Trying a New Way

Kellie McRae avatar

by Kellie McRae |

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fiber and diet

I think that because those of us battling lupus don’t look sick, people have no idea how much the disease affects every aspect of our lives. I know I’ve shared my feelings on this subject at various times in this column. Unfortunately, when your entire life is disrupted, it’s difficult to pick one spot to focus on. As we deal with the challenges that lupus brings, we must also learn how to adapt to new things so we can enjoy life over again.

Once upon a time, I was in love with food. I enjoyed cooking, and I would share my recipes with friends and family. I was asked once to create recipes for a restaurant (the owner was a rather picky friend with two successful establishments). I was flattered.

Then lupus reared its ugly head, and I didn’t have the energy to cook, plus I learned the hard way that some foods will trigger lupus symptoms. For each of us, that is going to be something different. When I first got ill, I did a food elimination diet and learned that while my taste buds liked certain foods, my body did not. I also found that my taste buds had changed because some foods weren’t as delicious as they once were. I had enjoyed red meat including, on occasion, pork. Well, suddenly, pork started tasting like what I would imagine sawdust tastes like.

Next were the other red meats — they were still tasty, but for days after eating those meats, I would be completely miserable. It was painful to lift my arms. I figured chicken was still safe. I figured wrong, it was the last thing my body rejected. Since I now eat more veggies than meat, just one bite of meat and I feel like I’m chewing all day. Picture cows grazing.

I’d basically become a vegetarian. But I didn’t deny my body what it craved. Ironically, if I crave chicken, it’s yummy. This doesn’t happen very often, so now when I crave it, I just find a replacement. I was still eating cheese and eggs. I am now embarking on a plant-based lifestyle and finding that the occasional slice of cheese causes me to cough. Let me go on the record right here and say there is no cure for lupus. However, I learned what my triggers are, and I do what I can to avoid them. I certainly have better days now.

So, now that I’ve put my little disclaimer on this, can I just tell you that I have more energy and less pain? When I do have pain, it shows up like it’s mad for all the days that I didn’t — and it brings with it every ounce of fatigue that it can. The fatigue lasts longer than the pain, but since I work from home, I can curl up with my computer, and still try to be productive. I am learning new skills, and I’m considering investing in an Instant Pot for those high fatigue days so I can still have a nutritious meal that doesn’t take a lot of effort. Finding new, tasty, and interesting ways to make plant-based meals has become a new hobby. I’m finding my new way. Lupus is still not winning. Although it has made me embrace changes, I am still finding happiness.


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.


Gill Watson avatar

Gill Watson

Hi Kellie, many thanks for taking the time to share with us your experiences with food.

I started towards veggie food over 20 years ago, long before I was diagnosed with SLE. I am very lucky because I have had very few episodes of bad flares. The fatigue can be very mean along with that awful cold feeling which always comes along at the same time.

I had to learn very quickly about the drugs I could or could not take. This point is very important because not all doctors are aware of the difficulties when you have a lupus diagnosis.

Reading your article brought to my attention the importance of diet/lifestyle eating. I do feel that being veggie for so long has helped me manage SLE and my health. I recently changed to a low card, mainly plant based, with some dairy products and I feel so much better for whatever reason. In the last two years I have had great difficulty with insomnia. Since changing my diet, even those awful spells of sleeplessness appear to have lessened.

Many thanks for raising the food issue. I also enjoyed the way you experience lupus.

Kellie McRae avatar

Kellie McRae

Hi Gill, It is so wonderful and reassuring to hear that living a vegetarian lifestyle has helped you. For me, I am just getting started and still falling off the wagon on occasion with eggs and cheese. I want to go full plant-based with the exception of honey, (I like agave but like honey better). Since I am doing this to truly save one animal (me) I won't feel bad for keeping the honey :-) Reading your response gives me hope. I decided to embark on this journey because I keep hearing from people like you who have had such success with feeling better and having fewer flares after adopting a more plant-based lifestyle. Thank you for sharing your story with me, it gives me hope.

Lucy Mcdowell avatar

Lucy Mcdowell

Hi Kellie,

Thanks for sharing your story! I was fully plant based for a few years before my diagnosis & I often wonder how much worse my flare ups & pain would be, had I not. I just purchased an instant Pot & it is a huge help to me!

Kellie McRae avatar

Kellie McRae

Hi Lucy, My instant pot literally was delivered yesterday. I am so excited that I am looking forward to my next market run. I do think that things we did prior to getting sick have helped us after the fact. I am a former fitness competitor and because of that lifestyle, one of my doctors told me that he thinks it is why with some of the things my body has been through that being more in shape when it hit me helped me endure. I am looking forward to sharing more of this plant-based journey. All the best and hopefully eating better meals for us will result in better days. Thanks for stopping over.


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