Diana’s Story: The Journey Out

It had come to the point where there was no way to get up the steps to the second floor of my house except crawling. My knees, elbows and fingers were in constant pain.

My name is Diana. I am in remission from rheumatoid arthritis, and I am sharing my story with Suppers, where my mom is a facilitator.

My joint pain went on for over five years, and the only medicine that helped of the many I tried was Humira, an injectable anti-inflammatory drug that is prescribed for an assortment of autoimmune diseases. About four and a half years ago, I started the Paleo diet, a way of eating that includes only foods that closely resemble the meats, plants and seafood available tens of thousands of years ago. The month-long experiment was actually a challenge at my crossfit box. I noticed my energy improving, my percentage of body fat decreasing and my stamina, strength and endurance rising as I ate and exercised. I became a lean machine, with my body effortlessly processing all the wonderful foods I was giving it and sending everything I ate to the right place, creating a new me.

I continued eating Paleo even after the challenge had ended. I began to notice that when I would sometimes forget to take my Humira shot every other week, I was still feeling OK. So I ran my own experiments, stretching out the time between shots to three or four weeks, then only as needed, and sometimes going as long as two months between shots. The long term effects of Humira are not known. And while I’m extremely grateful to have had this medicine as a bridge to good health, I didn’t want to be on it the rest of my life. My new way of eating and living would carry me beautifully into a ripe old age.

Next I decided to try auto-immune paleo to see if I could get off my meds entirely. AIP is a strict application of paleo principles used by people who must heal their gut mucosa in order to heal their autoimmune disease. It starts with lots of vegetables, limited fruits, grassfed meats and clean poultry and fish, as well as beneficial fats and oils. There’s more to it, but the idea is that if you adhere 100% to foods that are anti-inflammatory in your particular body, you will experience what Suppers calls a “logical miracle”, the turnaround of a disease that others believe irreversible. I went cold turkey off my meds, even Advil.

During my AIP experiment, my doctor was honest with me. He said he really couldn’t offer me any advice because they didn’t teach him nutrition in med school. I knew that already, but I was so impressed with his honesty. He cheered me on! Can you imagine, a doctor in the role of cheerleader for a patient on a journey into food? What’s more, he asked questions about what and how I was accomplishing this! At each four-month visit, he admitted his amazement by my progress. It was a bittersweet moment for us both when, at my last visit, he said he didn’t need to see me again.

There is a box of Humira pens still in my fridge, someplace behind the kale and grassfed lamb. Maybe it’s a safety net. Maybe it’s expired. Maybe it’s a badge of honor reminding me of what once was and what I was able to conquer.

When people ask me about reversing a chronic degenerative disease, I tell them to try paleo for 30 days.

It’s only 30 days.         

Prepare, prepare, prepare. Do it strictly. Get all the crap out of your system and see how you feel, but you have to give yourself the full month and you have to do it strictly to know if this is what will work for you. You can do anything for 30 days!

Paleo provided me with the tools to create a new me. I want to shout it from the rafters, “It’s the food!” It’s the food that robs us of vitality and sets our joints on fire.

I love sharing my story. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished through the simple act of changing how I live. And I love being a resource for people who grab life and intend to be well.