Today I am sharing a post about my experience with eczema and what it was like dealing with it throughout childhood and adolescence. HBFit.com (Health, Beauty, Fitness) asked me to write a diary style article about the struggles of having a chronic autoimmune skin condition and how I became eczema free through changing my diet. This was a big issue in my life that was a constant source of embarrassment and really affected my self esteem as a child. Now, I am happy to say I have been completely eczema free for over 10 years and stopped using all prescription steroid and anti-inflammatory creams years ago. I know so many people deal with skin issues and have no idea that diet could be related, so I thought it might be helpful to even one of you to share my experience!
I had eczema as long as I could remember in my childhood. I distinctly recall bringing my prescription steroid creams to sleepovers at friend’s houses in grade school and embarrassingly applying it all over my arms and legs before bed at a Girl Scout campout. Eczema had become part of my life and was something I assumed I was born with and would always have. My red, scaly, itchy rash was ever present and only seemed to worsen with age. As I reached my early adolescence it was becoming much more bothersome in my life and something I felt ashamed about because it was “gross” looking and I had no solution to completely make it go away. There was literally nothing I could do, and I felt helpless.
It wasn’t until I saw a new doctor as a teenager, that the puzzle pieces began to come together about what was causing my chronic eczema and how I could begin to treat it from the source. Prescription anti-inflammatory creams helped with the itching at night and redness, but were never able to eliminate the eczema itself. They could temporarily mask some of the symptoms, but they were a quick fix that never got to the root of the problem.
My new doctor suggested blood testing for autoimmune conditions to see if my immune system might be attacking my own healthy tissue as a byproduct of some other autoimmune issue. The blood test revealed I had celiac disease antibodies and I was directed to remove all gluten from my diet. I was uneducated about celiac, gluten, and what it all meant, but I was excited to have some information that could potentially be the answer for curing my eczema once and for all.
Up to this point in my life, I ate standard foods just like any other kid. I was a heavy consumer of pasta, pizza, cookies, crackers, cereal, and all of the normal foods kids typically enjoy. When I removed these foods from my diet, I primarily ate rice, lots of veggies and salads, fish, turkey, chicken, and eggs. Within a couple of weeks, my eczema was completely 100% gone. I didn’t remember the last time I saw my skin that clear and just completely smooth and soft. It was one of the most eye opening experiences of my life because I had never considered or been taught in school the direct correlation between the foods you put into your body with how you look and feel. The concept was totally foreign to me before seeing this connection firsthand with my own two eyes, and I was completely fascinated with nutrition and health from that moment onward. I realized you can cure yourself of chronic ailments and turn your health around by simply eating the right foods.
It was interesting to me that for so many years in my childhood, no doctor brought this possible correlation to light. I had been prescribed cream after ointment after cream, and that was the end of the story. There was no deeper digging into my skin problem and what could be causing it so severely for so long. It made me think of all the other women and men out there dealing with similar issues desperate for a solution, with very little information or answers given by their physicians. Eczema can be a very embarrassing and bothersome condition that nobody wants to live with.
After reading lots of books on various dietary philosophies and health, I decided to try a high fat diet to replenish the lipids and fatty acids in my skin, while calming inflammation. This meant lots of cold pressed oils like olive and coconut, raw nuts and nut butters, salmon, egg yolks, grass fed meats, and avocados. I focused on high quality fats to keep me nourished and satisfied as I transitioned away from grains and the foods I had grown up eating. I began to feel much more energetic and settled after meals because I found that digesting high fat meals with little to no grains (even gluten free) was much easier for my body. I also incorporated lots of cold pressed organic juices to flood my body with easily digestible nutrients to help heal my digestive tract after so many years of consuming gluten without realizing it was damaging my gut lining. Fast forward many years later, and I am still following a very similar high fat diet with little to no grains and I am eczema free.
I know how frustrating it can be to have an annoying condition and no idea what is causing it. I understand the feelings of confusion and desperation for answers. It can take months and years to get the bottom of your health and what is going on inside of your body. I hope if any of you are experiencing eczema or a chronic skin condition, my story may help you consider another route of treatment through diet that you may not have considered before.
*You can see the feature over on HBFit.com and please leave your questions/comments below!