Oh-oh is right. Oreos are seriously no-no for the next thirty days.
Guys. I've embarked on a thirty day project. Want to hear all about it? Of course you do....
It all started about two weeks ago when the Pacific Northwest had a stretch of unusually warm and dry weather. Ahhhhhhh......I loved soaking up that sun.......even though I had sunscreen, long sleeves, and a hat on while doing so. After about three days during which I took some walks outdoors and spent some time in my wicker rocker on my front porch, I noticed with dismay the return of a few faintly pink but undeniably lupus blotches.
Sigh. I am currently taking prednisone, Plaquenil, and CellCept for cryin' out loud. Dr. Young Guy would rather we did not add my much-loved rituximab to the mix any time soon since although it boosted my energy levels, it did not keep the subacute cutaneous lupus at bay; and in view of a previous nasty drop in my leukocytes thought it best not to tempt fate again. So I feel as though I have reached the high end of my comfort zone regarding pharmaceuticals entering my body seeing as I'm currently taking just about all of the recommended meds for SCL and autoimmune disease in general.
(Remind to to write a post about the benefits for me while on CellCept later. Actually I find that taking it positively affects my fatigue. Not as much as rituximab, but without the dramatic highs and lows in energy levels that accompany that drug. More about that another time....)
The thought of spending yet another spring and summer hiding indoors does not sound fun and to be honest, makes me rather cranky. Seriously cranky. There HAS to be something else that I can do to decrease my body's dumb stupid response to sunshine, I thought.
So I'm trying to problem solve. Here's my line of reasoning: What strategies are typical suggestions to avoid SCL flares?
- Sunscreen? Yes.
- Protective clothing? Roger that.
- Avoid being outdoors in peak sun exposure times of the day? Check.
- Take prescribed drugs that have reputable studies supporting their use in treatment of autoimmunity? Yep, Yup, and Yessirree.
What other avenue of change could I possible explore?
Sigh. I knew this was coming: dietary changes.
Many of you have suggested that I consider examining my diet with the goal of decreasing some of the symptoms from my autoimmune diseases, and I've grudgingly come to realize that making a serious attempt at changing my eating habits may be long overdue. So here's what I have decided. After reading several books, The Autoimmune Solution by Amy Myers, MD and Anti-Inflammation Diet for Dummies by Dr. Artemis Morris and Molly Rossiter, to name just two; as well as reviewed endless websites dedicated to some type of diet that has the goal of decreasing the effects of autoimmunity, I've come up with a plan.
First of all, John and I are taking this little journey down healthy eating road together. While John does not have autoimmune issues and is overall a really healthy guy, still he struggles with some allergies which cause his eyes to occasionally be reddened and sore and he has frequent sinus infections. He uses a prescription nasal inhaler and uses a netti pot regularly, but his symptoms still re-occur. Many of the authors of these books and websites suggest that modifying one's diet may have the effect of decreasing allergy symptoms as well, so he's
We're going to try changing our diet for thirty days. We're going to eliminate gluten, dairy, sugar, caffeine, grains, beans, processed foods, artificial sweeteners, and nightshade plants.
I won't deny that this is really intimidating. But I kind of like Diane Sanfilippo's attitude toward these types of diets as an ongoing effort to improve one's lifestyle:
- That the foods you eliminate or avoid as part of a Paleo approach are the ones that are doing the most harm to your body. So, the first steps of simply eliminating grains, beans, refined seed oils, sugar/sweeteners, and grain-fed/pasteurized dairy products takes you at least 80% of the way towards achieving optimal health on a Paleo diet.
- That Paleo is more about eating foods that are real, whole, unrefined, unprocessed, and nutrient-dense than it is about striving for some (non-existant, if you ask me) level of perfection.
- That the largest benefits of Paleo are not about having access to food of optimal quality 100% of the time.
- That fussing over the minutia of optimizing every aspect of your diet (some call this hacking) may actually do you more harm than good. You do realize that stress can undo everything you do nutritionally, right? No? You didn’t know that? Well, now you do. It can. Stressing over your diet may actually be making you far less healthy than those few bites of dark chocolate or that non-organic banana. Or that (gasp!) grain-fed flank steak. You likely take great pleasure in that dark chocolate (or insert other imperfectly Paleo food here). Life is about not just being healthy, but being able to enjoy being healthy!
You can continue reading here; and more about Ms. Sanfilippo here.
After thirty days, if we see no noticeable difference in A) my sun sensitivity and lupus outbreaks and B) John's allergy symptoms and C) our overall energy levels and feelings of well-being, we're going back over to the dietary dark side.
Wait. I should temper that. We're going to gradually reintroduce foods and try to discern if they make us feel differently.
I'm not going to allow myself to hope that these restrictions will allow me to get off my DMARDs and immunosuppressants altogether. I'm just not ready to go there yet since I remember all too well what life was like without them. But if passing up bread and cookies allows me to actually live life outdoors once in awhile.....I'm in.
February 2nd was day one. I'll keep y'all posted.
Do you follow a restricted diet? Has it helped? Share.