I have been looking quite carefully at what I eat lately. I’ve even been keeping a food diary. This is quite eye opening, as there is a discrepancy between what I think I eat and what I actually eat.
The reason for being mildly obsessed about food is because of the rheumatoid arthritis. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to see if food makes a difference to it, and maybe help shift the few kilos I have put on since I stopped running.
There’s no clear direction from research on whether diet affects RA. At the same time, there’s quite a lot of emerging research on the relationship between gut health, the immune system and general wellbeing, and in any event, given that food is our energy source, it stands to reason that what we eat will have some kind of impact on our health.
There are endless theories about what kinds of foods exacerbate RA, and even more opinions about what food group one should eliminate in order to ‘cure’ it and every other malady of modern living. Generally I just get annoyed when people start talking about going gluten/ dairy/ grain/ meat/ food free as it all seems pretty random and seems to depend on how baffled they were by the (pseudo)science of whoever was writing the book they read and how many letters s/he had after her name.
But for all that, I think there is one fairly obvious Baddie in the modern diet and that is sugar. It has no redeeming nutritional qualities. It just seems to cause misery and mayhem internally, upsetting the balance of everything else. And on top of that, it’s pretty addictive.
I don’t think my diet is particularly high in sugar to begin with — I don’t add it to drinks, I never drink soft drinks or fruit juice, and I’m not the kind to finish a packet of biscuits at a sitting – I’ll stop at 2 (biscuits, not packets). But I have noticed lately I’ve been prone to buying a sweet “treat” to follow my lunch (note to self: it’s not a ‘treat’ if you have it every day). This behaviour is something of a red flag, as when it happens I know that something is out of kilter with my energy. Well, I know that: fatigue is my new normal and has been for the past 18 months, largely due to the medications. But the desire for sugar at lunchtime tells me something else is going wayward, and I also know that whatever it is, sugar is not the answer and is only going to make matters worse.
But Christmas is a terrible time to go sugar free, primarily on account of mince pies. So, like all good diets, it’ll start properly after Christmas.