What is an Elimination Diet, and can it help my RA?

What is an Elimination Diet, and can it help my RA?
There are so many definitions of an elimination diet, so let me tell you how I define it.  An elimination diet is a list of foods that are taken out for a short period of time, usually about 2-3 months, and slowly reintroduced to see how your body acts or reacts towards a particular food.

As someone with rheumatoid arthritis, I've experienced firsthand the effects that certain food has on my joint pain and swelling, as well as brain fog, quality of sleep and moods, and energy levels. Food is fuel and eating foods that work with your body instead of against it is especially important if you're looking to live a thriving life.

One of the best elimination diets I've seen recently is from Dr. Will Cole, and are customized to your unique style - Core4 and Elimin8. As their names suggest, the first is a shorter and less restrictive plan that is perfect for those new to elimination diets while the latter is for those who are looking for deeper healing.  

How can an elimination diet help your RA symptoms? By giving your body a rest from certain foods, and then very carefully adding them back in one at a time, you can discover what (if any) foods aggravate your symptoms. 

***Please tread very carefully if you have an eating disorder or a history of restrictive eating. Elimination diets are only meant to be short term and done for the sole purpose of determining what role (if any) certain foods have on your RA symptoms. ***

What benefits will you see on an elimination diet? Here's what people with RA have reported:
  1.  Better and longer sleep. No more waking up due to pain or having less pain
  2.  Longer lasting energy. Instead of spikes and crashes, you'll feel more balanced and energetic
  3.  More focus and less brain fog. Hallelujah to not wondering why I walked into a room or where my keys are
  4.  Decrease inflammation and joint pain. I mean isn't this why we're doing this?
  5.  Less anxiety and depressed moods. This is another huge benefit - who doesn't want to feel better?
  6.  Reduces digestive symptoms such as indigestion, acid reflux, bloating, and constipation/diarrhea.
  7.  Lessen skin rashes and chicken (aka keratosis pilaris). Just remember never to pick at these or you'll get scars.
I'm sure there are more, but those are ones I remember off the top of my head.  By now, you might be ready to start an elimination diet and I'm excited for you to find out if this helps you. However, if this is your first go at an elimination diet, please don't do it alone.  It can quickly become overwhelming, and you'll give up before you really get started.

Please reach out to me if this is your first time so I can provide you with resources that will help you be successful. No one wants to put a ton of effort into a thing only to fall short of your goal!  If this isn't your first time, don't be discouraged if you're doing this again. Our bodies change often as we get older, and you're not alone I promise!

If you decide an elimination diet is right for you, head to this post on my Instagram feed and check in with me so I can cheer you on. 

How to Keep Going When You Want to Quit

How to Keep Going When You Want to Quit

I remember early on hearing from people further down the road than me telling me, "you didn't get sick overnight and you won't heal overnight. No matter what, KEEP GOING." I don't know if I didn't take them seriously or wasn't truly ready to hear that, but it's 100% true. 


When you're at the point of having an autoimmune condition or chronic pain, you're going to have to put in some work, and there is no magic pill. I hope that's not too much of a downer to start with, but I don't want to BS you. I want you to know right off the bat that you will be challenged, you will want to quit, and you may stop and start a few times. This journey is HARD and, at times, can be the most confusing and frustrating process you'll ever go through.


The most important thing to remember is to never give up. 


So how do you do it? Is there a system to follow, a checklist, or a roadmap? Well, yes and no. Because we're all so individual and things can manifest in our bodies in different ways, there are some things that anyone can do. Some pieces require more attention. Clear as mud? Let me explain.


I always begin this conversation by talking about habits. I prefer habits over goals because once you establish a routine, it's still with you. A goal can be moved and changed in a way that may not bring about the change you need to feel better. 


How to start a new habit? James Clear, author of Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results, says that habits that stick start by identifying what's in your individual 'habit loop'.  The Habit Loop consists of 4 parts in this order: Cue, Craving, Response, and Reward. I'll let him explain this in more detail here.


This is so important because once a habit is established, it becomes part of your routine.  And once it becomes a part of your daily life, you no longer have to rely on willpower or motivation, which removes a HUGE weight off your back that you don't need when you're healing. 


Something else that helps emotionally more than anything else is reading my Bible and praying. While that may not be for everyone, it is THE thing that keeps my mind focused and priorities straight. And on those awful pain days, I can cry out to the Lord, and He comforts me.  


My growing community of fellow spoonies is the best on those days too. They encourage me that today is today, and tomorrow can be better. If you don't have support at home, I encourage you to seek others who are on the same journey. I have a fantastic community that I'd love to plug you into, and it's totally FREE. 


If you are struggling to keep going, feel free to reach out to me, and let's chat. I know how lonely chronic pain can be and how it can feel like no one cares or understands. Please don't let that be you. I'm here if you need to talk. 



Winter got you down? Do these things daily to help you feel a little brighter

Winter got you down? Do these things daily to help you feel a little brighter
The Winter blues are a real thing. As much as 60% of the US deals with it each year. That's a lot of people who are feeling a little down! What are the winter blues? Known as seasonal affective disorder, often referred to by the acronym SAD, the winter blues shows itself in the following ways:

1. Mood: anxiety, apathy, general discontent, loneliness, loss of interest, mood swings, or sadness.
2. Sleep: excess sleepiness, insomnia, or sleep deprivation
3. Whole body: appetite changes or fatigue
4. Behavioral: irritability or social isolation
5. Also common: depression, lack of concentration, or weight gain (list courtesy of www.mayoclinic.com)

Now that we know what to look for, what are some ways we can combat it's effects?

1. Get some fresh air and exercise. I know, I know, that's what everyone says, but in this case it's true. The endorphins (or feel good hormones) that are released during and after even just 20-30 minutes of any heart pumping movement, especially if it's outdoors, can turn any gloomy day around.
2. Going to bed and waking up at the same time. Having a bedtime routine that your body can look forward to sets the stage for a great night's sleep. Having trouble settling your mind? Keep a notebook by your bed to jot down notes and consider the use of a non-melatonin based supplement like Sleep Essence that harnesses the power of essential oils to naturally lull you to sleep.

3. Get as much sunshine as possible on your skin as early as you can. Even if it's just 10 or 15 minutes each morning, that can produce the amount of Vitamin D your body needs to regulate your mood. If the day is dreary or overcast, find a good Vitamin D3 supplement and take at least 3,000 IU/day. Spending 10-15 minutes in front of a light box first thing.

4. Diffuse mood lifting essential oils. Essential oils work great when diffused because they can cover a large area and when used in an ultrasonic diffuser can quickly and safely get into your bloodstream and help lift your mood effectively and naturally. Some of my favorites are Joy (a blend of floral essential oils), tree oils such as black spruce or balsam fir and citrus oils like Orange and Lime.

Picking just one (or more) of these choices will help you combat the effects of Winter and help you feel like yourself again!
If you'd like to learn even more about this topic or to schedule a time to speak with me about this, give me a holler. I'd love to chat with you!