There’s No Cure, but There Is Relief for Me

Kellie McRae avatar

by Kellie McRae |

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elimination diet

Savory sweet potatoes, fresh green beans, and mushrooms over brown rice. (Photo by Kellie McRae)


Heartburn, acid reflux, indigestion … I feel like a walking Pepto-Bismol commercial. It seems that even water has the ability to cause heartburn — and here I expected it to put that fire out.

I have been a sometimes-vegetarian for years, but recently I decided to ditch anything besides honey that comes from animals. Not because it isn’t delicious and not because I am overly sensitive about our environment, but because some things cause pain and suffering in me. Food can be a lupus trigger, and I have decided to figure out if I can find remission or at least some relief through my little pie hole.

I started an elimination period upon my return from a trip last month. A few years ago, I did this when I was still a meat-eater. Honestly, I hated it. I was a good cook, but I was also a surf-and-turf kind of lady. I had no clue how to make vegetables taste flavorful outside of a hearty salad … served alongside a steak!

This time, however, I’m giddy with excitement, partially because I have spoken with so many autoimmune warriors who have gone plant-based, and they have either gone into remission or are finding a higher level of relief from the symptoms that can rob a person of life. I wrote a column about feeling a bit apprehensive regarding my hope of finding remission, and a commenter gave me hope by speaking about their experience. I read that comment at about 3 a.m., and I became so excited that I wanted to shout! However, my neighbors may not have appreciated that.

I arrived back home on Oct. 29 and hit the ground running with my elimination diet. I have been sharing my journey with friends on social media, but I’ve decided that perhaps I could help others eat better and also talk about what I am feeling by starting a public Facebook page. I try to upload to it daily. In the short time that I have been eliminating and adding foods, I have gained much more energy. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had a tummy issue.

I tease and tell people that I became a vegetarian by mistake, and that’s almost true. In the beginning, I was in so much pain and had so much fatigue that I would not eat. I started buying fresh fruits and veggies because they could be eaten raw and while lying down. I started noticing I was regaining some energy and strength, and an accidental vegetarian who sometimes ate meat was born.

This time, I am very methodical about what I am doing and I am determined to avoid anything that I know will cause me pain, no matter how delicious it is when going down. Goodbye nightshades and so long white flour, you will be missed. I am, however, learning an entirely new way to cook and eat, and it’s bringing me relief.

Have you considered going plant-based? I’d love to hear your journey. Here are some of my recent meals and drinks. Enjoy!

Looks like a turkey burger, doesn’t it? It’s quinoa and cauliflower. Yummy!

Fresh pineapple juice with orange, a squeeze of lime, turmeric, and ginger sweetened with agave.

Lettuce wraps with sweet potatoes, leftover 15 beans, mushrooms, and romaine lettuce.

15 bean soup with brown rice pasta. (Photos by Kellie McRae)


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.


TC avatar


Dear Kellie, glad to see that my experiences have contributed a bit in your confidence in our shared lupus experience & journey.... :)

A bit more feedback:

(a) Low sugar = low pain.

I've stopped doing honey or sweet food of any kind -- including fruits. After keeping a close watch on my diet intake (assisted by MyFitnessPal app, in my case), I noticed that every time my daily sugar intake exceeds 20g would make me so agonized by pain that I'm basically useless.

Then I came to realize all fruits are high-sugar foods, and even some vegetables (especially cucumbers and carrots).

Now I try to keep my daily sugar intake around 10g a day, and my mobility and energy level has been great ever since.

For fruits/ fruit juice, I make an exception for some moderate amount of coconut water, because it's a great source of electrolytes and minerals. But the sugar from it is still included in my 10g/day sugar allowance.

(b) Oil-free diet was a revelation.

After reading a couple lupus diet books from Amazon, I've tried eliminating all oils from my diet.

I had completely NO CONFIDENCE AT ALL in this approach, because the rationale was so dubious. But it worked. That's the biggest improvement to my health after going fully organic and vegan, which did make me feel better but I still had basically no life (LOL) and was just in less discomfort.

Here, by "oil," I mean fats extracted from any source but not unprocessed vegetable fat in its original form. So yes to whole nuts but no to nut oils and butter (including nut butter) of any kind.

(c) Elimination diet is a long journey, but it helps in so many ways.

It took me literally ten long years to gradually figure out what works and doesn't work for me in everyday life. But there was so much less information and support that I could find online in the beginning, and given the abundance of both these days, the process should be much sooner for you.

Elimination works in both improving life quality and instilling a sense of control and confidence. By learning and knowing and choosing what to do and not to do, life comes back gradually, bit by bit, and lupus becomes a condition in life and not life itself.

Thank you for being open about your journey and facing life's challenges so candidly. While meaning no disrespect for your military work and experience, it did make me feel less like a loser, knowing that someone who's a veteran finds lupus as difficult as I do, though I do wonder very often how the military compares to lupus. :)

BTW, I'm a girl, so please feel free to refer to me as she. Nonetheless, your delicate treatment regarding the gender issue is immensely appreciated. :)

Wishing you all the best for everything to come..... :)

Kellie McRae avatar

Kellie McRae

You are always so comprehensive in your shares, thank you for that. I am starting to feel like I am making headway in this journey. Fortunately so far for me, sugar is no issue, fruits and even candy (my new nemesis) don't bother me, white rice, white flour = rock n roll nights but I am narrowing in on what works and what doesn't. I shared on my social media just today some of the benefits that I am seeing in this new approach to my health. I am glad there are resources now because I don't know if I have the patience for 10 years of figuring. You have the patience of a saint :-) ANYONE strong enough to battle this crazy disease is anything but a loser, this and the military don't compare. They each come with very different challenges and physical endurance when you are healthy is a lot different from physical endurance when you are in constant pain. Your discipline in taking the best care of you is admirable and def takes you directly out of any column that would start or end with "loser". I have been sharing your info, it is really helpful to me and to others. You should write your own column, you have a lot to share.

TC avatar


Regarding "lupus as a condition in life"....

A bit more confidence booster --

After losing years of life to lupus and after having heard so much from so many about "Please give up hope about wanting to be back to where you were. It's not good for you. Acceptance is better," I'm physically back to where I was 15 years ago. I'm back in my old clothes (thanks to the fashion cycle that early 00s fashion is back in vogue LOL) and look very much like my old self. A bit worn from the trials, yes, but twenty minutes in front of the makeup mirror and I'm almost as good as new.

I've clung on a few pieces from the old days when the illness stroke and took my life away, clinging on the hope that my life was just away and not gone. I've thrown away so much hope and so much expectations of what life can hold, but it's coming back, trickle by trickle, day by day.

While life is still constrained by lupus, and I live strictly within my tested parameters, but now it feels more like diabetes than cancer (LOL). I can live with it. It's not the end.

Again, when I said it consoled me to know a veteran finds lupus just as difficult, I really did mean no disrespect for your military training and experiences -- I expect my best self to last no longer than the first five days of military training before quitting. But if you were capable of it before lupus, then you definitely still are post lupus.

Also, if you can do military, then you can do yoga. It's easy. It just takes patience. :)


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