Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Nickel Free Diet

So, I'm also thinking of starting a nickel free diet.

I have a type of eczema that is exacerbated by allergies, specifically a nickel one. And I have a severe nickel allergy. I've also, because I've been eating "healthier" added a number of different foods that in moderation (or less than moderation, since I would rarely eat them) would not normally harm me with their nickel content.

But my eczema is not abating and this is not normal. I get flare ups when I handle too many chemicals or when I'm stressed out. This time, the effects have been for weeks now and I finally read up more on the allergy/eczema and there is a link to diet. Of course, all the nickel high foods are foods that I have been eating a lot!

Beans/Legumes - because, of course, I wanted to be more vegetarian and eat less saturated fat, however, they are high in nickel.

Green Leafy Vegetables - again, because I wanted to eat lots of varieties of lettuces, spinach, and collard greens, to get their calcium and vitamins because I thought dairy was bad for me, with all those poor cows being fed antibiotics and other hormones.

Onions, green beans, and raspberries - And in order to cook those lovely legumes, I've been cooking them with onion, making soups with tons of onions in it. In order to get some variety from the green leafy vegetables like the collards, I've been eating green beans instead. Oh, and raspberries, because they have absolutely delicious in my fruit salads. Because, again, I wanted to eat as many fruits and vegetables as possible to get my "5 a day".

Nuts, including almonds, walnuts, and dried fruit - again, because I wanted snacks that would fill me up all day, I went for the nuts. Not just mixed nuts, but also nut bars, like the Kind bars, which are full of nuts and only nuts. I thought that by avoiding wheat, I was doing myself a favor. Man, I think I am less allergic to gluten than I am to nickel.

Chocolate and Tea - Of course, because I had reduced my intake of any other "pleasure" food, I focused on just good dark chocolate, which of course, is high in nickel. Oh and my buckets of green tea that I was drinking also contained high levels of nickel.

What am I left with?

Protein, dairy, other vegetables (carrots, cruciferous vegetables, green peppers, and so on), other fruit, like blueberries, strawberries, bananas, and so on.

Man, I need to get the eczema to stop. It's really annoying and the medicine the dermatologist gave me is not working as neatly as it should be and this is my last resort.

I don't know the impact of the change in diet, but clearly, it'll have to be more animal protein heavy and with side vegetables and other grains that are not high in nickel (the alternative they recommend is refined carbs, but I can't go down that path because of the PCOS) like maybe quinoa.

This is the story of my life... I guess I just need to take it and turn it around and it to my advantage. I always said I wanted to try a low carb diet and going to the "dark" side (more meats, eggs, and dairy) is a way of doing it, I suppose. I will have to be scary vigilant about my fiber intake though. I'll get those bananas and apples and blueberries and strawberries in me!

Then, of course, I'll slow start adding these foods back in and see how much I can have without the flare ups.

I do know that I've overdone the nuts. I used to never eat as many as I am now, but those Kind bars are just so amazingly good. And well, I've stopped drinking the tea, which was also a new addition (since green tea is filled with antioxidants and of course, helps balance blood sugar). I also added the spinach thinking it was healthier than just plain lettuces and to add variety to the collard greens...


Update on the reader question/answer here: Ezcema Update

Update on my ezcema here: It's Confirmed!


  1. Hi Veronica!

    I found your website when I was searching for nickel-free foods. I have dyshidrotic eczema & I've had hives since I was 16. I've been a vegetarian/vegan for 12 years, and I believe that the nickel is what is causing all of these things! Thank you for sharing. I have found several conflicting websites about the foods - what's low, what's high. Please let me know how your eczema is doing now that you've implemented these things! I eat almond butter, peanut butter, almond milk, spinach, etc (basically everything I shouldn't be). It's going to be hard because I don't eat meat, but I am willing to try it because my symptoms are a nightmare! AND I am a nursing student - which means frequent hand washing and/or alcohol antibacterial (which is a no-no w/ D.E.)

    Sorry for the extremely long comment - I couldn't find a place to email you. Keep up the perseverance with PCOS & weight-loss! You can do it :)
    - Melanie

  2. Hi,

    I also have a nickel allergy and am now initiating a nickel free diet. My nickel allergy is so severe that if my food comes into contact with stainless steel containing nickel at any point in the preparation process (utensils, pots, pans, spatulas, colanders, etc) it will cause a reaction and my lips will begin to peel. I know it's difficult and frustrating to have to wrap your life around this condition, but take comfort in the fact that you're not alone. Hope the nickel free diet is going well!

    - Jay

  3. Thank you for a wonderful article. I feel like I could have written it myself.

    Just one thought, please be careful of apples also. They are considered a low nickel food, but have the effect of exacerbating nickel allergies and eczema. The link is

    Kindest regards,


  4. Hi Veronica
    Hope your nickel free diet is helping your health improve. My daughter has a nickel allergy.
    We have been researching endlessly and have found some interesting things.
    The most significant find was that nickel is often used as a catalyst (binding agent) in many pills. Also, even if the pills do not contain nickel, nickel is often used as a lubricant in the machines making the pills.
    For example, my daughter cannot take tylenol brand, but can tolerate the cheaper store brands. This makes no sense to me, as nickel is used because it is a cheap would think that the more expensive tylenol brand would be the one that used a more expensive metal *shrugs*
    She has the nickel allergy, dyshidrotic eczema, pcos and lymphedema. We are starting to notice that a lot of people with this nickel allergy also suffer from pcos and lymphedema and are wondering if there is any connection.
    Would be interested to hear your thoughts and the ones of your readers on this.

  5. I have dealt with a nickel allergy for 27 years at 13 I got my ears pierced and that was it and I react to food. One thing I have found for me is cutting out a lot of corn and sugar allowed me to tolerate some of the nickel.foods longer... having any amount of sugar in my diet seemed to "feed" my eczema.

    My dermatologist compared the nickel reaction to food like a rain barrel .... my body can tolerate most of those food in low doses if I haven't allowed the rain barrel to fill up (in eating a lot of them because my body can't empty the rain barrel that fast) at some point it overflows and you can't tolerate any more... I allowed myself to get there again because I stopped watching and Journaling my food so back to a basic 3-4 safe foods for a week and gradually add in.more safe food til it clears...

  6. What about fish and shellfish? I know that anything out of a can would be bad, and I can understand why shellfish would be on the list of no-no's, but ALL fish? I love fish. And if I don't eat fish, will I get enough omega 3's from raw animal products? Should I be supplementing with Krill oil? Since it isn't fresh (smells fishy -- that's why they add the vanilla scent), I'm really wondering. Somebody recommended molecular distilled fish oil, but isn't distilling a heat process -- again oxidizing the oil and not good? Way confused. Please reply directly to THANKS :)) Maggie

  7. Hi Veronica,
    I just read your post and laughed as I heard myself!! Trying to be super healthy, I went raw, stoked up on the nuts, seeds, green veggies, fruit replacing all forms of sugar etc and my favorite treat was dark chocolate... I too was riddled with ecxema and sporarisis and I started getting acne placks on my face. After a patch test, I discovered my nickel allergy and also a fructose intolerance. It took 4 days after stopping all fructose to get rid of the facial achne and redness as well as the itchy bum and skin. My dermo gave me a cortisoid cream which I used for a few days and since, nothing... all the sporaris and ecxema gone! I still have IBS so Ive started the Fodmap diet removing all frustose and high nickel foods. Its awful as its so difficult to find good healthy recipes that are gluten free AND nut free AND chocolate free !!! Also lucky us we can't even eat gluten free flours like buckwheat, millet and oats!!! Even coconut flour seems to be off limits... sigh.... Im still not feeling very healthy... All my skin problems are gone but Im sooo tired and I just feel like I'm missing out on a healthy balanced diet. I'm trying to learn all this new way of cooking with lots of new and weird ingrediants. I live in France and a lot of stuff is difficult to find. I just discovered an Asian market and Im finding a lot of neat things like manioc couscous and flour, japanese noodles and I already eat a lot of rice noodles and wraps. A tasty dessert treat is still missing... I miss chocolate.... Good luck with you!!

  8. I was diagnosed with severe nickel yesterday, after 10 years of looking for an answer! I also have other food allergies AND Celiac AND IBS. Joys of all joys. I am about to cry right now. BUT, that being said, I am going to conquer this diet and make it my b*tch. I am a successful food blogger specializing in gluten free, dairy free and corn free foods. I have won national awards for my recipes and am published in gluten free magazines. I will keep you updated on progress of a delicious cookbook. Thanks for your post.

  9. I was diagnosed with severe nickel yesterday, after 10 years of looking for an answer! I also have other food allergies AND Celiac AND IBS. Joys of all joys. I am about to cry right now. BUT, that being said, I am going to conquer this diet and make it my b*tch. I am a successful food blogger specializing in gluten free, dairy free and corn free foods. I have won national awards for my recipes and am published in gluten free magazines. I will keep you updated on progress of a delicious cookbook. Thanks for your post.

  10. I also have been searching for a cure for my eczema on my hands and feet.I have suffered with this for years. I have experimented with my self extensively. I narrowed it down to a nickel allergy also.but I found that veg. oil has nickel in it also. So no more pre made foods and the biggest change was my conversion to lard and tallow. It seems like a lot of work but its pretty simple.I order leaf lard or beef suet from my local butcher. Make sure hes getting you the fat that accumulates around the kidney of either the pig or the cow ;this is the best fat because its the cleanest. Take it home chop it up , it put it in a pot boil it ,strain it cool it in some molds ( i use bread pans) and, freeze it .Its cheap easy and its way better than any thing else you've. ever use for cooking and frying. My whole families hair and skin look like a million bucks. Take a little add some coconut oil for smell and use it as a skin and hair conditioner. you'll never use petroleum or wax products on your body again.
    remember a good cook always does his best your in charge of taste and nutrition.
    it shows love for who your feeding and respect for what you've taken

  11. My mother and I have produced a cookbook for nickel sufferers. I, too, suffer from nickel allergies and have them severe enough to cause anaphylaxis and tongue swelling. It took 8 years to be diagnosed and 2 years to produce the cookbook so I had things I could eat and still feel normal. You should check out our website at


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