In the seven years since I published my first post about eczema, several people have written expressing interest in an update. I’m less inclined to blog about skin issues than I used to be, but since people seem to be itching for follow-up, here’s an update.
In answer to the, “Did it ever go away?” question: Yes! It took a long time and a lot of work, which I’ll talk about below, but it went away.
In answer to the unasked, “Did it stay away?” question: Alas! no. After nearly four years, it came back. But I blame myself, which I’ll talk about below as well.
How it went away:
After two years of trying lotions and potions and contortions with no lasting effect, I found out about the TQI Diet (aka To Quiet Inflammation Diet, aka Abascal Way, aka the Vashon Island Diet). Developed by Kathy Abascal*, it’s a way of eating that’s designed to reduce inflammation in the body. It consists of an initial period of strictly eliminating common inflammatory foods (e.g., dairy, sugar) followed by a testing phase to identify triggers specific to one’s individual body and to help develop a long-range eating plan particular to you and your needs.
One thing I like about the Abascal Way is its flexibility. The cornerstone is proportional eating: at least 2/3 of each meal or snack should be vegetables and/or fruits. What’s in the remaining 1/3 is up to the individual. After the Elimination Phase, you can eat most anything, provided it’s proportional, minimally processed, and works for you.
The Abascal Way didn’t work for me immediately. In fact, for the first several weeks, things got worse. My eczema spread, I was getting migraines weekly, and there were a couple of other symptoms I won’t list here. My spouse asked me why I didn’t quit if it wasn’t working. “I have no other options,” I said, and I stuck with it.
After about two months, it was like a switch got flipped. All of a sudden, everything was better. For the first time in two years, I had no eczema, no migraines. It was brilliant! Except for one day a week when I let myself have popcorn and whiskey, I never came off of the Elimination Phase, but it was well worth it.
That kept up with little indulgences (birthdays, travel) until last year when we moved to San Diego.
How it came back:
This is the sad part of the story, but it’s a sadness of my own creation. During the travel we did before the move followed by the move itself followed by the glee of being in San Diego, I let my Abascal habits slip.
In my defense, Abascal eating during travel is a significant challenge, and I’m weird with travel eating in the best of circumstances (I’m someone who loses weight on vacation, and not in a good way). But once we were in our new place, I didn’t have that excuse. I was still eating a healthy diet—no sweeteners, no gluten, no dairy, and I’d quit drinking alcohol entirely in March of 2017 (which is a topic for a different post)—but I wasn’t focused on proportional eating, and I ate popcorn and gluten-free toast much more often than once a week.
And so the eczema came back. Just a little bit at first, off and on, then more persistently. It was when I had my first migraine since 2015 that I knew I had to get back into the Abascal groove for real, but even with that, it’s been several months of false starts before I recommitted for real.
It’s been a week now of strict Abascal, and the eczema around my right eye has gotten much worse (bad enough that I will not be posting pictures of it, so you’ll have to trust me on this one). But I’m sticking with Abascal in the hopes that, like before, this is the “worse” before the “better.”
And that is my riveting eczema story, complete with cliffhanger ending.
*As far as I know, Kathy Abascal has no idea I’ve been on her diet nor that I’m writing about it now. I purchased all materials related to The Abascal Way, including the book and the cookbook, on my own at retail prices and without discounts. I mention it here only because it’s what I’ve done and what’s helped me. Your results, as they say, may vary.