Over three years ago when I started The Dadabase, we were a kosher family; meaning that we observed “the Jewish food laws of the Old Testament” (the Mosaic Law) regarding not eating pork or shellfish.
I had recognized that nixing the foods that the Bible had deemed as “unclean” helped my eczema (dyshidrosis) from getting worse. I began understanding why pork and shellfish were considered unclean; because like vultures and possums, they are at the bottom of the food chain.
So to consume the dirtiest animals for food, it was only feeding my disease.
One thing led to another, and by December 2011, we became vegetarians. You were so young that you never really ate meat to begin with.
Then by March 2013, I officially became a vegan; after discovering that my 22 years of constant sinus pressure, sinus infections, and allergies to animals were based on my consumption of the least amount of dairy and eggs. (I even had to get a much weaker prescription for my glasses after becoming a vegan!)
So for the record, since becoming a vegan, I no longer have eczema, sinus infections or allergy issues.
In the process of Mommy basically being forced to become a vegan chef for our household, you and she are almost vegans as well now; by default.
Meanwhile, it has been interesting to observe the gradual social acceptance level of our family’s plant-based lifestyle.
I have been told that I was single-handedly depriving my family of the protein and nutrients we need. I should point out that none of us have had to go to the doctor since we adopted the plant-based lifestyle.
So it seems that is a good indication we are actually healthier since the change; considering we used to get sick and now we don’t.
But that was a year ago. The more people have heard my testimonials, the more it makes sense.
My friend Ben Wilder, who was taking a Zyrtec a day, became a vegan after hearing about our family’s switch to plant-based living, and he is no longer on his medication… because he no longer needs it.
It was my goal to make it common knowledge that there is an obvious connection between allergies (as well as my eczema) and going plant-based.
I feel I have reached my goal. I was never trying to convert anyone; just help people understand why we are this way and provide a way for them to join us if they wish, which is why I started my “Ask A Vegan Anything” series.
To my surprise, the questions I have been getting have not so much been from confused or accusatory people, but instead, from people who are sincere in their curiosity; who are willing to consider going plant-based at the chance of reaching similar results.
Nick Shell Yes, I’m no longer allergic to animals, nor do I get sinus infections, or really even produce mucus anymore, nor do I get sinus pressure, nor does my skin break out; not to mention, I had to get a weaker prescription for my glasses because my eyes improved. Most of these changes for the better occurred after only 48 hours after nixing dairy and eggs.
Ben Wilder Thanks Nick. Hi everyone my name is Ben. If you told me a year ago I wouldn’t be drinking dairy milk and eating cheese, I would’ve said you’re the next big comedian. But it’s true. Going on 3 months now, I’ve eliminated dairy from my diet and my allergies are gone… so far. I was taking a Zyrtec pill every day. Not a few times a week or here and there… it was every single day. I can’t speak to the long term benefits of this change… yet. But you can sure as heck bet that I’m a firm believer already.
As you can see from this Facebook discussion, I am passionate about casually making it common knowledge that sinus and allergy issues are related to consuming dairy and eggs.
Thanks to my many mentions here on The Dababase about my victorious battle with dyshidrosis and sinus & allergy problems, random sufferers of the same issues I once had are now taking me up on my offer to “Ask A Vegan Anything.”
Maybe one day, it will be considered ridiculous that junior high and high school sporting events are sponsored by soda companies.
Or that McDonald’s is a huge sponsor of the Olympics.
Ultimately, it all comes down to getting people to question what’s actually in their food. You wouldn’t normally eat weird chemicals that are linked to cancer.
But with processed foods, that’s unavoidable.
Some of the guys at work like to joke that the 2011 version of me looked “a lot heathier.”
I guess that depends on a person’s definition of healthy.
All I can say is that life without processed sugar, artificial sweeteners, meat, eggs, or dairy is a life without eczema, sinus pressure, or allergies.
This is the version of me you will always know. I have no motivation to ever go back.
Note: This is an opinion piece of the author and does not reflect Parents magazine or the medical establishment.
A year and a half ago, if I would have read a letter like this on the Internet, I would have read it only out of curiousity, but I would have instantly scoffed at the absurdity of it. In fact, about a month before I become a vegan, I remember saying this to a co-worker:
“Vegans are idiots. They are crazy because they are deprived of protein and vitamin B12. They’re not healthy.”
My severe eczema (dyshidrosis) is forever gone. Not one sign of it even coming back. That’s the biggest thing, but wait, there’s more…
I no longer produce any white or yellow mucus, which now I realize, was the cause of the several sinus infections I got each year from 1992 to 2013.
Similarly, the constant sinus pressure I had for those 21 years also vanished… just two days after I became a vegan. My allergies to animals have completely disappeared as well.
Here’s another grandiose claim for skeptics: My eye doctor was amazed a few months ago when I went in for a check-up.
“How in the world have you been wearing these glasses?! These are way too strong for your eyes. Way too strong. Have you undergone any major lifestyle changes?” she asked.
After explaining that I had become a vegan, she was not surprised. It was not the first case of this she had seen: Eye sight actually improving, after a person becomes a vegan. At age 32, your eyesight typically doesn’t just get better on its own like that; it gets worse.
The absense of animal products in my bloodstream, or as I’ve pointed out before, consuming more than 0% cholestrol but less than 1%, because in my findings, it’s basically impossible to consume more than 1% of your daily cholestrol with plant-based fats alone, causes my body to feel more… balanced.
It wasn’t long before I had no desire to drink alcohol anymore. I’m not saying we don’t have a bottle of red wine in our pantry, but I am saying it’s interesting how it just sits there in the corner, all alone and neglected. I guess Mommy uses it for cooking now.
Similarly, I completely gave up caffeine as well; realizing that it is the world’s most unregulated addictive drug in world. Life is great without coffee, actually.
I realize now the only reason I ever needed coffee to wake up every morning was because I was addicted to coffee: Circular reasoning is all it ever was.
However it’s not only my life that has changed because of my decision. I’ve never pressured you or Mommy to be like me in my “plants only” decision. But I’ve noticed Mommy stopped buying cow’s milk, period. (You two were both already vegetarians before my vegan conversion.)
She now gives you almond milk with dinner, instead of cow’s milk; and uses almond milk to make your mac-and-cheese.
So while you and her aren’t completely vegan, an ounce or two of cheese per week is about the only thing keeping the two of you from being 100% like me.
I will always respect your choice in regards to whether you ever decide to eat animal products. Granted, this is all you know.
By now, I’ve written several letters to you about veganism already, explaining what our family eats to get proper amounts of protein, fat, and nutrients.
Having kept off the 25 pounds I lost in 2009, it’s weird to look back and see a “beefier” version of myself.
That picture you see is from September 2008; just a few months after Mommy and I got married; back in the days before I had to change my lifestyle to combat and eventually get rid of my dyshidrotic eczema.
Those were the days before I ate actual fruit; instead I was drinking fruit juice, which increased my intake of processed sugar and stripped the fruit of its crucial fiber content.
Those were the days I was still drinking low-fat milk, which actually promotes weight gain; instead of exclusively drinking whole milk like our family does now. (I tested this out on myself and documented it online for any doubting Thomases.)
I wasn’t drinking 3 liters of water a day to help wash out the toxins I’m exposed to on a daily basis.
Only a few people said anything about it to me, back in 2009: “Hey, you’ve gained some weight since getting married, haven’t you?”
But as a guy, I wasn’t really concerned about gaining weight. Honestly, I wouldn’t have changed anything if it weren’t for the constant headaches, digestion problems, rashes all over my body, noticeable acne, and blistered, swollen hands.
It wasn’t until I lost 25 pounds and got down to the proper weight, that my health problems seemed to just magically disappear.
If I could narrow it down to one main thing I started doing differently that made the biggest difference in improving my health, and as a side effect, losing excess weight, it was that I started doing everything I could to avoid processed foods.
In other words, I stopped counting calories and started reading ingredients.
Most popular diet programs seem to be based on the idea that once you run out of your calories for the day, you have to stop eating. That means that it’s okay to eat a fast food burger, fries, and a soda for lunch, but you may not be able to “afford” a healthy banana with dinner.
Interestingly, our family never counts calories, nor do we refrain from eating when we’re hungry. The secret is, there are a lot of ingredients we won’t eat.
When we’re buying groceries, the first thing we look for on the front of the package is “No artificial flavors, artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, or high fructose corn syrup.”
All of those ingredients make the product a red flag for it being a highly processed food.
That would explain why finding a good yogurt brand for you is a bit problematic. I’ll be writing to you about that tomorrow…
We also check out the daily percentage for the sugar content and sodium content, which explains why we avoid granola bars and soup.
Another red flag is any food that has the word “diet” or “light” in it. We just say no to mysterious chemicals.
While a diet soda doesn’t contain the sugar content a normal soda does, if nothing else, it distracts us from the drinking enough water for the day.
Why are we not constantly craving foods full of fat and sugar? Why are we not constantly hungry?
Here’s the secret: We capitalize on the good fats, good proteins, and good sugars.
Good fats and proteins include nuts, avocados, seeds and minimally processed dairy products; as opposed to consuming more than 4 to 6 ounces of meat per day, depending on body weight.
Good sugars include whole fruits and whole grains; as opposed to sweet tea, soft drinks, sugary coffees, cake, candy, and white bread.
Because we build our snacks and meals around the good foods, not their evil counterparts, we are able to give our bodies the natural nutrients they need and crave.
This is the life you were born into, Jack. You have Mommy and I as parents. As you get older, it may seem we are depriving you of the good stuff.
Just remember, we learned when you were an infant that you have inherited the eczema from me. So if we don’t keep you on the straight and narrow, it will lead to a life of pain, discomfort, and frustration for you.
We live this way because we care about you.
P.S. I’m not a doctor or nutritionist, nor do I have a product or program to sell here. I am just a dad who happened to learn this stuff through trial and error; using myself as a Guinea pig.
Everything I have shared with you today was simply what I taught myself from the process of trying to figure out the cure to eczema.
Again, I have been eczema-free since 2009. I am very eager and willing to respond with any other readers of this letter who have more questions about anything I have mentioned here today or want to learn about more additional ways to cure eczema.
“Jewish?” asks my son Jack every Saturday and Sunday morning. His pronunciation of the word “juice” is still a little off.
Be glad you’re not my kid. In the economy of food at our house, juice is just one notch down from holy and sanctified.
When can Jack have juice? Only on the weekends, in the kitchen. And it’s 100% organic juice, which we water down greatly.
(He can drink a little bit of juice when he’s sick, like right now.)
Why am I so weird about my letting my kid drink juice? At least it’s not soda, right? Or some sugary, food-dyed cocktail.
People across the world and throughout time have wondered why we’re all here; as in, what’s the meaning of life?
Similarly, everyday thousands of people are looking for an answer to help get rid of their kid’s eczema.
Well, I have an answer.
For nearly a decade, I suffered from excruciating eczema; in particular, dyshidrosis.
Mine is completely in remission now, but only because I radically changed my diet and lifestyle. About three years ago when I starting experimenting with ways to get my “Freddy Krueger hands” to stop oozing, I discovered that if I stopped drinking juice for a couple of days, my skin condition improved.
Jack’s dentist, Dr. Snodgrass, even warns against giving kids juice regularly, in his brochures. The high consistency of sugar in juice, especially when the child sleeps with a sippy cup full of juice, can lead to cavities.
“A few readers have asked what my kids drink besides milk and water…and I hate to say it, but the answer is not much! They occasionally have juice (which is usually store-bought 1-ingredient organic apple juice) and by occasional I mean 1 – 2 cups per week on average and it’s diluted with water.”
The way I see it, a kid drinking juice is like an adult drinking alcohol. It is to be consumed in moderation.