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elimination diet question

465 Views 11 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  ShannonCC
At 18 mo ds still has bad eczema that is not getting better, so I figure I should try an elim diet to see if there are food allergies. Sears says cut out wheat, eggs, dairy, soy, peanuts, nuts, and fish all at the same time for a couple weeks, then if you see improvement add them back one at a time. My question is, why? Why not just cut out wheat for a couple weeks, then if no improvement add wheat back in but cut dairy, etc? I feel like this would be much easier for me in terms of figuring out what to cook. I have a totally unsubstantiated hunch that wheat might be the problem (which would be tragic
) so I was going to start with wheat. Am I way off base?
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If you suspect a certain food to be causing the allergy, it is fine to eliminate that one food. But if symptoms do not improve and you begin to eliminate more suspect foods, you should not add back the foods that you have already eliminated, because there is a possibility that they are also part of the problem.
I'd recommend that you do eliminate all 8 of the major allergens at one time as Sears suggests, plus any other foods you suspect as causes. And, I'd give it more than just a couple of weeks. Eczema can take more than that to heal, and it can take longer than that for the allergens to get out of the body.

My daughter is allergic to dairy, eggs, wheat, and a bunch of fruits. Eliminating just one at a time didn't fix her symptoms - although we started with eliminating just wheat and saw a noticeable improvement briefly. By eliminating all of them, you have a better chance of hitting on the one(s) causing the problem and you will shorten the overall length of the process.

Also, you may want to consider getting your pediatrician to run some blood test and/or going to the allergist for a skin-prick test. Neither one is as horribly painful as I was led to believe - Julie hardly even noticed when they poked her back! These tests are nowhere near 100% accurate, but they can give you good starting points on what you may need to trial eliminate.

Good luck!

Oh, and I'm editing to add that I just saw your fears about what to cook...I was right there just a few months ago, and I still feel frustrated sometimes, but once you get through the initial fear of it and have tried a few things, it gets a lot easier. There are great wheat-free noodles available that taste almost, if not just as good as wheat noodles. I usually still cook regular pasta for my husband and myself and cook a smaller portion of special noodles for her. We eat a lot of stir-fries and casseroles that involve rice or other grains like quinoa and oatmeal.

In fact, Julie eats fruit and oatmeal for breakfast almost every day, or Vans brand of waffles, which I sometimes eat too on days when I'm feeding them to her. We also buy wheat-free bread from the freezer section at the grocery store, which she accepts happily as a substitute. There are a couple of brands of crackers she can eat, and lately has been going nuts for hummus on them.

Common dinners I make include: tacos, spaghetti, stirfry with rice noodles like pad thai or the tiny vermicelli ones, pepper steak, curries, she loves this recipe for curry turkey burgers, which we enjoy too:,00.html and this recipe for portuguese kale soup:,00.html I make huge batches of that one and freeze it in individual servings for lunches or meals when I hadn't planned ahead well. I usually fish out the floaty stuff and put it on a plate so she can pick it up and eat it, then spoon-feed her the broth. Tonight we had beef stroganoff, she just didn't get the sauce on her portion. I'm sure I could think of some other ideas.

Anyway, you can do it - it just takes some planning and getting used to. There are a lot of allergy cookbooks available - just search for allergies in your local library's catalog.
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Sometimes people are allergic or sensitive to more than one food. This is how it was described to me. You have three stones in your shoe and it hurts to walk. So you stop and take out one stone, put your shoe back on and keep walking on the other two. It still hurts, so you say oh, guess that stone wasn't the problem, and put it back in.

Elimination diets are a pain in the tuckus though
We did ours three years ago but were looking for behavioral triggers. Her behavioral symptoms improved dramatically within days but it still took us months to work through the whole elimination diet list. Thankfully we only found two food problems, but now, years later, we're discovering that dairy seems to have been the cause of excema on her and me both so we're trying to eliminate that.

Good luck
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I'm on a seriously limited budget this summer, and I really am freaked out by figuring out what to cook. All those crunchy wheat-free dairy-free soy-free alternatives aren't cheap. My pantry and freezer are well-stocked and I had planned not to buy any more non-perishables for the rest of the summer, but this shoots that all to hell. Don't have any idea how I can afford other stuff, and it'll hurt to buy food when I have so much at home. Plus, there is no health food store in my area; it means a complicated expedition on the subway. And I really really really love food, and the prospect of beans and rice for the rest of the summer is depressing beyond words. We are vegetarian, so if no tofu, cheese and eggs, our protein will be strictly beans and rice. And that's basically all T-Bone will be eating, since he is no longer interested in vegies, and I can only get fruit into him via smoothie, which I can't do w/o dairy...

Argh, I'm getting exhausted just thinking about this.

I'm avoiding the ped since I still haven't made a decision about delaying the rest of his vax. Haven't had time to do my research.

Sorry, I do appreciate your suggestions Shelly. I just bought some milk and yogurt today so I guess I will finish that up and then start doing it the "right" way.

So how much longer than a couple weeks would you/did you do?
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Originally Posted by guerrillamama
I can only get fruit into him via smoothie, which I can't do w/o dairy...
We make smoothies without milk all the time. I use bananas to make them smooth and creamy and then other fruit for the taste. Some people use fruit juice but we use water if we need liquid.

So how much longer than a couple weeks would you/did you do?
I would do it until her symptoms improved.
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Originally Posted by ShannonCC
I would do it until her symptoms improved.
But what if they dont?
Sorry, but just a thought...we did the elim diets to no avail. Finally, close to his 3rd birthday my son's eczema cleared up completely just like the dr had said MIGHT happen. Apparently, that's not uncommon. Now, he only has outbreaks if it's really hot and dry and he's dirty and sweaty. We use some "potions" and it goes away after a few days. Or, like this weekend, we left our hot/dry home and went to a wet & rainy island and after 3 days there he had beautiful skin.
Guerillamama, I feel your pain, I do! I should add too that my daughter's problems wasn't eczema - although she had a tiny bit on her face and that has since cleared up...her problems were not sleeping, not going to sleep, and waking up and crying for 2-3 hours almost every night of her life since she was born. So we were pretty darn motivated, and it still took me till she was 18 months old to eliminate all we needed to. If only I could stop kicking myself now.

Also, just figured out today that she has one more fruit allergy - no more peaches, apricots and nectarines now. ARGH! Sorry, that's a side-note.

About your smoothies, I have to second Shannon that we have smoothies all the time - Julie drinks rice milk, and I just put that in with bananas blueberries and strawberries along with some molasses for calcium, iron and added sweetness; some ground flax seed for all its goodness, and sometimes some probiotic powder just for fun. I stopped the nutritional yeast when it seemed to turn her butt red, which is one of the first symptoms we get with bad foods.

I'm telling you all these extra details because hearing the whole picture about other kids helped me understand better. But I wonder too if BusyMommy doesn't have a point. Is the eczema the only symptom, or are you seeing behavioral problems, diahrrea, constipation, something else that makes you go huh? How bad is the eczema? Have you tried cutting back on baths?

I guess I have to say, you have to decide on how important this is to you. If it is allergies, and you remove them from the diet, your child will have a greater chance of outgrowing them.

As for the groceries - that's tough! Can you just buy additional groceries for your son's meals and freeze in individual servings so the expensive stuff's not wasted? Almost everything I mentioned, if not all of it, freezes extremely well. That soup recipe I posted the link to is an awesome freezer recipe and is pretty cheap to make, with no exotic or hard to find ingredients, and it's a balanced meal. You can even omit the chorizo no problem - I'd just toss in some extra spices to add some flavor if your kid likes flavorful stuff. If you want a longer or more detailed list of exactly which products we have found useful, I'd be happy to share.

By the way, I checked out your picture in your signature - very cute little boy! Speak up if you have any more questions or need more advice or support. It ain't easy!
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Thanks everyone for your suggestions.

His eczema is not nearly as bad as others I've heard of. Most of the time it's tolerable, but sometimes it drives him completely insane and itches so bad he can't get to sleep, and sometimes he scratches till it bleeds. It's just dry itchy spots on his ankles, knees, wrists, and elbows. I use a steroid cream when it gets really bad, but that doesn't always work and I hate using it at all. I cut down on baths a long time ago so now he only gets them once or twice a week, with no soap. I use an oatmeal/calendula/milk soak in the bath and slather him in olive oil afterwards. And I put Aveeno on him constantly. No behavior or sleep problems, thank god. I just feel so awful for him when he is crying and scratching and can't sleep.

The reason that I was planning on doing it now is that for the next 2 months he is going to be with a day care provider who I know will be completely accomodating of his strange diet. But at the end of Aug he might be going into a group daycare where I will have much less control over his diet. And that will be the case... indefinitely, I guess. So I feel like it's now or never.

But geez, if I can avoid doing this I would love to. Any thoughts?
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I'm not a doctor and don't play one on tv
but my completely non-professional recommendation is three weeks. If it were me, and I cut out all those foods for three weeks and saw no difference, I'd decide it either wasn't food related *or* that I had picked the wrong foods.

For us, we've noticed results within half a week both times we eliminated foods but it depends on the kid, on the severity of the allergy or sensitivity, on how long they've had it and on the food. And, well, on a million other factors I'm sure. A few weeks ago I eliminated dairy, thinking it might be the cause of her excema and within a few days it was gone. But then, she only just developed it (at 6 - started showing up a few months ago) it wasn't really bad, and we never ate a lot of dairy anyway. My excema (plus a dry patch on my toe which I never thought was related til now) took about two weeks to completely heal (my hands are baby smooth for the first time in months
). But I've had excema off and on for about 20 years so I had more to deal with I guess.

I say 3 weeks though because, when I was in the thick of research, I heard a lot of moms say that it took up to 3 weeks for certain foods to clear. I always heard it about dairy which is why it surprised me dd cleared up so fast. I'm thinking now it's more than just the type of food (see above

I'd say, given what you said about the daycare situation, do it now. My fingers will be crossed and maybe you'll notice results in days
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