Yesterday Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy went downtown to the central post office – this required him to walk a couple of large city blocks. Within minutes, every joint in my body was burning in pain. I had not felt like this in a long time. I immediately called my physical therapist to ask if she could squeeze me into her busy schedule. It was 11:30am. When I hung up my phone, I had a 2:00pm appointment. So far so good!
As I left my house early afternoon and headed towards my physical therapy appointment, I reminded myself once again: I haven’t felt this bad in months. I wonder why? And then it hit me.
I have spoken before about the dietary changes that I implemented a few months back…although I have not provided any recent updates. This past week marked three months in which I have been gluten-free, dairy-free, meat-free, nightshade-free, (almost) caffeine-free, (almost) corn-syrup-free, and (recently) MSG-free.
I did recently make one big change to my dietary restrictions – I allowed myself to consume gluten. Blame it on football. Last weekend as I was watching games, I saw some German Beer that I had purchased right before I started this diet. Beer. Football. What harm can be done in just consuming a little beer, even if it does have gluten. (I’ve had gluten-free beer before, but it’s not available where I live.)
Well, once I allowed myself to have some beer, the bread on the counter looked pretty tempting. And Sunday waffles…why not go ahead and make them with regular flour instead of with my gluten free flour mix. The gates were thrown open.
And like that, I find myself in my worst physical condition in months. The last time I felt this bad was the last time when I was still consuming gluten. Is this the only factor that has changed in the past couple of weeks? Not necessarily. Yesterday we had rainstorms throughout the day and the temperatures dropped considerably…both of which for me always lead to increased pain and swelling. But the coincidence in the dietary connection is just too much for me to ignore.
So an update to my diet: I am starting on my fourth month, and I have followed it strictly with the exception of the above football-induced gluten-free grace period. (Go Cowboys!) I have identified two strong triggers: dairy and MSG. Tomatoes are high on the list of suspects as well. Restricting meat and chicken has forced me to eat more veggies, which has helped quite a bit in regards to my energy levels. I still allow myself to eat fish and seafood (my uric acid levels are always extremely low, so I have no concerns about gout).
And even though I continue to use the word “diet”, for me these past few months have been ones of culinary explorations, even as I continue to implement the above “restrictions”. When I started with my list of foods to eliminate I wondered what was going to be left to eat. I have since shown myself that there is an entire world of fruits and vegetables out there that I had not previously even thought about…and there are still many that I have not familiarized myself with.
I will return to limiting my gluten-intake, in hopes of relieving some of the worst symptoms that I am experiencing at the moment. When I started this elimination diet a few months ago I myself had doubts as to how effective it would work. I have been startled with some of the trials and tests I have performed…and in the process have become an even truer believer in the connection between diet and health.
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!