Melinda WinnerCondition: Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome (RSDS), Thyroid Disease, Degenerative Disk DiseaseDiagnosed Year: Early twenties to thirtiesFoods I Love:Frozen Yogurt Homemade cupcakes Veggie burgers Fresh fruit smoothies Chicken stir fryFoods I Avoid:Liver Processed sugar Fast food Canned tuna/salmon Fried food SteakMy Recipes & ArticlesFrozen Yogurt Sundae with Homemade Blackberry Sauce on May 21, 2021Lemon Almond Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries on July 17, 2020Mushroom Garden Lasagna (Vegetarian) on April 18, 2015My Toddler Wanted to Play, But My Body Couldn’t. I Lost 110 LBS and Now I Thrive with Chronic Illnesses! on April 11, 2015Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower on April 7, 2015My StoryBeing diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in my early twenties was a difficult blow to handle. A few years later I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, degenerative disk disease, thyroid disease, and severe reflux disorder. I was in despair. My weight and state of mind spiraled out of control. I had gained over 100 pounds. As I lay on the couch in horrible pain, my life was passing me by as were my children’s lives. One day my toddler asked me to play on the floor with him and I cried because I knew I could not do that. I knew at that moment I had to change my life or die.I made a conscious choice to make a drastic lifestyle change. Each day I would cut down my portions a little more and subtract an unhealthy food choice. I began to journal. I logged the foods I consumed and how I felt after eating them both physically and emotionally. I began walking. At first, it was literally steps with the addition of more steps each day. After a month I began to measure in ½ miles, and then miles. After a year, I was able to lose 110 pounds, and much of my joint pain disappeared. I replaced cups of peanut butter a day with tablespoons of fresh almonds, jelly or sugar with honey, cow’s milk with almond milk, and bad carbs for good carbs like sweet potatoes and brown rice. I even revamped my beloved sweets into new, healthier recipes. I’m often asked if there is a special diet I followed to lose weight or to control my autoimmune arthritis, and the answer unfortunately is no. Everyone is different and how an illness affects your body is different. However, the good news is that lifestyle changes are extremely helpful and aid to control chronic illness and weight.Almost 20 years later, I have maintained my healthy lifestyle and kept my rheumatoid arthritis at a manageable level. If I could leave you with a piece of hope it would be that it is possible to live a normal life with RA, it’s just a new normal with balance.