Posts Tagged Diet
The last couple days were rough. Once again, my feet were hurting and I was consumed by thoughts of “oh my God, the drugs aren’t working” and “it’s because I’m down to only four methotrexate per week (and Enbrel).” Or, maybe it was just the normal ebbs and flows of life with RA. But of course my mind doesn’t like that thought either. That thought means it might be like this forever.
So with my feet hurting, two days ago I thought wisely that I should not wear flipflops, which let my feet swell, but aren’t supportive for the painful pad of the foot. Of course heels were out of the question and tennis shoes would just throw my outfit too far off (I’ll sacrifice a little bit of style, but I just can’t go that far). I opted instead for my expensive, less-than-flattering, mary-jane-style shoes with nearly-orthopedic inserts, lots of support, and an adjustable velcro strap to counter swelling.
My feet walked me to work relatively happy. By lunchtime, they were so swollen, no amount of loosening that little velcro strap was going to help. I spent the next few hours barefoot (probably didn’t thrill my coworkers). I forced my feet into the shoes and found myself a ride home – no way was I gonna walk if I could help it.
I ended my night with my aching, painful, and now blistered feet in a cold foot bath. It helped a little.
Cue the next day. Guess what, I woke up with hurting feet. They were back to that point where rising up on my toes, even a little, is pretty excruciating. Flipflops were out, my expensive RAD shoes were out, tennis shoes were…out (sorry! I’m just not ready to bring tennis shoes into my work outfits yet!). I felt pretty good about another option: boots with no heel and inserts that would give my feet padding and allow them to swell. Yes, the weather was unseasonably hot for June, but I could sport boots with a dress and make the look work. The great style/pain compromise settled, I happily set out on my short walk to work.
Immediate pain, which of course pained me in another way: it was a painful reminder of how badly my feet hurt in these shoes in my pre-diagnosis days. Only a few hours later, I could feel my feet swell to the edges of the boots. That was another rest my feet kinda night.
And then there’s today. I wake up expecting pain, but I feel fine. Overjoyed, I lace up my tennies (to workout, not to go to work!) and go for a run. It’s a little shaky, but I’m feeling so much better, it’s powerful. My feet are feeling good, so I opt for my greek sandals with plenty of padding on the sole. Mostly pain free all day.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining since today is a great day for my feet, but the pain rollercoaster of RA is physically and mentally exhausting. There’s just no predicting when a flare will hit or how bad it will be. And there’s no science to why it gets better, at least no science that I’ve figured out.
As my rheumy says, you’ll drive yourself crazy wondering what causes what. I guess it’s best to just take care of myself as well as I can – plenty of sleep, minimize stress, keep at my high fruit, veggie and omega-3, no dairy and gluten diet, and appreciate the good days. At least, that’s what I’m doing today.
After being diagnosed with RA, I immediately did a TON of research online. A reoccurring theme was nutrition and diet. I don’t want to tell people to try to fix everything with diet – I’m on methotrexate and Enbrel myself right now – but I do think it’s an important component for feeling better.
Based on research, blogs, books, webmd, magazine articles, conversations with a friend who is a nutritionist and a friend who has an autoimmune disease herself, I made a few changes.
- No red meat
- Less white meat (chicken, turkey, etc.)
- More omega-3 rich fish (hello salmon!)
- No gluten 😦
- Less caffeine (and I was a serious coffee addict!!)
- More green tea (antioxidants)
- Less dairy (I switched from cow’s milk to almond milk and cut my morning yogurt in favor of fruit)
- More omega-3 foods like avocado
- More nuts and legumes to replace cut protein
- MORE veggies and fruit – lots more
These are by no means the changes everyone should make. A friend with Hoshimoto’s Disease decided to go on the paleo-diet (red meat, nuts, berries, wheat), while another friend with Celiac’s is obviously gluten free.
I’ve had these changes in place for about two months and, overall, along with the drugs, I’m feeling much better! Making these changes has definitely made me more conscious about everything I consume, which is likely a good thing. I’m a single girl with a downtown job – I go out to eat a lot and am not a huge fan of cooking, but this diet has forced me to pay more attention to menus and eat at home more often. I also love to workout and therefore usually am able to maintain a steady weight while eating whatever I want, so being really conscious about eating healthy has been a huge shift.
It has been a lot of fish, salads and smoothies. Here are three of my fave smoothie concoctions so far:
Can’t Beet It
- Unsweetened cocoa
- Almond milk
- Shredded sweetened coconut
- Chia seed (for added omega-3)
- Almond milk