Monday, May 13, 2013
Friday, May 10, 2013
There is a lot of discussion on blogs, websites, and Facebook pages about the connection between rheumatoid arthritis and diet. Many people try a gluten free diet for a month or two and then deem it useless and move on. Some people remove processed foods for a while and then decide it takes too much work. Others say diet is a waste of time. Making dietary changes is hard, I agree. But whether or not diet "cures" rheumatoid arthritis, I believe it is one of the best gifts you can give yourself when dealing with RA.
My own personal journey with rheumatoid arthritis and diet has not led to a cure of the disease as I originally hoped for. Instead it has allowed me to focus on how my individual body reacts to foods. It has improved my skin, my digestion, weird twitches in my nose and fingers, and more. This did not happen by eliminating a food for a short time - I was lucky to work with a naturopath who insisted I eliminate foods until I saw some obvious changes. After eliminating wheat, dairy, nightshades, citrus, sugar, and peanuts and focusing on making all of my own food for about nine months, my inflammation rates went down and I was able to stop taking prednisone that I had been on for a while.
Initially I focused only on diet as a way of lowering my inflammation rates, but once I started eating well, I found I had a new respect for my overall self. I started digging deeper into who I am. What were my life goals? My relationship goals? My spiritual goals? What was preventing me from accomplishing what I wanted in each of these areas? I started meditating and respecting my need for lots of down time. I started working out in a new way using more weights than cardio workouts. I found that I like having a strong body. I worked on relationships. I cried a lot as I worked at finding a better, more content me. With each of these changes, I found that my body felt better. Diet gave me control over my life at a time that it seemed everything was out of my control. It was the first step towards creating a better me.
Many times when living with a disease such as rheumatoid arthritis we ask, "Why me?" We get angry at people for not understanding how we feel or saying the wrong thing to us. But what if we took our current situation, rheumatoid arthritis, and focused on it as being a lesson in life that has been given to us not only to make us a healthier person but also to make us a more content person? While I may not be able to stop a flare, I do know from paying attention to my own body that by reducing stressful situations, I can prevent many of them. I know that consuming too much sugar is going to give me stiff hands the following morning. I can become aware of the day to day signs my body gives me that I am not treating it well.
Diet is a starting point to making our overall selves healthier.While I don't think rheumatoid arthritis is a punishment for anything we have or haven't done in our lives, I do believe it is gift that has many lessons to teach us. I also believe that diet can be the first step towards giving ourselves the respect and attention it deserves. Once we figure out that eating crap day after day is not what our body is asking us for, we can move on to figuring out more of what our body does want from us.
Right now my weight is up about 15-20 pounds. Maybe that doesn't seem a lot, but on a 5'0 frame, it makes a huge difference and I don't feel happy where I am at right now aesthetically, but more importantly because I know that the extra weight does not create a healthy me. Rather than hurrying to reduce calories and lose weight, I am focusing on why I have an extra 15-20 pounds of weight on my body right now. What is the lesson here? I trust in the wisdom of my body and my body is holding onto this weight for a reason. It is my job to get to the root of it. I still have much to learn about myself and this extra weight I am carrying around is just another reminder to me that I have work to do. As I do good things for myself like skip the glass of wine that sounds so good or pack a nutritious lunch for a busy day, I know that I am not only controlling my weight but also treated myself with respect. I feel lucky that my body gives me signs something is out of whack and I am glad that I listen. Without diet, I don't think I would be to this point. So, while it may not cure the disease, diet definitely has an important place in our rheumatoid arthritis treatment plan. It makes life easier and transitions us to learning more about ourselves which in turn makes us happier and healthier.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
I am so proud to be a part of this video. I found myself saying over and over, "Remember when I couldn't ___________." This video was a great way for me to reflect on how far I have come phyically and emotionally with rheumatoid arthritis. I am really proud of myself .
Monday, May 6, 2013
Friday, April 19, 2013
Monday, April 1, 2013
|A nature walk with my teenage son, his friend, and my border collie. Breathing in the trees, birds, and fresh air helped clear my mind and renew me.|
On Easter Sunday, my family and I went for a ten mile bike ride. Spending time outdoors with my family always makes me happy, even when I try to resist it.
|I require a lot of alone time and I took it over spring break. While the kids were busy with their own activities, I read and watched shows that I enjoy.|
I participated in Deepak Chopra's 21 Day Meditation Challenge on creating Perfect Health with my sister Stacey. Daily, we shared our goals with each other. Knowing I have her there to support me and encourage me makes life wonderful.
Being gentle with ourselves and doing nice things that our bodies require is often overlooked in our society. Instead, we are often made to believe that we are lazy if we aren't constantly on the go doing something..... anything, except being good to ourselves.
My rheumatoid arthritis has been under control for a while now, but last Wednesday through Saturday I experienced a pretty rough flare in my hip. What I realized is that I didn't freak out. I remained calm. In the past, when I've gone a while without a flare and then had one, I felt emotionally drained, worried that my body was turning on me. This time, I didn't experience that at all. In fact, I realized that my nourishing time was a sure sign to me that taking time for myself was a good choice. This break gave me lots of time to reflect on some things that have been bothering me. I believe this flare might have been my body's way of ridding itself of all the negative feelings I have felt. Now that they are out of my system, I can start this week back to work and a regular mom schedule feeling good about my self and my choices.
I hope you are caring for yourself too. Happy Monday!
Friday, March 1, 2013
I have been reading Mark Sisson's new book The Primal Connection, which I highly recommend to everyone whether you follow a primal diet or not. In this book, Sisson gives practical ways of getting back to our primal connections while living in a modern world. He says,
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Now for the surprise! Lene is giving away a Kindle version of her book to two randomly chosen winners. To enter the drawing, answer the following question in the comments section or on my Life and Adventures of Cateepoo Facebook page:
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Until 2010, a good diet for me was low in sugar, gluten free and mostly dairy free. (In the beginning it eliminated nightshades, sugar, citrus, peanuts, dairy, gluten, and caffeine.) With my natuorpath's help I completed a successful elimination diet that allowed me to get off prednisone and reduce all medications to their lowest amounts. I went into what my rheumy called, "remission". I stayed there until I got cocky and started adding a lot of gluten free baked goods back. Sugar is my worst enemy. After many elimination diets, I know this to be true. Things got bad, I went off medications, and a new journey began. I tried the Body Ecology Diet with terrible results (Not that the BED is bad, it just wasn't good for me.) as well as many other alternative types of treatment.
In 2010, I decided to try the Paleo Diet. What I liked about this diet is it included lots of free range meat (we have been buying from a co-op for over ten years), organic vegetables (participated in CSA's for many years), and eliminated SUGAR and all grains. It met my philosophy of healthy foods. Having been gluten free for so many years, I found the Paleo Diet to be liberating. I no longer went to restaurants or searched recipe books looking for alternatives to wheat based foods. Instead, I started enjoying the wonderful foods that come from meat, vegetables, and healthy fats. I felt like I had entered a whole new world. Food had never tasted so delicious in its natural state.
I believe diet is key to everything. It nourishes us, provides a happy mood, cleans our body, increases its immunity, and keeps us looking and feeling healthy. For diet to not be a recommended lifestyle change with any disease is a disservice, in my opinion. However, I had to find a common ground with diet that satisfies me. When I set my mind to something, I follow the path I have laid out for myself. What I have discovered over the years is I can be a diet Nazi. The need to feel better has made me follow a diet to the T which also means to the point that I am mentally exhausted. This is where I have grown the most with diet. I have learned to let go a little and enjoy life.
In the past when following a strict diet, I have sat in restaurants watching others eat in fear of contaminating myself with a food. I have stressed myself out with each flare that I ate an unintended food. Although I am still conscious of what might have created a flare, I no longer do that. I now have a few basic rules for myself:
- ALWAYS eat gluten free.
- Enjoy foods like meat, vegetables, and fat. (restaurants provide well for this rule)
- Have fun with meals and relax.
I do occasionally eat grains. Once a month my daughter and I go out for breakfast. We order gluten free pancakes (a huge serving of butter in place of syrup) with eggs and sausage. Doing it feels indulgent and fun! I have a glass or two of wine on the weekends with my husband. I like the relaxed feeling I have after a long week. I add half a serving of rice to my Chipotle meal that we have once a week. Sometimes I like to buy chocolate covered almonds with sea salt at Trader Joe's (if you haven't eaten them before, DON'T. They are highly addictive.) These are my some of my guilty indulgences. What I have found is that when I allow myself a list of indulgences, rather than following a super strict Nazi diet, I am mentally happier. This balance is the piece that was missing in the past. I can still feel the stress and pain in my body from past experiences of stressing so much over the food I ate.
The Paleo diet might mean something different to me than it means to someone else. To me, it is about
- Choosing high quality foods for myself and my family.
- Cooking at home 95-98% of the time.
- Avoiding processed foods.
- Finding fun in making things like fermented sauerkraut and kombucha.
- Always having a carcass ready to throw in the slow cooker for bone broth.
- Trying new vegetables.
- Finding contentment in knowing I have a new stock of bacon grease in the refrigerator.
- Discovering a new way to use a vegetable. Rather than using pasta with meatballs and sauce, we used shredded cabbage. Delicious. Vegetables can be used in a variety of ways that enhance a meal.
- Planning ahead so that I always have food with me and not being embarrassed to pull out my own food.. If I know lunch will be served at work, I ALWAYS have a lunch bag full of food ready since generally lasagna or pizza is served. I can't tell you how many times people have commented that the food in my Thermos smells better than what they are eating. :)
- Preparing food in the slow cooker on busy days.
- Understanding that my body needs to be nourished and feeling satisfaction knowing that I am eating healthy foods in their original state.
- Enjoying cooking. I have found that with simple ingredients like meat, vegetables, herbs and spices, along with some fat, creating meals is easy!
- Hearing my son say, "Sweet potatoes with sausage and eggs are one of my favorite breakfasts." It is one of mine too. I am glad that eating Paleo has also created healthy eating for other family members.
Is my version of the Paleo diet perfect? Probably not. There are definitely a few things that need to be dialed in and when life isn't so stressful, they will be. But for right now, I think it is perfect for ME. My life is pretty stressed right now with a lot of work and family commitments, so finding a balance of what works is better than letting the diet go completely. What I have enjoyed about my journey with food is that it is always changing and always getting better!
Monday, February 11, 2013
Yesterday, after it had rained the night before, my walk was miserable. A lot of the snow had melted but there were so many patches of ice on the sidewalk and in our yards that walking was more like participating in an obstacle course than being a serene time of the day. I worried about my border collie Izzy and myself slipping. I came home and told my husband, "I hate living here."
As I reflected on "I hate living here" later in the day, I realized I hate many things about winter. It seems like forever since we have had sunshine for more than a few hours at a time. Whenever the sun is out, I want to absorb as much as I can, as if my body is starving for it. By February, I am absolutely sick and tired of putting on four layers of pants, two shirts and my coat, a face mask, a hat, and then a big hat over that one along with big clunky gloves and boots to insure the Rayaund's in my hands and feet can make it through a 35-45 minute walk. I am tired of wiping down my border collie when we get home because she smells like a wet dog who then rubs herself all over the furniture. I am tired of having smashed down hair from wearing a hat everywhere I go, but know that without it, my ears which also seem to deal with Rayaund's, become so painful I can't handle it. I'm tired of brushing against a dirty car and looking out of windows that have dirt, salt, and other winter debris. I 'm tired of everything just being dirty! By February, whether we have tons of snow or not, I am tired of living in the Chicago area. I told my husband that I could handle the cold and snow if the sun was out. I think it is true. I think more than anything, I just miss the sun. I need it in a bad, bad way.
Today, I am going to focus on getting my mind out of the "hate" mode and back to a happy place. For starters, I am going to focus on the positive of winter:
Help!!!!! I can't think of anything today! I know there are a few.
Ok, change of focus. Rather than focus on what I like about winter, I am going to spend time today visualizing myself on a beach with the sun shining down on me. I am going to take time to read encouraging words, meditate, make delicious food, and laugh (even if I have to force it). I'm going to clean the house and declutter my desk, because even though I can't take away the dirt outside, I can clean it up inside.
What do you do about winter blues?