Synovial Syntax

I am what I eat

Posted on: January 23, 2010

No pIzza

Nay, nay and thrice nay. Get thee behind me food satan.

Large, and lardy.

You can’t be around RA for long without a huge array of dietary advice floating by you. I didn’t tackle any of it significantly for ages though. It seemed so minor compared to the other stuff going on health wise. Of course, food purists and enthusiasts will tell us that may well be the fundamental reason I’ve developed auto-immune disorders. In my case, no! It’s been immune storms as my system came back online altered and wrong after both pregnancies.

On the other hand, they are right about its fundamental role in supporting the health we have or want. We all know how food helps and hinders our feeling of well-being, in different ways for all of us. In my case, I’d long since given up eating processed food as far as possible. Bad habits though were still with me, and during the early months of RA I could no more manage to prepare myself a healthy diet than I could have re-roofed a house. Peeling, chopping, mixing, lifting were near impossible. Veg especially had to come from packets as far as possible, pre-prepared. My poor boys got a stunningly dull diet of not the greatest food value for ages.

With the Humira having kicked in, I felt able to tackle this. I took up the kind offer of a book group friend to have a student session at her school of nutrition, in early December. They were terribly polite about my frankly ghastly, rich, salty, coffee sodden diet. I went away and implemented much of what they suggested – the classic diet for arthritis I saw by looking online again.

Out went most meat, most dairy and I tightened up on excluding the gluten which has been making me ill since the birth of our first boy. In came more fish, more veg and more berries. I found losing the dairy very hard. I’d been a veggie for years in my misspent youth, but had compensated with dairy back then. During the coldest spell of winter, I was craving saturated fats, and had to fall back on lots of coconut milk curries, and added olive oil.

Positively, it worked. My face skin stopped having reddened areas and I stopped snoring and slept better. I had more energy, and the last traces of puffiness around my joints subsided to nothing.
I broke out back on the cheese on Xmas day and undid some of the good. Then I got bored and lazy and the old habits came back a fair bit in mid-January. Skin went pear shaped again, and I’ve had a RA flare, possibly related? Anyway, I’m back to being more careful now.

So that’s where I am. Over the course of a month, probably 98% dairy free, 90% meat free, eating between 8-10 veg and fruit a day, going heavy on the pulses, roots and legumes. I am getting good at making up stacks of flavourings for food, great drenching amounts of chimichurri and other such drizzles and dips and bastes and sauces. That’s the secret to enjoying an otherwise Spartan diet it seems. Plus an occasional drink, some sweets and a bit of Swedish Glace now and then. Let’s see what more time this way feels like.

(Still irrigating self in coffee in the morning though, oops)

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9 Responses to "I am what I eat"

Hi Merryberry,

I have just discovered your blog and Humira story. I’m due to start next week!! and find your experiences fascinating.
Also really interested in your comments about diet – like you, can’t wait to be able to eat healthily and normally again.
Loving your blog – thankyou!!

take care

Good luck next week, are you blogging too? Let me know how you get on. If you read back that far, be prepared for some unsettled times even if it is working well, as your joints deflame and settle down. It was weird, but I never really minded, I could tell it was a change for the better!

The theory goes that when you develop something like leaky gut/candidiasis, it can snowball from there and where you weren’t previously intolerant to anything, you can add new intolerances with increasing speed. Eating dubiously manufactured/processed or non-organic food then overloads you even more & your body has too much to fight against. Sugar & MSG mess with your body and mind.

There’s a useful book called Nourishing Traditions that tries to take everything back to basics food-wise (not so good on the meat free side which is why I haven’t looked at it for a few years).
But the gist is that we’re eating so many things in our food that aren’t natural, it all has a cumulative effect. Cut out the baddies and eat freshly prepared “real” ingredients and you’ve won a good part of the battle.
Another friend suggested not buying any preprepared food listing more than 5 ingredients….that’s very tricky nowadays.

On the plus side, stick with the life change & you can’t go back to eating some of the food you’d probably have called “delicious” previously, as you can start to taste the chemical flavourings etc.

Soy is growing in “popularity” as something to be intolerant to. It’s generally the soy protein isolate, I believe, rather than the fermented soy.

Am sighing as I know I need to do this – my joints are giving me minor aches again – nothing as debilitating as yours F, but enough for me to know I’ve been misbehaving food wise.

ah well, it was christman C and you and yours had enough to cope with, of course the food went funny. My New Year starts now, with my b’day today. Yours starts with the sledding?

Gosh, can you be intolerant to soy? Oh please let this not happent o me ever! I have just bought some lactose free milk from the supermarket, I wonder if this qualifies as the kind of dairy free I’m supposed to be doing?

Laurie, I’m so sorry to hear of your diagnosis. Wishing you the best of luck tackling it. Now I’m just off to read your blog! Best, slightly hungry all the time me.

Glad you liked the writing link on my blog. Hope you get past the “hungry all the time feeling.” Right now I’m not so hungry, but craving comfort food, mainly Toblerone bars to make myself feel better…aahhh chocolate, love it! 🙂

I don’t know about “intolerant” but soy is definitely something that people can be allergic to 😦

I have to take a look at my diet. I eat relatively well, but could improve, and like you, at the start of this all, I’ve been eating more like crap than usual. (I was just diagnosed two weeks ago.) I already don’t eat meat at home, but giving up dairy will be supertough for me. I love my cocoa in the morning (albeit with steel-cut oats, berries + almonds!), and yogurt. My main goal will be to fit in more veggies and fruit than I am currently and stop being so lazy about that, which is really what it comes down to for me.
Good luck with your efforts!

It’s good to hear that you’ve found something that might help allieviate your symptoms. If you tolerate soy, there are some dairy-free pudding/milkshake options. I hope your flare ends soon.

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