Lupus and Nutrition

Living with Lupus, Main Blog, Nutrition

The Lupus and Diet Dilemma

The Lupus and Diet Dilemma: What should we eat? What should we avoid?

“The Magic Disappearing Veggie Trick”

Lupus and Diet

From the time we are kiddos, we are told that we should exercise and eat right in order to grow up big and strong, right?  Well instead, we spent many-a-weeknight-dinner pushing around the peas and other choice veggies lying ominously on our plates, in the hopes that they will magically disappear or hiding them under the mashed potatoes to make it so. Then making those stink faces at our parents when we hear that we are having fish for dinner (unless, of course, its the breaded and fried unidentifiable kind.)  As we grew, many of us -but not all of us- have had taste buds and/or common sense that grew and matured simultaneously with our bodies and we have since learned to like, perhaps even love our veggies and those little fishies we once abhorred: For others… not so much.

Tricks are for kids

So what happens when you grow up and learn that you have lupus, or another equally devastating chronic illness?  Should all of your nutritional decisions now be based on what your body needs rather than what tastes best? Can they be one in the same?  If you are one of the lucky ones, they already are and this transition is not quite as tough, but for others, the mandate that you should be choosing foods simply for their nutritional value may be yet another “hard pill to swallow”, so to speak.  Thus, the lupus and diet dilemma.
As an autoimmune disease that effects many different systems in the body, no food can cause lupus, this we know. What we also know for sure, is that  the foods that you eat, and the medications you take can have an effect on the severity of symptoms as well the frequency of lupus flares. Some of the most important issues that specifically relate to lupus patients with regards to diet and nutrition are;
  • Reduction of inflammation and swelling
  • Prevention of nutrient deficiencies
  • Maintaining strong bones and muscles
  • Combating medication side-effects
  • Reach or maintain a desired body weight
  • Reducing the risk of heart disease

Lupus and Diet: What are the recommendations for what we should be eating?

Lupus and diet, well balanced is the key!Most all studies, and we have looked at many (such as the paleo and anti-inflammatory diets), are fairly in line with their recommendations.  Funny enough, these dietary recommendations are for the general populous as well! So its not just us lupies who should be re-aligning our dietary thinking.  However, as lupus is an inflammatory disease, it only makes sense that eating an ant-inflammatory diet, one rich in vitamins, iron, antioxidants and fish, also including the following suggestions,would be prudent.
  • A nutritious, well-balance and varied diet
  • Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, the “make your plate a rainbow” theory of eating
  • Whole grains
  • Beans, nuts, and seeds
  • Moderate amounts of lean proteins
  • Fish that are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids.

And if you still don’t relish the ‘eating of the fish’ idea, there are always Omego 3 pills!

Omega 3 for lupus and diet needs!
Omega 3 Fatty Acids, if not in fish form, pill form works too!
Because many of the medications used to treat lupus can wreak havoc on bones causing greater risk for osteoporosis, a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D are also recommended.  This includes all types of dairy; cheeses, yogurts, milk  (lactose free options are also available.)

Ok, now for the bad news…what should we be avoiding?

Nobody likes being told what to do…or especially what not to do. This is the epitome of the “don’t put your hands in the cookie jar” effect. But here it is, the “lupus and diet” suggested list of what to avoid. And yes, often these are the ones we like the best…it is such a cruel world.
  • Foods high in fats, trans fats and cholesterol
  • Red meats and other high fat meat
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Salty foods
  • Sugary foods
  • Caffeine
  • Alfalfa sprouts- There has been some evidence shown that it can trigger a lupus flare. Some herbal teas have alfalfa in them so read labels carefully.
*If you are taking steroids- Simple and refined carbohydrates can worsen side effects 
(often found in processed foods)
The alfalfa sprouts on the other hand , we can let that one slide, it will be tough but we can give it up, right?
Lupus and Diet, Alfalfa Sprouts and flares
This Alfalfa.
Not this Alfalfa.

Ban together and say NO to alfalfa! They have indeed been prove to be “little rascals.” 

Tips and Links!

There is certainly lots of great information out there on lupus and diet and nutrition, and we would recommend you scour the web for more information specific to your own personal needs.  Here is a more in depth article we found on the subject and thought you may want to take a peek! We posted this to our Molly’s Fund Fighting Lupus on Facebook a while back, but here is the direct link:
You might also like to take a look at our recent webinar, 20 Nutrition Tips for Lupus and Autoimmune Conditions!
And for those of us whose taste buds have not moved forward from the “hiding of the veggies” stage, here are some great links for ideas on how to make the good-for-you things a tad more palatable. Cranky FitnessRaw Food SwitchSimply Recipes
Molly’s Fund Fighting Lupus is wishing you fellow lupus and other chronic illness sufferers, happy nutrition, less flares, less symptoms, and tasty eats!

Toasting to you right now with a Carrot Cake Smoothie from Rabbit Food for my Bunny Teeth.

Simply delightful!

Carrot Cake Smoothie
Serves 1

1 cup chopped carrots
1 frozen banana
6oz cup Chobani Pineapple Greek Yogurt
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk (or milk of your choice – I love Almond Breeze by Blue Diamond!)
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground ginger
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Add almond milk as needed to acquire your desired thickness.
Note: For a vegan option, omit the Greek yogurt (and almond milk) and sub with 1 cup of coconut milk instead.

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Article by : Karrie Sundbom

Karrie is the Digital Marketing Manager at Molly's Fund and responsible for innovating content for all of Molly's Funds online communications, creating memes and graphics, writing the MFFL Newsletter and main lupus blogs, as well as developing and managing the content for all of our social media platforms. Connect with Karrie on LinkedIn and Google+ .
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