Diagnosis after Diagnosis…
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic, progressive autoimmune disorder, developed between the peak ages of 30-50. So, when I was diagnosed with it in my early twenties, it was a difficult shock to handle! Just a few years later, I was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia, degenerative disk disease, thyroid disease, and a severe reflux disorder. Living life to its fullest in spite of chronic illness was challenging, to say the least.
Changing my life:
After my diagnosis, my weight and state of mind spiraled out of control. I gained over 100 pounds in a few short years. As I lay on the couch in horrible pain and despair, my life was passing me by. And so were my children’s lives. One day when my toddler asked me to play on the floor with him, I cried because I knew I physically couldn’t. I knew at that moment I had to change my life, or die.
I made a conscious choice to make immediate lifestyle changes:
After working hard at it for one year, I shed 110 pounds, and much of my joint pain was gone. While I didn’t follow one specific diet to lose weight or to control my autoimmune arthritis, I incorporated these small changes, and they had a big impact:
Each day I cut down my portions a little more.
I journaled: I logged the foods I consumed and how I felt after eating them both physically and emotionally.
Each day I removed an unhealthy food. For example, I replaced the heaps of peanut butter I ate with a few tablespoons of fresh almonds. Jelly and sugar was replaced with honey. Cow’s milk was substituted for almond milk. I switched out bad carbs for good carbs, like sweet potatoes and brown rice. And I revamped my beloved sweets recipes to make them healthier.
I began walking: at first it was literally just a few steps with more added each day. After a month I began to measure my distance in half-mile increments, then full miles!
While everyone is different, and how an illness affects your body is different, little lifestyle changes can be extremely helpful in controlling chronic illness and weight. Today, almost 20 years later, I’ve maintained this healthy lifestyle in order to manage my rheumatoid arthritis, and to keep my body at a healthy weight. To leave you with a spark of hope, it is possible to live a “normal” life with RA – it’s just a new normal involving balance. I am proof of that!
Note: PLEASE consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medications. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.