• Cristina Montoya, RD

Rheumatic Diseases sent me into a deep depression. Did a change in diet help me?

March is Nutrition Month in Canada and Dietitians of Canada is showing Canadians that healthy eating is "More than Food." The same happens with the management of rheumatoid diseases; it is more than medications. An adequate and realistic active lifestyle is part of the toolkit to thrive with chronic pain and rheumatic autoimmune diseases.

What anti-inflammatory diet should I follow? Should I go vegan or keto? What about a plant-based diet? Can I add CBD oil to my food? Those are reasonable questions, especially when the research on nutrition and rheumatic diseases is still controversial. As I become more comfortable in the kitchen, my questions about healthful eating are starting to shift towards the following:

  • Would I have enough energy to prepare meals for my family?

  • What should I do on days when I am in pain?

  • What should I do when my system is running out of the biologic that's keeping me functional?

  • Would I be able to cook with my twisted fingers?

  • Would I have enough money to follow a healthful meal plan?

  • Would I be able to cope with the multiple digestive side effects from my medications?

  • Would I be able to be present for my family?

  • Would I be able to cope with all the food shaming out there?

And the list can go on...

So much has happened since Arthritis Digest UK featured my diagnosis story in 2015. For starters, I disappeared from the online community, then I became a mother, and my Rheumatoid Arthritis hit me with all its force a year ago. As I look back, being vulnerable gave me the courage to raise my voice and advocate for better care for people living with these debilitating conditions. It's never too late to resume the path.

Did a specific diet help me? Yes, five years ago, I followed a LOW FODMAP diet (see the article below for a brief definition) to control my severe Irritable Bowel syndrome. During my five-year hiatus, Monash University's research on the Low FODMAP Diet and Irritable Bowel Syndrome greatly expanded. They are continually updating their database and also providing up-to-date information on this diet.

That's why, this month, in celebration of National Nutrition Month, you will see me posting on the benefits and potential risks of following a Low FODMAP Diet when living with Rheumatic Diseases.

This month and the months ahead, remember to be kind to yourself; no diet is perfect. It's best to get the right advice based on your individual needs in your arthritis journey.

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