Archive for category Diet

The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet

A study just came out showing that following the Mediterranean Diet – lots of veggies and good fats like olive oil and nuts  – can reduce the chance of heart attacks and strokes by 30 percent.

Here’s the diet the study participants followed:

One group assigned to a Mediterranean diet was given extra virgin olive oil each week and was instructed to use at least four tablespoons a day. The other group got a combination of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts and was instructed to eat about an ounce of the mix each day. An ounce of walnuts, for example, is about a quarter cup — a generous handful. The mainstays of the diet consisted of at least three servings a day of fruits and at least two servings of vegetables. Participants were to eat fish at least three times a week and legumes, which include beans, peas and lentils, at least three times a week. They were to eat white meat instead of red, and, for those accustomed to drinking, to have at least seven glasses of wine a week with meals.

They were encouraged to avoid commercially made cookies, cakes and pastries and to limit their consumption of dairy products and processed meats.

This is interesting to me because it is essentially the RA diet I’ve been striving for (though I’ve also been avoiding gluten, caffeine and alcohol). I say striving for because I definitely seem to find my share of gluten free pastries, coffee and forbidden half glasses of red wine…

I will say that the summer before I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, I went on a mega vacation to Russia, Greece and Turkey. In Russia, my symptoms flared (though I didn’t know what they were symptoms of at that point). My feet were extremely swollen and it was very painful to walk.

By the second day in Greece, my symptoms were much better. This could be due to the slower pace of my travels at that point too, but maybe, just maybe, it was the awesome, fresh, veggie-heavy Mediterranean diet I embraced there.

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When To Get a Second Opinion

Wise words from Thomas Edison. You can get this poster @ behappy.me

I’ve been a bit concerned about the relationship between Interstitial Lung Disease and Methotrexate over the last couple weeks (yet trying not to worry, because worrying leads to flares which leads to more of a chance of RA complications…ha! FML!).

I will still talk to my primary rheumatologist about this on Tuesday, but in the meantime, I’ve decided to seek a second opinion. This wasn’t as easy a choice as it may sound. It felt like I was choosing to cheat on my rheumatologist and giving up on my treatment plan. As I told my friend, my relationship with my rheumatologist is something I want to be sensitive too – he might be in my life for many years to come!

I started by going to my allergist, who also happens to be a respected immunology expert. Up until 2008, I was seeing him once a year for checkups on my recovery from Interstitial Lung Disease. In many ways, he knows my medical history better than I do.

He told me that there is indeed a link between Methotrexate and ILD, and recommended I get a second opinion at a research hospital that specializes in lung disease. They also happen to have rheumatologists who specialize in both ILD and autoimmune diseases. Cool.

Turns out these docs are also in more demand than my current rheumy. I need a referral to even have a chance of seeing one. This left me with the choice of getting that referral from my rheumatologist or from my primary doctor (who I haven’t seen in years because I have another OB/GYN). I chose my primary doc so as not to shake the boat on my relationship with my rheumy. This choice, of course, requires yet another doctor’s appointment (yippee! – where is that sarcasm font when you need it?).

A couple other things of interest came up at my appointment as well.

My doctor said that, given my medical history, he doesn’t think it is likely that I have gluten or dairy allergies or sensitivities. He recommended just eating healthfully and focusing on eating for my marathon training.

I don’t think this means that I will run out and eat gluten again (I’ve already eased up a bit on the dairy), but maybe I’ll think about being more flexible. I also still believe that eating to lower inflammation in my body is a very positive thing I can do to help control my symptoms. My doc is very science-based (as he should be), so until a trustworthy study comes out showing how diet can ease/cure/whatever RA, I think he will be giving this advice.

I ate lunch with my family yesterday and mentioned this, as well as the idea that perhaps GMOs, pesticides and all the other industrial crap that’s made its way into our food supply was more responsible for the rise in gluten intolerance and autoimmune diseases than gluten itself. My brother-in-law and sister’s reaction made me feel like a social pariah. I plan on doing more research on this and posting it here, but I’m certainly not the first person to state this theory, so I don’t believe it’s totally off target… Does anyone have thoughts on this? Or good articles I can forward to my sister??

My doctor provided me with a list of websites that he likes to use for research because they are entirely science-based:

I hope this list helps everyone as you do your own research and become your own advocate for your health.

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Crazy Sexy Advice

The lovely Kris Carr

I happened upon Kris Carr’s blog through a recipe. I loved her recipes and her attitude, so I decided to check out her book, Crazy Sexy Cancer Survivor (apparently there’s a documentary too, which I haven’t watched yet).

I felt a little dramatic reading it because everything she was saying really hit home for me. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, not cancer. I’m not going to die of RA. My life’s not at stake. But many days, it feels exactly that way. I have the least sexy form of cancer possible. The kind that doesn’t get a book or sympathy. It’s an invisible disease with a name that diminishes its magnitude on sufferers’ lives. A disease that eats you from the inside out and can take everything away from you if you let it. Your joints, your freedom, your hope. So, in that way, I identified with Kris. As I was reading her book, I replaced the word “cancer” with disease, and it became a book about the power of survival.

One of the most important things I got from the book, which I totally wasn’t ready for, was the concept of healing versus curing. She writes that many of the healthiest people she knows are living with disease. This really hit home because I think I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been in my life, minus the RA. I watch what I eat, I workout, I don’t drink, I try not to sweat the small stuff, and I take care of myself. She talks about how people always say they want to be “cured” and get their lives back, but with healing, you can’t go back to that life. You will change your life after a diagnosis. Hopefully many of those changes will be for the better.

She writes about how important it can be to re-align your expectations of a cure and to be OK with healing over clinical remission. All you have to do is look at my “About Me” page to know that this is NOT my current approach. I want to kick this thing in the butt! I want it to be out of my life completely! But it made me think, could I be OK with healing to the point of this disease being manageable with minimal drugs? It’s sure not as much fun as not having it at all, but it is worth a thought. Sometimes the goals of “cure” and “remission” can just be added stressors because they may not be in the cards and they certainly may not be in your control. What is in your control is an attitude of healing. Constantly improving, learning, living, hoping. Not giving up. And maybe that’s enough.

I recommend you give it a read or browse through her blog. There are powerful nuggets there on changing your attitude, diet and lifestyle to promote healing. Here are my favorite quotes:

“During the time of darkest night, act as if the morning has already come.”
-The Talmud

Kris Carr quotables:

  • On making intimidating life/diet changes & just living:
    “You don’t have to be good at what you choose. In fact, go ahead and embrace rotten. You already have cancer (RA, a disease), why would bongos intimidate you?”
  • “Success is six degrees of separation.”
    (i.e. take small steps on big goals)
  • “The secret to happiness is the decision to be happy.”

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Hero Foods From a Chef With RA

Hero Foods From a Chef With RA

Sasha who writes the blog RA My Way mentioned Seamus Mullen’s book, Hero Foods, in a recent blog post. I haven’t checked out the book yet, but love his philosophy and had to share!

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RAD Fish Oil

RAD Fish Oil

Fish Oil!!

So there’s some science to the obscene amounts of fish oil my naturopath has me consuming… yeah!

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Marathon Training & Raw Food

Mile 4.5 water break!

Mile 4.5 water break!

Just had to share that last weekend I had a great solo run – 13.2 miles (that’s a half marathon!!) on a beautiful, dirt, hilly trail. I was running VERY slow, but I had a great time and it was FUN! Barcelona Marathon, I’m on my way!

On another note, I tried Kari Carr’s Mediterranean wrap recipe. This was my version of the cashew cheese:

Throw the following into a blender and blend until cheesy (consistency of hummus):

  • 2.25 cups of raw, unsalted cashews (I didn’t presoak because (a) what does that even mean? (b) why would one do it? and (c) who has the time?
  • 1 cup almond milk (I used almond milk instead of water because I thought, why not?)
  • handle of Italian parsley
  • sprinkle of chia seeds (they’re apparently good for you and give you energy, so this was another addition to Kris Carr’s recipe)
  • sprinkle of salt & pepper

I put the “cheese”, black olives, sundried tomatoes, and pumpkin seeds, onto collard greens for a super yummy (trust me!), healthy lunch. 🙂

My super yummy wrap! :)

My super yummy wrap! 🙂

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Vegan, Gluten-Free Cooking With Kris Carr

I’m not a big soy fan, so I would probably use eggs instead of tofu in the first recipe. Other than than that, these look awesome! I can’t wait to try making cashew cheese on my own and whipping up the Mediterranean wrap!

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