Eczema:: Our Battle and Journey to a Whole Food, Plant-Based Diet

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For as long as I can remember, eczema has played a part in my life. As a young adult, I accepted that it wasn’t something I would grow out of anymore. I came to terms with the idea of living with eczema. And then I had my first child and it wasn’t long before I knew, he, too has sensitive skin. It was heartbreaking to think that my son may also endure life with eczema. My search then began for a cure that I knew didn’t exist.

Two-month old Theo with an eczema patch on his arm.

Research

I found myself scouring through the National Eczema Association’s website reading an article very similar to this one which talks about a possible link between the food we eat and eczema. “Wait, what?!” were my exact thoughts reading through this site and rocking my 2-month old to sleep. I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it. No way!

I enjoy the flavors of cuisines from all over the globe. Ask anyone who knows me personally and you’ll learn that I love food. I love food so much that it is difficult to claim any favorites. Moving from Los Angeles to Omaha shifted my diet from eating more seafood to eating more steak and other land animals. But it didn’t matter. Why? Because I love food! How could I just stop eating certain foods?

Fast-forward about five years… 

…worsening eczema for myself and manageable eczema for my son and I’m back to researching ways to alleviate symptoms. I had several steroid shots to calm raging flares, saw an allergy specialist to determine any new triggers and bought hundreds of dollars worth of products that claimed to minimize eczema flares. Then not too long after several YouTube videos appeared on my feed with titles similar to “I CURED my eczema” and “Heal your gut, heal your eczema.” And I thought to myself, “Hmmm. This again.

By this time I began feeling desperate.

I decided I would go dairy free for two weeks. It seemed to be one of the more common food triggers, so I gave it a shot. And what do you know? In less than a week, there was a visible reduction on the current flares. These were constant flares that had not gone down in months and they were slowly disappearing. I was still in disbelief. After the two weeks had gone by and my skin started to clear up, I ventured off and had a cream cheese asiago bagel. In about three days, I started to experience flares that were not only red, dry and itchy. They were bumpy hives just like when I was a kid. I knew then that my diet had to change.

The solution for our family: a whole food, plant-based diet.

With this realization and further research, our family chose to follow a more whole food, plant-based diet. It sure has been a learning experience for all of us. Even after all these months with positive outcomes struggles still occur. But with help from our pediatrician, we found a solution to be a dairy-free home. We have found recipes builders to help us discover new flavors, ways of cooking and incorporating more anti-inflammatory foods. I’m thankful to have a supportive household and hope to continue to have a positive impact on our family’s health and well-being. Although this is not a cure for eczema, it certainly has decreased the flares my son and I have had in the last six months.

There was definitely a learning curve when adapting a more whole food, plant-based diet but we take it one day at a time and it has been completely worth it!