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When a Diet Doesn’t Heal Chronic Illness

When a Diet Doesn't Heal - Allergy Free AlaskaI’m struggling emotionally. I’m in physical pain, yes, because of my psoriatic arthritis and spondylitis, but mentally I’m beating myself up. I’m grieving. Grieving the idea that some days I. Just. Can’t. I can’t continue with treating this illness with diet alone and I’m on the brink of heading into my rheumatologist’s office and asking to be put on another biologic (Embrel or Simponi to be exact). I’ve been gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, mostly corn-free, and processed food-free for over 5 years now. I’ve tried the vegan way of eating, I’ve done the Paleo diet, I’ve used essential oils, etc. I’ve fought long and hard, and yet today… it’s still not enough. I make nearly everything from scratch, I’ve made fermented foods, soaked grains, avoided night shades, switched all of my soaps/cleaners/makeup to gluten-free and pure ingredients, and even still… it’s not enough. We went through a long period of time where we only bought organic foods. I’ve spent out the wazoo for various supplements, herbals, curcumin (tumeric in high doses), fish oils, D3, etc… It still wasn’t enough. 

Allergy Free Alaska - When a Diet Doesn't HealWhat do you do when a diet doesn’t heal chronic illness? When it’s just not enough?  

While I can’t tell you specifically what to do (because only you really know what’s best for you), here’s what I’m doing: I’m grieving, I’m praying, and I’m thinking very seriously about waving my white flag and asking for the heavy-duty medications I never wanted to be put on. Embrel and Simponi are medications given by injection. Embrel is a once a week injection, while Simponi is a once a month injection. They are chemotherapy drugs, as they lower your immune system and make it more difficult for your body to fight infection. The list of side effects are long; however, they have proven to be effective in slowing down the progression of long-term joint damage for those of us with chronic auto-immune arthritis. I just want some relief. Long-term relief and a break from the pain. 

I’m trying very hard to overcome the negative talk in my head saying, “Whatever you try, it just isn’t enough.” That’s been very difficult, because I’ve busted my butt trying. I feel like I’m letting myself down admitting to my doctor I’m struggling, really struggling, that I just can’t handle the pain, nausea, and exhaustion anymore. I realize I’m being overly critical of myself, but I imagine there are also others out there struggling with similar emotions.  I know in my heart of hearts my God will take care of me – whatever happens, and I need to depend on Him instead of myself. I’ll always pray for my miracle, but my disappointment still lingers. I’m human, and I’m struggling and praying my way through it. 

Great post - When a Diet Doesn't Heal from Allergy Free Alaska

On top of my own personal disappointments, there are continuous comments from others that seems to always drive the stake in further:

“Well then obviously you’re not using the oils right, or not using the correct ones.”
“You need to use X brand of oils instead of Y brand. X brand is far superior.” 
“You haven’t tried Paleo long enough.”
“You need to try the GAPS diet and stick to it until you’re healed.”
“You or your family must have committed a horrible sin for you to be so sick.”
“You should be doing the Paleo Auto-Immune Protocol.”
“Whole 30 will cure you if you stick to it long enough.” 
“If you’re not eating 100% organic, how can you expect to feel well?” 
“I heard tart cherry juice and apple cider vinegar will cure arthritis.”

Please understand, some individuals have success using oils (no matter what brand), the diets mentioned above, and I fully support eating organic foods. My point is, just because something specific has worked for you, doesn’t mean it will work the same for the next person, or heal their diseases. Removing allergens from my diet and eating non-processed, whole foods gave me the ability to function for several years. And I truly believe my health would be worse off today had I not changed my eating habits. Essential oils and some of the supplements also helped. So why the recent change? I don’t know. Maybe it’s just the disease progressing? My current stress level? Being busier than normal? All of the above? My guess is as good as yours. I just know that I’m reaching my wits end and I’m feeling like I’m running out of natural options. It’s frustrating. 

What about you? Have you been in a similar situation? 

“Don’t make me adult today. Please don’t make me adult.”
~Author Unknown 

UPDATED- To read an update on this story, please see Part 2: When a Diet Doesn’t Heal Chronic Illness

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Saturday 13th of February 2016

I'm definitely feeling these emotions right now. I'm really having a tough time with food reactions right now. Wheat (or gluten) seem to be the principal suspects. I cut gluten over three years ago believing I reacted to it. Now, I'm dealing with exposures about every other day or so. I now believe I have a food allergy because I can take an antihistamine and feel better. My wheat allergy blood test came back as a Class 1, and a skin test I had for it nearly four years ago came back negative. No other allergy tests to this point have been positive at all. There are other foods I'm avoiding that have not been tested. I truly believe I'm reacting to traces from one of the foods I'm avoiding, and wheat makes the most sense. Over time I seem to get symptoms from smaller and smaller traces, and I wonder if it will ever stop. It seems no matter what I do or try, I keep having continuous exposures. Unfortunately, the antihistamine doesn't help with all symptoms, and I still get nasty acne breakouts from them. I'm a 38-year-old woman, for crying out loud. I get depressed about this and want to give up too. I wonder if I'm going to have to accept that the conditions I've been trying to fix will never go away and that the exposures are always going to happen. I so badly want to go back to my old life. Thankfully, God has taken care of me, and I haven't had to go long struggling to find causes of exposures. I hope I was able to help you feel that you're not alone, that I'm out there struggling with you, although our issues are different. Your post was definitely helpful for me, and thank you for posting it.

Tiffany H

Wednesday 23rd of December 2015

Please, please, please read Louise Hay's "You Can Heal Your Life". She discusses the mental and emotional causes of illness and disease in the body. Going through chronic pain and illness myself, this book has been a godsend. Diet, supplements and lifestyle can only go so far, which I am currently learning. I did it too, looked for everything under the sun to relieve my chronic pain and heal me. The underlying emotional issues and negative thought patterns were not being healed, and so my body was not healing. I know this may sound a little weird to many of you but please take a look at Louise's book. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Also, look up the documentary "E-motion" and "The Connection". There is a plethora of scientific evidence to support the mind-body connection now, that our thoughts create our circumstances. The effects of stress on the body.

You can do this. I know it's hard. We CAN heal, and more often than not (although we're not taught this in western society) it has to come from the inside out.


Sunday 18th of October 2015

Thank you for a very heartfelt post. I have been on biologics for over 10 years and they have given me my life back. And to those people who say to me "I would never go on those drugs" (this happened again just last week) you are so lucky that you are not ill enough. When you are ill enough you will probably beg to go on them. In my case it was, anything please for some relief. I inject Enbrel weekly with no problem and no obvious side effects. Humira was excellent for the first few years but sadly it became less effective after a few years. It is obviously your call but you may be pleasantly surprised.

Kristi Paskett

Friday 28th of August 2015

Sometimes we can to earth accepting certain hardships, others we have put on ourselves subconsciously. Have you heard of energy healing? It's pretty cool stuff. It clears up the energetic stance behind our physical issues allowing our body to heal. Have you read the book Feelings Buried Alive Never Die? That is a good book. I know about energy healing if you want more info.


Saturday 15th of August 2015

Megan my friend. Thank you for this honest and raw post! I can understand how you feel and I have been there...I'm there most of the time! Listen, I take medication for Crohn's (Lialda). It works...sometimes. But diet alone has never helped me in my situation 100%. I've been in remission for about 10 weeks now and I have no idea why. It's so crazy and confusing. I am eating the same, taking the medications, living my busy-ass life. The only thing I have been doing is lots of daily stress reduction (stress is a trigger for me) and taking cod liver oil (that is honestly the only two additions this summer). But diet, I have no idea anymore what is going to help...and like you, I've tried it all girl. Sometimes you need to just go to the drugs and see if they will help. You never know. If it gives you relief, take it! And don't beat yourself up for taking the medications...don't feel like you are giving up or giving in. If you can feel good, do it! Science can be a good thing.

I will read the rest of your facebook to catch up and see how you are doing. But know you're not alone. Like I said, most days I am in miserable pain and can't leave the house, can't be a mom, can't go to work, can't live. And it's freaking depression.

Try anything you can to live your live. You have so much to give. I'm thinking about you!

Big hugs, --Amber