Chronic Disease and Nutrition

Managing a chronic illness on a day-to-day basis is not easy. Depending on what you are dealing with, you probably visit a specialist and take medications that are aimed at providing relief of your pain and discomfort.

While medications can certainly help, our food choices and the things we drink contribute to how we feel. Research has shown that when heavily processed or sugary foods are consumed, this increases the level of inflammation in the body. For people with a chronic illness like Lupus, Sjogrens, RA, or MS, this can cause debilitating symptoms such as painful joints, migraines, digestive issues, and fatigue.

It is easier and less costly (physically and financially) in the long run to eat in a way that promotes good health, than to be forced to deal with the aftermath of unhealthy eating. Making choices which do not contribute to a healthy lifestyle can lead to heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, organ involvement, and the development of other illnesses. It is advisable to check with your doctor with regard to any dietary changes, but in general the focus should be on whole foods such as fresh vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, good fats, sustainable protein, and foods high in fiber. All of these foods promote good gut health as well.

For me, I gradually cut out meat and dairy and have followed a plant based lifestyle for some time now. This along with exercise, stress management, and focusing on gratitude has helped tremendously. Do I still have flare-ups? Sure, but knowing what helps my body to recover is key. Try eliminating certain foods for a while and pay attention to how you feel once they are added back. It can be a process to discovering what works for you, so be patient. Just stay consistent and committed to your well-being.



Don’t Lose Yourself

What a year this has been. Living with Lupus is not without it’s challenges. Some days are good, while others can make me question everything. It’s tough to navigate life’s path while looking “normal” to the outside world, but dealing with all of the things people don’t see when they look at me. After all, I am the one who deals with the emotional and physical pain, the feelings of disease alienation, and the numerous changes to my body that have joined me on this unpredictable journey.

What I’ve had to realize is that while Lupus is a part of my life, it is not who I am. I am not my fatigue. I am not my various pains and nerve damage. I am not the hair or digestive issues. My identity is not tied to an illness, but rather to who Christ says that I am. Victorious. Strong and courageous. More than a conqueror. This body of mine is just a temporary vessel and regardless of what it goes through, the spirit who lives on the inside of me has already won the battle.

I choose to honor the warrior that’s always been on the inside of me even before Lupus made it’s presence known. My authentic self. That’s what really matters. Whether you are fighting Lupus or some other chronic illness, don’t lose yourself in the process.



Are You Self-Aware?

If you were to ask most people whether they are self-aware, you may get various responses. Each person has his or her own fundamental idea of what self-awareness means. There are those who believe their level of self-awareness is pretty high and others who may not be so sure and that is okay. Let’s define what self-awareness is.

Self-awareness means being connected to your feelings, emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and needs, as well as being cognizant of how we interact with others. When we know who we are, we are typically better prepared to deal with the things that life brings our way.

Here are some of the ways being self-aware can benefit us:

1- It helps us choose relationships with others wisely, engage with those with similar values, and encourages the setting of emotional boundaries within those relationships.

2- Being self-aware helps us to eliminate self-doubt which holds us back from being our true self.

3- It also allows us to stay mindful of what our needs are physically, mentally, and spiritually. This is vital especially if you have an autoimmune or other chronic illness. By being self-aware, we are able to notice when we need to seek the assistance of a health professional and advocate for ourselves.

4- We are better prepared in stressful situations and are more likely to respond rather than react in a negative way which could trigger a flare-up in some people.

5- Cultivating our self-awareness helps us to pay attention to areas where mistakes may have been made, giving yourself credit for what you did right, and then creating ways to make improvements going forward.