #40. I had mixed results but it did seem like it helped some. My biggest challenge was keeping others from feeding her something with the dye in it, as there are millions of products that contain it. Currently striving for less artificial dyes overall, less processed food, more whole foods.

    Like

    January 19, 2013
    • That’s a great approach as many UK studies show the negative affects of dyes on children. It’s pretty scary stuff!

      Like

      January 19, 2013
  28. Oh the joy of elimination diets. We had to go through this for my oldest’s ADHD and youngest’s reflux while I was nursing him. It was such a pain but once we figured it all out the results where great.

    Like

    January 19, 2013
    • Hi – That’s great you figured it out! Curious – what were each of their triggers? Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

      January 19, 2013
      • Angel reacts to artificial dyes and Gabriel to dairy. Oh the fun of eating in our home after you add everyone’s allergies

        Like

        January 19, 2013
      • Ha! Tell me about it – eating out is pretty much nonexistent these days and I spend hours each day in the kitchen cooking for scratch. Thank goodness I like to cook!

        Like

        January 20, 2013
  29. Scott pierce #

    Hi, this is topical steriod addiction… Please please go to this site http://www.itsan.org. You are suffering from ‘Red Skin Syndrome’ which is caused by overuse of topical steriod creams and therefore your skin has become addicted. This can be cured by a total cessation of steriod creams however the steriod withdrawal process is HELL. Please go to this site and join the forums where you will get insight information and support from others who are withdrawing.

    Like

    January 17, 2013
    • Hi Scott – Thanks for the comment. I know all about topical steroid addiction and have featured it in quite a few posts on this blog. My son is no longer on steroids and is doing great now. Jennifer

      Like

      January 17, 2013
  30. Thanks for this post and the list of bloggers! I have eczema and am currently on Day 10 of an elimination diet myself so this post gave me some encouragement. I gave up the Big Eight of allergens plus potatoes, tomatoes, carrot, celery, apple, banana, coffee, and chocolate and have made a few posts about my diet on my blog. I am starting to get discouraged as I haven’t really seen improvement and I am starting to wonder if maybe I am ‘intolerant’ to something else or if I made a mistake and accidentally ate a “forbidden” food that was hidden under another name, even though I have been diligent about reading labels and not eating out and making my own foods. How long did it take for your son to see improvement, and how long overall did the diet process last?

    Like

    January 8, 2013
    • Hi there – Good for you! And how exciting that you may start to see some changes in your body soon! We did the full diet minus the gluten and didn’t see any changes. When we added gluten to the diet, we say changes within a few days. Now, it can take much longer from what I’ve read – best to give it at least one month or two. Some people with major issues with gluten can take up to one year to fully flush their bodies of the invading food, if you can believe that!! Don’t get discouraged though, hang in there for a month. If you don’t see any changes at all, then try to add the foods back in one at a time and note any changes. I’m sure you’ll see something that will surprise you. As I said, we didn’t notice any changes int he eczema until all the foods were removed that were triggering the eczema, but man, did we see eczema flared ups when EACH one was added back in. You may not catch everything this first round, but surely you’ll catch a couple. – Jennifer

      Like

      January 8, 2013
  31. This is a great article! I have so many friends that want to take the leap, but as I am sure you,can relate….taking that first step canbe very difficult and overwhelming. You have to embrace it 100%….half measures in most instances will simply not tell you what you need to know. I have a good friend who put it succinctly: is taking the leap really anymore difficult than your current existence of watching your child in constant discomfort, constantly beating your head against the wall wondering? Knowledge is power, and even though intimidating….discovering a new way to eat will often yield a healthier diet too, thanks for sharing! Ps, it was through elimination that we discovered my kids triggers….all the specialists and tests were inconclusive and grey….but elimination and challenge were crystal clear!

    Like

    January 8, 2013
    • Thank you Tessa! Elimination diets are hard, but not impossible, as you understand first hand. My hope with this post, and my guest post for ScratchMeNots, is that I can remove some of the fear around starting an elimination diet. As you know, they are so critical in determining not only true food allergies, but also the harder to identify food sensitivities or intolerances. I do love your blog and recipes, so I hope anyone dealing with food avoidance of any kind can benefit from your site, as my family has. – Jennifer

      Like

      January 8, 2013

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