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Diet & chronic illness: How do you know which diet is best for you?

If you google 'diets for chronic illness' or 'autoimmune disease diets' you are flooded with pages saying - insert diet name- is THE diet to follow and then another website says a different diet will CURE you, whilst another immediately after will contradict both previous pages and say that diet will WORSEN your illness.

I really believe that to help whatever chronic illness you have, you need to use a holistic approach at both how you understand your body as well as how you treat it. No symptoms should be assessed in isolation and equally I doubt there is ever 'one cure' for anything and treatment needs to come from multiple methods. Looking at your diet is a logical step in working with your body to support it in the best way possible. However, knowing where to start can be daunting and confusing!

My Diet

I have never been a foodie - nausea and gut problems dictate my appetite and I have 'seasons' of liking food or just eating enough to survive. I have been vegetarian since I was very young, and even before that I only ever liked chicken nuggets and sausages (the least meaty-meats). I've never liked the taste or texture of meat so going without was very easy. I transitioned to being plant based a few years ago due to my growing awareness of the environmental and health benefits - I still have normal chocolate though!

I decided a few months back I wanted to ensure I was supporting my body in the best way possible. After reading multiple books and stressful google searches about different diets I gave up knowing where to start. One book suggested that going vegan CURED lupus. However, as I had been vegan for the last 2 years and GOT lupus I highly doubted that it would help me. To add to the confusion I wasn't sure whether to follow the diet for my bladder, lupus or for gastroparesis - they all seemed to contradict each other! I have tried low-fod map without any life changing results and was on a low-residue post-op last year too. With so many options I decided I needed some support and made an appointment with a nutritionist.

My nutritionist has been and continues to be amazing and she knows so much! She explained to me that I need to be 100% gluten free (check out this article which provides great information why) and since then I have been 99% gluten free (it sneaks into a few vegan products). She has also helped me lower my carbs, ensure I get a full range of amino acids from plant based foods and start me on supplements to support my gut. She also agreed with my new urology consultant who wanted me to try a 'low histamine liberator' diet. So currently I am a gluten free low carb vegan on a low histamine liberator diet. The dream dinner party guest ;)

Your Diets

I thought it would be interesting to know which diets every one else has tried or is currently on. Thank you for everyone that gave up their time to do so, these results were from 70 people - hope you find the results interesting. I had heard of most of the diets but looked up a few, I have included the definition of each below:

I think this shows that even though many of us have overlapping conditions, there is no 'one diet' that is perfect or fits all. We are all different so its often a slow process of trial and error working out what suits our bodies the best. I think with nutrition it can be so easy to become obsessively strict with a certain diet or way of eating, but I think listening to your body and being flexible is equally as important. Everyones gut does need variety (except gluten is like the devil for autoimmune conditions apparently) and I know personally sometimes the option of 'rebelling' and being normal is good for me mentally!

Overall from reading up about the above diets, they tend to share the same underlying core values. Cut out the processed and sugary foods and go back to natural wholesome food like in the old days! I think this would help everyone if we all ate the way nature intended, not just those of us with chronic illnesses (and perhaps prevent more autoimmune conditions if you believe in the leaky gut theory). Until then I will keep getting weird looks in restaurants when I ask for a gluten free vegan Margherita pizza but with no tomato because #histamine.

Lots of love, Zoe xx

P.S. I am not a nutritionist dietician or in any way qualified to provide nutritional advice. I advise you to please check with your medical professionals before drastically changing your diet.

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