In a recent post, I alluded to the fact that I was in a car accident which triggered my current (and what feels like never ending) lupus flare. It’s been a really tough go for the last 4 months. The inflammation caused from the physical trauma became somewhat of a positive feedback cycle and the inflammation in my body spun completely out of control despite my best efforts to keep inflammation at bay.
One of the weird things that came about was food allergies. In the past, I’ve had an allergic response to gluten so I have been very careful not to eat gluten for the past 3 years. Recently, I was tested for antibodies against gluten-associated cross-reactive foods. What this showed was that certain foods I was eating were now triggering my body to create antibodies (an immune response) to these foods as if I was eating gluten! So I started what I’m calling the 10 for 6 diet.
10 foods cut out for 6 months. Hopefully by giving my body a break from the inflammation triggered by these foods, my immune system can calm down and I’ll feel a whole lot better. After 6 months, we can look at what can be reintroduced.
The foods (in no particular order) that I’m having an allergic response to include: gluten, dairy, corn, soy, potatoes, eggs, sorghum, amaranth, hemp, and sesame.
If you have done an elimination diet or the whole30, you’ll know that gluten, dairy, corn, and soy are in almost every processed food! It definitely takes a lot more effort to break free of convenience packaging (and a lot more dirty dishes!), but it has been very helpful to my body so that makes the challenges worth it. I’ve survived 8 weeks so far…
It is not easy. Not easy what-so-ever. I’ve never met anyone that doesn’t find comfort in food so there are definitely times I have to battle cravings and look to find comfort elsewhere. True story - the other night I wanted junk food so badly that cried to Zach “I want garbage!”.
But if we don’t find comfort in food, where should we turn? If you put any comfort item to the test (food, relationships, possessions…), they will always come up short. That cookie you thought would make you feel better didn’t. Your boyfriend didn’t live up to your expectations. Your iPhone brought you happiness only until the new version was released.
The only place you will find everlasting comfort and peace is with Jesus. Seek him out, rest in him, learn about what he says to you in the Bible. Like a house built upon a rock (rather than sand), he is the only foundation that will stand strong when the waves of life come crashing around us (Matthew 7:24-27).
I figured that if I’m going to navigate how to eat properly around my new food allergies, I’d better channel that nerdy researcher side of me and do some reading.
I’ve done a lot of meal idea searching and have pinned great ideas on pinterest if you want to have a look! There are a lot of great recipes out there for healthy meals and snacks. And don’t be shy to ask those around you for ideas and support. A friend of mine started a little WhatsApp group where a few of us share our meal plans for each week and that has been inspiring and a great resource to draw from. I don’t know what I would do without the support of my friends. Even my church community group has gone through extra effort to bring snacks that I can eat. I really am so blessed.
I’ve found the Dr. Mercola website really helpful when it comes to things like burning fat for fuel (instead of sugar), supporting the mitochondria (for optimal cellular function), intermittent fasting, and how too much protein stimulates mTOR (a protein that leads to inflammatory pathways). I’ve found that it’s a lot easier to stick with something if you understand why you’re doing it. If you’re not convinced that what you’re doing is important for your body to heal, you won’t have the intrinsic motivation to overcome stumbling blocks. And most of those stumbling blocks are mental. So remember - you CAN make lifestyle changes. You ARE strong enough. You CHOOSE what you put in your body. I encourage you to educate yourself so that you can choose the best - you’re worth it!
I know what your thinking… so what CAN you eat?! I have a list of 14 ‘no’s’, and several ‘should not’s’ but would you believe it, the list of things I can eat is still very long!
I’m trying to follow what Dr. Alex Vasquez describes as the paleo-mediterranean diet. I’m sure you figured out by the name that it takes the best of the paleo diet and the mediterranean diet, and he has found it to be the best diet for improving overall health.
I’ve been focusing my days around eating lots and lots of vegetables (as the main course, not the side dish) and healthy fats like avocados, coconut oil, and nuts/seeds. I try to keep my protein intake moderate and I eat almost no grains (I’ll have quinoa on occasion). I try to choose fruit with a low glycemic index (ex. apples, berries), and I’ve managed to quit snacking in the evening. I eat almost no processed food, no simple sugars and no artificial sweeteners. For as much as I’ve LOVED wine in the past, I’ve actually lost a lot of my interest in alcohol (who have I become??????) and I sleep a lot better now. Instead, I drink lots of water and bone broth. I’m still working to cut down my coffee consumption… My favourite food right now is homemade almond milk - I got a great recipe from the freshtake ebook.
Probably most importantly though, I’m eating as organic as possible. I feel way better when I don’t eat GMOs (which include pesticides and antibiotics). Unfortunately, if your food doesn’t say that it’s organic, then it can have those things in it. The most common pesticide sprayed on food is called glyphosate (in Monsanto’s ‘Round Up’) which is recognized as “probably carcinogenic” and linked to causing cancer. It penetrates into the DNA of the food so you can’t wash it off and it will bioaccumulate in your body. Because of this, all of our eggs, chicken, beef, and fish are purchased from the local farmer’s market and we refer to the dirty dozen/ clean fifteen list for our produce.
Finally, I supplement! But remember, supplements are a valuable way to strengthen a whole-foods diet, they are not a substitute for getting your vitamins and minerals from food! I’ve found supplements have supported my body in pathways that are often depleted for people with lupus or other autoimmune diseases. Do your research and check with your doctor though, because certain supplements are not compatible with certain medications.
I’ve found that changing my diet has been extremely beneficial for me in managing my lupus. No diet or eating plan could ever cure you, though! There is no cure for lupus. But choosing to consume nutrient dense whole food that does not stimulate your immune system is very helpful for your body to calm down. This is one aspect of my lupus that I do have control over, so you’d better believe I’ll be doing everything in my control to feel better!
How can you get started?
I would recommend doing a 30 day elimination diet and then slowly reintroducing food groups back in so that you can feel what your body does not tolerate. If you have the means, a food allergy test saved me a lot of time finding the foods that were affecting me specifically.
Well, I’m 8 weeks down with 18 more to go with this food allergy diet plan. I’ll keep you posted on my favourite meals and things that I find helpful!
I’m definitely no expert and my learning journey is not over yet. If you have any tips for how I can keep moving forward using food for healing, please let me know in the comments!