Living with Lupus: People with lupus (and everyone else, too) should eat a nutritious, well-balanced, and varied diet that has plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and moderate amounts of fish and lean meats. When a patient is diagnosed with lupus, there is no specific recommended diet just for lupus.
The only dietary changes that will help a lupus patient get healthier are the same dietary changes that will help any person get healthier.
There is no secret diet cure or magic menu that will whisk away lupus symptoms. The best diet is one that responds to the stresses that lupus places on a patient’s body, such as steroid use, inflammation, immune modifying drugs. Good diet that won’t stress vital organs with extremes of sugar, salt, fat or empty calories is a good idea for everyone.
Shopping for a health diet
Over the years, I have seen my diet preferences change, and I have noted the difference that a good nutrient rich diet makes in my overall health and well-being. Too many cakes, cookies, colas and candy bars (the bad “c” quartet) fail to deliver the promise that the TV commercials suggest. I tend now to drift away from the goodies, and cruise the outer perimeter of the grocery store where the whole foods are hiding out. I have also noticed that a lap around the outside aisle of the grocery store is faster than weaving back and forth through all the parallel aisles in the middle.
Here’s my average lap on the perimeter grocery shopping route:
- Start off on the first leg of the loop in the produce aisle and pick up lettuce, celery, radishes, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocados, apples, oranges, watermelon, grapes, strawberries, blackberries and blueberries, depending on what is in season.
- Finishing up the produce area I grab some broccoli slaw and shredded cabbage for coleslaw, some onions and a bag of potatoes.
- Next we cruise in a straight line through bakery, slowing briefly to grab some whole grain bread.
- Picking up speed as I round the first turn, I zoom past the cakes, cookies, pies and donuts and head quickly for the meat counter.
- Slowing slightly to watch for good bargains, I pick up lean ground beef, a roast, lean pork chops, and frozen chicken breasts and frozen fish fillets
I have reached the half-way mark!
- Next, a short buzz through the deli section produces some lean sliced ham, sliced cheese and grated cheese.
- Swinging by the dairy case olive oil margarine, low-fat milk, light yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, light sour cream and (my one indulgence) York Peppermint Patty coffee creamer all jump into my cart as I pass by.
- Leaving my cart briefly at the end of an aisle, I zip quickly into the freezer section for frozen Italian green beans, broccoli and mixed veggies, juggling the frozen armful back to my cart.
- Two more speedy isle excursions yield my favorite dark roast coffee, and replacements of mustard, ketchup, relish, dill pickles, olive oil or olive oil mayo I might be out of.
Last, the home stretch!
- A few paper, cleaning and toiletry items complete the lap as I approach the check out counters.
- At this point I put on blinders as I have to pass through the debris of candy and other goodies on display between me and the cash registers.
- Just before checking out, I stop briefly and pick up a couple of 2 liters of Diet Rite Cola (okay, this is my second indulgence.)
To make this cart full of food become some good meals actually requires spending a few minutes in the kitchen each day.
Few foods to avoid and a few indulgences to include…
The only specific food that I know about that lupus patients should steer clear of is alfalfa sprouts, because of some known flare triggering properties. There are some foods that might be contraindicated because of certain lupus medications, but these should show up when the pharmacist checks for drug interactions. I have to stay away from grapefruit because it interacts with one of my lupus medications.
My husband and I have found that a flavorful variety of fresh produce and whole foods is very appetizing and satisfying, helps us manage our weight, and makes us feel overall healthier and more energetic.
There still need to be a couple of indulgences, like my coffee with creamer or favorite diet soda. “Moderation is all things” is an age old wise suggestion that really applies to healthy eating for anyone, or any lupus patient.
After all, a good diet, is a good lupus diet!