Food is Medicine: What I Eat In A Day
Last updated: September 2023
I’ve now followed an integrative lifestyle approach to manage my AS for several years. Nutrition, movement, exercise, stress management, mindset, mindfulness and connection (with myself, nature, others) are all essential pillars to continue to live with little pain.
In this article, I would like to share more about using food as medicine, and how I do it daily.
I have tried many different diets over the years since my diagnosis. Some did help to alleviate my back pain and gut issues; others didn’t change much. Through my functional health coach and AIP coach trainings, I have learned a lot about inflammation and autoimmune/chronic conditions.
The underlying principle is to follow a diet which will support our gut health (and avoid a leaky gut) and reduce this low-grade chronic inflammation, two big factors of autoimmune conditions like AS. Building a foundation that works for me was the most important step, to have an approach I can rely on.
A personalized approach
There are some common principles which can apply to everyone, such as reducing inflammatory trigger foods (processed foods and refined sugar, gluten, dairy, industrial seed oils) and supporting the body with whole, nutrient-dense foods (healthy fats and proteins, lots of vegetables and fruit).
However, diet changes and what works to reduce pain and other symptoms vary from person to person. Thus, it is best to experiment with foods to find what works for you. For example, I eat 100% gluten free. This is something I will follow for the rest of my life, as I feel a lot better without it.
What I eat in a day
Sometimes I will not have breakfast by doing a 16-hour fast. I do this in a very intuitive way. I listen to my body. If I’m not hungry, I won’t force it. When I go through mild flares, I will also fast. When I do have breakfast, I eat buckwheat crackers with almond butter and a banana, or I will have gluten free oats, with almond milk, blueberries and almond butter. On the savory side, I will just have leftovers from dinner.
I will either do take out with my colleagues at work, which usually is either a vegan curry with white rice, or a bowl with beef or chicken, lots of veggies and sweet potatoes, or I will bring leftovers from dinner. Another favorite is an easy salad with veggies and sardines (great for Omega-3 fatty acids!).
This consists of fiber-rich carbs (usually lighter portions in the evenings) such as quinoa, sweet potatoes, potatoes, some plant-based protein, and vegetables. Occasionally I will have pasta with a homemade sauce. I also love a good taco night!
I try not to snack between meals, to give my body a break from having to digest foods. The key here is to make sure to eat enough protein and fats at each meal. However, if I am hungry or want a little something before a workout, I will usually have nuts and fruit.
My aim is to cook a lot with whole, high quality (organic and local), nutrient-dense foods and stay away from inflammatory foods. Of course, I also enjoy eating out from time to time, but I am always mindful of what I order to support my gut health. Food has been and continues to be a key pillar to manage my pain.
How have you shifted your eating habits to help you manage your AS flares?
Do you notice worsening flares in colder weather?