How to Manage Rheumatoid Arthritis with Diet

by Mar 15, 2018

Which foods are good for me?

Even when I was first diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis back in 1993, I suspected that diet had an impact on the levels of inflammation in my body. Could I manage Rheumatoid Arthritis with diet? I was told again and again by my rheumatologists that diet was irrelevant and would make no difference whatsoever. Unfortunately, my skin was erupting in hives all over my body, and my eyes and lips were swelling up on a regular basis. It was clear that the foods I was ingesting certainly were affecting me. I had food intolerance testing and avoided the main culprits, but was never exactly clear on what I needed to avoid. The tests were rather unreliable and my intolerances seemed to change depending on how stressed I was. And so this went on for many years.. until I found a healing foods diet.

Time for a radical change:


At the end of 2014, my energy levels had reached an all-time low, and in addition to the joint pain, I was experiencing brain fog which was affecting my daily activities. I had been 95% dairy and gluten-free for decades but now I was at rock bottom and needed a plan of action. I found out that even one accidental (or intentional!) ingestion of gluten can affect the body for months, so it was time to be 100% gluten-free.

Also, when I went 100% lactose-free, my true sensitivity to it became apparent. I started reading up and researching more online. I found a whole wealth of information about various diets that people had been employing to calm the inflammation in their bodies whilst enjoying substantial relief from their chronic illness symptoms. This was a paradigm shift for me as up to then I had been accepting my fate of pain and ever-increasing amounts of medications. Now I could really take responsibility for my health.

Beginning is the hardest part…


I started out on a Whole 30 cleanse which is 30 days of clean eating to reset the system. Even though my diet was pretty good already I certainly experienced detox symptoms. Especially on day 3/4 when I could see blue zigzagging lines in my peripheral vision and could barely walk up the drive to the house! Those symptoms soon eased and I started to feel fantastic! I had a huge boost of energy and finished the 30 days feeling motivated and better than I had done in 10 years.

Next, I moved onto the Autoimmune Protocol Diet and I am still on a modified version of the AIP diet 3 years later. There have of course been ups and downs. I have tried reintroducing egg yolks (definite no) and successfully added in almonds (woo hoo!). Early on I had to stop with the coconut (apart from coconut oil) as I realised I couldn’t tolerate it, and yes, I thought I would be eating more foods by now!

It took a while for it to dawn on me that healing my leaky gut and normalising all of my allergic responses was going to take quite a while! However, I have been able to reduce my conventional medication and am feeling better so I know I am on the right track.

A work in progress…

How to Manage Rheumatoid Arthritis with Diet:

I have done a Whole 30 every year now, as sugar, wine and dark chocolate keep creeping in and I know they don’t agree with me. I am now under the care of a great Functional Medicine nutritionist. With her help, now that I have eliminated my parasites, we are working towards healing my leaky gut lining, keeping inflammation low, balancing my thyroid, eliminating copper toxicity and working with my peri-menopausal symptoms. I am still on my AIP diet though with a few re-introductions.

My Rheumatoid arthritis is well controlled, my endometriosis is improving and my energy levels are better. Moving house in the summer has really helped with that. I think the black mould in our old house was a big factor in my fatigue whilst living there. I would definitely recommend working with a Functional Medicine Practitioner to help you manage Rheumatoid Arthritis with diet but also to support you in identifying any other pathogens or toxins that may be slowing down your healing. If you don’t have one nearby you may be able to have an online consultation. Check out The Institute for Functional Medicine.

Give it a go!

For anyone who is considering making a life change for the better…I wholeheartedly recommend doing a Whole 30 or similar. Even if it is just for those 30 days, it’s only one month of your life to try a new way of being. My guess is, you will never look back…

It is a great way to get started on adopting the Autoimmune Diet as a longer-term plan. Many people have had success with this as a way to manage their autoimmune conditions and although it is tough and takes a lot of dedication and planning. It is worth it! There many fantastic websites and resources for learning more how to manage Rheumatoid Arthritis with diet and I encourage you to visit them and do your research. Knowledge is power!


Check out these resources:

Phoenix Helix

Autoimmune Wellness

The Paleo Mom


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