I have been doing a lot of research about food sensitivities and allergies recently. It’s fascinating. Our youngest daughter has had severe eczema from about three months of age on. We desperately wanted to treat eczema naturally, but had no idea where to start. While the internet can be overwhelming, it has given me so many things to consider. As a Thrive Ambassador for Kaiser I was recently given the opportunity to speak with Kaiser Permanente Registered Dietician Kimi McAdams, MS. I was so thankful to be able to speak with someone about our unique situation. There is such a range when it comes to allergies and food sensitivities. While the internet can be helpful, I highly suggest speaking with a professional about your individual needs. Below is how we have proceeded with the guidance of a nutritionist, but please consult your doctor first.
We learned just last year that dairy was the culprit of our daughter’s eczema rash. We have found that simply avoiding dairy keeps eczema away. What we thought might be a huge lifestyle change turns out to be very small. In all the years of her struggle with eczema, allergies were never brought up in our pediatrician’s office. We researched on our own and found that one way to treat eczema naturally and without medicine is to modify the sufferer’s diet. This seemed like such a simple answer, it was crazy that our doctor never mentioned allergies or food sensitivities.
For years steroid cream was our pediatrician at the time’s answer. “This is so easy to treat, here you go!” he would say while scribbling away on his prescription pad. “Is there something else we can try? Something natural?” I would ask. Shrugging he would say “Maybe, but we know this cream will make it go away.” To his credit, the eczema did always go away, but it always came back.
As a mother I wanted to do more than just treat the inflammation, I wanted to eliminate the source. Our doctor at the time dismissed me saying it could be so many things and cream worked fine. Because he wasn’t helping us find the source I decided to research what might be causing eczema on my own. From what I gathered, it appears eczema can be caused by several different things; diet being one of them. Apparently gluten and dairy are very often the culprit. We decided to try eliminating dairy first. Friends and articles seemed in agreement that change should happen in the next few weeks if she had an allergy to dairy. Within three days the eczema that had plagued her for more than four years was completely cleared up. Coincidence some may say.
Kaiser Permanente teaches that preventative care is essential. Some might be quick to say treating the symptom is as easy as a pill or cream. I personally wanted to get to the root of the problem and treat it before we had symptoms. It seems simple. Every person is different and some people just shouldn’t have certain foods. Our poor girl’s body was fighting against dairy all that time. The answer to her healing was simply to avoid dairy. For us, it really is that simple.
When I spoke with Kimi McAdams she reaffirmed this. Kaiser encourages staying active, eating healthy, and living well. Eating healthy is important and while there are standard guidelines, for some those guidelines need to be tweaked. I found it refreshing and validating to speak with someone who believes that preventative care is best. She encouraged us to be positive and supportive about our daughter’s new dietary restrictions. In solidarity we now have a dairy free home. We offer fun dairy alternatives. We talk about how awesome it is to live without ‘itchies’ on our skin. Eating healthy isn’t a chore, and it has so many benefits.
If your kiddo is anything like ours, you might be cringing at the idea of trying to eliminate dairy. Little Miss C ate a steady diet of dairy. She ate yogurt with breakfast, loved cheese sticks, and ice cream was her favorite dessert. Believe it or not, many dairy alternatives are such good mimics the transition was almost effortless. Coconut milk is our favorite, vanilla flavored is a special treat. Several nut or coconut based faux cheeses make great snacks as is and even melt on pizzas. Almond based yogurts are our favorites. While we thought we might only find milk substitutes at fancy stores, we have found them at big box and even discount stores! We even found a chain pizza place that offers a dairy free cheese for their pizzas for only $1 more. The first week had a learning curve, but we would never look back!
One exciting thing that Kimi McAdams shared with us is that sometimes dairy allergies can be outgrown. She stressed that there is lots of different research on the matter, but that it is worth investigating with your doctor. She shared that one day we may be able to take all the dairy out of her diet for some time, including the minuscule ingredients in bakery items, etc. Apparently once a body that has a dairy allergy has a complete rest from that allergen, it can sometimes have that item introduced! She said this is not something to be done with peanut, fish, or gluten allergies, but there is promising research with dairy. While we may never want to reintroduce dairy at all, we found that exciting for the future. I am thankful to have a registered dietician on call if and when we decide to give it a try.
*A huge thank you to Kimi McAdams, MS for taking the time to talk with me about our daughter’s individual needs. If you or your child is suffering from eczema I encourage you to speak with a dietician and your doctor. Every case is different, but I am so glad our answer was so simple!*
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