Saturday, 1 August 2015



Just this week on Instagram, I referred to the fact that I don't drink wine or champagne because I suffer from Arthritis.  

A couple of Insta friends  have enquired about this.

I hadn't ever planned on writing about my Arthritis, but perhaps it might be a way of helping others out there who suffer from this debilitating disease.

When I was in my early 30's,  I started suffering severe back pain.  This pain, which usually came on after a couple of hours of going to sleep,  was at its worst late during the night and  first thing in the morning.   The pain was so severe some mornings and indeed  some nights, that the doctor had to be called in as I could not move.  

  I took boxes of anti-inflammatories which helped, of course, but one cannot live on these drugs and I still have stomach problems as a result of taking so many at that time.    I visited Orthopedic Surgeons, Homeopaths, Naturopaths and Osteopaths but couldn't find any answers and certainly no relief.  

As time moved on,  the pain presented in my hips, knees as well as my back.  Eventually,  in desperation some years later,  I visited yet another Orthopedic Surgeon.  This surgeon ordered every test under the sun and the conclusion was that there was nothing wrong with my spine/bones,  but that my problem was inflammatory.  He sent me to a Rheumatologist who diagnosed "Psoriatic Arthropathy"... which slots into the Rheumatoid group or Arthritis.

He diagnosed a lifetime use of  immune suppressant drugs as well as a continued program of anti-inflammatories.  I was devastated!

I decided that I simply could not take  all these drugs.   I began doing research, which back then was not as easy as it is now!  Nonetheless,   I came across information which explained that one's body reacts directly to certain foods/drinks.  This  reaction to certain foods and drinks  could inflame or worsen many Auto-Immune diseases such as Asthma, Arthritis, Migraine and many more.

At this time,  I was taking Anti-inflammatory suppositories every second night and pain killers.  My stomach couldn't tolerate the anti-inflammatory drugs after years of taking them orally.   I had hip pain, my knees were swollen, and I was extremely stiff.  

The pain often  got worse for no apparent reason.  Our son was at school in the UK,  and I noticed that I would experience severe flare-ups whenever we visited London and stayed at our favourite hotel there.  It was only when things began to dawn on me that I realised what the London flare-ups were all about!  Freshly squeezed orange juice was available by the jugful every morning.  Their coffee was delicious and strong.  I would have at least two glasses of orange juice with my coffee on an empty stomach every morning.  After two days of being there,  I would be in agony.  
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Slowly but surely I worked out which  foods and drinks were affecting me negatively    What I  discovered,  is that whatever one puts into one's mouth on an EMPTY stomach,  can have a very significant effect.  So, coffee at breakfast before eating, or a glass of wine before eating,  can have double the negative impact.    These negative effects do NOT appear the next morning as some people believe,  but rather after 30 - 48 hours.  When I experience a flare-up,  I have to think back 48 hours as to what I've drunk or eaten...

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I eventually began my carefully planned food and drink elimination program.  I was very determined and did not eat/drink anything on the banned list. Amazingly, I became PAIN-FREE
after only two weeks,  although I was still incredibly stiff. I was astounded but still nervous that it could all flare-up again.    

I found a personal trainer who specialised in stretching,  and after a month of stretching three times a week,  I felt almost "normal" again.  It was a miracle!  My joints were no longer swollen,  I felt younger than I had felt in years.  I was over-joyed!
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Over the years,  so many people have asked for advice on how to avoid flare-ups or how to alleviate their pain.  It is NOT easy.  It requires huge self-discipline.  I often 'fall off the wagon'  and when I do,  I pay for it.  

My disease has NOT gone away but is controlled by what I choose to avoid.  

I have found that WINE, VINEGAR AND CHEESE are my biggest enemies.  Anything fermented is a no-no for me.  

I  drink a huge amount of water, at least two litres a day.   If I don't - and this is easy to do, especially in winter,  I experience pain and stiffness. 

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I am in no way trying to advise replacing some of the drugs which are necessary for some people with extreme or advanced Rheumatoid Arthritis.  What I strongly believe, however,   is that one's diet can be directly  responsible for creating flare-ups.

Everyone is different and what might cause a flare-up for me could be different for others.


What I have often advised friends to do is to start a food diary.  This is imperative if personal food testing is to work.  To begin with,   I suggest setting aside a two-week detox/ test period when ALL suspicious foods are strictly avoided.   This will have to be planned in advance,  as it is no good if there is a social function to attend etc.  Give yourself these two weeks as it will prove to be invaluable.  Hopefully,  after this period,  you will have a far better understanding of what foods/drinks to avoid.    

One can then re-introduce one food or drink at a time only every TWO days, to ascertain if any one of them has an inflammatory effect.  I usually ask friends what their favourite food/drink is .. what they feel they cannot live without!  This food or drink is usually one of the biggest culprits!

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I couldn't believe the difference in my life when I gave up drinking wine.   I used to love wine - especially with dinner,  but why would I continue drinking it if pain and misery are the outcome.    I now have one whisky most evenings, and perhaps a couple if I am out socially.    I have a small tot,  with lots of ice and lots of sparkling water and even though whisky a fermented product,  it doesn't affect me negatively.   Whisky isn't as delicious as wine,  but it's a drink I've grown to like.  I know there are so many wine lovers out there.  Wine is so woven into our lifestyle.  Giving up wine will, for most people be nigh on impossible.  It is a choice!

I will list the foods/drinks that are MY enemies.  Please be advised, however,  that what works for me might not work for you.  

Firstly, a word about salad dressings.  This is always a problem when going out.  Most restaurants/chefs include vinegar in their salad dressings.  

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Lemons are alkaline forming in the body and create the perfect acidity required for a dressing.  Lemons are the Arthritic's friend.  Hot lemon water upon rising has very beneficial effects.  I use lemons liberally in my cooking and NEVER buy vinegar.

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Coffee is not my best friend,  but as I really love coffee,  I find that limiting myself to one or two small coffees a day is OK.  I drink  a small Nespresso at home and when out,  order a short black with hot milk on the side.  Drinking large coffees is probably not a good idea.

I eat lots and lots of Papaya.  This beautiful fruit is gentle and delicious. I eat papaya most mornings with full cream yogurt and ground seeds and almonds.  I also love quinoa flake porridge with Manuka honey, banana and  nuts.  I have a small coffee with my breakfast,  but ONLY after a few mouthfuls of the fruit.  If you are interested, please ask about the seeds and I will write another post about them.  They are wonderful in keeping one regular and have huge health benefits. 
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I eat ripe bananas and pears.  Unfortunately,  those are the only fruits that I can tolerate as berries, are far too acidic. 

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I eat lots of nuts, particularly almonds.  I add them to salads, Quinoa, couscous and fruit.

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I try to restrict eating meat to twice a week. I eat vegetarian meals at least once or twice a week and fish as often as I can, especially salmon which I adore.  Chicken is also a favourite

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Green leafy vegetables, tossed in my delicious salad dressing or with lemon juice and olive oil are delicious and very well tolerated.  

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Plenty of fresh herbs are perfect. Lots and lots of organic broccoli, capsicum, cucumber and zucchini are part of my diet.   I often roast onions, capsicum, zucchini, butternut, parsnips, sweet potato, asparagus and garlic in Coconut oil and it's delicious!

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The more vegetables the better.

I eat loads of butternut squash and avocados. 

Quinoa with chopped raw vegetables, topped with avocado is delicious.  Bean salads and lots of home-made hummus is always on the go in my home. 
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I try to avoid potatoes as I've heard that they can be acid forming. Onions and garlic are fine.  

Tumeric has fantastic anti-inflammatory properties.  Great the root over salads and sprinkle all foods liberally with the powder.

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Here are the foods that I avoid.

Wine, champagne, sherry, gin, beer and VINEGAR
All fermented foods (especially cheese).
All berries (sadly) This took the longest time to      discover

All citrus EXCEPT lemons
Pineapples, apples, kiwi fruit, grapes.
Bread (I am allergic to the yeast)
Tinned tomatoes (the occasional fresh tomato is 

Rich reduced sauces.
Dried fruit - I have to pick out the raisins and dried fruit often found in muesli
Curries and Chilli
All bottled sauces and sauces used in Asian cuisine  especially  chutneys, Soy sauce.

Biscuits, cakes, chocolate etc should be kept to a minimum, once the initial two week detox period has finished.

This all sounds very dismal I know but honestly,  there is so much to eat without the list above!  I know that the possibility of eliminating wine and cheese will be disappointing but this is a choice and if it helps then why not?  I find travelling and eating out at restaurants tricky.  There always has to be a conversation about exact ingredients and that can be very tiresome.  Eating at home is obviously easier and it is fortunate that I enjoy cooking!
I've included some pics of salads etc that I have prepared, as inspiration.    

My favourite meal of the day!

Nuts, and vegetables sliced in strips add variation
Roast vegetables are delicious
Kedgeree is one of my favourite meals
Eggs are perfect!  I always order this omelette from Bistro Moncur in Sydney!
Smoked Salmon (in moderation for me)  is always delicious accompanied by loads of chopped vegetables and butter lettuce.

I was forced to have a double hip replacement last year.  This was due to Osteo-Arthritis (I suffer two different types of Arthritis).  But the important thing to understand here,  is that I have managed this awful disease DRUG-FREE for the past 25 years!  

I do hope this helps some of you and please don't hesitate to ask questions.  I will be more than happy to answer them.  Sorry that this is such a long post.  

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