Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Nutritional Healing

“Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.” ~ Michael Pollan


As I have been blogging about recently, the whole Sjogren's Syndrome/health situation has pretty much been on a steady decline for me lately. Along with many other avenues of trying to improve my situation, I am amping up my efforts at figuring out an appropriate and healing way for me to eat. I won't call it a diet and if I use the word "diet" anywhere by mistake, please call me on it!

Right after Christmas last month, I had decided to resume my green smoothie plan (I will probably blog about this in the future), get back on track with eliminating soda and fast food, and attempt to eliminate as much processed foods and refined sugar as possible. That in itself was enough of a challenge because up until 2011 my eating habits were horrible for most of my life. At one point I was one hundred pounds overweight. And as I spend more and more time reading about nutrition, I cannot help but wonder how much of my destructive eating habits have contributed to either the onset or severity of my autoimmune illness. Not that I am looking for a self induced guilt trip, but I don't think that I can honestly sit here and say there can be no possible way for it to be related. Maybe yes, maybe no. But I have to find out if I can now make it better. As I have continued to research information and read patient stories from my bed and couch, it has became clear to me that I really need to make this nutrition plan dairy free and gluten free as well.


I did not come to this decision easily. Especially because there is SO MUCH conflicting information out in the nutrition and health world about what is the best way to eat in order to maximize your wellness. Some information says go strictly vegetarian, some says eat Paleo like our ancestors did (which includes grains and meat), no this, no that. It is also challenging because even if a nutrition plan has certain restrictions such as being gluten free, it does not necessarily mean that is healthy. There are a wider choice of gluten free processed products on those supermarket shelves right now. You can make a snack of gluten free tortilla chips and top it with dairy free cheese and dip it in dairy free sour cream but I am guessing that that is not the type of food that will help fuel my body in a healthy manner on a regular basis.

It is all quite complex and enough to make you want to scream! However for my particular situation of trying to manage a chronic autoimmune illness, I feel that I have educated myself enough about which plan of eating will be the best choice for me.

Problem is though, I wasn't sure how to define my new eating habits. This wasn't important to me because I needed a name to it but rather because I thought it would help me define what the heck I was doing. Having a name would help me locate recipes and cookbooks that would better steer me in the right direction. I am knowledgeable enough to know that you can take a recipe and modify it into a certain formula that meets your dietary restrictions but honestly, I need it simpler than that right now. Between my physical challenges, doctor appointments, and managing my day to day existence, I have my hands full. I am willing to put the effort into figuring out what foods are appropriate in the supermarket and into cooking at home, but I need clearer guidelines as to how to proceed.

So I developed my own eating plan and that is the following: Gluten/dairy free; semi vegetarian; whole foods with minimal amounts of processed foods and refined sugars; no soda or fast food at all.

So what do you think? I know it seems quite ambitious but desperate times call for desperate measures. I cannot expect to make any type of life changing, possibly harmful, decisions about putting new toxic medications into my body without putting forth a 100% effort on my own behalf. I think there is a place for both and they are not mutually exclusive of each other.

And on that note, it is time to hit the kitchen....

Photos: Courtesy of Google Images


  1. If it makes you feel any less guilty, I have always eaten well (lots of veggies and fruits; very little processed food), and I still developed AI disease.

    That said, I completely agree with you that what we eat matters, as do the vitamins and supplements that we take. I loosely follow an anti-inflammatory food plan (similar to the Mediterranean diet), and it definitely helps.

    1. Actually, that does make me feel a bit better! I know that it is a multifactorial issue. Glad to hear that you have found some relief.

  2. I think this sounds like a great plan for you to continue learning what foods make you feel better and are providing nutrients to your body! Way to go making these changes!

  3. I have always been quite a healthy eater but still developed Sjogren's as well. I don't think you should beat yourself up about that. My only suggestion is to remove only one thing from your diet at a time. If you take 2, 3 or more out at the same will you know which one was the culprit? I follow this same rule for starting and stopping medications. I recently started taking Lactaid with dairy and find it helps. I think you made a good point that certain 'diets' aren't necessarily healthy and must be supplemented. The good news: as long as your diet is balanced, you have nothing to lose! Good luck!!

  4. Thank you for those wise words. It's funny because I look at it in the opposite manner. I figure do all the hard work of eliminating/changing my diet now and THEN I can always add back one thing at a time and see how I respond.

    That is an interesting point about the medications. My rheum. told me to stop my Chinese herbs ASAP as it was the newest thing added to my list since I started with the neurological issues. It was a long shot and probably not the cause but like she said, have to rule it out!