Eating For My Disease
Hopefully we’ve all come to realize that when a doctor tells you “diet has nothing to do with your disease,” they are absolutely wrong! When I went to my very first appointment with a rheumatologist back in 1996, the first question I asked her was regarding food and it’s effect on my condition. I was told that what I ate would not make a difference in my pain and that food had nothing to do with the disease.
As it may not be the cause of the autoimmune condition, it very well does affect the disease as far as causing additional pain and inflammation. There are several theories out as to why it causes more inflammation, but the main reason is that we have underlying “gut” conditions that are making the very food we consume, toxic to our health. Unfortunately, we cannot live without food. Now the journey begins to figure out which foods are the culprits in our individual situation. I can bet that each one of us with autoimmune diseases have some sort of intestinal disruption going on that should be addressed first and foremost before healing your disease can take place.
Any type of digestive issues that you recognize are probably a sign of something more serious. Gas and bloating after a meal is a major red flag. It isn’t normal to bloat and get extensive gas after a meal. When I started having these issues I addressed it with my holistic doctor. She ordered blood tests and checked for gluten sensitivity. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and in some individuals is hard to digest. The results revealed that I was sensitive to gluten. After researching this topic further, I was assured that cutting out wheat and grains of all varieties would probably be the best solution for my condition.
I cannot lie, this was a battle for me. I have a major sweet tooth and I enjoy baking treats! What she was telling me to do with my diet was very hard to wrap my brain around. I left her office countless times and started to cut back on wheat, but never a total elimination. My disease was rapidly progressing and deteriorating every joint in my body. I was at the end of the road and ready to throw in the towel. I decided to make an appointment with a rheumatologist just to see what the newest drug therapies consisted of. Well, that turned out to be a joke! I was given a prescription for methotrexate and one of those biological medicines that you inject. I was also told of the warnings about cancers that could develop while taking these drugs. In fact, the doctor shared with me that his own mother had rheumatoid arthritis and she developed cancer from one of these drugs. Really? I left, never returned and needless to say, did not fill the prescriptions!
I guess we need a wake-up call every now and then because that trip to the doctor was all I needed to finally make the decision to throw the white flour, loaf of bread and baked goods right into the trash can! A new online search began and a whole new way of thinking was born. Once I stopped upon the Wheat Belly website, my prayers were answered! Now I had all the ammunition necessary to change my eating habits for the better, once and for all.
I know that wheat is a problem, but so is sugar, processed foods, MSG, lactose and more. The only intelligent answer in my mind was to eliminate all of these culprits, therefore allowing the digestive system time to heal. Immediately I ordered two books; Breaking the Vicious Cycle and Wheat Belly. This began my journey towards a new way of healthy eating and a mapped out plan to address the issues I was experiencing with my digestive system.
Without making this post as long as one of these books, I would suggest you purchase and read them carefully. I did what was suggested in the books and ate a very restricted diet for almost a year. Silly me started this whole process right before the holiday season began. Thanksgiving was my first hurdle and then of course Christmas cookies were almost the death of me! Happily, I never failed and was very determined to stay on track. What was my guiding force? The answer of course, the way I began to feel almost immediately once the new diet was implemented. The level of pain and inflammation had decreased so much that I was able to drop down from 12 Motrin per day to only 4. After a few months on the diet I was then able to take 3 per day and at times would only need them every few days or so. I would also have weeks of not needing any Motrin whatsoever. Remember, Motrin is, and has been, the only drug I’ve used for the past 16 years. Not that Motrin is a good thing by any means, however, some alternative treatments will not work if you take the more toxic medications.
The food is simple … Fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds as tolerated. Butter made from grass-fed dairy cows is also a staple as well as coconut oil. I use coconut oil for baking and also use it for stove-top cooking and roasting veggies in the oven. The meat we purchase in the grocery store is a major concern. Farm raised, grass-fed/pasture finished meat is the very best you can buy as well as farm fresh organic eggs. I buy eggs from a local farmer whose hens live off the land and have fresh pasture to feed from daily. These eggs are the very best money can buy and extremely healthy for you, yolk and all! Visit localharvest.org for providers in your area.
I began to purchase every item possible that was marked as certified organic in my local grocery store. If I couldn’t find every single item organic, I would eat limited amounts of conventionally raised produce. In the summer I ate from my own organic garden. And again, when it comes to meat, I was fortunate to already have been eating the best beef possible, raised from the pasture by my father-in-law. I found pork and chicken pasture raised by the same organic farmer where I purchase the eggs. The healthiest fish I could purchase was wild caught Alaskan. Absolutely no “farm raised” fish. You might think that “farm raised” fish would be the healthier option but trust me, it is the worst. Google it! These dietary changes were exactly what my body had been needing all these years.
And finally, how do I fulfill my sweet tooth? The alternative for white, refined sugar is raw honey (also from a local source) and other than evaporated cane juice in the chocolate chips I purchase, my refined sugar consumption has decreased dramatically if not totally. To bake my goodies
I use recipes that call for coconut flour and or almond flour. There are many satisfying recipes available online or in cookbooks written by grain-free authors. These grain-free sweet treats have saved me throughout this entire process.
More food talk to come in the future, so stay tuned. This is a topic that will never go away!
Up Next … The Good and the Bad — Navigating the grocery store