What My AxSpA Diet Looks Like
We hear a lot of conversations around well-being and diet, especially so in the chronic illness community. We often are told that diet will be the cure for AxSpA (or insert any chronic illness), or at least keep us pain-free. And while I believe a lot of the time this is said with good intentions and hopes that we feel better and will no longer be in pain, it is simply not always the case.
So today I want to share with you what my diet looks like as a patient with AxSpA, how it ebbs and flows, and most importantly that your pain is not your fault.
My special diet attempts would often fail
I was diagnosed with AxSpA at 29. I had already been struggling with another chronic illness (endometriosis) for 10 years and I had felt so overwhelmed by the number of foods I was “supposed” to cut out. This included sugar, gluten, soy, dairy, corn, alcohol, and certain vegetables. I would attempt these “diets” but they were not at all sustainable and would leave me feeling upset with myself when I couldn’t stick to them. If I could just follow this diet I wouldn’t be in pain. I now know that even following these diets to a tee, won't promise flare-ups won't happen (stress and physical movement are also things that can contribute to flares or pain).
Then I found the anti-inflammatory diet
After I was diagnosed with AxSpA, I found a way of eating called the anti-inflammatory diet. This way of eating felt a lot more intuitive to how I was already eating, because by this time I had mostly stopped eating foods that didn’t make me feel good (milk and red meat were 2 main ones). Lean meats, veggies/fruits, and fish are all things that were anti-inflammatory, and already things I really enjoyed, so that made this way of eating feel natural to me.
It's hard to say what was my diet and what was my meds
For about 6 months I really focused on recording what foods I was eating, and doing my best to stay with foods that were anti-inflammatory. I saw some improvement in pain but also had begun taking biologics at that time as well which helps control inflammation so it became difficult to know what was diet and what was medication.
I mix anti-inflammatory foods with what I'm craving
This brings me to today, where I would mostly say my diet is a mix of anti-inflammatory foods, mixed with intuitive eating, which means I sometimes consume foods that don’t make me feel great! Sometimes this is because of social environments, or because I was to enjoy a certain food, or sometimes I’m just too fatigued to cook a balanced meal. It is all still a learning curve, but that baseline is that I didn't cause my disease and if I want to enjoy treats from time to time that’s ok!
Can you tell when a flare is coming?