A Connection Between RA and Eating Better
Last updated: May 2021
I've been trying to eat better. Yes, it has been hard, mostly due to the pandemic but also because I regularly experience cravings for carbs and sweets (that's a nice way to put it). I really just love anything sweet.
And being in a pandemic (which means working from home for me) makes it even more difficult. Normally, I would be able to walk to work and have some form of physical exercise that way in addition to my normal exercise.
Nevertheless, I have started to eat better, including not eating as many sweets, exercising more, and trying to cook more. The results have been surprising - both in what I have experienced and how it all circles back to having a chronic illness like rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Reducing my food intake
The first way I started eating better was by reducing the actual volume of food I was consuming. This included reducing portion sizes at meals and becoming aware of when I was actively consuming calories.
Eliminating late night snacks
This has led me to become more mindful that I eat a lot more at night — snacks and what have you. Even just eliminating those snacks significantly helped me lose weight and make better decisions about the type of food I was eating even if I was still eating some delicious cake and sweets every now and then.
It made me aware of how important being conscious of the food I am putting into my body is. It can have so many effects that don't just relate to feeling better; it can even be related to having rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Eating anti-inflammatory fruits and vegetables
What I've noticed lately, though, is that eating better has really helped alleviate some of my RA symptoms, including fatigue and flares, which is a much-needed relief. I'm not sure if there's a direct causation between eating better and RA symptoms, but I can attest from personal experience that I feel a lot better when I eat a lot better.
I've seen research before that does find a correlation between fresh foods (and other anti-inflammatory foods). This is because these foods reduce inflammation, which is a symptom that is obviously related to having RA.
A lot of the pain that we experience as people who suffer from RA is related to high levels of inflammation in the body. That's why I've also been focused on eating foods that are anti-inflammatory in nature, including blueberries, cruciferous vegetables, and more.
A chance to try new cuisines
In addition, I'm also working harder to find foods that are anti-inflammatory and trying to intersect those with trying new cuisines. I know that kimchi is touted as anti-inflammatory due to the pickling/fermenting process that goes into its creation.
Even though I'm not the biggest fan of fermented cabbage, I've learned that just being aware that there are foods like this out there helps me make better decisions and helps me explore new foods to eat and try.
Inflammation is the name of the game when it comes to both food and RA--who would have thought!
What's been your experience with consciously eating foods that are anti-inflammatory? Have you noticed a difference in your body and with RA?
Mental Health Check-in: How are you?