Why should… you make a diet change?

Earlier this month I made a decision to go cows milk free. Eczema and eating dairy is apparently linked. 

If you eat dairy it can cause eczema to flare up or is just the cause. Many people have said to me ‘ Why don’t you just change to goats milk?’. 

Until recently I never really consider this an option for several reasons. 

1. I grew up on a dairy based diet. I had eczema before I started drinking cows milk.

2. I grew up on a dairy farm.

3. I grew up on an Island where goats milk, butter and cheese were not accessible. 

4. why cause so much hassle and change to my life when my eczema was under control? 

So why did I make the change. 

For me it has been an option I have considered for a while but didn’t know much about. I started by gradually making the swap with cheese from ordinary cheddar to feta and small amounts of goats cheese.  This was fairly simple and feta can go with most food that ordinary cheese can. 

The next big swap was milk. Growing up I used to consume a lot of milk and even once I left home I still drank a lot.  Goats milk however istwice the price I’m my supermarket. This brought an abrupt halt to drinking 4 to 8 pints a week. I now only drink milk in tea, which is about 4 pints a week. 

What difference has the swap made? 

To my eczema, nothing. I still have my twice monthly flare ups and it is still here. 

To my body, however, is a different story. Within the first 2 weeks I noticed a difference in my waist line. I wasn’t bloated and my body wasn’t having to process  as much milk, I felt better with in myself. 

So one month in to the swap what have I noticed?

I can no longer drink a latte of cows milk or have any cows milk in my tea. I also do not crave cows milk anymore.  Avoiding dairy when you are out for a meal, visiting family or eating on the go, is really hard. 

I was home over Christmas, everything has dairy in it. Turkey, Roast potatoes, parsnips,  bread sauce, stuffing, all have milk in them. For one meal I gave up my swap. I regretted it for the rest of the night. I was bloated unconfortable, my gut was in agony. 

In short my body has adjusted very quickly to digesting cows milk and did not cope with one meal. 

But I have to confess, chocolate has not been excluded so far. Chocolate is my confort food. At Christmas I was given a small selection of chocolate. That I am gorging on as I write this.  Once it is all gone, that is it. Cows milk is being completely removed from my diet.
Would I recommend this? 

It honestly depends on what your circumstances are. If you make all your own meals, do your own shopping and have the commitment to stick with it then Yes. Just remember to take milk round to a friends house when going for coffee. Also bare in mind that most coffee shops or restaurants do not stock goats milk. My next venture, soya milk for teas and lattes. 
Remember, you define who you are, You can change what you become. Make it positive. 

When it feels like your skin is against you.

All my life I have had eczema. I was diagnosed at 3 months old and have been living with it ever since.  My eczema has always affected my body confidence as I have it from head to toe, with the exception of my stomach and lower back. My childhood memories of eczema aren’t very clear, I remember being bandaged with zinc paste and wrapped up before bed, having gloves taped on to my hands each night to stop me from scratching myself.  Also using different creams, ointments and moisturisers to find the right combination that worked for me.

Let me tell you a few things about eczema:
●it is not contagious in any way, no matter what people may say.
● it can be brought on by changes to you environment
● coming in to contact with dust, animal hair,  pollen’s, to name a few, can cause it to break out.
This list is very rudimentary and definitely does not even scratch the surface as to what causes eczema or an out break.

Now let me tell to something about my childhood;
●I grew up on a farm
●We had a pet dog
● My main hobby was horse riding.

Now your may say why would you live your life with things that can constantly cause your eczema to break out or be a constant presence. Reason being ‘Why let something that is out with your control control your life?’. I honestly never really though about what  causes eczema and the hobbies or lifestyle that could have made it worse, until recently.

Through out my childhood and teenage years my eczema has always been the one thing I have been certain that will always be with me. Whether it be visible eczema on the skin or the scars that it has left behind all over my body.  It wasn’t until I finished my Masters and stated looking for jobs that I realised how much first impressions can affect your chance of a job.

I currently work in a supermarket, with mainly male colleges, where looks aren’t the be all and end all of your job. I have no pressure to wear make up or cover my eczema when it flares up on my arms (although I almost always wear a long sleeved top to cover it, for my own confidence) or face. For this I am thankful that my job and colleges are non judgmental, for the most part on how much make up a female should wear.

For this I am great full, as over the past year my eczema has had some of the worst flare ups and constant bouts I have ever had.

You may ask the question ‘what have you changed about your lifestyle to cause this?’.

Honestly I have no idea.

For the past 5 years I have lived in a small city, moved away form the farm and only occasionally see my family dog or go horse riding. So why is my eczema so bad? This is the question I have been asking myself.

As I sit here writing this I will tell you my current state of eczema.
Face- feels like sandpaper, skin feels like it is pulling backwards towards the ears from the chin and nose, but drawing in on my upper lip. Dry flaky skin around the eyes, where the skin is red and irritated.
Neck– front and center three wee bits of eczema that are scabbed over and red.
Chest– currently clear although itchy
Arms–  around the armpits covered red and raw. Fore and under arms 70% eczema coverage itch and raw.
Legs– few patches that consist of isolated spots of eczema
Feet– left foot 3 single spots on the upper part of the foot and itchy.

This is definitely not the worst my eczema has been or extensive as others, it is still incredibly uncomfortable to be in this skin 24/7 with no escape from it. It also does not make you feel particularly attractive, especially when your face feels like sandpaper all over and the skin is really tight.

Referring to my last post- rule No 1. Definitely is not in play at the moment and it hurts that it is not. I want to be able to feel sexy in my own skin  and push my body on a daily basis but I can’t.  Every time I sweat it aggravates my eczema causing it to become itchy weepy and incredibly sore.

So my alternative is very afternoon after work I come home sit on the couch and drink tea, although nice on the odd occasion it’s not particularly motivating after day 3. So back to why my eczema is so bad.

I honestly do not know. I follow an almost religious routine of showering- using a prescription shower wash, dry off, apply any lotions and potions (a nickname for steroidal creams and steroids we used as a child to make them seam less scary), apply moisturiser on top and apply moisturiser again just to make sure. This is the same routine I have followed for years, unfortunately I cannot have long showers as it dry out my skin.

Today is just another day I have survived having eczema and it will continue to partner me in life. Tomorrow can only get better.

Why Should…?

Why should…?
This is the question that has been plaguing my thoughts this week.

Why should… eczema stop me doing the things I want? Eczema has always prevented me from being able to use certain cosmetic products. I’m 24 and have never had a bubble bath, used a sugar scrub or an off the self moisturiser. But why should my eczema prevent me form experiencing some of the simplest thing of pampering  myself.

All my life I have had prescribed moisturisers and omillionts to try and help my eczema, stop my skin from drying out and calming down flare ups. It not until recently that I have had a problem with using my prescriptions and that is mainly due to them not working. Over the past year I have had constant eczema on over 40% of my body. No matter how much moisturiser I put on or steroid creams I pump in to my skin it hasn’t gone away. When it gets to the stage where you have to moisturise 4 times a day because your skin won’t keep in moisture and you have to wash everyday to remove all the dead dry skin there is something wrong.

Why not go to he doctors you ask? Well I have done, 3 treatments of antibiotics and 2 treatments of steroids tablets, 2 tubes of steroid cream, new ointment and 1 year later I want to find something that may work for me.

Through the combination of ointments, omillionts and moisturisers I have managed to get my eczema down to a manageable level with the odd flare up.  The main things that worries me is that they are all parfum based. Showering with parfum, moisturising with parfum and using omillionts based in parfum for the last 24 years surely can’t be that fantastic for you.  I know some will say that if you’ve been prescribe it then it is safe to use, that’s fine but why put something on my skin to be adsorbed by my body that I wouldn’t eat.

What goes on your skin ends up adsorbed into your blood stream and body. How much parfum  has my body adsorbed over the years and what has it done to my insides. This has probe me to look in to alternative treatments, more natural treatments.

In looking in to homemade I have found multiple advice sites as to the ‘ultimate cure’ to eczema that will magically cure it’s so that it will never rear it’s head again. Eczema for me will never fully go away, it is about managing it and getting it to a level that it is not angry and inflamed. I honestly don’t believe if you have a topic eczema that you can get rid of it. But that is just my view,  until I can find that magic cure for me.

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Through looking in to homemade lotions and other beauty products I have come across a few that makes me feel pampered and ‘normal’. The one thing that I have never had is a bubble bath,  skin scrub or non prescription moisturiser.

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So far I have come up with a fantastic body scrub which I’m in love with. I have never been able to use a face wash with out feeling like my skin was shrivel up and fall off my face. So this we faces scrub that I now use is amazing and means that I can wash my face half way through a shower instead of just as I’m about to get out.  This small achievement means that I can now enjoy a shower and feel slightly special in my own wee way.

Light treatment

So three weeks ago I started light treatment, photo-therapy or UVB, to name a few of its titles. It essentially involves getting blasted by UVB radiation at small managed time increments that is meant to help eczema. Before starting light treatment I was put on to a few different creams to help my skin that didn’t work so this is just the next step for me in trying to manage my eczema.

Recently I read a friends post on Facebook about how great light treatment was for her psoriasis and how it has cured her of it. For I her I am grateful and happy that she has a cure for her psoriasis. Her advice on the matter I didn’t agree with.
Here are my reasons why:

1. A cure for 1 is not a cure for all- this was brought up by a comment on the post indicating that maybe encouraging  every to ask, seek out and under  take this treatment may not be great advice.

2. It is a time intensive treatment. My schedule involves being at the treatment center 3 times a week to Rd I’ve blast of light for 90 seconds which slowly increase with each visit, after 3 weeks I have made it 1 min 27 sec.

3. It gets worse before it gets better.  The light treatment dry out the skin and can make it incredibly itchy and flaky.  This for my has been the worst part of the treatment. Due to apparently having sensitive skin to light particularly on my bum and love handles, the time of my treatment cannot go up till they stop getting g burnt. This has cause my eczema to become aggravated and irritated.  So instead of it helping at the moment I am slapping on the steroid cream to get on top of it.

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4. What happens once the treatment course is over.  This is one of the questions that has been bothering me. As with every treatment you are put on- great it works whilst I’m on it but it’s not long term now what? . Wait a few years and then start again? Am I cured after it? What if it doesn’t work at all? What if I am allergy to UVB light and it’s causing my eczema? Am I just going through this for nothing?

Having eczema all my life I am willing to try most things to see if it will make a difference.  Including indulging a doctor who decide I had scabies and treating me for that.  Clearly the treatment did nothing.  Light treatment is the latest thing to try, perseverance when it’s not working and trying to cope with a treatment that it’s making it worse before it gets better.
For all I am glad that that it works for a lot of people and hopeful that it works for me I would not recommend it to anyone unless they specifically asked me about it. Each week I lose 3 hours just going to receive 3 min 15 of treatment. I know this is not much compared to many different illnesses or conditions out there but this is me and my condition. At the moment I am hoping and wishing for it to work and that these 3 hours a week are worth it.

Trying to remain positive and optimistic,  always remember for ever success there is a failure. What may work for one doesn’t work for another.
Stay positive.

This week’s why should. .. is more of a why shouldn’t.

Why shouldn’t I let my eczema get me down and let it affect my confidence.

This week has been a particularly hard week for me with my eczema being extremely obvious, especially on my face. Usually I have eczema on my face especially around the eyes, where it is occasionally flaky and dry or red. Whereas this week I looked like a panda, applying moisturiser every 20 minutes or so without it making much difference.
The down side to having it this extreme around my eyes was the more moisturiser I applied to my eyes the more they wept causing the eczema at the edges of my eyes to become increasing aggravated and raw. Needless to say this week my confidence was surely knocked and motivation at an all time low.  On Saturday I had to force myself to leave the house to get some fresh air and a wee bit of exercise. Whilst being very self-conscience of how I looked, despite multiple reassurances from the boyfriend that I looked fine, the cold air did some good whilst I was out. This weekend was cool and crisp here and the cold weather did something to cooling the red and angry skin around my eyes and taking some of the heat away from it.

 

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As always going from extremes of temperatures can aggravate eczema, our flat is not especially warm which, helps from going from inside to outside and back again. Over the weekend I managed to force myself out on several small walk which helped both the eczema and my confidence.
The small boost in confidence was short lived as on Monday morning it was back to work. As I arrived at work with rosy cheeks from the cold and red raw eyes, my colleague, made a comment of ‘you make it look awfully cold out there, is it windy too?’. To what can I reply to this knowing that they have kindly pointed out my skin looks awful. At 6.00 on a Monday morning it’s just great to here. Throughout the rest of the day I thankfully didn’t encounter any more comments but working in retail and facing the public knowing how red and obvious your face is does not do wonders for morally. On a plus side, however, if they did stare it looked like they were making eye contact with me.
Through out the week my eyes calmed down and have slowly returned to ‘normal’ and my confidence has slowly returned with it. Although this week I was mainly focused on my face it didn’t mean that the rest of my body was not flaring up with eczema, it is just easier to hide under a long sleeved top and trousers.

This week I have thought about how something so trivial as having red raw skin around my eyes has had such an effect on my confidence after having lived with eczema all my life. The simple answer is that our perception of how we should look and how our skin should be has change drastically over the past few years. To become something that is almost on unreachable for many people these days. Especially those with eczema and sensitive skin. I cannot wear makeup without having a break out on my face no matter the brand or the types designed for sensitive skin. Makeup is not something I can use to obtain flawless skin or the perfect completion. Years of scaring cover my face, and body, as a constant reminder that I have a constant companion in my life.
Having got over the lack of confidence this week due to misconceived conception of how we should look. This week I have embraced who I am and how I look. I am going to try and hold on to this idea and philosophy the next time I have a breakout on my face regardless of where I am or what I’m doing.

Eczema is part of me and who I am. I shall embrace it for all it is worth, as I am worth it.

 

Rule No 1.

Today I was at the doctors and got my blood pressure and weight taken. This is nothing new and a regular occurrence for me. However, when I stepped on the scales I found out I had put on 2kg in the past three months. My instant reaction was that of slight deviation.

Let me explain why.

Over the past 3 months I have been exercising nearly every day focusing mainly on cardio and toning but not muscle building.  Having done exercise every day leaves a feeling of achievement and satisfaction of being able to see it through and stick to a program each day. My cardio workout is anything from 30 mind to 1 hour following tutorials and vlogs on YouTube.

The program I follow is designed to focus on a different area of the body each day. I, however, usually only follow the cardio each day and one area video and add in some of my favorite cardio work out. One thing that is a main focus of this programs videos is about becoming stronger with in yourself and not focusing on the weight loss or how skinny you can become. It’s about being comfortable with who you are and enjoying the exercise that you do.

I think the after listening and working out to her video over the past few months had actually helped me gain body confidence and start to become comfortable with what my body is like.

The second reason that the weight gain knocked me out of sink is that I have actually been eating a healthy and balanced diet, without having days where I only want to eat sugary processed food or skip all meals until dinner. Neither of these options are particularly great for your body or your health. Some of you may think that skipping a few meals is fine but once you start to think that and it becomes the norm it can be detrimental to your health, physiological state and you attitude towards life.

Only recently I have started to come to terms with what is a ‘healthy balanced diet’. My relationship with food has never been great. As a child I used to drink a lot of whole fat milk right before a meals. This meant that my stomach gave off the signals that it was full and I ate very little at meal times. I grew up on a farm and milk was  never in short supply, so I continued this habit up until I left home.

Now I realise that most of my food issues stem from my childhood and my own beliefs that I was doing the right thing- consuming lots of the one food I enjoyed- milk.

So after being told I put on the 2kg after having actively implemented a healthy balanced diet and active life style it knocked but I realise that it is just my bodies change and adaptation to the lifestyle changes I have made. 2kg is retrospective not that much, some might be shocked by that statement.

So hear is me reasoning:
1. My clothes still fit the same as they did before I was weighed,
2. I am an active being that does something every day to raise the heart rate
3. I implemented rule No.1 always feel sexy.
If all three of these reasons are working and they continue to work then all is well.

I was once told by a friend as we were standing in the bottom of a corrie in the Cairngorms with wind in our face, tears streaming for our eyes and snot being whipped from our noses by the wind. “Rule No1. Always feel sexy”. At this point I was thinking to myself “I couldn’t be further from sexy if I tried”. I had on more layers than I though humanly possible and my looks resembled the Michelin man. But underneath all that what was left, a body that I was using to push myself and achieve my goals. My body was proving to me no matter how may layers of clothes were on top or how much snot was across my face, as long as I felt sexy on the inside I was doing the right thing.

After coming out the doctors and reflecting on it on the way home I remembered this rule and thought to myself “Do I feel sexy? Am I using my body and pushing it each day to achieve something?” Yes I am therefore what does a few kilograms here and there matter, for all I know it could be muscle building up.

Always remember rule No1.

Stay sexy.