A lineup of fast food items including burgers, soda, fried chicken, and french fries.

Changing My Diet With Lupus

Everyone living with lupus is different. However, I have found that making a few changes to my diet has helped improve my health. In my experience, my lupus improves when I choose to eat less meat and more veggies.

I used to be addicted to fast foods, fried seafood, and more. I used to drink at least 5 sodas daily and maybe pick up 1 bottle of water. Since we were young, we have heard that we should drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. Science tells us that sodas are high in sugar and carbs, and drinking those were not really great for me because I was told to go on a low-sodium diet after my lupus diagnosis.

Family and diet culture

I am from New Orleans, and it was hard to follow a low-sodium diet initially because Louisiana is full of cultured foods. Most of these foods are high in sodium – including crawfish, oysters, pasta, gumbo, boudin, beignets, and more. I grew up eating in alongside my family that was deep country southern, and the food has always been filled with so much flavor and soul.

Lupus nephritis was my diet wake-up call

My experience with my 2 kidney failures has brought me to reality to change my health. Eliminating most beef was a big issue for me. This food would make me flare up so badly that my body would be drained, tired, and in pain. It was the same thing with pork and seafood sometimes. But, I have since completely cut off pork and beef and only bake or grill chicken. I have stopped eating fried foods and going to fast-food restaurants. I incorporated salmon into my diet, also. I began eating avocados to supplement the protein I was missing.

Learning which foods work best for me

I have started to eat more veggies and fruits. I rest for 8 hours a day. I have started to love to eat kale salads with nuts, fruits, tomatoes, and cucumbers. I have also been in the hospital less often and seen better blood work results. Now, I feel rested and less stressed out.

When I used to "go pick up something to eat," I didn’t know how badly I was damaging my body by choosing fried chicken sandwiches, fried kabobs, pasta, and crawfish. Louisiana is known for liquor, so I would have a drink also. These things were damaging my body. I started to retain all this sodium within my body, and the outcome was bad for me.

Diet changes are possible

I am not a doctor, so this is from personal experience. I started to eat more crunchy fruits and not fully cooked. I have learned that you can cook all the vitamins and nutrients from the veggies. When I decided to change my diet, it was not that hard to find a healthy part of the menu.

All of this time, I never noticed that restaurants could accommodate my needs to fit my dietary restrictions. All I have to do is ask my server to cut back on certain seasonings or put them on the side, and they will. There are also common fast-food restaurants that supplement any diet you choose to be on. I had to stop using the excuse of being a picky eater and more. When I chose to want more for myself, I decided that what I needed to do to change was what was best for me.

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