People who know me know that if there's one thing I hate, it's strict diets. I hate how they suck the fun out of food and life. I hate how they really don't seem to work (otherwise we wouldn't need to always try new ones). And I hate what they do with your relationship with food...often turning a perfectly happy person into someone who can't stop thinking about macaroni and cheese. That being said, I have to admit that occasionally they're necessary.
My husband has lupus and a few years ago he had a particularly nasty flair-up that turned into reactive arthritis. After months of loading his body full of Prednisone (90 mg/day...yikes!) and a constant regimen of Vicodin and Percocet my normally active, 24-year-old husband was wheel chair bound with a C-Reactive Protein18 times the normal range (aka, he had HUGE amounts of inflammation in his body). Nobody, including his rheumatologist knew what to do.
At the same time we where being bombarded with people trying to sell us supplements and magic juice drinks that would all somehow cure my husband. No medication was working and there wasn't much promising research on diet and reactive arthritis in lupus patients so we prayed that God would show us what to do. I didn't want to run down a gazillion rabbit trails and make my husband feel like a human lab rat. After some time, I came across a little research on how a vegan diet had decreased inflammation in some people with RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis). While we are definitely of the meat-eating variety, this seemed like something to try.
Turning a 200-lb, steak-loving man into a vegan is no easy task. But, after a full month on a strict vegan diet, my husband started to improve drastically. We returned to my husbands doctor where they re-ran some blood work. The doctor was shocked with the results...while my husband's blood work still clearly reflected someone who had active lupus, his inflammation markers where all within the normal ranges. So, we stayed on the diet for another six months and then slowly added animal products back into his diet. Now, whenever my husband feels his joints getting inflammed, we eat vegan for a day or two and most of the time he's back to his normal self rather quickly.
Now, we're at it again. A dear friend of our family, Shadrick, has been struggling with an auto-immune disorder that attacks his myelin sheath. After loads of testing, he still has no official diagnosis but has been told he has high levels of inflammation. I can't help but wonder if a plant-based diet couldn't help with some of his symptoms in the same way it helped my husband. So, we're gonna give it try and for the next month he's gonna be a bona fide vegan. Now, it was tough making my husband happy in a world without meat and eggs but at least he grew up in Oregon where vegan's abound and health food stores are on every corner. Shadrick, on the other hand, is a 280-lb ex-college football player who grew up in Texas and to this day has never met a real-live vegan. He's a pretty tough dude, but I realized I have my work cut out for me when I think I saw a tear in his eye last week when I told him that vegans don't eat cheese. I told him it's only a month...but I get it, I hate diets too.
Have you ever tried to go vegan? vegetarian? Why did you decide to and what was your experience?