Gluten Free Diet for Kids – Round 2 cleared our eczema!


This is our second time around. We are on a gluten free diet for kids at home with severe eczema. Specifically for my son, J. Having experienced it from the first round, we know a gluten free diet works for him, to clear his eczema substantially. What came as a bonus this time, is his happy spirits and his declaration that he does not mind being on the gluten free diet forever! We’re just so glad to have done it right this time.

The trouble with gluten

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. And all their derivatives. It makes food sticky and elastic, and is found in tons and tons of processed foods. Basically anything made with wheat: pizza, bread, noodle, pasta, cereals, cakes, biscuits, desserts, soups, sauces, dressings, seasonings, etc. Check out for more information on gluten.

How does gluten affect us?

People with celiac disease cannot ingest gluten, as it damages their intestinal cells, giving rise to serious health issues. For more information about celiac disease, visit

Then there are people who are sensitive or intolerant to gluten, who react to it with gut health problems, weight loss due to poor nutrient absorption, skin issues, bowel issues, fatigue, depression, chronic pains, etc. has more information on gluten intolerance.

The issue with gluten is that the wheat we eat nowadays has been largely modified, such that new proteins exist that weren’t there before. Hence, in sensitive people, the body sees gluten as foreign invaders, and starts fighting it. The ‘battle’ interferes with proper nutrient absorption, and at the same time leads to leaky gut syndrome, where the tight junctions in our intestinal lining break apart, allowing undesirable substances to pass through into the bloodstream.

How does eczema come into the picture

Undesirable substances in the bloodstream, like toxins, pathogens, and partially digested foods, can lead to multiple health issues. The gut is intricately linked to the skin. These unwelcome materials need to find their way out, and they do so through the skin – the body’s largest organ, a non-vital one.

So an internal issue manifests on the skin, as inflammation in the forms of rashes and itching, misleading many eczema sufferers to think that they have a skin issue, a surface one. When actually the root causes are much deeper, gluten being just one of them.

The disaster of our gluten free diet round 1

How did we know we had a gluten sensitivity issue?

We did not know J was sensitive to gluten, until we tried eliminating it from his diet. 3 months of being gluten free gave him clear skin for the subsequent 6 months. That is how we know.

Going gluten free has to be 100%

This is the toughest part. Not a tiny weeny bit of gluten is allowed, because the body knows, and will trigger chronic inflammation just like on a regular diet with gluten.

To a (then) 7 year old boy, it was indescribably painful for J to have to give up eating outside food, as gluten is splashed in soups and sauces, and all kinds of seasoning. It was an arduous task giving up candies and snacks, not that we let the kids binge on junk food frequently. But also precisely because those were such rare treats to begin with, that giving them up totally proved to be such a torture.

Going gluten free demanded such a great amount of self-discipline that he cracked in other areas. Read more about it in this other post.

What is different this second time around?

Knowledge that it works

The first time, we had no idea. We just plunged right in, hoping that it would help us figure out some stuff. It could all go to waste if his eczema did not respond to a gluten free diet. And gluten takes weeks to clear out of the system, so every single day he was wondering why he had to go through such a restricted diet and still have his intense itching.

At the end of the three months of gluten free diet, we saw obvious result: clear skin that lasted for six months, even after he went back on a regular diet. But subsequently, for an entire year on a regular diet, his eczema symptoms went back to being so severe that it crippled his life. His level of fatigue took the life out of him, he was always cranky and snapping at siblings, and kept to himself most of the time. So we all knew then, gluten was the main culprit.

Gluten free it has to be

The itch consumed both his waking and sleeping hours. The incessant scratching left blood everywhere: his clothes and bedsheets, and used bloodied tissues in the waste baskets. Skin flakes were everywhere too, he would use a lint roller on his bed every single day, to keep up the hygiene.

It was mainly his bone-deep itching and extreme tiredness that was so heart wrenching. I knew he had to go back on the gluten free diet, in order to have any chance of healing. But his emotional health was a big concern too. It was between the devil and the deep blue sea.

Emotional support

At this lowest point, I finally made the decision that I would never regret – to stay at home. I had to be there for him, to cheer him on, prepare his meals and eat them with him. It made a world of a difference.

Homeopath’s words of wisdom

At the same time, the homeopath we were seeing stood by us, and strongly encouraged J to go gluten free once again, knowing how it had benefited him before. She did not instruct, but instead told him that we would all wait for him to be mentally ready, he had the final say in this. I think this pulled it off, as he felt that he was the one in control of his diet, his life. It didn’t come from top down, like in the previous round.

Tasty gluten free treats

With my refocus on J’s diet and health, I found the space, time and energy to make healthy and tasty gluten free treats, so that he does not feel deprived of the joys of eating and snacking.


A typical day’s menu

Breakfast: green detox smoothie – apple, celery, cucumber, and lemon.

Morning snack: sweet potatoes and broccoli or cauliflower.

Pre-lunch: cut fruits or fruit smoothie (mango, pineapple, orange, berries, whatever we have in the refrigerator and pantry).

Lunch: brown rice pasta with lots of greens (bok choy, broccoli, mung bean sprouts, or celery), drizzled with avocado sauce

Afternoon snack: homemade banana ice cream

Dinner: Rice, greens, a meat (chicken, pork or fish) and a soup (radish, or watercress, or lotus root, etc.)

A gluten free diet can be natural, wholesome and with lots of variety. The only packaged foods we buy are minimally processed, having passed our stringent criteria of zero additives. We need these just for emergencies or when on the go.

We have learnt – going gluten free can be easy and fun, after we let go of all processed foods, and embrace the foods that nature provides.

Our gluten free diet for kids works!

This gluten free diet for kids has seen us through ups and downs. It has all been worth it. J’s eczema itch reduced drastically, within a month of starting this diet. He no longer itches incessantly. From non-stop continuous itching, it has dropped to about 4 itching episodes a day, each lasting about 15 to 20 minutes. The rest of the time, he is carefree enough to enjoy life.

The other positive health effect from a gluten free diet is the remarkable boost in energy level. The sparkle in J’s eyes is back, his vibrant character is showing again. He is no longer the lethargic and sullen person he was just months ago. And he sleeps so much better.

To top it off, the icing on the cake, J has declared that he doesn’t mind being on this diet forever. I had never felt so triumphant before. Yes, it’s been so worth it.

Moving forward: grain free diet

This will not be the end of the story, as there are the 4 itching episodes a day that we still need to work on. I believe there is something more to it that we are still missing. I’m suspecting it could be grains, which have been such a main staple in our diet that I have been reluctant to entertain the possibility that they could be contributing to his eczema symptoms.

So grains is the next thing that we will be investigating, to figure out whether or not J is sensitive to them, and which ones in particular. It will need careful consideration and planning, and more hard work. But at least we are riding on the momentum gained from this gluten free diet for kids, which makes things that much easier.

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14 thoughts on “Gluten Free Diet for Kids – Round 2 cleared our eczema!”

  1. Hi Joo, oh my word, this sounds sooo familiar…! How to explain to a child that they have to give everything that they consider to be a “treat”? Even more so when the world around them eats them freely? I believe, as you’ve discovered, that there needs to be a certain level of maturity from the child: they have to be old enough to understand the consequences of what they eat. It wasn’t until my younger one was 6 that she started weighing the pros and cons of having a “naughty”.
    But they do get there. And you’re right, we have to make it easy for them. I’ve had to become a baker of sort to provide the grain-free, sugar-free, dairy-free cakes and biscuits she wants now and then…
    If you’re thinking of going grain-free, I’ve got a few tried-and-tested recipes up my sleeves for you! 😉

    • Hi Isabel,
      Wow look at all the work you have done for your daughter.
      And yes, I’d love your grain-free, sugar-free, and dairy-free recipes!!

  2. They mainly live in my notebook as most of them had to be tweaked somewhat, but I’ll share them with you.
    There is one that I’ve found online and used pretty much as is:
    I have replaced the maple syrup, which we can’t find easily here in SA, with raw honey, and it works beautifully too. You just need to make sure that the chocolate chips are dairy-free, et voilà! It works every time, is faff-free and keeps quite a few days in the fridge.
    I usually make a double batch, cut one in squares, wrap it in wax paper and keep it in the freezer. This way, I can quickly grab a couple for my kids for school birthdays, kiddies parties and family gatherings.
    Please try it, and let me know what you think. 🙂

  3. I myself have learnt the benefits of going gluten free, as my mum has to be gluten free, so I gave it a go and I felt incredible afterwards, however I found it hard to find new foods we could have. I agree that a gluten free diet would be good for children and im amazed that it can help clear eczema!!

    • Hi Jayde,

      Oh it’s great that you have tried out a gluten free diet for yourself! Yes, I agree it’s not easy, especially eating out. That’s why I have to totally commit myself by staying at home so I can cook all the kids’ meals. 

  4. Hi and thanks for updating your site. It shows how legitimate you are and how much you care about this topic.

    I think you do well to build on your last post and add value to anyone that viewed your site before. I will once again show this to my sister as she has a daughter who suffers with eczema. Sure emshe will appreciate it. Thanks again, Kenny

  5. Very interesting article, especially for me, as I suffered from a severe patch of eczema on my inside leg as a 16 year old (and that’s not the age you want to lose confidence through skin conditions!). 

    It’s lovely to see that the whole subject has developed since then and there are healthy options to take on this condition – instead of the awful steroid creams I was put on as a teenager (left a red patch on my skin for 2 years after using them!). 

    How new is this idea of gluten free for eczema and does it have the results you’ve seen with most sufferers?

    • Hi Chris,

      I hope the eczema patch on your leg has cleared up well. 

      The idea of going gluten free for eczema isn’t new. It would have started off mainly for people with celiac disease, then picked up to also address chronic issues like IBS and other health conditions involving inflammation. 

      Going gluten free doesn’t clear up the eczema for every single person, as different individuals have different causes to their skin symptoms. Some are allergic or sensitive to other foods, the common ones being dairy, egg, nuts, and a big one is also sugar. While others have environmental allergen triggers, like pollen and dustmite. So each person has to figure out his or her own trigger, and work at minimising exposure to these. 

      But at the end of it, I would still say going gluten free will benefit even seemingly healthy people with no pressing health issues, as the human digestive system just doesn’t take gluten well. 

  6. I always smile when I hear about gluten free diet. To be quite frank Joo (and don’t hate me for saying this), I didn’t really know about gluten free diet until just a couple of years ago. I was never exposed to it, and I only found out when I had one of my residents in my dorm say that she only eats gluten free. At first, I just thought this was dairy products, but yeah soon realized it’s quite different.Now, I have a question because I currently am facing a lot of skin issues. I am getting a lot of skin rashes and pimples – I thought it was just an ‘age’ thing, but I’ve had it for a little bit now and some days it seems to get better but it comes back again. I wonder if ‘going gluten free’ would help. Your son’s story is quite interesting. I think going 100% gluten free would be my hardest part!

    • Hi Parmi,

      I definitely don’t hate you for not knowing about gluten! You’re so funny. There’s always a first for everyone, nobody lands on earth knowing about gluten. 🙂

      Regarding your skin issue, maybe you could keep a diary, some sort of food log, and try to establish if there’s any pattern to when the rashes creep in. There are a number of possibilities, the common ones being dairy, egg (more common in kids), nuts, and of course gluten. There could even be environmental triggers like pollen or dust mites. 

      The thing about gluten is it has to be 100% gluten free, if you’re trying it out to see if it could be your trigger. Cos even a bit of gluten would affect our intestinal tract to the same extent as a regular diet. So I think a food diary would be a good start, to identify some pattern before you decide whether you’d make the effort in going 100% gluten free. 

  7. I think this is great that going gluten free has helped your son so dramatically.  It is a tough choice for a kid that’s for sure.

    I went gluten free for about a year hoping it might help my IBS, but sadly there was no change.  

    There are so many foods that contain ingredients that aren’t even considered safe for eating and they are allowed to be in our food.  The one thing we differ on is wheat.  I have read many studies where wheat from all over the world has been tested and non of the commercial wheat has tested positive as being GM.  In Canada it is strictly forbidden to sell wheat that has been modified.

    Great information and probably going gluten free would help a lot of people with all sorts of ailments.  Actually I am pretty sure of that.

    • Hi Stew,

      Thanks for the information about no wheat being tested as GM. Yes, I agree with your point. Wheat is actually not officially GM, but it has been modified in other ways, just not genetically. 

      The structure of some proteins in wheat has been altered, for instance. And new proteins now exist that were not there before. All these contribute to increased sensitivity, especially with the large amounts we consume on a daily basis. 

      I’m sorry to hear about your IBS. Since going gluten free has not helped, hope you are looking at other natural means to cope with it.

      All the best to your health, and stay well.


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