Going Veggie in the Chase for Remission

Going Veggie in the Chase for Remission

There is no cure for lupus. As far as I know, there is no known cause for it, either.

When I was first diagnosed, people who meant well would send me articles that mentioned cures. I know better than to buy into that hype, but a lupus patient can hope for remission. Searching for a cure for something that half the time can’t even be diagnosed properly may be pie in the sky.

When I got sick, I could hardly move. That’s no exaggeration.  I became a “raw” eater because I had no energy for cooking. There was barely energy for standing, walking, or even talking some days. I would push myself into the local farmers’ market to buy organic fruits and vegetables so I could lie on the sofa and eat.

I moved all of the essentials from my bedroom to my living room. My reasoning was that if I had to go to and from the bathroom, I would force myself to walk past the refrigerator. To get to my master bath, I would have to go past the kitchen. On the way from the bathroom, I could stop and grab carrots, an apple, or some other fresh form of sustenance. After a while, I started to realize that eating this way was making a difference. So, once I got my diagnosis, I kept eating fresh and raw.

I became a food researcher. I am sure I annoyed people in the grocery aisles, because if I decided I didn’t want something fresh, I would Google the ingredients. What I learned about food, especially food in the United States, made me paranoid, which sent me back to the farmers who offered organic goodies.

I basically became a minimal meat–eater, opting only for free–range chicken and grass–fed beef, which I later gave up altogether. This new lifestyle had me experimenting with foods I’d never heard of. I tried my first jicama — a food I’d never heard of before. By the way, a jicama is a low-calorie root believed to have originated in Mexico.

I learned that things I didn’t particularly care for had great nutritional value, so I started hiding onions, mushrooms, and beets in various dishes. I found fresh herbs and spices. And the more I ate this way, the better I felt. Don’t misunderstand me. I didn’t feel good — just better than in the weeks and months before.

Eventually, I did my best to forgo meat and eat only fish. When I arrived in my new home abroad, I asked the doctor how I could gain weight, since I’d lost 60 pounds thanks to lupus. He said I had to eat animal protein, so I reintroduced chicken to my diet. Here in Thailand, a lot of the processes and ingredients used in the United States are not used here, which makes the quality of the food better. But I realized that even eating the meats here reduced my energy and increased my pain.

So I decided to embrace my skinny frame by once again leaving meat behind, including fish. The cravings are still there — I still get a mean meat craving every so often. But I have been a full–on vegetarian for about two months, and I can say that I’ve experienced a feeling of the “normal” me. I mean the girl I was before lupus.

I am not saying I am in remission — it’s only been a week. But if adopting a vegetarian lifestyle keeps me feeling this way — it’s the only major change I’ve made in my life — then I am all in. I pray that this is the start of a pattern.

Yes, there is no cure for lupus, but we do know food can trigger the symptoms. Since eating some food can make us feel bad, then eating the right food may lead to us feeling like we’re on top of the world. If you decide to become vegetarian, let me know. I would love to know if it’s making a difference in your life. Maybe we can even swap recipes. I’m learning a lot, and I’m always on the hunt for new ways to prepare fruits and veggies.

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Note: Lupus News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lupus News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.

8 comments

  1. pat sommer says:

    Hi Kelly,

    hope you are doing well!

    Been veg myself for decades. Not a Lupus sufferer; that’s a dear friend of mine.

    Family spent a couple summers in Thailand, it’s wonderful for culinary experimentation. Holy Basil and coriander (cilantro)makes great pesto with cashew or macadamia.

    It’s also the season for the King of Fruits, durian, if you really like your calories. I lived on that plus avocado during major dental work and it kept my strength up.

    Also, the beautiful fresh coconutmilk from the markets turn anything gourmet. Love it like I do?

    Hope to share some recipes.

    cheers,
    Pat

    • Kellie McRae says:

      Hi Pat, Its so wonderful to hear from others who have adopted this lifestyle. I was concerned initially about exactly what I would eat but Thailand is def a great place to be a vegetarian. I have yet to try the Durian to be honest, I can’t get pass the smell. I have tried a host of other things like the long beans and yellow sapote (found out if you make pancakes with the yellow sapote, it tastes good but smells like hot garbage) lol so I almost had a hard time eating them as well. I def like the markets and so many tropical fruits to try. I will def share a few recipes that I swipe from others and may modify (I enjoy adding my own little signature). I can still eat gluten so pasta has become one of my staples for calories, not that its helping much, I’m still a boney butt girl lol but it tastes good 🙂 Made an alfredo sauce with almond milk last night.

  2. Jeanette Alston-Watkins says:

    Kellie,
    I’m here to tell you that since changing my diet completely and creating a vegetarian lifestyle a year ago, I was able to completely remove the pain, inflammation, and reduce my medications from 30 pills a day and an infusion to only a monthly infusion. It’s been amazing maybe not a cure, but it’s close enough for me. I’ve even been to the beach and didn’t spend a week in recovery. I’m still very careful with the sun and the food I eat, but a painfree life is better than meat anytime.

    • Kellie McRae says:

      Hi Jeanette, I usually try to be the one encouraging others when I write but I gotta tell you, reading your response made me happy! You have encouraged me for sure. I fell off the wagon a few weeks ago and had a piece of chicken and funny I felt like I’d done something wrong. The more recipe’s I learn, the better I feel about this choice. I’m so happy that you are pain free and selfishly happy to hear that you are no longer on a ton of pills because I see it as hope for me and many others like us. Many of the people I’ve spoken to who are in remission have done something quite similar, one lady won’t even eat in restaurants (even veggies) she is worried about what they are cooked in and has has flares because of thinking it was ok to consume outside of her own prep. I am enjoying learning to prepare new dishes….now if I could just get someone to wash the dishes after I get done cooking 😉 Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. pat sommer says:

    Yes, definitely get someone else to do dishes!
    …and sneak in a small piece of perfectly ripe durian into a smoothie to build-up tolerance… so creamy and calorific.

    If you get the chance, The Spa and Radience Restaurant just outside Lamai on Kof Samui has tons of innovative veggie dishes incl raw: try cocoa banana smoothie, even a raw version of lasagne!

    • Kellie McRae says:

      When I visit Pat, I will do a blog post and show the foods they have there. Raw lasagne sounds intriguing. I love a good smoothie, I make them at home all the time. The only reason I buy bananas here is for smoothies (I think they grow them in sugar, they are way too sweet for me to eat plain) but with some nut milk and a few other ingredients, they are perfect. Thanks for the share on a new place to try.

  4. Cindy says:

    Do you avoid legumes/beans? I’ve been getting some relief following paleo- no grains, sugar or dairy but Ike wondering if the protein is still triggering pain. I know there’s no cure but to be able to get off of daily pain meds would be incredible!!! Would love more info on what exactly you’re doing:))

    • Kellie McRae says:

      Hi Cindy, I do eat beans and legumes. No meat of any sort, very little dairy (I’ve never been a big milk person anyway) cheese, believe it or not is not something always available here in Thailand depending on where you shop. I have a little bit of a sugar weakness so I haven’t done away with it completely but I’m working on alternatives that are natural (honey for example). It has been amazing for both my pain and my energy. I am still taking my meds (although I will admit, not every single day) but fortunately for me, I also have never had any food allergies so I can also still eat grains so I do have bread. Not sure if you are in the States but what I think about when eating meat is you are what you eat and they are fed foods with steroids and antibiotics, they are kept in insanely close quarters so there is filth that they consume as well. A plant based lifestyle has been shown time and time again to really make serious changes in our gut flora which helps us. Also, I have started learning how various spices and herbs help as well. For example, most people drink chamomille tea if they are having issues sleeping but I have it with a sprinkle of turmeric and cinnamon, I add some honey and some lemon, it is anti-inflammatory and some days when I am feeling pain, I will have a couple of cups and it does help my joints. I hope this answers some of your concerns. If you can find a homeopathic doctor, they will usually not frown on you looking for foods to help you. In fact, they often mix food and pharmaceuticals in their practices. (This is my nice way of saying please consult your doctor before making any drastic changes). Here in Thailand, food, herbs and spices are a way of life, when my protein levels were low, two different doctors told me to eat 3 egg whites a day, that was my “prescription”. Let me know if you decide to ditch the meat, would love to hear if you feel the affects of the decision.

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