Rheumatoid Arthritis and diet – my conclusions


I’ve been very quiet lately.  I guess you could say I’ve been fed up, sick of being sick, and yes, a little depressed at the constant pain.

How did my adventure with Paleo eating go?  Well, it’s a very healthy way to eat, I think.  I did it strictly for three weeks, then decided I needed a few carbs in the morning, so I added in some weetbix.  I suffer from enough fatigue without creating more!

A few more carbs helped.

I didn’t lose any weight…but that wasn’t my point, really.  Though I could stand to lose a few kilos.

It didn’t help my pain levels at all.

I have read so many diet theories.  So many foods that *might* cause inflammation.

I have avoided nightshades (tomatoes, potatos, eggplants, chillis).

I have cut out dairy.

I cut out alcohol.

I cut out coffee and tea.

I have cut out all grains.

I just read that eggs are inflammatory.  Well, eggs have been my major source of protein, because they are quick and easy to grab.

What else should I try?

I think I have to admit that I have tried most things, and for me, diet doesn’t have a great effect.

Having said that, I eat very healthily.  I eat very few processed foods.  My diet consists mostly of fresh fruit and vegetables.  I use the ‘if it doesn’t look like that in nature I don’t eat it’ philosophy, for the most part.   And except for the occasional treat meal at the club, everything I eat is made from scratch in my kitchen.

It’s hard work, but the payoff is that I am spectacularly healthy, aside from my rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus or whatever it is.

Or this is what I tell myself.

I know I have more energy when I eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, some lean protein and a few carbs.  I have the occasional treat, because I am human, and food is one of the great pleasures in life.

I was really hoping I would get more symptom relief from my diet changes.  But it seems this is as good as it gets (for me).  And it’s a vicious cycle…Because I hurt all over, particularly my hands, its hard to prepare a healthy meal.  I can’t grip a knife, hold a peeler, I can’t chop, slice and dice.  So I sometimes need reach for something in a box.

So I can say, quite unequivocally, that when I eat nothing but processed crap and fast food my symptoms get considerably worse!

I still believe diet is helping.  Probably quite a bit.  It’s just that my RA is severe.  Diet is just another weapon, along with exercise, acupuncture, steroids, nsaids, dmards and pain killers.

So now I am better prepared.  I don’t reach for the lean cuisine, meal in a box anymore.  Now I have a freezer full of pre-cooked meals.  Ones I cooked myself, I mean.  So I know exactly what’s in them.  (I will post some of my recipes, for healthy, simple, anti-inflammatory meals you can keep in your freezer soon).  Worst case I will have a sandwich with chicken or cheese.

Not peak nutrition, but not additive laden rubbish either.

I still believe it’s worth experimenting with diet.  It certainly brings about improvement in many people.  Some people even achieve remission.

But just like with medications, everyone is different.  Some will be helped by one thing, where another will get no benefit.  More trial and error.  And yeah, I know…we get enough of that as it is.

But if you have the energy and the motivation, it’s worth trying.

Good luck.  I’d love to hear how you go.


  1. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something.
    I think that you can do with a few pics to drive the message home
    a little bit, but other than that, this is fantastic blog.
    A great read. I’ll definitely be back.

  2. Very interested to read your diet experiences. I was diagnosed with reactive arthritis in 2009, then sjogrens, then monitored for full blown rheumatoid arthritis and lupus from then on.

    When the pain was at it’s worst I couldn’t function. literally didn’t even have the strength to push down on a door handle, the pain in my fingers meant I couldn’t even hold a computer mouse. I struggled to stand, walk, was housebound and suffered from severe fatigue, migraine, and all the lovely ailments sjogrens brings with it too.

    Other than steroids, which I refused to stay on long term, the meds didn’t work for me, so I had no choice but to research diet.

    It took a LONG time but I finally got there after a strict detox diet that lasted 9 months (no grains, dairy, soy, limited starch and sugar)

    It’s now well over a year, I still refrain from eating any form of grain or soy, (after keeping a food diary I identified corn as my main trigger – present in all meds and supplements so no wonder they had little affect) I have slowly re-introduced limited dairy with very good results. I’ve also had an IgG blood test that showed additional inflammatory foods that are my own personal kryptonite – eg strawberries (I was eating them every day!) onions, cauliflower, ginger and the list goes on . . .

    My sjogrens, joint pain and chronic fatigue as well as a myriad of other soul-sucking symptoms have slowly melted away, but it did take time, not just a few weeks or months, but well over a year, for some people it can take 2 or 3, especially when the joints are affected it seems.

    Last year my hospital rheumatology dept officially discharged me. The last nurse I saw couldn’t believe diet could make such a profound difference.

    The point I’m trying to make is on several occasions I felt like my food WASN’T going to make that much difference because the recovery process is so slow. I appreciate everyone is different in terms of immune system and sensitivity, and you’re so right – it’s all about trial and error. but I am genuinely blown away by my ever increasing energy and strength levels, which still continue to improve. I’m so glad I stuck at it.

    For anyone on the brink of throwing in the diet towel, don’t give up (trust me the phrase ‘if I can do it anyone can’ has never been more appropriate!!)

    Warmest wishes,
    Annie Ross


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