Chew on this

Eating is such a necessary part of our existence that we often just take it for granted without giving it a whole lot of thought.  It is, however, one of the three EEE's (Exercise, Eating and Engaging) I mentioned in an earlier article about managing RA.

There are a number of suggestions that eating what are considered anti-inflammatory foods like fatty fish (salmon and maceral), whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables, certain nuts, soy, low fat dairy, berries, certain spices like ginger and turmeric can indeed help with RA symptoms.

In my opinion even if these do not have that significant or overt an effect on my RA symptoms, they are all healthy foods and perhaps should be part of your diet for a number of other reasons as well.  Eating a balanced and overall healthy diet simply makes sense on levels far beyond your RA.

Maintaining weight is an issue that many if not most of us with RA have to deal with on a daily basis.  Weight gain can come from several areas. I have a been on a "maintenance" level of a corticosteroid for over a decade and as most of us know that brings with it some troubling side effects, one of which is weight gain. It really is a paradox that for me to get consistent pain and symptom relief I have to take this medication while it brings with it some unwanted weight and in places that I really hate, like the belly!  I have tried and tried over the years to slowly, and I mean really, really slowly lower my dose from 4 mg.  Suffice it to say that seems to be my threshold, for now anyway.

Another challenge to the issue of eating/weight gain is the often necessary periods of inactivity. I don't mean those we choose to take.  I mean those brought on by surgery, flaring, pain, etc. that are out of our control.  I often find myself, sometimes from sheer boredom, eating more and far less healthy food than I would normally eat.  This is often referred to as "comfort food" but the irony is that the eventual weight gain makes me "uncomfortable" by any standards!

Finally there is just SO MUCH information out there about what to eat, how much to eat, when to eat and so on it is, simply put, OVERWHELMING!  With everything else we have to deal with when it comes to managing our RA, stopping to consider every morsel of food we put in our mouths can just be too much to deal with.

One answer is to simply break down all the components of eating into more manageable parts. Start with looking at what foods are appealing to you while at the same time healthy.  I just cannot eat some of the more healthy popular foods out there right now so I pick and choose based to some degree on my taste.  There are a number of reliable sources for what foods are healthy AND recipes to make them taste good too!  If you are not sure where to look, ask your physician or check with a nutritionist you trust. Next look at aspects like cost, the ease of preparation, the availability, etc.  This will often further refine your selections.

I am a firm believer that doing diets that involve eliminating total food groups is not a healthy way to approach eating/weight management.  I have yet to talk to a nutritionist or physician that believes this is a sustainable approach.  It may work to take off the weight initially but long term it is nearly impossible to maintain.  Portion control and balancing my diet are my personal goals. That is a "recipe" for success that I can start to "cook up" and will hopefully provide me with the necessary "ingredients" for successful eating with RA!


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