Saturday, December 8, 2012

no gluten/wheat/dairy/nuts/soy

I was talking to my old flatmate about having chronic eczema and solutions for it. At that point I was soo fed up with my skin condition. As I discussed in a previous blog entry, my eczema has been the worst it's been in my life. Flaky skin, bleeding, pus. 3 types of hydrocortisone cream and 1 natural cream. A minimum of 3 band aids each day. The eczema was on functional parts of my body (right hand, arm, face, legs and back of my ankle). All of my daily activities were affected by it e.g. I couldn't touch objects properly (hand), couldn't walk freely (foot), couldn't cross my legs (knee) or bend my left arm for extended periods of time. This was happening for 3 months, and counting.

My old housemate suggested swapping all my beauty products for certified organic stuff as that worked for her eczema. I then realised how many chemicals are in my sorbolene cream, shampoo etc that claim to be suitable for eczema and sensitive skin. I was still a bit reluctant to do the swap because I have been using these types/brand of products for years and never had a big problem. Nevertheless, I'm slowly swapping all my beauty products for more natural/organic options. In the meantime, I've decided to eliminate foods from my diet. Initially I said I'd avoid wheat, dairy and nuts for one week and for the second week, I'd do soy and dairy. So this is how I went:

Even though I have this stupid skin condition, it doesn't mean I can't keep enjoying food. Why would I punish myself and my taste buds for inheriting eczema?! At work, I usually snack on nuts and fruit. I substituted the nuts for simply more fruit. After 3 days of this, I became more lethargic, really pale in the face and moody. This raw food bar with mango, chia seeds etc allowed me to feel human again. I also popped a few iron tablets.

Having boiled veges for lunch and dinner a few days in a row made me feel like I was trying to make myself anorexic. To fill up my cranky stomach, I made myself a soy hot chocolate... I put in dairy/sugar free chocolate which makes the drink as disgusting as the chocolate tastes by itself. So, I added honey to sweeten the drink. Beautiful.

I love eating out but WOW, this week I had to do indepth research and interrogating with every takeaway store and restaurant I ate from. Celiacs would find it incredibly difficult. There's wheat/gluten in almost every Asian sauce that restaurants use and even salad dressings. One salad bar gave me a list of their gluten free options but they had nuts/dairy in them. Out of frustration, I just had a fruit juice for lunch.

My friend and I went to a sushi/ramen restaurant near ANU so I did research beforehand. I thought I'd be safe with the salmon skin sushi as I interrogated the poor girl at the counter about the dish. But when it came out, I realised the skin was was battered (contains wheat). So in fact, celiacs would only be able to eat the sashimi and edamame beans in this restaurant. Not fun at all.

I still wanted to have options for breakfast, as it's my favourite meal of the day. Luckily the Freedom Foods company makes cereals with no nuts, or wheat. This was a god send. Later in the week, I decided to add 'soy' to my food elimination list. I only realised how stupid this was when I went to Coles. People must've thought I was crazy or mentally-slow as I stood in the long-life milk section for a good 5-10 minutes just staring at the shelf. Out of the 20+ varieties, I could only drink rice milk and lactose-free milk. I've had rice milk before and it's very sweet and flowery. So lactose free milk it was.
Thankfully, parts of my eczema are now clearing up. This could be my diet or as it was cooler in Canberra this week. I don't have to wear as many band aids now and there's no blood/pus. I think I'll continue this 'diet' for as long as possible. But I hope I can eat some gluten/wheat/dairy/nuts/soy again.

People who have known me for a while may remember that I did a similar thing when I was about 14. I said I'd have no junk food for a few weeks, then I kept pushing myself and lasted for 2 years. I don't think this diet will take the same path.

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