Monday, July 13, 2009

You are what you eat (or don't eat!)

The question of whether or not an official "lupus" diet exists has been around since I was diagnosed (going on 9 years now...), and I'm sure the very first lupus patients were grappling with the same dilemma. Are there foods that can improve the disease? Are there foods that can exacerbate it? Although it seems to me that an official ruling on the subject hasn't been declared, I've been part of several conversations lately where lupus patients, doctors, and nutritionists have agreed that cutting out certain foods can improve life with lupus.

Personally, I've tried many dietary changes over the years to lessen my disease activity, many of which seemed to drastically improve my situation. I've kept up with a few of them, and I'll outline the changes I've made (both permanently or temporarily) below. Please keep in mind that items listed are based upon my own personal experience, and are not to be taken as medical advice.

1) Shopped the perimeter of the grocery store - That's right - just the fresh stuff: fruits, veggies, meats, cheeses, etc. My girlfriend at work told me about this concept years ago, when her husband was found to have a heart condition and instructed to limit his diet to items in the perimeter of the store. Years later, I'm still doing it. What does this eliminate? All of the processed stuff with ingredients you can't pronounce. We're not overzealous about it (you'll still find peanut butter, teddy grahams, and chips in our house), but we actually prefer the fresh stuff. (Eeek! I never thought I'd say that. We used to be a 3-Digiorno-Pizzas-a-week family!)

2) Eliminated, at one time or another and in varying degrees: dairy, night-shade vegetables, soda, red meat, and artificial sweeteners. (Note that the first two items are often thought to have natural inflammatory properties. When I read that years ago, I decided not to add to my troubles - so I cut them out for a time.)

3) Replaced my morning bagel and/or toast with a big, fat fruit smoothie (sans yogurt.) All of that delicious fruit was like one big energy boost. I felt great!! (I've since switched to cereal with milk - I burned out on daily smoothies after several years of it...but I still enjoy one every once in awhile.)

4) Moved our microwave to the garage: That's right - our micro has been boxed up for almost 6 years now...and we haven't missed it for one minute. A) Food seems to taste a lot better warmed in the oven, B) we never buy packaged/boxed microwave dinners because, duh...we don't have one, and C) we actually have to think long and hard about heating up a snack, because it's going to take at least 20 minutes before it's ready. How many fatty, greasy things do you think I've passed on because it would have just taken too long in the oven? A lot! And you know what I eat instead...fruit, which needs very little preparation. Who would have guessed?

There you go - Despite Lupus' dietary history. Remember, the items above are strictly based upon my own personal experience. I suggest consulting your doctor before making any drastic changes to your diet. And feel free to chime in with your own dietary success stories. I look forward to hearing what works for you!

2 comments:

Manic Mom said...

I've never looked into this, very interesting. Thanks for the info!

Sara Gorman said...

The diet thing IS very interesting. I can't guarantee results, but I know I at least felt better making a few of those changes. A woman at my support group recently pointed out that by making dietary adjustments, it's nice to be able to assert yourself in a situation where normally, you're at the mercy of the disease. I agree!

Take care and thanks for stopping by.