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My Elimination Diet

Posted Dec 07 2009 12:42pm
woman-eating-pastaAnyone who knows me well knows that I love pasta.  I LOVE it.  And bread.  And crackers.  And cereal.  And cookies.  And muffins.  And couscous.  And pizza.  Did I mention bread?  And pasta?

Basically, anything made from wheat.  In a sense, you could say wheat is my ‘crack.’  I love it, love it, love it and can’t imagine my life without it. That is, until last week…

For the past year and a half I’ve had eczema on my face. I’m not new to eczema.  I’ve had it at different times during my life since I was a child, and each time I get it in different areas:  my feet, my hands, my legs, my butt (yup!), and most recently my face.  I would get it, visit the dermatologist, get a cream to put on it, and within a couple of months or weeks it would be gone.

But it would always eventually come back.  Either in the same area or a new one.

So why am I talking about eczema on my blog about food and weight-loss?

Because I’m beginning to believe this lifetime of eczema is related to FOOD.

I saw my dermatologist this past summer, and what I thought was just dry skin on my face turned out to be eczema.  And she gave me a cream to get rid of it.  But it didn’t.  Then she put me on another cream which just irritated my face even more.

I got so fed up that I decided to do my own research.  My gut instinct originally told me it was somehow related to food.  But when I asked my dermatologist, she quickly dismissed it.  Though I like my dermatologist, one thing I’ve noticed is that doctors in this country are way too quick to giving you a you pill or prescription.  They’re all about treating the symptoms, instead of finding or treating the cause (same for weight-loss, by the way, but that’s a whole ‘nother post).

So — after doing some research I’ve found that my instinct was right:  my eczema could be related to a food allergy or food sensitivity.  In nutrition school I learned that often when people DO have a food allergy or sensitivity — they crave the exact foods they’re allergic to.  Interesting, huh?  What we crave is often what’s not good for us.  And for me it’s WHEAT.  I love wheat.

In order to find out if I DO have a sensitivity to wheat (gluten), last Monday I decided to do an elimination diet: where you completely eliminate the potential food allergens from your diet, see how you look and feel, and then re-introduce the food back into your diet (to see if your original symptoms come back).

I’ve been thinking about doing it for weeks (okay, months) but just couldn’t imagine my life without wheat. Though I do eat mostly whole wheat, I’ve known to watch my carbs as I can easily eat too much of them.  So I took the big plunge and completely (yes, completely) eliminated wheat from my diet.

For right now, I’m staying away from wheat and all wheat-related products (bye bye bread…) to see how I feel and if this eczema gets better.

Wheat (gluten) intolerance is becoming more and more prevalent.  According to the Center for Celiac Disease at the University of Maryland, one in every 132 people in America has celiac disease (gluten allergy), and nearly 15 times that number—up to 15 percent of the world’s population, or one in seven people—have a non-celiac gluten intolerance.

So how is it going being off wheat (gluten)?

I’ve gotta tell you the first day or two were hard.  Very hard.  Really hard.  And I was at a loss of what to eat (yeah, me, the food expert)!  Though I do watch my carbs, and I am a pretty healthy eater, I had no idea just how much wheat I was eating.

But after the first few days it got easier.  And easier.

And already — after only 7 days — I feel better.  Much better.  It’s amazing!  I must say, even I’ve been shocked.  I’m less bloated, I have more energy, I’m sleeping better, and my skin seems to be getting better.  But the jury isn’t out just yet on the eczema….I’m going to give it a couple more weeks to really see what’s going on.

Oh, and for as long as I can remember, I often have a runny nose — especially when I eat — and even throughout the day.   And that has now diminished a lot.

Do you have any food allergies, sensitivities or intolerances?

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