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Elimination Diet -- how long?

4699 Views 40 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  JaneS
My daughter has had eczema for the past three months or so and it isn't getting better. I'm trying an elimination diet and have a couple of questions:

How long before I should see results?
How long do you try each potential food before eliminating that as a culprit?

I've been at this a week, now. Don't know how much longer I can keep it up. Geesh it's hard.

I'm eating rice, avocado, grapes, rice milk, broccoli, carrots, organic beef, rice cereal, potatoes, oatmeal, and oh, did I mention...rice? My daughter eats only what I eat, too.

After a week, her skin looks a very little bit better, but she's still itching. The patches are not at all gone. Just a bit less red. We've also been giving her baths in sea salt water. Honestly, I think it's the baths that are making the most difference. (We skipped it one night due to tiredness and the next day everything was enflamed again.)

If you've had experience with Elimination diets, I'd sure like to hear from you!
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Dairy takes 14 days to get out of your system- so at least 2 weeks for that. Good luck! I did 21 days without dairy to be sure.

Also be aware of airborne allergins with eczema. Pet hair/dander is a big one.
I'd give it at least 3 weeks at the very least. I've been on a strict elim diet for 4 years so it can be done
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A month is the minimum according to instructions I've been given. Takes 2 weeks to get out of your system, then 2 more to get out of your babe's. I give you a lot of sympathy!! It is really REALLY hard.

Are you on probiotics? Those have helped us a great deal... it makes sense, they increase the power of your immune and digestive systems. Also essential fatty acids, see my sig. Quercetin is a bioflavanoid that inhibits histamine response, my DS gets 1/2 tsp of powder a day. How old is your DD?

Beef was/is a no-no for me. Apparently dairy allergic people can also be allergic to other bovine proteins. I started with chicken, turkey and lamb only.

My testing protocol is have the particular food (such as eggs) for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Do not continue to eat the food if you notice a reaction early in the day. Then go back on the Elim. Diet for 2 days following to see if there is a reaction. If you don't notice a reaction, still don't add the food back into your diet right away until you are done testing everything. Then I will go on a 4 day Rotation Diet.

It is really hard to pinpoint I admit. I *might* be seeing a reaction with citrus, beef and nuts so far.
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Wow, JaneS. Your babe looks great. Our kids are close in age. My daughter was born June 3, 2003. Eczema showed up with her at about 9 months, I think. It was originally only on the tops of her feet, but now there are patches spread over her legs and bum, too. So sad. It's summer and I really want her to be able to run around without pants and shoes/socks, but she scratches so much that keeping covered is the only way I can keep her from getting bloody. Ugh.

Thank you for the suggestions. I was on a vegetarian diet (for many reasons), but I've been SO HUNGRY (AND GRUMPY!) on this elimination diet that I decided to allow myself organic beef. Something that would hold my tummy, YK?

Right now I'm eating tons of rice and avocado. It's quick and easy, but my fam is worried about my lack of nutrition. For a number of reasons, I am not able to do much food preparation right now. And admittedly dietary changes require a change of mental habit, no? That adjustment doesn't happen overnight. I'll certainly consider cutting the beef.

How long have you been working on this? Can you give me some details about the probiotics you take (doses, brands), and the essential fatty acids?

Where did you get your elimination instruction? And what is a Rotation Diet?

Thank you thank you thank you -- for posting so much information. You've been very, very helpful.
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Thank you, his little rashy face was the first to clear.

Hey, same here too, the tops of his feet are still a hot spot. Some days they are perfect, some days he scratches them (and it's maddening when I don't see a food connection, so there's where the probiotics come in, I think our digestive systems just need to heal and get better still). I was on multiple courses of antibiotics before pregnancy and then right after delivery. I noticed it effecting my digestion and I really think this is big reason why we are going through this.

Re: lack of nutrition
Are you on a prenatal, plus calcium/magnesium? Are you getting enough protein, vitamin C? I think you will be fine with supplements added to your diet. There is rice protein powder available for making smoothies to add some extra bulk.

I totally understand being grumpy and just plain HUNGRY. I sulk when DH eats all the things I can't in front of me. But I just have to be extra strong b/c watching my DS scratch in the middle of the night is so horrible I never want to be the cause of that again. And it's an enormous stress and responsibility to *feel* responsible for that, ya know.

It's been very helpful for me to make a bunch of food at once and then freeze some, like chicken breasts, roasted carrots, sweet potato oven fries. I OD'd on avocado and rice in my first month too.

We've been seeing a naturopathic doctor and been on the Elim Diet for over 2 months now, although I have been dairy free for a long while, since DS starting breaking out at about 5-6 months old.

Probiotics right now are Baby Jarrowdophilus for DS, 1/4 tsp/day. I'm on Jarrowdophilus 2 caps 2x/day.
Both of us also take one Culturelle capsule a day.
There is a lot of research behind Culturelle, their website is interesting reading. It's a very high potency capsule (10 billion cells) and my naturopath believes it targets and heals the intestinal lining very well.

I'm just starting to experiment with making my own yogurt. And making breastmilk yogurt for DS! Since fresh live cultures are supposed to be the most potent.

We also take Barlean's organic flax seed oil, DS gets 1/2 tsp/day, I take 1T.
Nordic Naturals peach flavored cod liver oil (it's yummy, really!)
DS gets 1/2 tsp/day, I take 1t.

A Rotation Diet is the next step whereby you eat foods that could be allergens only every 4 days. Not ones that clearly show a reaction, but ones you haven't seen reactions, or are not sure of reactions. For ex. I did not notice a reaction to wheat, so I would add it back into my diet only every 4 days. Sometimes intolerance builds up and spills over the more you eat a food, so it's to try to further pinpoint an offending food.
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What a tremendous support you have been, JaneS. I am extremely grateful for the effort you put into your response to me. It's so complete and so very helpful. I am printing it out for quick and easy reference. Thank you for your willingness to share.

And thank you for your sympathy regarding the diet. It's hard for me. Your post was so supportive and encouraging. It has given me a much-needed boost. I see my daughter's patches clearing up little by little every day. Funny thing about the tops of the feet, eh? Wonder why...

I, too, suspect antibiotics as a possible culprit. As a new mom, I panicked when she was sick for an extended period of time and was pulling at her ears. We were a couple of weeks away from a big trip (flight involved). I took her to someone I didn't know very well, who prescribed antibiotics. Geesh. I tried giving it to her, but after about four doses (1+ day) it just felt really, really wrong. So I stopped, to my relief, but apparently not soon enough. She ended up puking up most of every dose pretty much right away, so I'm sure she didn't get much at all. But it must have been enough to cause damage. She has never been vaxed or had anything else remotely harmful. Dumb Dumb Dumb.

Sadly, the letters MD have never stood for anything very good to me. I try to be open-minded, but the case against them just keeps getting worse and worse. BTW, I ended up having a kinder person check her ears a couple of days later. She reported that both were perfectly clear.
: I found out later that crying can make the drums red, besides which red drums aren't anything to panic about anyway. Gotta chalk it up to Lessons Learned.
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We did this too - our naturopath told us 3 weeks. It's very hard but gets easier as time goes on. We did our 3 weeks, but her skin was still the same after 3 weeks. I introduced things in slowly although since her skin was the same, I still don't know what caused it. However, on the plus side, it must've cleansed her liver and done some good b/c 5 weeks later, even though we'd reintroduced everything back, her skin problems went away completely and have never come back. And I was on the diet with her b/c I'm nursing her still, and a nice benefit for me was I lost 15 pounds on that diet! Amazing what cutting out all sugar can do for you. Of course I gained it all back again, but it was nice being skinny for a while anyway.

Originally Posted by ohmtaretu
What a tremendous support you have been, JaneS. I am extremely grateful for the effort you put into your response to me.

You're very welcome.

I, too, suspect antibiotics as a possible culprit. As a new mom, I panicked when she was sick for an extended period of time ...I took her to someone I didn't know very well, who prescribed antibiotics.
Ok, I'm almost certain this is your DD's issue too then. The eczema showed up soon after this I gather?

Antibiotics reduce the good bacteria that aids in digesting food and keeping the mucosal lining intact in the intestine. One theory is that when the lining wears away, food particles enter the blood partially undigested and wreak their havoc, causing allergic reaction. You CANNOT overdose on probiotics. Well I imagine you can theoretically, but listen to your system and examine your DD's poops for clues

Read the thread
The Power of Probiotics:

Sadly, the letters MD have never stood for anything very good to me. I try to be open-minded, but the case against them just keeps getting worse and worse.
I have medical professionals in my family and I hate to say this too, but I agree with you. I have been harmed in the past by thoughtless procedures and drugs. It's one of the most difficult things not to be able to trust or respect someone's advice that you are going to for help! It's also a tremendous burden as a mother to feel like you are alone in REALLY figuring out what is going on. And finding out how to fix it, as opposed to merely ameliorating symptoms and suffering side effects as a result. Thankfully we can share that burden here.

Thank you for helping me be more sure that antibotics/reduction in probiotics are a root cause of this. The more I think about our history and hear others experiences, the more I believe this. Very few people with allergies recognize this I think.
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Have you looked at Dr Sears' elimination diet for bfing moms? I see a couple things in your diet that could cause problems (broccoli, high salicylates like grapes... avocado and white potatoes have med sal contents). Kudos to you for trying diet to help your dd

Other low allergenic foods you can eat (according to Dr Sears) are pears, turkey, lamb, sweet potatoes, millet, squash.

Not sure if that helped or not. Good luck!
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Salicylates? Oh my. I had no idea what this was. Thank you for pointing this out. I did a search and found a table of salicylate concentrations in foods. Crossed a bunch more things off my list. Sigh. And thanks for the support. I am trying so hard to get this worked out for my daughter.

JaneS: I have some probiotics in the fridge and have tried them before. I'm so serious about narrowing down this food allergy junk that I'm very hesistant to add anything else to the mix just yet. But I'm definitely headed down the probiotic/omega-3 path. I really appreciate knowing what your routine is.

It's so hard to be on this restrictive diet and still feel like I'm able to give my daughter the nutrients she needs - not to mention myself. Thanks for pointing out my need for supplements. I have been neglecting this, but I'm going to take a prenatal right now....

BTW: Y'all ROCK.
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Quick update, here, in case anyone else is curious about the elimination diet....

I'm on week 3 and her patches are no longer inflamed. They are still a bit dry, but she doesn't scratch them and I think they simply take time to heal. We're in the process of testing some things. I can't wait to test soy. It has been such a staple of my diet and I'm really, really missing it.

I can also tell you that I haven't started any essential fatty acid supplements or probiotics yet and the elimination diet still has worked miracles. We'll supplement once we've determined the food triggers, because I'm sure that our systems could really use a big boost.

Thanks for all of your encouragement and support! We're on our way to clear skin!

(You really ARE what you eat!)
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That is really awesome news! Go Mama Go!

Don't wait to start probiotics b/c they help you digest and heal the intestinal lining.
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Has anyone tried an elimination diet for digestive upset in dd/ds? My daughter is having a horrible itme. She has trouble sleeping at night. She scrunches us, drawing her legs in while she sleeps, thrashes about. She's also getting harder to put down.

The allergist recommended I try a very restrictive elimination diet (I start tomorrow). I'm just wondering if anyone has had any success with this.

I'm wondering if there might not be something else wrong. I've considered silent reflux as she seems to have a lot of "little burps", which to me seem like something she ate is "coming back up" numerous times after she eats.

Any thoughts? Help? We're kind of at our witts as DD has not gotten a good night's sleep (neither have we) in a few weeks. And we're expending a *lot* of energy trying to keep her well rested.

Originally Posted by ohmtaretu
Quick update, here, in case anyone else is curious about the elimination diet....


Would you mind telling us what you are eating? It may help some other nursing mamas, kwim?
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Originally Posted by chlobo
Has anyone tried an elimination diet for digestive upset in dd/ds? My daughter is having a horrible itme. She has trouble sleeping at night. She scrunches us, drawing her legs in while she sleeps, thrashes about. She's also getting harder to put down.
The diet Dr Sears recommends is for babies who are very fussy. You are exclusively bfing your dd? Poor thing... she sounds miserable.
I hope your diet helps her.
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Originally Posted by pb_and_j

Would you mind telling us what you are eating? It may help some other nursing mamas, kwim?

Absolutely. Here's my list.

rice milk
rice cereal (Barbara's Puffins -- yum!)
brown rice
white rice
potatoes (peeled)

That's it. For three weeks. Initially the diet was hard to adapt to and I got really hungry, but her improvement inspired me to keep going and it finally got easier to answer the question "What can I eat?" I've since added organic chicken (couldn't find turkey), which helps hold my stomach. Also, that brown rice protein powder that someone suggested also helped contain my appetite. I take a multivitamin (I got one that is hypoallergenic -- no veggie products). And while I normally really shy away from canned products, a can of pears was a quick and easy way to get some calories. (I lost about 4 pounds.)

I'm slowly testing some things that I don't suspect. Wheat seems okay, as does corn. Those alone open up a lot more options.

Things I still very strongly suspect:
absolutely no citric acid, which is found in tons of stuff, including almost all sodas -- I can't even have a DROP of lemonade!
absolutely no tomatoes
no soy
no eggs (small amt of baked goods seem okay)
no cows milk or beef fats (thanks JaneS!)

Thanks to pb_and_j, I am still staying away from foods high in salicylates.

chlobo -- check out You may find some helpful information there. I didn't used to fret much about my diet, but now that I've experienced this dramatic change first-hand, you can bet I'll be A LOT more conscientious about what I eat. It really drove home that point: you are what you eat. I can't believe how differently I think about this now.

Also, I feel really indebted to the salt baths. Chlorine is terrible for our bodies and our skin. We don't have a water softener, but I think the salt used in these must be accomplishing roughly the same thing. We're also starting probiotics today. When we can afford it, we'll be adding Udo's flax oil, too.

Thanks again for all your support and great advice. It's wonderful when we can help each other, eh? And thank you on behalf of my daughter. Her patches are clearing up so quickly. They are still slightly discolored, but they are not itchy anymore. What a relief! I can't believe she can actually go barefoot and naked now! For months she was always in socks and pants -- in the bath, in bed, outside in the kiddie pool...24-7. I'm so grateful for the dramatic improvement in her quality of life. I'm amazed and absolutely grateful.
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Wow, thats wonderful
I am starting an elimination diet today. We already don't eat any dairy but now I am going to cut out wheat as a possible culprit for my sons dry skin.
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Hey ohmtaretu--

Just wanted to say congrats on your elimination diet!! It can be tough, but it's so worth it. I've been on it for over a year and a half now (ds2 is allergic to dairy, soy, eggs, corn, wheat, coconut, mustard, many veggies, bananas and avocados and most other fruit, barley, etc...); before the diagnosis, he was covered head-to-toe with horrible, scaly, oozing eczema; he had scratched out his hair, his scalp was so bad. The results of the elimination diet were amazing.

I want to strongly encourage you to start the flax seed oil asap--or find a good source of flax seed meal. I added it to my food and added some to his as well when he started solids and it made such an incredible difference in his skin. If you're near a Trader Joe's, they have the best price on the oil I've seen. We found flax seed meal for $1/pound at a nearby Mennonite market. Also, before you start taking the probiotics, make sure they weren't cultured on dairy--I know several bfing moms who have had a problem with that. Nutritionally, it's so important make sure you have enough protein; I also learned that severe eczema can rob the body of needed protein and other nutrients and affect growth. Our allergist suggested that I initially stay away from both beef (x-reacion possible with dairy proteins) and chicken (x-reaction with eggs) and stick to lamb. Beef was the first thing I added back into my diet--with no problems and ds2 is ana to dairy (we get most of our beef directly from a buffalo farm--I'm a little paranoid now b/c there's a new spray-on lactose-based preservative that a lot of beef distributors are starting to use); chicken was next. And, unless there's an unidentified additive, we've had no problems. Also, citric acid is not always derrived from fruit; very frequently it's corn--my son can't tolerate either. If citric acid has been a big problem beyond the lemonade, you might want to look closely at corn products again.

Anyway, congratulations! I know so many moms who have given up nursing in favor of an elemental formula b/c the elimination diet was too difficult.

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Wow this thread has been so helpful -- but SO overwhelming!!

I am not sure what to do. My DS started getting ecezma - I think at about 5 months. Was in at the doctor for a "well" baby checkup and asked about it. MD said - no not ecezma just because of teeting actitivity. Well, well well. It got worse and worse.
It broke open and was bleeding and was really bad. We tried using Aloe Vera on it and cleaning it and to no avail.
I just started solids two weeks ago and stared with the LLL recommendations of avocado. I also was adding in flax oil because instinct told me to.
We have seen improvement but it is still there.
Any thoughts, ideas? I don't know if we should stop the solids and do an elimination diet before we get into all of that food stuff.
Any help would be appreciated.
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