Healthy Eating Tips for People with Lupus
Bad eating habits can make it harder for your body to fight lupus. Luckily, simple changes in what you eat can make a big difference in how you feel day to day and protect your body–especially your heart–from lupus damage. The first step to healthy eating: Cut back on the Bad and eat more of the Good.
Fat: Fried foods, fast foods, and foods made with oil and butter are usually high in fat. Eating too much of these foods can increase your risk for heart attack, stroke and diabetes. Try baking or grilling foods. Think fresh foods, not fast foods.
Caffeine: Coffee, tea and soda almost always have caffeine, which can irritate your stomach and keep you awake. Cutting out caffeine gives your stomach an important rest, especially if you take lupus drugs that already bother your stomach, and can help you sleep better.
Salt: You'll need to cut back, especially if you have lupus kidney disease or high blood pressure.
Alcohol: Mixing it with drugs (even Tylenol) can be a danger to your health.
Fruits & Vegetables: These are great sources of vitamins, minerals and fiber. They should make up the majority of what you eat.
Calcium & Vitamin D: If you are taking corticosteroids to treat lupus, you are at risk for osteoporosis–a disease that weakens your bones. Low-fat yogurt, cheeses and milk are high in calcium and Vitamin D, which can make your bones stronger. Also, by drinking milk while taking certain medications, you can avoid upsetting your stomach.
Whole Grains & Wheat: Eat more wheat and whole grain breads and cereals that are high in fiber. This can prevent constipation and reduce your risk of heart disease.
Low-Fat Proteins: Fish, chicken and beans are better for you than fatty meats. Eat baked or grilled fish, like salmon and tuna that are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 oil.
Water: Drink at least 8 cups of water a day. Drinking plenty of water is good for your whole body, from your kidneys to your skin, and can help you to control hunger.
I was just diagnosed with lupus. What lifestyle changes do you recommend?
Suggestion: Being sick can be hard work, but you can and should do things to make yourself feel better.
In addition to basic healthy habits–eating well, not smoking, staying active–try to stay out of the sun and conserve your energy.
Also, make lifestyle changes to reduce stress, which is believed to trigger lupus flares–making your condition worse. You may need to cut back on hours at work or get friends and family members to help ease the demands in your life. Try to be flexible. If you're tired, rest. If you're in pain, stop what you're doing. Know your limits. Lupus is not an easy disease, but it can be managed, and you can continue to live a full life.