In fall of last year, I ventured to the naturopath for the first time in hopes of finding a solution for my lifelong, and worsening, eczema. While still a little skeptical of their methods (I just need to get learned in the science...) I also knew that the steroid creams the doctors prescribed was only covering up an underlying issue, and that is what I wanted to find out.
Through a couple appointments with her I was recommended to cut out dairy and glucose (as should most people, glucose anyways). Within 6 weeks I felt internally better, but while the eczema had improved it was only by about 50%. Upon recommendations of a couple celiac friends, I decided to take the dive and cut out gluten. My eczema seriously improved as a result. I thought that perhaps gluten was the main suspect and so I allowed some beloved dairy back into my life and once again my skin worsened...
Thus they are a cruel duo, gluten and dairy. But, so far, my efforts to stick to that duo-free lifestyle haven't been as difficult as I expected. One of the things I find trickiest is that I haven't been diagnosed as a celiac, nor am I fully lactose intolerant. When I go somewhere and refuse a hunk of bread, I feel a little bad because it's just a 'sensitivity' which I seemed to discover on my own. On the other hand, when I have an all-consuming irrefutable need for a slice of cow's milk cheese, I feel like a faker. It's a bit of a process figuring out where I fit in on the 'food-allergy spectrum'.
But the positives of this diet change have been much more concrete and encouraging:
- My eczema no longer acts up without reason or control. Unfortunately I am still working on my self-control (especially in regards to dairy), but at least I now know that, if I have eczema, I can guess what caused it.
- I have gone back down to my comfortable body weight. For the last year I had hit a point several pounds above what I was used to and I couldn't seem to get it down. After going GF it seemed that was all my body needed to level out on its own.
- It has made me much more aware of how I feel physically, and has made me consider how aware (or unaware) we are of the food we eat and how our body responds to it. I would strongly encourage people to listen closer to their bodies, because a nightly stomach rumble or a particular itch is not necessarily the norm. Many people, when cutting out gluten, experience entire mood and energy changes. When my parents took me off dairy as a toddler it saved me from painful earaches. It's definitely worth giving a shot if you are persistently experiencing one symptom or another.
- While I have always had a love for cooking, it has made it even that much more exciting! I have to seriously consider the recipes I am making, and because I love food so much I am not content with just settling for the typically GF items. I'll be honest, I'm still scared of quinoa. I associate it with the flavour of hippies and I don't think that is a good flavour. I want to be able to have the delicious food that I love! So it takes a little creativity and patience and determination (no one has heard my sailor mouth like GF dough...) but when it works out it makes me feel so successful (and full).
So that's been my exploration of dietary restrictions so far. If you are considering trying it out, I hope you are encouraged! And, I hope that if you have been doing this for much longer, you would impart on me some of your winning recipes! :)