My Life With Food
I remember, with a vivid clarity, one evening riding in the car with my dad. I was 4 years old and really excited that he was home, my dad traveled a lot for work. It was a “thing” we would do when he was home on the weekends. He would take me to the store with him and I would sit on his lap and “help” him steer(it was the 70’s and you could do that back then).
We would pick out a snack like Reese’s peanut butter cups and eat it in the car on the way home. Peanut butter anything was my favorite.
The rashes and hives started around the age of 13. It didn’t occur to me or my parents that it was from food. The doctor gave me steroid cream and sent me home. That’s how I managed the rashes all the way into adulthood…steroid cream and long sleeves…
Fast forward 30 plus years and here I sit allergic to peanuts and a host of other food, plants, and environmental elements.
In the beginning of my autoimmune issues, it didn’t seem obvious that it was mostly food that triggered my symptoms. I was 28 before I knew I was allergic to so many foods like wheat, corn, soy, and pork.
I had issues with asthma and I wheezed a LOT, in fact, my husband used to call me by the nick name “Wheezie”.
Turns out all that wheezing was caused by pork!
I didn’t get strict with my food till my mid thirties when the RA became a problem. There are all sorts of different eating plans out there, all claiming to be the one that will change every thing, or cure you of something, or give you a better life.
I began by eliminating all the things that I had tested positive to.
Once I removed all of those foods, my diet most closely aligned with the Low Carb, Paleo, and Ketogenic eating plans.
These eating plans have been shown to help people with neurological issues as well as autoimmune issues.
Maintaining this lifestyle along with daily exercise, helped me loose 60 pounds, put my RA into remission, and reduced my hives and rashes to almost zero.
I’ve had a lot of people tell me that they could never eat that way long term, but I don’t look at it as a “choice”, to me it’s a way to live the life I want to live and not be completely controlled by my overactive immune system. For me food is medicine.
I want to spend some time talking about diet and how it affects inflammation in the body, especially those with an autoimmune disorder.
What we know is that the Standard American Diet(SAD), is not as healthy as the nutrition food pyramid would have you believe. We have been able to see through time and study that diets high in grain and industrial seed oils can be very detrimental to a person with an inflammatory disease.
There are multiple studies that show a ketogenic eating plan is clinically relevant in helping CANCER PATIENTS( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22394625/ )( https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213231714000925 )
( https://10.1111/j.1528-1167.2007.00914.x ), as well as children who are not NEURAL TYPICAL, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5863039/ ,
What is clear is that the food you eat can make a huge difference in the way you feel and your overall health. I firmly believe that the right diet can look very different from person to person. It’s defiantly not a one size fits all kind of thing.
I always encourage people to keep a food journal when they are struggling with a health concern.
What makes one person feel great can make others feel very ill.
When you keep a food journal with notes on how you’re feeling, pain levels, state of mind and energy levels, eventually patterns can emerge showing you specific foods maybe a trigger for things like migraines, belly discomfort, achy joints, or depression.
My diet is still an ever changing thing because my autoimmune issues are always changing. It can be really discouraging some days when I’m in the middle of a flare. It feels like all the progress I’ve made is completely gone and I’m back to square one. Luckily, I have a great support system in my family that remind me how far I’ve come in the last 10 years.
Somedays, I just don’t have the energy to fight my body, so I take the day to rest.
It’s totally okay to have days when you’re not okay.
“Faking it till you make it” doesn’t always work when your immune system is trying its hardest to attack you.
Give yourself permission to stay in bed or take it slow on those bad days.
Resting is what will help give you the energy to go to your kids ball game, dance recital, work event, date night or whatever else you want to do to live your life.
I’ve learned that what I thought my life would look like is very different from reality.
I am bound by specific limitations that can make me feel hopeless at times.
I’ve learned that when the hopelessness creeps in, I need to stop and take a minute.
I think about all the amazing people in my life and how I get to make a difference every day I go to my job. My life can be really hard some days, but as Tom Hanks said in A League of Their Own, “the hard is what makes it great”.