There is often controversy as to whether or not diet is helpful in treating rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases. Many folks believe there is absolutely nothing to what you consume while others believe it is what will save them. After years of trial and error with diet, I am no longer convinced it is going to save me from rheumatoid arthritis, but I definitely believe it plays a huge part in how I feel.
Over the years I have experimented a lot with diet, sometimes to the point that I was so stressed about what I was eating that I added to the pain in my joints because of the stress I was putting myself under to eat perfectly. For more than a year now, I have been following a diet known as the paleo/primal diet. Many in the movement call it a "lifestyle" rather than a diet and that is exactly what it is for me. It is a way of life with many different ingredients. Each of these ingredients follows a direction that I have been moving towards for the last ten years. These ingredients are perfectly wrapped up in the philosophy of the paleo/primal diet and I find this movement makes me feel right at home.
The main ingredient to this "lifestyle" is of course diet. Although I have been gluten and dairy free for eight years now, my diet surprisingly became easier/less stressful when I eliminated grains and legumes completely. By eliminating these foods, I stopped looking for replacements that were gluten free. I no longer need to have gluten free bread to replace the regular breads. Instead I focus on real foods that taste as they were intended to taste. It is amazing how many ways you can make different dishes of meat, veggies, herbs/spices and plenty of healthy fats. I have become a better cook this last year because I enjoy the foods I eat and they are simple to prepare. Also included in this diet is a reduction of sugar which I still battle with some days, but overall feel is under control. I found out years ago when I eliminated sugar from my diet for almost nine months and then brought it back, that it creates huge problems for me. Overconsumption almost guarantees my hands will be stiff the next morning.
Before rheumatoid arthritis became a part of my life, I was already making positive food choices that have become very important political/food issues to me over the years. Besides eliminating the majority of processed foods from our diet, I found a farmer that produces beef, chicken, pork, and lamb as well as eggs from animals that are free to roam and enjoy the outdoors. This is important to me. The current leaders in the paleo/primal lifestyle focus on these issues and not only encourage eating animal products from animals treated well, but also provide a lot of education on the issue.
I like that the paleo/primal community provides a place for me to find like minded people. I love reading about health and especially health topics that lead me in a positive direction. With the paleo lifestyle community I have found podcasts, blogs, websites, and more to satisfy my thirst for educating myself in the lifestyle I have adopted.