Approximately a year ago, I made the decision to transition to a gluten-free diet. My logic? I’d done some research on the impact of gluten on patients who suffer with inflammation and the vast majority of what I’d found argued that individuals with autoimmune conditions should remove gluten from their diets. So naturally, in an effort to improve my health, that’s just what I did!
I can’t lie and say the transition was an easy one! My family is West-Indian and hard-dough bread stayed in my house! For years following my diagnosis, people would encourage me to commit to this change and I refused because I loved everything gluten so much–burgers, pastries, pasta…you name it! There did come a day however, it was a rough one, and I was venting to a close friend about all of the pain that was constantly in. As any good friend would, she encouraged me, and shared her personal testimony about her own battle with an autoimmune disease–I had no idea that she’d been going through this. One of the things that she immediately mentioned was the impact that her change in diet had on her health. Apparently she was in minimal pain, had a significantly greater amount of energy throughout the day, and overall felt that her condition was being controlled, if not disappearing! Her words struck and resonated with me: “Think about it Joe…would you rather live in pain all of the time because of a burger, or be significantly healthier and happier by sacrificing it?” Well…when you put it that way!
Once I put my mind to something, it’s very hard to divert me from my goal. Needless to say, I went home and completely cleared out my pantry of all things gluten–and when I say all things, I mean all things! I reached out to several friends about dietary options and various ways of making the transition as pleasurable as possible.
Over the past year I have been determined, consistent, and entirely faithful to this lifestyle change. However, recent events have changed my perspective. I’ve reflected on how this diet has impacted my health, and unfortunately I can not say that my Lupus symptoms have shown any significant improvement. I still wake up in pain daily, I still struggle with maintaining high energy over the course of the day, and no, my Lupus did not disappear. I’m not really sure of the exact expectations that I had when I made this decision, but I knew that I wanted the change to help make my daily life more enjoyable.
The one positive thing that came out of my gluten-free diet was the weight loss. All of my steroid weight slowly shed my body. Without any effort–outside of the diet change of course–I’ve lost a total of 41 lbs. Depending on your situation, this may be a good thing! In my case, I am a bit concerned about my weight loss, the minimal impact that the diet has had on my Lupus, and the overall maintenance of my symptoms moving forward. Consequently, my rheumatologist and I have decided to end the gluten-free streak. This doesn’t mean that I am going back to eating like garbage! I actually still make efforts to keep certain gluten-heavy foods out of my diet, but have successfully re-introduced healthy whole grains.
I’m sure there are benefits to removing gluten from all of our diets. You never really internalize how unhealthy you eat until you bite into a greasy donut and cringe at the thought of finishing it while quickly spitting it out. But I personally see no value in completely depriving myself of certain foods if there aren’t any identifiable benefits to the decision. Maybe you have Lupus and are trying out different ways to improve your daily living. I encourage you to do what works for your body based on your own personal health needs. Everyone’s Lupus is different and what works for me, may not necessarily work for you–vice versa.
If you have Lupus or another autoimmune disease and have transitioned to the gluten-free lifestyle, let me know! How has it worked for you? Do you plan on continuing to maintain it? I’m so curious!
Until next time…be well!
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