I asked my autoimmune specialist doctor what is the best diet for autoimmune disease? Should I go gluten-free? Or should I go paleo? He said the “best diet for autoimmune disease is to eat healthy, nutritious foods. The same diet I would eat, the same diet I would tell my family to eat. But, unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence backing the claims on gluten-free or other diets and the effect on autoimmune diseases.”
He said the “best diet for autoimmune disease is to eat healthy, nutritious foods. The same diet I would eat, the same diet I would tell my family to eat. But, unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence backing the claims on gluten-free or other diets and the effect on autoimmune diseases.”
What does it mean to eat healthy, nutritious foods?
First, healthy eating means fueling your body with nutrients from as many whole foods as possible. In addition, healthy eating means avoiding as many processed foods as possible. Finally, healthy eating means discovering which foods aggravate your mind and body.
Even healthy foods may disrupt an autoimmune person’s body. Therefore, people with autoimmune conditions must sometimes avoid some healthy foods such as acidic fruit and vegetables.
The best diet for autoimmune disease does not mean going on a diet for weight loss. However, you may naturally lose weight by eating healthier! It means you eat for health, energy, and to manage autoimmune symptoms.
The best diet for autoimmune disease is all about YOU
It’s time to shift your perspective on food from the diet culture to a healthy food mindset that focuses on you and your needs. Adjust your healthy eating depending upon your individual needs, preferences, and how your body reacts to certain foods.
The best diet for autoimmune disease is all about finding out what works for you best! Don’t look to the latest fad diet or adopt a diet so strict it causes your mind and body more stress!
There will always be confusion surrounding diets and the health benefits of each approach. For example, a specific diet may have helped a group of people tremendously but not helped another group. There are people who can be very strict with their diet and those who are not. In addition, some people have access to fresh foods or organic foods while others don’t.
On the other hand, there is no confusion about eating healthy foods such as water, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and low-fat protein.
What are the essential healthy foods?
The best diet for autoimmune disease includes foods such as water, fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, and nuts in their whole form. These foods are in their natural state without much alteration. They have no artificial ingredients which contain unpronounceable and unrecognizable names.
You’ll see that the list above is plant-based which I have found works best for me. However, I do not recommend that everyone follow a strict plant-based diet as it is difficult in today’s meat-centric society. Paradoxically, while it’s hard to follow plant-based eating, it’s also easy to eat foods that you believe are healthy plant-based but are just over-processed garbage.
Since we live in a meat-centric society, if you choose to eat solely plant-based, you will quickly become frustrated with the choices of plant-based options while eating out or at social events. Another cause of frustration may be due to your autoimmune disease.
You may not tolerate some plant-based or healthy foods. For example, a few trigger foods I cannot tolerate are garlic, onions, and butternut squash which are healthy foods to eat. But unfortunately, they are in many savory dishes, and it’s hard not to find them in restaurants or social events where food is served.
So, give yourself grace and remember The best diet for autoimmune disease is the one that works best for you!
Plant-based eating basics
I recommend incorporating as many plant-based, whole-food, and nutrient-dense foods as possible into your diet. Again, I refer back to the 80/20 rule. Begin to lessen the amount of beef, pork, and dairy you may consume.
There are many resources for plant-based healthy eating, so I won’t and even couldn’t attempt to put it all in this article. However, here are links to my favorite resources:
Rebecca the Dietitian – Rebecca is my Dietitian, and I recommend her to everyone looking to eat for their best health. Here is Rebecca’s mission:
“To help as many people as possible achieve their best weight and their best health. I want to teach you what I learned about the truths and misconceptions about food and how to live a healthy life that you will truly enjoy. Delicious food and all.” -Rebecca Henson
Dr. Joel Furman – I highly recommend Dr. Joel Furman’s book, Eat to Live. Dr. Furman calls himself a Nutritarian and recommends his Nutritarian diet. I do not follow the nutritarian diet – the 80/20 rule applies to me here! However, the information in this book is of great value because it is scientifically based and focused on reversing disease.
“I wrote Eat for Life to show the overwhelming accumulation of evidence that a Nutritarian diet has amazing healing powers to reverse even the most serious illnesses. Welcome to the future of natural healing.” – Dr. Joel Fuhram
PlantYou – Carleigh Bodrug is a fun-loving plant enthusiast with an amazingly easy-to-follow cookbook. You can find her on Instagram at @PlantYou sharing her recipes and tips on plant-based eating.
PlantYou, 140+ Ridiculously Easy, Plant-Based, Oil-Free Recipes. “In the easy infographic style you know and love, guaranteed to be the simplest plant-based recipes you will ever enjoy for breakfast, lunch, dinner, cheese sauces and dessert.” -Carleigh Bodrug
What are unhealthy foods you should avoid as much as possible?
The best diet for autoimmune disease avoids artificial, processed, unpronounceable, and unrecognizable “foods.” I use the term “foods” in quotation marks because they are not real food but are foods that have chemicals or other things added to them to be more shelf stable, addictive and comforting.
These foods include white bread, chips, soda, candy, crackers, muffins, cookies, etc. Of course, these are some of my favorites, so I listed them here. I crave these foods. Do you desire any of these foods like me? These highly processed foods are best to be extremely limited. Some of these foods are cleverly disguised as health foods, such as wheat bread, which looks brown but is just white bread in disguise. Other examples are protein bars or breakfast bars that are just candy bars under a healthy marketing wrapper.
Try to limit high sugar and high-fat foods. Even good fats in excess are too much fat for our bodies to process. I recommend tracking your caloric intake for a week just so you can become aware of the number of calories, protein, fat, and carbohydrates you consume. After years of fighting the advice to track my calories, I finally did it and was shocked at the number of calories and fat I ate. After diligently tracking for one week of my regular foods, I was in disbelief.
Using the MyFitnessPal app to look up or scan all the foods I consumed was straightforward. So please try this exercise for one week just for awareness. Maybe your numbers will be great! If so, celebrate!
The 80/20 rule helps take away the drama of healthy eating
The best diet for autoimmune disease is doing what works for you best every day for 80% of the time.
I believe it isn’t easy to eat 100% healthy 100% of the time in our society. So, I have adopted the 80/20 rule of healthy eating. Knowing that I will not be eating healthy foods 100% of the time takes away the mind drama surrounding food. I have less stress and a better handle on what to eat and what not to eat. I know that if I make an unhealthy choice, I will practice healthier choices next time.
We will all have food situations outside of our control, such as parties to attend, dinners out with friends and family, and holidays.
So, what is the best diet for autoimmune disease?
So, what is the best diet for autoimmune disease? The best diet for you incorporates water and nutrient-dense, low-fat whole food. What small change will you make to step closer to a healthy diet? Try the 80/20 rule approach, eat more plants and less processed food. Try to track your calories for one week just to become aware of your eating habits. Feed your mind, body, and soul with nutrients for health, energy, and managing autoimmune symptoms.
To create a healthy diet, what do you need to work on in the water, fruits, veggies, legumes, and low-fat protein areas?