Maria RuizCondition: LupusDiagnosed Year: 2009Foods I Love:Beets Papaya Mango Sweet Potato Lentils Butternut Squash Quinoa Hummus Honeycrisp Apples PistachiosFoods I Avoid:Alfalfa sprouts Eggplant White potato Fried food Dairy Meat Refined Carbohydrates Sugar AlcoholMy Recipes & ArticlesVegan Cornbread on November 7, 2018In My Pantry: 10 Foods to Fight Autoimmune Flares on October 1, 2015Banana Spinach Green Smoothie on January 20, 2015No-Bake Four-Ingredient Granola Bars on January 11, 2015I Conquered Lupus. 3 Lessons Learned from My Elimination Diet on January 8, 2015Cauliflower “Rice” on January 7, 2015Arugula, Cabbage, Avocado Salad with Grapes on January 1, 2015My StoryIn 2009, I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). Lupus is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the body’s tissues, causing inflammation, swelling, pain and damage. Some symptoms include extreme fatigue, joint pain, fever, and in some people, a “butterfly” rash on the face. Back in 2009, I was upset with the diagnosis, and fell into a state of helplessness and depression. There were days that I could barely make it out of bed due to pain and extreme fatigue. I was prescribed various medications to combat the symptoms, which mostly subsided after 2 years of struggle. I still suffered from joint pain, but I just learned to live with it.In May 2014, I suffered a second flare up. Symptoms of extreme fatigue, fever, inflammation and swelling came back. I was initially very disappointed and upset that the disease would again render me useless, but this time I decided things would be different. I decided I would be in control of the disease, not the other way around. Regardless of lupus, I had always observed how eating certain foods made me feel. I knew I didn’t want to be on multiple medications, so I decided to research how food could help my body heal itself overall. I started by researching what foods could aggravate my symptoms, and began by eliminating them from my diet.After eliminating dairy products, meats and refined carbs, and increasing my fruit and vegetable intake, I quickly noticed how much better I was feeling. At that moment, I made a decision to commit fully to a journey of healthy regeneration. There has been much trial and error, but this journey has opened my eyes to so many new things, and every day I continue to learn and grow. Yes, it takes commitment and determination to embark on such a journey, but what is there to lose? I wanted to prove to myself that I could overcome this. I wanted to prove to myself that I have lupus but lupus does not have me. So far, the disease does not define me, and it is not what drives me anymore, instead, I am driven by the desire to live as my healthiest, optimal self, every day.