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Maryana Lishman is New Zealand's leading eczema and allergy coach and the founder of Raised on Real Food. She is also the host of the Healing Tribe and runs a busy online clinic where she helps families across the world with nutrition, lifestyle and mindset when it comes to integrative skin and gut health. She combines her personal experience and dedication to these topics to offer realistic, practical and useful insights and strategies.

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It may not be easy... but it's worth it.

Updated: Sep 25, 2020

The adventure of healing eczema and allergies is not always easy. It's inconvenient. Sometimes expensive. It's not the norm. It takes time and continued effort. It's tiring. Depressing. It's no magic fix with a guaranteed outcome. It's multi-faceted which means you can be doing absolutely awesome in some aspects, but it's the aspects you're glossing over or have not yet even considered that may be halting your overall progress. It requires a clear mind. Steely determination. A focused approach. It can push you to the limit. Given all that, it's a wonder anyone tries it at all! I'm not writing this story to scare you off. Actually, the opposite! Sorry if you want me to tell you how easy it can be. Maybe someone you know has been able to get away with removing dairy and bam, the eczema is gone! You're secretly hoping that's all you'll need to do too but it's not seeming that easy... Maybe you're just tired full stop. I'm so sorry it's hard. I remember those days. I do my best to help, but the choice to embark onto every step must always be yours. When it comes to our wellness, our actions tend to determine our reality. I have always encouraged informed choices and because of that, I can't drag people along kicking and screaming - if you wish to learn and take action, you will. Maybe you'll learn from me. Maybe from someone else. Whoever you work with, remember that healing is an active process of observing and adjusting and this should get you to where you need to go.

I also resisted gut healing at first.

I put my daughter on mixed feeding with Neocate for a few weeks because frankly the idea of eating fermented cabbage did nothing positive for me, a sleep deprived first-time mother of an infant who was losing weight and covered in dry itchy skin. I read about gut healing but it sounded exhausting, a little disgusting and a lot depriving. I wasn't going to stop breastfeeding, but I was going to try the easier option first. And then of course, she got her first hive to a bottle of Neocate. The magical glorious 'safe' formula. And I knew I was at a crossroads. So I made a choice, and took a deep breath and figured in for a penny, in for a pound. And we were on that gut healing journey until she weaned at 2.5 years of age. And I'm still working on my own healing - trust me it's much easier when starting with a young infant who pretty much eats whatever you put in front of them.

I didn't do it 'perfectly' but my daughter did pretty amazing anyway and all the things I learned, I wanted to share. I guess the biggest question I had for myself at the beginning was this. "Will it be worth all the effort?" And I can look back now and say, f**k yes it was. Every second.

To watch my daughter have an emerging understanding of health and wellness, with strong food preferences and great dialogue between what she eats and how she feels. I'm not saying this smugly - only yesterday she berated me and cried for over an hour because she wanted sorbet and she wanted it NOW and wouldn't do a single other thing happily until she got it - but also because we go home and she eats real food and she is blissfully unaware my entire 'raised on real food' approach is my ode to her journey and my way of helping other people's children on their journeys too. To be able to walk into ANY cafe or restaurant pretty much, and not have to worry too deeply about cross contamination and traces. Cashews? No problem. Peanuts? All good. Even if we all order is a bowl of fries I don't stress it's cooked in a vat that also contained gluten (although I prefer it wasn't). Heck she even has some dairy now. Loves butter and turns out, cheese. To see beautiful skin that is clear and smooth. No creams required. To see her tuck into a range of different foods and joyously enjoy the act of eating her food. The cherry juice running down her chin. The broth that makes her lick her lips. The joy in a small bowl of chocolate avocado mousse. The gratitude expressed when she tells me "you're the best cooker ever mumma!" When you feel stuck and are considering giving up, remember it's rarely easy but it's almost always worth it. Keep going parent (or guardian). You've got this.