I usually edit the original post, but at this point I think it needs to be entirely reposted with some changes.
At the top I want to explain that I am not “on a diet”. I have never done that, and never will – ever – and I do not recommend it to anyone unless they have a specific health condition such as Celiac disease, or diabetes that requires the elimination of specific foods, and the addition of others in order to manage it for the preservation of their life. One important point there is “the addition of others”. Most people view dietary changes due to disease or health disasters as a process of elimination, and they see it as a loss. They miss the fact that they can and need to replace those items with something else. You will feel less deprived if you pay attention to that. I could probably put a lot more on my “Don’t” list below, but I am having difficulty thinking of the things I choose not to eat (other than the blanket statement about processed junk “foods”). They don’t matter so much to me.
What I do subscribe to is called “whole foods” (no, not the market chain). For a long time eggs were vilified, or more specifically the yolks. That turned out to be utter BS, and they had to recant and tell the world “Oops… something in the egg whites counteracts the cholesterol in the egg yolks. Go ahead and eat your yolks now.” I never stopped. No animal in nature laps up egg white and lets the yolk go to waste, and I won’t either. Cholesterol is also now being pronounced not as harmful as they were thinking either, by the way… and guess what, we knew all along that you actually need to consume some cholesterol for proper health. For women especially, we need it for the production of hormones. Factually, the proper approach is not to stomp down the LDL, but rather to groom and elevate the HDL, and there does need to be a balance so this whole concept of “good” and “bad” really is a format that needs to be thrown out immediately. Statin drugs are in my opinion one of the worst atrocities of today’s medicine. For my autoimmune buddies out there, you need to know that the negative reaction that occurs to those meds in some people is an autoimmune reaction. My own mother was a victim of it, and after years off the med she tried taking, she is still afflicted. You won’t ever catch me taking one of those. There are dietary methods that are quite effective. No, I do not promote the use of Red Yeast Rice, as it carries the same risk. There are other supplements that are safely effective, starting with your food. This is not an overnight fix. You have to make a commitment to repairing and preserving your quality of life. You might as well decide now if that is what you want.
There is no magic fix. There is no wonder pill. There is no revolutionary diet. There are no shortcuts. There never will be any amazing tricks, or supplements to pop, or special and easy exercises, or any other snake oil solution to achieving and maintaining better health. There is no one thing that you can snap to doing that will change your life instantaneously. You make a decision, you make the changes, and you stick with the routine. That includes everything from what you eat, how you eat it, and PROPER supplements when needed, to the right amount of rest at the right hours, and getting the necessary level of physical activity in during the day. I hear people all the time say that they can’t afford to eat healthy, and I am here to tell you that is nonsense. This is not a wealthy household, and at times is rather strained, so if I can do it so can you. In fact I know women living with far less income and limited access to well-stocked stores that are managing to eat healthy. If they can do it, so can you. The fact is junk food, packaged meals, and processed items actually cost you more than healthy, fresh, real food that you can make health promoting, energizing meals from. Bottom line, when you give your body the correct nutrients, you will also crave less and need to eat less. You won’t be chasing down bags of potato chips and snacking on candy all day long. You do not need it. Trust your body. There are key elements to making yourself feel satisfied, and it’s all about the right nutrients, caloric intake, and protein.
When I eat eggs, I eat them whole, yolk and all. When I eat oranges, I eat some of the white inner part of the peel (where the bioflavonoids are hanging out). I do eat some meat fat (just not excessively). I eat organ meats (especially love chicken hearts and livers). When I eat chicken, I chew up and eat some of the cartilage (contains the building blocks for your own connective tissues). When I make mashed potatoes, I leave the skins on them (nutrients are lost when you peel). I do eat bacon occasionally – nitrite-free. I eat fish skin. I love shrimp cooked crispy so the shell is edible. I eat real butter because it contains benefits you will never get from margarine substitutes – best choice is from grass fed cows, unsalted if you can get it. My cholesterol is fine, by the way. I also consume a lot of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and garlic, and I take a krill oil supplement. Some points to consider there.
HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) is in my opinion the worst offender in the American diet. They finally had to admit it is a contributor to high blood pressure, triglyceride problems, elevated LDL cholesterol and a few other nasty issues. I avoid it like the PLAGUE. You should too. Do some honest research and show yourself why there is no excuse to keep consuming it. It is not that difficult to eliminate. You do not need to drink soda, and there are juices on the shelf that are made without it. I drink water all day long with the occasional addition of something else.
The old recommendation of 8-10 glasses of water is outdated. Take your weight in lbs., divide that number by 2, and that’s how many ounces you need. So if you weigh 200 lbs, you need a minimum of 100 ounces of water each day. More if you are ill, losing weight, or sweating excessively. No, you cannot substitute any of that with cups of coffee, or fruit juices. Water.
In the past I have been the target of some rage and mental malfunctions on this topic. Let me make it perfectly clear here that I do not chase anyone down with this information. This is a presentation of what I do that has worked well for me, and it is available to Lupus and other autoimmune patients and anyone else that are WANTING to make a change in their life. It’s an outline of what has developed over years of changes too, and I never expect anyone to just pop overnight into a mirror image of it. This is for the people that have asked me what I eat, what I don’t eat, and what to do about their situation. I can only share my routine, and the information, and then it’s up to you to start implementing. I am always happy to answer questions as well. Do I commit indiscretions? Yes, sometimes, but not often and I try to make them minimally egregious ones. Do I allow myself a DAILY “treat” that is unhealthy? NO, absolutely not. It is not a habit that I want to promote in myself and I don’t need to intentionally allot myself a bad decision. Is it always easy for me to stay on track? Of course not, but it is always 100% worth the effort.
If you live with a disease that will respond like someone walking in every morning and punching you square in the nose when you wake up every day after you deviate from a healthy routine… you will eventually decide that you need to make better choices. If you don’t, you’re just a glutton for punishment. When people tell me they “tried” one thing or another, I know they are not serious. You cannot fiddle with a few food changes for 2 weeks and expect it to create a magical transformation. Make a decision, be diligent, come back in 2 months or more and tell me if it didn’t make any difference. I promise you that box of Fruit Loops, package of corn dogs, bottle of fruit punch, the french fries, and fried chicken with biscuits with gravy is not your friend. Neither is the Snickers bar or the DIET SODA. Start reading your labels. Recognize that not even all food packaged with a presentation of being “healthy” actually is, and you need to get educated if you want your quality of life back. If you don’t want it, then you don’t need to read this. It’s that simple. I am not harsh. I am realistic.
Physical activity and eating right go hand in hand. I have Systemic Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Raynaud’s Syndrome, dysautonomia, and a heart condition. NO, I do not feel like getting up and moving in the morning. Yes, I wish sometimes I could just eat whatever I think of when my eyes pop open, or not eat at all because I feel nauseated that day. I am however the one in charge of the decisions. I CHOOSE to get up and move, because I know from experience that my pain and stiffness will retreat and my energy level will increase. I CHOOSE to make a healthy breakfast, because I know that is the foundation for fueling my body at the outset of my day. If you feel nauseated, either drink some ginger tea or pop a Zofran, but for goodness sake EAT. The biggest mistake many make is not consuming enough throughout their day, starting with breakfast. The human body functions best on a grazing routine. Eating 3 big meals a day is a bad concept and it always was. Several small meals will keep your blood sugar stable, keep you feeling satisfied, and give you continuous fuel for activity. When you do no eat enough, your body goes into starvation mode and it stops burning. You can actually gain weight by not eating enough. It will be a constant battle trying to lose fat. Feed yourself the right food, and then get up and use that fuel.
I tell people all the time, and here it is again, start wherever you are at. I don’t care if all you can do is raise your arms over your head, do it. Do it again. And again. Do whatever you are capable of doing, but move your body. If you can walk to the corner of your block and back, do that. When that gets easy, walk it twice. Keep going. (This is where I started in 2011.) This is not about longevity, my friends. This is about quality of life while you are here. I would rather have another great 20 years than another 40 lousy ones. Which do you prefer?
For a personal profile you may also need to take into consideration ethnic ancestry like I did. My ancestors ate game meat like venison, rabbit, and squirrel. They fished and ate crawdads. They ate pine nuts, hickory nuts, berries, and walnuts. They made cornbread and bean bread, not wheat bread. Those are the things that make me feel more balanced and give me control of my health. The additions from what is modernly available in this country are usually to make up for something else that is lacking in present day nutritive quality, or to replace an item that I cannot precisely obtain.
This is as extensive a set of lists as my brain can compile right now. I will likely come back and edit to add things if I think of them later. If it’s on neither list, it could be something that I eat occasionally to rarely that I can live without if necessary.
What I Do Consume
- Chicken (steamed or boiled) – organic if possible
- Steamed fish – wild caught salmon, tuna, Pacific whiting
- Healthiest lean beef I can afford (range or grass fed when I can)
- Occasional lean cuts of pork
- Bison & Venison (when I can afford it)
- Occasional sushi (carefully chosen, reliable quality chefs)
- Eggs (cage free, healthiest I can afford)
- Quail eggs
- Shrimp, crawfish, scallops, crab, clams, Apple Snail, frog legs
- Nitrite-free (uncured) bacon, hot dogs, smoked salmon
- Yogurt w/ fruit (Chobani or Liberte’), or plain yogurt (use for all sour cream applications)
- Cottage Cheese (whole, NOT lowfat)
- Cheddar, Jack, Mozzarella, goat cheeses, Nuefchatel (lower fat than cream cheese)
- GOUDA – natural source for vitamin K2, which is critical
- Almond Milk – unsweetened (Rice or coconut Milk also acceptable)
- Sprouted organic tofu, cooked (neutralizes goitrogens which suppress thyroid)
- Walnuts, Spanish peanuts, almonds, pine nuts, cashews – all preferably raw
- Dark Chocolate, cacao nibs
- Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds (raw)
- Chia seeds, hemp seed nuts (added to smoothies)
- Raisins, dates, figs, dried apricots, dried cranberries & cherries
- Sorghum flour, Oat flour, coconut flour, organic blue corn flour, very rarely whole wheat flour
- Rices: Wild rice, Wehani, Black Japonica, germinated brown, Pink Madagascar, Red Jasmine
- Legumes: Black-eyed peas, pintos, Anasazi beans, red beans, Navy beans, Lima beans, chickpeas
- Home made corn bread, and Cherokee bean bread
- White corn tortillas
- Plantain chips
- Tortilla chips (prefer blue corn)
- Breads: Previously I ate whole grain, sprouted, no HFCS or transfats. Switched to SOURDOUGH as it’s tolerable to some with gluten sensitivity. I also eat Mestemacher “Fitness bread” (a rye flatbread).
- Rice crackers
- Oatmeal, Meusli, granola
- Quinoa pasta or brown rice pasta (didn’t care for corn pasta)
- Pineapple (bromelain is anti-inflammatory), mangos, bananas, pears, grapes, strawberries, kiwi, apples (thoroughly washed), grapefruit, oranges,
- Tomato sauces/products in glass or cartons (or homemade) – no metal cans
- Sea Salt (several varieties), Black Salt (for sulfur)
- Kelp (for Iodine)
- Sauerkraut, pickles, pickled vegetables, pickled peppers, olives
- SPICES: turmeric (anti-inflammatory), garlic powder (w/out fillers), black pepper, red pepper, sage, summer savory, thyme, lemon pepper (no MSG or fillers), fenugreek, cumin, galangal, cinnamon, ginger
- Home made curry sauce – time-consuming and very much worth it
- Natural peanut and almond butters (preferably no sugar added, never w/ corn syrup or hydrogenated oils)
- Sunbutter (sunflower seed)
- Raw local honey, organic coconut sugar
- Raw: Carrots, celery, spinach, lettuce, arugula, Persian cucumbers, tomatoes, avocados
- COOKED (usually steamed): Carrots, various squashes, spaghetti squash (boil that), broccoli, brussel sprouts, bok choy, white corn.
- Fresh or Cooked: Green beans, peas, cauliflower, kale
- Granny Smith Apples – turns out they are a prebiotic food
- Yukon gold, purple, and red potatoes (usually steamed, sometimes mashed, rarely sautéed in a healthy oil)
- Oils for cooking: Rice bran, coconut, sunflower, avocado, peanut
- Oils for salads: Olive, safflower, flax, hemp (combined with unfiltered apple cider vinegar, or Balsamic)
- Butter (grass fed when possible) – prefer goat milk butter
- Occasional glass of white or blush wine, or gluten free ale
- Water, coconut water, Tulsi tea, green tea, white tea, Yerba Mate’
- Selzer w/ a splash of juice (one that does not contain HFCS), sometimes just lemon or lime juice
*** I love Larabars. Have you had these things? The are fruit, nuts, honey, sea salt, etc… no fillers, no preservatives, no hydrogenated oils, no HFCS, none of that! Go find some. ***
I started eating quinoa about a year ago. It’s offers protein and I’ve noticed a decent kick of energy from it. As a breakfast, you can add raisins or craisins, a pat of butter, a little almond milk and eat it warm like oatmeal. For a lunc salad, try chopped cucumber, tomato, a little lemon juice and seasonings (the same as I use for a chilled chickpea salad). It’s very easy to cook. I hate standing around a lot, so if I’m willing to do it, it’s that easy. It can also be added to meat and rice dishes. I sometimes drop a little cooked quinoa into banana pancakes (mash one banana, mix with 2 beaten eggs… seriously, that’s it… no gluten), along with some chia seed and cinnamon powder. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it. If you have a Costco membership, that’s your best price for it.
Most of the time my breakfast is a fresh fruit and vegetable smoothie. This is the most important change I made 2 yrs ago and it has given me the first real relief from a lifetime of digestive distresses. The basic of what I put in them most mornings:
Almond milk as a base
1/2 a banana
1 Persian cucumber (they’re small)
A handful of frozen blueberries (Costco again)
Occasionally a little frozen coconut milk (Asian market)
Sometimes a little shredded carrot
Chia seeds (half a teaspoon or so)
A few dashes of turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon powders
Protein powder – either pea or hemp, no soy
My little single serving Hamilton Beach blender with the drinking cup top has been going strong for 2 yrs now. It’s cheap and I’d like better, but it works.
[Edit 7/18/16: I now have a NutriBullet. Excellent investment, get one! 🙂
I also now add to smoothies Diatomaceous earth, collagen powder, wheat grass juice powder (Costco has a container at a good price), cacao powder, mesquite powder.]
Let me say this about consistent choices…. in the ALMOST EVERY DAY category on my list:
Avocado, fresh pineapple, raw nuts, chia seeds, turmeric, cinnamon.
I can vary just about anything else but those are critical for my anti-inflammatory regimen. If I deviate much, I feel it. HEALTHY FATS – avocados, butter, etc will help curb sugar cravings. You crave sugar but you need those healthy fats. That’s where the signal is coming from. You feel deprived, and you are. Address it correctly.
- Tulsi (Holy Basil)
As you can see, I am not deprived of choices. I am not living on rye crackers and water, and I do not feel like I am missing out on anything. Do not starve yourself. A bowl of fruit is not a meal. It’s a light snack. Your body needs food with substance – protein and complex carbs. It needs real fuel all day long.
What I Don’t Consume
- Boxed meals / highly processed foods
- Fast food/Junk food (very rarely a burrito, or Pollo Loco which is grilled chicken)
- Canned vegetables (will use some frozen though)
- Metal canned tomato products (acidic + BPA in coating)
- Canned pineapple
- Aspartame (NutraSweet)
- Sucralose (Splenda)
- Agave syrup
- High Fructose Corn Syrup – check your labels on everything, it’s even in bread and tomato sauces
- Hydrogenated oils – check your labels on everything
- Canola oil – felt better and started losing weight when I got rid of it
- Vegetable oil (that’s soy)
- Corn oil
- Cheap egg noodles – not eating wheat noodles now anyway
- Instant rice
- Instant mashed potatoes
- Processed table sugar
- Processed table salt
- Bleached flour
- Milk Chocolate, candy, cookies, whipped cream, cake, pie, etc
- Potato chips, Ritz & similar crackers
- MSG (monosodium glutamate)
- Sodium Benzoate (aggravates joint pain)
- Sodium Nitrite/Nitrates (usually in lunchmeats, bacon, & lox)
- American “Cheese”, cream cheese (replace with Neufchatel)
- Cow’s Milk (replace with almond or rice milk)
- Sour Cream (replace with plain yogurt)
- Uncooked, unfermented, non-organic or GMO soy
- Zucchini squash (GMO crop)
- Yellow corn (GMO crop)
- Papaya (GMO crop)
- Red Wine Vinegar (triggers my Migraines)
- Red Wine (again, Migraines – exception is sulfite-free types)
- Sodas & juices w/ HFCS
- Diet soda
- Alfalfa Sprouts (AVOID if you have Lupus)
Immune Activity Boosters/Response Stimulators (avoid if you have autoimmune disease like Lupus)
- Red Marine Algae
- Reishi (ganoderma), Maiitake, and Shiitake mushrooms
- Cat’s Claw
- Pau D’arco
- Beta Glucans
- Royal Jelly
- Alfalfa sprouts contain an amino acid called L-canavanine that can increase inflammation in people with lupus by stimulating the immune system. As a result, people with lupus and similar autoimmune conditions should avoid alfalfa sprouts completely. (aka Medicago sativa, or Lucerne)
*** There may be others. Be educated and informed so that you can protect yourself.
It is important to distinguish between these, and something that bolsters having a healthy immune system (like probiotics and normal amounts of antioxidants, or adaptogens that normalize function). The above herbs & supplements of concern stimulate active responses from receptors, which is the root problem with a disease like Lupus. The immune system is over-active, highly reactive, and consuming these can cause a flare. Some supplements, drinks, and mixes contain them, so always read your ingredient labels very thoroughly if you are going to use something of that nature.
As an extra note, Glycyrhiza glabra (licorice root) is a popular herbal supplement. One thing it does is suppress testosterone levels – beneficial if you have PCOS. The problem is if you have hypertension, you need to avoid it. Hypertension often accompanies PCOS. Licorice root is known to elevate blood pressure significantly. There is deglycerized licorice, but then there really is no point. Any benefits have been processed out of it. There is no way at present to remove the BP elevating factor and retain any reasonable health benefits. Much like deodorized garlic, the benefit is tied to that factor and you lose anything of value in it.
PLEASE also be careful about Asian herbal formulas that are on the market. If you don’t know what the ingredient is, it could be something immune boosting or that could conflict with any medications you are taking. Know what it is in your own language before taking it. Realize as well that sometimes these supplements are either mislabeled, or they contain hidden ingredients not on the label. Some “natural” imported supplements have been found to contain prescription substances. It’s risky for anyone. It can be dangerous for some. At the least, do research and have some idea what it is. Don’t just take someone else’s word for it.
From the LFA site: “Also, the hormone melatonin, used to regulate sleep and to avoid jet lag, should not be taken until further data are available, as this hormone modulates the immune system and can increase the activity of some immune cells such as T helper cells. In addition, supplements containing Echinacea should be also avoided as there have been case reports suggesting they might be involved in inducing or worsening lupus.”
Obviously, if you have any food allergies or sensitivities then eliminate that item from your choices. If you are a Migraine sufferer, or have IBS, and have never done a food journal… now is the time. Write down everything you eat, time and date, and make notes when symptoms occur. After a couple of months you will see a clear pattern for triggers. This could include ordinarily beneficial things like red wine vinegar, or garlic, or almost anything.
A sidenote about allergies: There are a few supplements on the market that contain sulfur/sulphur (both spellings are correct). SAM-e, MSM, etc. These are not to be confused with Sulfa, the antibiotic prescription med. Sulfur is essential to life, and without it your body would not be alive, so it is not physically possible to be allergic to it. Every cell in your body is made up from this building block. There is often confusion on this topic, but there are distinct differences between sulfur, sulfites, and sulfa. Sulfites can trigger migraines and other symptoms for some people. I have to avoid red wine and red wine vinegar for that reason. Sulfa can cause even life threatening allergic reactions in autoimmune patients. Sulfur however is not dangerous. If someone has ever reacted to such a supplement, IF it was the supplement for certain, it was a reaction to a filler, not the sulfur.
Do yourself a big favor and make cooking less of a chore. Buy a rice cooker, a food steamer, and a decent wok. Rice cookers with steamer trays in the top are a great tool for making meals for one or two people – easily found at Big Lots, Walmart, and Target for $15 to $40 depending on brand and size. You can cook the entire meal all at once. Bed, Bath, and Beyond has a 3 tier food steamer for only $40 that I absolutely love. It comes with a dish that you can use in it for cooking a small portion of rice as well.
Take the time when you purchase things like celery to wash and cut and prepare it for eating, and then bag it and refrigerate. Then it is easy to reach in and grab it for a snack, and there is no excuse to fall back on about not feeling like messing with it. It’s right there. Keep walnuts around for snacking on – a small handful after a meal will keep you feeling satisfied longer and you will be less likely to go looking for random munchies later. Keep raisins or other dried fruit available, as it’s not going to spoil. Give yourself the ability to function well without the temptations. If you know that it’s not good for you, don’t let it cross the threshold to your home. If you’re craving sugar, eat a piece of fruit. Develop those good habits by choice. You won’t regret it. ❤
Edit: Most recent addition was a $35 juice extractor from Walmart. I juice carrots in it mostly, and sometimes add apples, green beans, and whatever comes to mind. I have even used it for turmeric root. Carrot juice is amazing and works well as the liquid base for those smoothies I drink most days. I really recommend it as a supplemental item. You NEED fiber, let me reiterate. Some juice however is beneficial. You can also save the pulp for healthy baking like muffins with a suitable flour for your needs (I use sorghum to avoid gluten).
Edit 7/18/16: Added 400mcg Selenium in the morning, and B vitamins in the evening (including a no flush Niacin), and Celtic sea salt to my regimen on some advice regarding thyroid health. Not surprisingly, my energy level came up significantly. That 400mcg is the minimum range for this on Selenium, and it’s one of those things that WAY too many people are deficient on. So you might ask your Dr about it if you’re struggling with fatigue.