Discovering what foods best suit your body could be the answer to your ailments, as these women found. By Larraine Sathicq.
Can the right diet solve your medical condition? In many cases, yes it can. Adjusting what and how you eat can relieve many health issues. Whether it’s joint pain or heart problems, eating smart can put you on the path to better health. Here, four women share their journeys back to wellness, proving that the right diet actually worked like medicine for them!
“My fibromyalgia symptoms have eased”
Wendy Sciacca, 58
Twenty-five years ago I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a chronic condition that produces widespread pain and fatigue.
Two years later I was at a point where I spent as much time in bed as possible. It wasn’t just tiredness but absolute exhaustion and I really felt guilty about not having the energy to do anything withmy children. I had muscular pain all the time and I was also depressed.
A friend at work who also had fibromyalgia told me about a blood test she’d had to identify food sensitivities thought to be associated with the condition. It made sense to me so I had the blood test too.
It tested for 100 foods and I was found to be intolerant to 26 of them. Some of them, including dairy, gluten and certain types of fruit, were foods that I ate regularly and really enjoyed.
I consulted with my integrative GP and a dietitian, who helped me formulate a healthy diet plan. I now avoid cashews, pecan nuts, strawberries, bananas, kiwi fruit, vanilla, gluten and also as many dairy foods as I can. I try to eat as many vegies as possible, with very small quantities of potato, sweet potato and pumpkin.
Of course I’m often tempted by food I shouldn’t have but when I go off my diet I notice the fatigue and pain get worse.
I’m absolutely convinced that fibromyalgia symptoms are influenced by diet.
“My new diet cleared my skin condition”
Jenny Watson, 31
I’ve lived with eczemamy whole life and I can’t remember a time where I didn’t have patches of dry, flaky skin.
About five years ago it started to get worse. I was covered head to toe, even over my entire face, so it was really visible. It got to the point where I was scratching all night and trying to get by on two hours’ sleep. I was cleansing and moisturising my face every couple of hours but that didn’t help.
An online search led me to The Eczema Diet (eczemadiet.com.au). It’s an elimination diet, so it involved cutting out foods that can cause a skin reaction and reintroducing them slowly to see which ones affected me.
I found out my problem was made worse by anything containing salicylates, amines and naturally occurring monosodium glutamate (MSG), which are found in a long list of foods including dairy, eggs, some fruits, deli meats and junk food.
Bananas were a particular trigger for me, as well as soy sauce and all junk food, so I try and avoid them now, but I was eventually able to reintroduce most of the other foods on the list, in moderation.
It’s been amazing – my eczema isn’t cured but I was so pleased with the results. My food tastes better, and my marriage has improved 500 per cent since I’m sleeping through the night and not waking my husband every night with my scratching.
“Healthier eating lowered my heart attack risk”
Karen Whitten, 63
When I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and high cholesterol I knew I would have to do something aboutmy diet.
Even more worrying, a blood test showed I had high triglyceride levels inmy blood. Triglycerides are the type of fats that put you at risk for cardiovascular disease.
My father had a couple of minor strokes when he was 63 and my older brother had arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), so I was already in the genetic firing line.
Luckily for me, I had a very supportive GP who was kind enough to tell me that if I didn’t do something about my weight, I could be heading for a heart attack. She was hard on me when she needed to be but I knew she really cared about me.
I decided to make some changes, starting with my diet. I’ve never been one for junk food and I’ve always enjoyed a lot of vegetables but even though I was eating healthy food I was certainly eating too much and I was overweight.
I opted for the 5:2 diet, which involves eating normally for five days and limiting your diet to 500 calories (2090 kJ) for two days of the week.
I stuck to the plan because I felt I couldn’t disappoint my GP. Two years later, I still do the 5:2 diet when I need to, and I’ve foundmy portion sizes are smaller, even on non-fasting days. I’ve lost weight,my blood pressure, triglyceride and cholesterol levels are within the normal range and my health has never been so good.
“I demolished my joint pain with dietary changes”
Carmel Heydon, 60
This time last year I had pain in every joint inmy body, so severe that I could hardlywalk. Iwas taking paracetamol two to three times a day and something stronger again if the painwas bad at night.
I just knew thatmy diet was a contributing factor and considering the amount of sweet foods I ate on a daily basis, sugar was the obvious culprit. I decided to try the I Quit Sugar 8-Week Program (iquitsugar.com).
For the first three days I had constant headaches and it took a week or two before I stopped missing the ‘quick fix’ of chocolate and other sugary snacks, but surprisingly I never had serious cravings.
I found that eight weeks with no sugar retrained my tastebuds, so I could really taste the natural sweetness in fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy. Chocolate and cakes don’t even tempt me now. This diet became a lifestyle change rather than a temporary experiment because I realised I don’t need sugar and I’m never hungry now.
My favourite treats these days include unsalted nuts, herbal tea and a medium latte mid-morning in place of the large caramel macchiato I used to crave.
I was surprised by how much sugar is in processed or packaged products, so now I always check labels and I stick to whole, unprocessed foods where possible.
As my 60th birthday approached, I wanted to run toward the celebrations rather than crawl. The results have been amazing. I no longer have joint pain, I’ve lost weight andmy friends say I look younger and less haggard. I was also taking a daily antihistamine for my sinusitis and allergies but I don’t even need that anymore.