Now is typically the time when eczema sufferers start complaining about their painful, dry, cracked skin. It’s when no amount of moisturizer alleviates the insatiable itch or the embarrassment of having less-than-perfect skin.

potatoes in basket

If you’re an eczema sufferer, I can sympathize. Mine is a severe condition that I’ve battled into adulthood. Interestingly, winter is my favourite time of the year — sweaters, scarves, socks and pants help me cover up my cracked scaly skin, scabby blisters and blotchy hyper-pigmentation.

To say the least I’m something of an expert when it comes to eczema — you name it, I’ve tried it. Topical steroids that thinned out my skin? Check. Tar soaps, oatmeal baths and natural detergents? Check, check and check. Nothing’s worked long-term. That is until one day a friend suggested I avoid foods high in histamine. It seemed obvious – why hadn’t I thought of that before? Foods high in histamine would naturally cause an allergic response and inflammation. So thus began the journey that eventually led me to The Eczema Diet. In the book, by nutritionist Karen Fischer, I discovered seven foods that help decrease inflammation, promote skin repair and are considered eczema-safe.

1. Banana: High in potassium, contains histamine-lowering nutrients, magnesium and vitamin C.

2. Beef or chicken broth: Provides skin-repairing amino acid glycine.

3. Potato: Rich in fibre, potassium, vitamin C and is alkalizing.

4. Green onions: Contain histamine-lowering, anti-inflammatory quercetin and rich source of vitamin K, important for healthy skin.

5. Buckwheat: Gluten-free and contains quercetin to lower histamine and has strong anti-inflammatory effect

6. Rice milk: Low allergy and low in chemicals and considered eczema safe

7. Mung bean sprouts: Strong alkalizing food

There are many more eczema-healthy foods (like fish, beans and loads of vegetables), but the only foolproof way to check if specific foods are causing your breakouts is by cutting out common culprits for 14 days then reintroducing them back into your diet one-by-one to see if they cause a reaction. Remember: sometimes it can take a few days for symptoms to appear. You can follow this guide by Dr. Natasha Turner, or get more info from The Eczema Diet.

I also found that taking an igG test proved very helpful. It helped steer me in the right direction so that I knew for sure which foods were causing me grievance. Turns out egg, milk, soy and yeast were among the list — and having that kind of clarity was life-changing, not only for my physical well-being, but my emotional well-being as well.