Wednesday, January 16, 2013

why i'm stopping my diet

As you may know, I recently went on a diet where I avoided wheat, dairy, soy and nuts. I widely read that this would help my eczema. While I was on the diet, my skin condition improved and I stopped wearing so many band aids

I suspected that my eczema was stress-related so I hoped that the Christmas break would decrease my stress levels. Over the break, it was good to catch up with friends/family who I hadn’t seen in ages, but I was constantly busy and my eczema wasn’t improving. I socialised over brekkie/lunch/dinner, but would hope for my dear life that there’d be at least one thing at the table or on the menu that I could eat. This caused me a lot of stress and anxiety. It wasn’t because my diet wasn’t like everyone else’s (my normal diet is already quite particular), but I wanted food options and for people to understand.

Avoiding wheat, dairy, soy and nuts definitely helped with my eczema… but it wasn’t enough. It was having a toll on my sanity and mental health so I realised I needed to do something else.

In mid-November 2012, I weighed 51kgs which gave me a healthy BMI and was within my standard weight range. In December-ish, I started my diet and got dizzy spells frequently. Some days, I only consumed XXX calories (according to my Android app, my recommended daily calorie intake is 1600). Bla bla bla. In early-January, my GP made me weigh myself and I had lost a lot of weight and had an underweight BMI. Basically, I lost Xkgs in about one month – probably fine for someone who is 100kgs, but not for someone of my weight. (2014 update - I took out some of the numbers as they can be triggering for some.)

The diet impacted my mental health too – I ate very little, couldn’t concentrate and was irritable. I always knew that when I’m hungry I get grumpy, but there’s a scientific explanation for this. A very low-calorie diet causes a drop in serotonin, which leads to agitation and crankiness (read here) I realised that I needed to have more fresh vegetables, meat, legumes and beans to compensate for what I didn’t want to eat.

When I got back to Canberra, I saw my GP. We talked about a range of issues and I was given a prescription for antibiotics and a very strong steroid cream – just what I was avoiding this whole time. I’m supposed to take the antibiotics for 8 days and apply the steroid cream for up to 3 weeks… It took a few days for me to get to the pharmacy, but weirdly, my eczema on my hand started to disappear. It’s like something popped up in my subconscious that said ‘Don’t worry, the universe (not the doctor) is now aware of your eczema. It will be taken care of and you will be okay’. Stress was/is probably a massive contributor to my eczema.

I need more food (and tasty food) to give me more energy and stabilise my mood, in order to better deal with other stressors in my life.

Next I’d like to do a blog entry on what it is like to omit the individual ingredients wheat, dairy, soy and nuts from your diet, things that you’d have to consider and how these ingredients are in sooo many foods we eat. This is to raise awareness of how difficult it is for coeliacs, people who are lactose-intolerant and have food allergies.

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