Wheat Free Experiment for Eczema

6 weeks ago we eliminated wheat from our diets to see if it helped with our 11 month old’s eczema. The 42 days came to an end and we just reintroduced wheat into our diets and now we are waiting to see if the eczema stays the same or worsens before we decide where to go from here.

Why we went wheat free for 6 weeks. It was actually easier than I thought!

Some friends told me during our experiment,

  • “I wonder about people that go gluten free. What can you eat?
  • “I could never do that.”
  • “I rather deal with problems or have medication then give up wheat or dairy.”

I’ll be honest. I was dreading these 6 weeks up until we actually committed to doing it. Homemade pizzaalfredo sauce over pasta, naan, cookie dough, and warm bread are all things I thoroughly enjoy. Giving them up wasn’t exactly high on my list of things to do.

My husband and I decided it was worth it, though, to see if our son had any relief on his face from eczema and constant scratching that frequently drew blood.

Many times our diets and the food we eat play a roll in the symptoms that exhibit themselves in our bodies. It could be rashes, behavior, ear infections etc. Food often is not the first thing that comes to mind when we these issues come up. Even if it crosses our minds it, seems easier to treat with antibiotics, creams, or just living with it.

One of my friends has a dog that has had continuous ear infections since she was little. They recently switched her to gluten free food and treats and she’s gone several months without any problems now. I know it might not always work, but sometimes a change in diet can make a world of difference. There are also those with severe allergies to certain foods that don’t have a choice but to make drastic adjustments to their diets and they are lifelong changes.

All that to say, we didn’t know what would happen or what the outcome would be but we decided to at least try and then re-evaluate and see what we needed to do next.

Once we made the commitment and started, I was surprised at how little of a deal it was. The transition was actually easier than I thought it would be. Going gluten free, I’m sure, would be more stressful and little harder on the budget as I didn’t worry about cross contamination for our experiment (I still bought regular rolled oats).

6 weeks of using no wheat went by quickly. The eczema didn’t clear up completely but it’s very slight and my son is scratching his cheeks way less. (You can see after pictures here.) During the process he only had a couple of flair ups and they were mild. We’ll see what happens the next few weeks.

Next week I have 9 tips for how to do a wheat free experiment without a lot of work and on a budget. These are the ideas that I used the last 6 weeks with our family. My grocery budget wasn’t any more that usual. Coming up I’ll also have a list of the recipes that we ate to help you with your menu planning.

I’m curious. Have you ever seen changes because of how you tweaked your diet?

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36 thoughts on “Wheat Free Experiment for Eczema

  1. Olivia

    I went gluten free for my daughter while I was breastfeeding, she was gluten intolerant but has since grown out of it. I did it for about a year and although I will eat the occasional wheat product now and then, I notice a difference when I do. Less energy, more sluggish, and foggy. If you’re willing to get creative with veggies and alternative grains it isn’t all that hard to do or on the budget!
    I’m glad you saw good results from it! I have a number of gluten free recipes on my blog if you need more!

    Reply
    1. Deanna Michaels Post author

      Glad to hear that there’s hope of my son out growing it if it is the wheat! Even if it’s not, I’m going to try to cut back on the amount of wheat we eat. I agree, lots of veggies and adding some rice and quinoa in there made it not bad on the budget at all. Thanks! I’ll check out your recipes.

      Reply
  2. Ai

    I’m considering switching to gluten free, but have been afraid to take the plunge, anticipating resistance from my kids. I’m curious to see your next posts on this. By the way, is there a way to subscribe to receive your new blogs posts via email?

    Reply
    1. Deanna Michaels Post author

      Thankfully my kids are little so they don’t care too much yet. :-) Staying away from the cupcakes at a friend’s house my 3 year old asked for them a couple times but was happy with the cookies I brought her. The link for e-mail through feedburner is here: http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=FromThisKitchenTable

      What plug-in do you use on your site for the box in the sidebar for e-mail subscriptions? I’ve been looking around.

      Reply
      1. Ai

        I don’t have a self-hosted site, so I don’t have to use plug-ins. I’ve been thinking about switching over but it seems like there’s so much to learn. Maybe one day …

        Reply
  3. A Little R & R

    I am eagerly waiting to hear how this goes for you. Last year I had a spot of eczema erupt on my finger. It slowly spread down the whole finger and suddenly about a month ago began to spread rapidly across my hand. I was put on allergy meds and tried two types of creams, and nothing has helped. On Sunday I decided to start planning for an elimination diet and then try to go gluten free to see if it will help (incidentally, I have most other symptoms of a gluten intolerance , so perhaps it will help in other areas, too). Thanks for postiing about this. I will check out your other posts, too!

    Reply
    1. Deanna Michaels Post author

      Oh no! That sounds so painful. We had a random lady stop us in the store one time a couple of months ago commenting on Spencer’s face and how miserable eczema was because she’s dealt with it. I’m curious to see if his face stays cleared up or gets worse. It’s been a week today that we added wheat back in and it’s looking pretty much the same. I figured we should give it a few weeks though since it took time to clear up it might take time to show back up. I hope that your planning and diet goes well and you get some relief. I think that even if his face stays good, I’m going to cut down on the wheat we have.

      Reply
  4. Anna

    Good for you! My son had horrendous eczema non-stop from 3 weeks old to 15 months, when we finally tried a total elimination diet: three weeks of just rice, sweet potatoes, lamb, and pears before adding things back in one by one. We discovered wheat AND eggs AND dairy were all responsible. I did the diet because I just couldn’t stand the bleeding sores anymore. A big side-bonus was that he suddenly became a much better sleeper and thus more cheerful in the daytime. Nowadays his face is almost always clear as is most of his body, though he still breaks out in reaction to things like external allergens and weather changes.

    Reply
    1. Deanna Michaels Post author

      Oh wow! That was our next step if we didn’t see any changes that last 6 weeks – eliminate dairy, eggs, etc. So glad that it make a difference for him. Seeing all the scratch marks on Spencer’s face was sad. I wish he started sleeping through the night. . . Someday. It’s been 1 week today since we added wheat back in. In wonder how long it would take to show back up? So far it is still looking pretty good. I’m sure the heat not being on has made at least some of a difference too.

      Reply
  5. Marjie @ Home Again Jiggety-jig!

    I saw your post on the “Let’s Get Real” blog share. I’ve been eating low carb for some time, and it is for most purposes gluten free. I love how I feel.

    When my oldest nephew was one they noticed that egg whites caused his eczema. After cutting those out, his skin became clear. He is now an adult and has pretty much outgrown the allergy.

    Reply
    1. Deanna Michaels Post author

      If his eczema happens to come back eggs and dairy are the next on my list. There are so many options. Glad that he found relief cutting them out and outgrew it. That gives me hope if Spencer continues to have problems with his.

      Reply
      1. Nikki McCoy

        It’s hard to watch your children scratch. My sweet girl is 8 now, and while she’s had roughly 35 allergies that she’s been able to outgrow, the eczema is still there. It’s taken all 8 years to figure out that she’s allergic to every soap, detergent, perfume and lotion made.

        Reply
        1. Deanna Michaels Post author

          :-( Glad she’s outgrown so many allergies but I’m so sorry she’s still struggling with eczema. You are right, it’s so sad to see rough, raw skin that you know hurts them so bad.

          Reply
  6. Audrey @ Gluten-Free Vegan Love

    Hi Deanna. I can really relate to your experience. I was one of those people who couldn’t understand how someone couldn’t eat bread. It seemed impossible. Until I became gluten-intolerant, that is. The switch was very easy and strangely I don’t even miss bread, pasta, etc. I did want to share though that a very close friend of mine has a 5 year old daughter with eczema and she has tried cutting out wheat (and dairy) to see if it helps. That helped the eczema a little, but she was still experiencing symptoms and they actually began to worsen at one point. After doing a comprehensive allergy test it turned out that she had some food allergies (peanuts, bananas, eggs, and a few others) — all foods she has switched her kid to in order to avoid dairy and gluten, and all foods that were contributing to the inflammation… In retrospect, she doesn’t regret cutting out the wheat, but doing the allergy test first would have helped get the experiment go better.

    Reply
    1. Deanna Michaels Post author

      I was surprised how little I missed wheat these past 6 weeks. Way easier than I anticipated. Wow! Thanks for sharing. I’m going to be watching Spencer and if his eczema comes back I’ll have to look into allergy testing. Such a great point to consider. Some of those items are top food allergens and it seems like when there is one sensitivity there is often another. Thanks for the reminder.

      Reply
  7. Vic H.

    I have celiac so I’m already GF…but also look at carrageenan (I’m allergic to that as well). It is an additive, from seaweed, put into formula and lots of dairy items that your child might consume. It is a thickener, made from seaweed, banned in some other countries. Maybe that is contributing as well? If you’re willing to GF, carrageenan free might be worth a shot. Look it up….Good luck!

    Reply
    1. Deanna Michaels Post author

      Oh yeah! I forgot about carrageenan being a possibility. I’ll have to start keeping my eyes open for that. I guess all the more reason to make ice cream and every thing else from scratch. It’s frustrating all the additives that are added to products. It’s annoying that you even have to read the package of nuts to see if BHT is added. If other countries don’t need it, I think we’d be fine without it to. :-) Maybe someday. . . Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  8. Lara

    We are gluten-free in our household and have been for a couple years now. The interesting thing was that we each had different symptoms, but most of us are definitely gluten intolerant. You’re right, it’s amazing what a difference a dietary change can make. There are a few more I should be making…like getting rid of sugar, but I’m not quite motivated enough yet. I’m glad that the wheat free experiment has helped your son!

    Reply
    1. Deanna Michaels Post author

      How interesting! I’m curious to see what happens with it added back into our diets. I think even if my son’s face stays the same I’m going to greatly reduce the amount of wheat we consume and have it be every once in a while. I hear you on the sugar! When we stopped wheat I thought to myself that I really should cut back on sugar at the same time but I didn’t. I’m going to try to at least start using healthier sugar options. I was doing pretty good about that before but have greatly slacked off the past many months.

      Reply
  9. Brandi @ penguinsinpink.com

    Hi Deanna! We recently went GF too! The hardest person to convince was my husband and he is one of the ones with the problem. My two little ones don’t notice the difference but my husband does. He was (and still is) not happy giving up his sandwiches! But we are slowly figuring out alternatives for him and us.

    Have you tried using witch hazel on his eczema to dry it up? I’ve never dealt with eczema so I do not know how well it works but I have read that it works really well because of the anti-inflammatory and anti-itching properties in it.

    Reply
    1. Deanna Michaels Post author

      He he. I hear you. My oldest is 3 and is a great eater so I don’t know that she really even knew we were doing anything different. Definitely hardest on my husband too.

      I haven’t tried witch hazel! Thanks for sharing. I’ll have to check it out. It would be an inexpensive thing to try too.

      Reply
  10. Betsy @ BPhotoArt

    I went wheat free for a while, have added back in spelt flour, fermented as sourdough though. It’s tough to find stand-ins that family members will accept …sometimes possible, sometimes not! Thanks for sharing at Happiness is Homemade :)

    Reply
    1. Deanna Michaels Post author

      I had spelt flour for a while but ran out. I might need to buy some more. He he. I hear you. My husband at a much harder time than I did getting rid of wheat. The 3 year old eats pretty anything, so she didn’t care.

      Reply
  11. Brandy Jo

    I’ve gone gluten free and milk free because I was so tired of the constant belly aches. So far so good! That’s how I found your article. However, I’m just curious, have you ever given your son Chickweed oil? My husbands family struggles with eczema. I agree, diet can affect it quite a bit. They look at me like I’m crazy for cutting out gluten and milk because to them cereal is a staple (& I had my spaghetti sauce over lettuce at a recent church dinner) But, I can tell you from watching their outbreaks that a drop or two of this oil in their juice (to hide the flavor) has worked wonders for them. They notice a huge difference when they go off of it.

    Reply
    1. Deanna Michaels Post author

      I haven’t heard of it before! I’m going to look it up when I get done. Sounds like a would be worth it and it probably helps with other things too. Where do you get yours from? Those 6 weeks were surprisingly easy for me. Even if we don’t notice a big difference adding it back in, I’m going to greatly reduce the amount of wheat we consume. We use milk in things and yogurt and cheese but don’t drink it straight. Buying raw milk is on my list to try. People really do think it’s crazy to change diet, but to me it’s worth a shot because it’s not going to hurt anything to try. Thanks so much for sharing about the Chickweed!!! Can’t wait to read more about it.

      Reply
      1. Brandy Jo

        I just bought it online, years ago. We don’t have too much trouble with eczema. My 14 year old broke out for the first time a year ago, and recently my little girl had super sore knuckles before we realized it was eczema. For us the eczema is a little here and a little there. My husbands sisters have it all the time though, and they swear by the chickweed. Some of them even drink the tea, but the taste I hear is aweful so I just went straight to the drops. I hope it helps!

        Reply
  12. Amanda Smith

    I went gluten free and low grain 3 months ago. My family did not join me. My IBS is sooooo much better that I doubt I will go back anytime soon. Although I am hoping to try sourdough bread soon. Some people tolerate it well even if they are going GF.

    Reply
    1. Deanna Michaels Post author

      That’s great that you noticed such a difference! I love sourdough bread. Haven’t made it since I was growing up probably. I should try and find a starter from someone.

      Reply
  13. Annette

    When multi-grain became a trend I noticed that I actually felt better right after eating multi-grain bread, not so with 100% whole wheat bread. I thought that getting more of a variety of nutrients than with single grain bread was the difference. Now I think that eating less wheat per serving is probably also a plus, because lately I’ve been seeing articles that say Wheat Belly is caused by GMO wheat, and that organic wheat doesn’t cause this problem. If it causes Wheat Belly, who knows what else it might cause.

    I’ve heard that it’s actually the wheat flour that is causing problems, not just the gluten part. If that is true, other grains that have gluten would not be need to be excluded.

    I wish you success in finding a tolerable solution to your son’s excema.

    Reply
    1. Deanna Michaels Post author

      How interesting! The last times I’ve made bread I’ve added other grains to it. I’ve read a lot of people that like using Eikorn wheat since it’s the ancient unhybridized wheat. His skin cleared up a lot without wheat. We added it back in and a few spots showed back up, but nothing near as bad. Right now we are back to limited wheat. We’ll see what happens!

      Reply

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