Hello Veggies, Goodbye Arthritis

By Guest Blogger   |  32Comments|

Hello! I am a 43 year old stay at home mom to two beautiful daughters ages 6 ½ and 23 months. These girls keep me hopping, which means I need to be pain free and full of energy, not a small feat for someone with rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition that involves inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissues. Symptoms include fatigue, stiffness, weakness, anemia, limited range of motion, and inflammation in the lining of joints which results in swollen joints and, therefore, pain in the joints. Joint pain is often felt on both sides of the body, and may affect the fingers, wrists, elbows, shoulders, hips, knees, ankles, toes, and neck.

I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis 11 years ago and was put on several medications for it. The medications relieved the symptoms, but after being on them for several years I began to realize that all those drugs were not good for my body, so I began to experiment with eliminating various foods and types of foods from my diet. Amazingly enough, I found that my flare-ups could be directly tied to consuming certain foods. First to go was pork followed by cow’s milk and red meat and, eventually, almost all processed foods and dairy. Once these changes were made, I found that I would still have occasional flare-ups and was able to relate it directly to something I had eaten, particularly sugar (much to my dismay!). My father sent me a juicer, so in addition to eliminating various foods from my diet, I began to juice vegetables and some fruits several times a week and noticed an increased amount of relief from the RA symptoms and began to feel energized and just really great!

I began my journey down the road of natural and homeopathic remedies and began to seek out resources for this new lifestyle that I knew I would need to pursue and adopt in order to achieve total freedom from both the drugs and the arthritis. That’s when I found Kris Carr. I read about Kris and her “Crazy, Sexy Life” movement, if you will, in a magazine and have been hooked on her ever since! The results she achieved from completely changing her lifestyle and diet were amazing and I continue to be inspired by her energy, enthusiasm and devotion to helping others. After converting to an almost 100% vegetarian diet (I still eat fish and chicken occasionally and am trying to eliminate them altogether) and incorporating regular cardiovascular workouts, yoga and acupuncture into my life as well, I was able to discontinue all of my RA meds and have been med-free for over a year and a half now!

Even when I was on the medication, I lacked energy and at times still had trouble doing basic things such as using a can opener or even washing my hair. By making these changes to my lifestyle – and they weren’t all at once, it has taken about three years to reach this point – I am not only energetic and pain free, but without the use of medication. I would never have thought it possible! Of course I wish I had known the impact food has on the body 11 years ago, but better late than never, right?!

I will begin a 200 hour yoga certification training program starting in January, 2010. Without the significant changes in my lifestyle over the past three years, this would not be possible, especially without any medication. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to overcome the limitations of RA as well as pursue my new passion for yoga and I hope to inspire and help others with what I have learned.

Vicki Sanford is a married 43 year old stay at home mom to two beautiful daughters, ages 6 and 23 months, living in South Jordan, Utah.  She grew up and lived in North Carolina for most of her life and has found that home truly is where the heart is!

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32 responses to Hello Veggies, Goodbye Arthritis
  1. Great story, Vicki! So glad you got to share it! Best wishes with your yoga training!

  2. I am tired of living w RA and on top of that fibermyagil. I have also tested posted twice for lupus. I hurt want to cry on have a very hard time doing day to day activites. I take alot of medication. It only helps so much. I am a stay at home mom with 3 kids under the age of 6. I am 34 yeas old.

  3. Hi Vicki, I wanted to ask you how you began an elimination diet. Do you just pick a food to cut out? I have had RA for 15 years and I am really getting tired of all of medication I am on. Thanks!

  4. My food choices have dramatically affected the course of my MS. I was diagnosed three years ago and have since cut out all meat,seafood and most dairy. Sugar is tough but when I keep it out of my diet, I feel so much better!

  5. I cannot believe my good fortune in finding this blog today. :)

    I struggle with multiple food intolerances due to undiagnosed Celiac disease and/or gluten sensitivity (or whatever other name for it there can be, lol). Joint pain and anemia have been my biggest problems, as well as fatigue and other symptoms. I have been working (not very steadfastly, but trying) on an elimination diet. I already know what things really bother me, such as sugar, yeast, dairy, turkey, nightshades… The list of things I *can* eat has been shrinking, though. Yesterday, I decided to try some pork as I had just been eating chicken for weeks on end. I thought, “Hey, it should be okay.” However, I woke up this morning at 4 am with the worst pain in my neck and shoulder area. I could not go back to sleep because of the pain. I have not been able to move my head because of the pain and stiffness. It has been so bad today that I have just wanted to cry when I think about it/notice it. I was thinking, “What on earth could have caused this?” and then I saw that pork was the first food you have had to cut out with RA (which I suspect I might have in conjunction with whatever else is going on with the gluten, orrr maybe RA *is* my core problem, or Celiac and RA, lol. Anyways, I hope to figure it all out one day).

    I kinda started crying again after reading this, but this time with a bit of relief! I have just looked up a bunch of information on RA and intolerances, and now know that pork is still probably going to be off the list of things I can eat.

    Thank you so much for posting this. I felt not so alone by reading this today.

    Some people in comments are asking about how to do an elimination and rotation diet: I have been working with the book Food Allergies and Food Intolerances by Jonathan Brostoff, MD and Linda Gamlin. It is a very practical and helpful book in understanding food intolerance and how to proceed with an elimination diet. There are also wonderful resources on the internet, including this site!

    Good luck to everyone, and thank you again.

  6. I just wanted to clarify this a little bit in case anyone is confused by what I wrote: “I struggle with multiple food intolerances due to undiagnosed Celiac disease and/or gluten sensitivity”

    I have not had access to health insurance and medical care over the past few months, but was becoming more ill since spring of this year. A friend of mine gave me a tip based on my complaints to research auto-immune disease, especially Celiac Disease. Upon researching, and upon doing an elimination diet, I now know I do not tolerate gluten. Whether this is “officially” Celiac or not, I may never know for sure (because of the limitations of current testing).

    I wanted to encourage people, though, to NOT just self-diagnose, as I have had to do based on my situation. Find an empathetic health care professional to guide you through things like an elimination diet and proper testing for things like Celiac and RA if at all possible.

    But, too, take matters into your own hands as well by advocating for yourself and looking into things like food and diet to help your body. I know this is helping me, and one day I hope to find a health care professional who can help me tie up the loose knots with coming to a more certain diagnosis!

    I am sorry to “blog in your blog,” but I re-read what I wrote and felt I should add the above.

    Thank you again. :)

  7. CONGRATs on your awesome healing progress! Diet DOES make a big difference in healing. I also take systemic enzymes & MSM for other health reasons than RA, but I’ve found that they are a great help for joint pain too. When I’ve temporarily run out of these supplements, I can feel the difference in my body & I’m a much happier camper once I start taking them again.

  8. great story, vicki! again reminding me that it can take a few years to mend on a healthy diet. so inspiring to see you with kids, too.

  9. Such an inspiring story! Bitt, it does take time… i had times I was so discouraged but it takes the body a while to heal.

  10. I really appreciate all of the nice comments! The most important thing to remember is that it does take time – and sometimes a lot of it – for the body to heal but the good news is that it can and it will! It’s just easier to tackle one or two changes at a time and the effects just snowball. When you start feeling the difference in your body as a result of the changes, it motivates you to make even more. And, like you mentioned, Karin, you’ll find when you try something you’ve previously eliminated sometimes the impact is even more harsh, like you felt with the pork. I have also found that it doesn’t take nearly as much of something to feel the negative impact after having eliminated it. I wish for you all the very best as you continue your path to optimum health!

  11. Great blog! My boyfriend was diagnosed with an extremely severe case of reactionary arthritis in his mid 20s. The medications ruined his insides so much that he couldn’t even have advil to ease the pain. He finally agreed to going vegan for three months… Three months to the day his arthritis was GONE and we ran 11 miles to celebrate. That was almost a year ago- he’s remained vegan and free of arthritis ever since!

  12. Awesome post:)

  13. Lots of comments about eliminating sugar. Wanted to share a gold nugget I found about a year ago when studying low-glycemic diets: Xylitol. Xylitol is a plant-derived sugar-alcohol. It doesn’t produce spikes in blood sugar, so it’s low glycemic. It has a fresh aftertaste. And, believe it or not, it kills bacteria. Chewing Xylitol gum actually helps guard against cavities!
    It’s pricey, but a little goes a long way. Might want to give it a try.

  14. I came across this blog and wanted to post. I empathize with all of those who have posted. I have Ankylosing Spondylitis, a juvenile arthritis that is related to RA, etc. I was diagnosed shortly after being dropped from my parents insurance so I was forced to find my own treatment. I settled on vitamin D and apple cider vinegar. The ACV tastes terrible, but has really changed my life. I felt like I was falling to pieces, but am now able to live a normal, pain-free life. I’d like everyone to consider drinking apple cider vinegar mixed with water twice daily if you are in pain. It’s my wonder drug (without any negative side effects).

  15. I think this is one of the most important newly-emerging fields in medicine: immunosupportive and immunomodulatory nutrition. I have always had a huge problem with the way autoimmune conditions are handled by traditional medicine: beyond symptom control, there lie only drugs to suppress and inhibit various aspects of the immune system. One of the strongest medications out there right now for Crohn’s disease and RA is infliximab, an antibody which binds to a signaling molecule called TNFa. TNF– or tumor necrosis factor– is involved in the inflammation response, but it also (as its name suggests) provokes the immune system to kill nascent cancer cells. Consequently, a possible side effect of the drug is leukemia. As if this weren’t enough, the drug is “harvested” from the tumors of mice in whom multiple myeloma (cancer of the blood plasma, where antibodies are) was induced.

    This is not acceptable to me. I can’t get behind the idea of using such destructive drugs to treat diseases that are based in something as intricately self-regulated and nuanced as the immune system. It’s not an infection that will go away. It’s a living thing that– when imbalanced– needs to be regulated through the most basic, foundational means. Nutrition is one of the best ways I can think of to regulate something so deeply ingrained as the immune system. Another relevant and fascinating nascent field is psychoneuroimmunology.

    Phew! That was long. It makes me so glad to see people taking the time to care for their own bodies the way they should be, instead of relying so heavily on pharmaceutical corporations to tell them what their bodies need.

  16. I was diagnosed with sero-negative RA about 3 years ago and dutifully took my medicines until I nearly died from the side effects. I subsequently went on a pretty strict macrobiotic diet, gave up dairy and gluten products, started doing yoga and added a wide range of supplements, including fish oil and vit D. I’ve been able to stop taking everything except the enbrel, which ‘leandra’ cautions against. Altho’ I am absolutely horrified by how the drug is made and the possibility of developing another serious illness, I worry more about the possibility of further joint damage and increased pain.

  17. I have suffered from arthritis since I was 16 and never realized that there was anything I was able to do about it. I have always just ignored the pain and refused to take medication not wanting to suffer side effects, considering I have always lived a very active lifestyle. It wasn’t until I turned 24 that a friend of mine who moved to california studying cairopractitioning called me and told me I could elivate alot of my symptoms by giving up either nuts or dairy (either being an allergy). Which I ignored for a year. I have been a vegetarian since I was 15 but when I gave up dairy at 25 and became a vegan my life changed… I have been pain free since… It has truley been amazing I biked almost 400 miles around nova scotia just a few months ago, something I would have never dreamed of doing… I also don’t think I would have ever felt free enough to be admitting really how much changing my lifestyle has changed my life. I have grown up in a house hold where food is of importance and have been put down by my choices. I can’t even put to words what this sight has meant to me in finding others who share my values… Though this is my first post I want to thank everyone for sharing their stories it gives me strenth in knowing I am doing what is right for me.

  18. More great comments and information – thank you all so much for sharing your stories and the information you’ve gleaned while battling RA or any other chronic condition. We can all help each other!

    I thought I would share this “fudge” recipe my dad sent me – it’s really, really good!

    “Carob-Spirulina Fudge”

    1 cup rolled oats, uncooked
    3/4 cup carob powder
    3/4 cup sesame seeds, ground
    1/4 cup sunflower seeds
    1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, shelled
    1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, coarse chopped (I used a mixture of both)
    1/2 cup almond butter
    1/2 cup raw unfiltered honey or agave nectar
    2 tablespoons spirulina powder

    Mix all dry ingredients well; mix honey or agave w/almond butter. Then combine wet and dry ingredients well, adding more honey or agave IF required to mix all together. Careful not to add too much so as not to be sticky. Press mixture into 8×8 or 8×10 lightly oiled pan or dish. Chill. This treat is very nutritious and satisfying. Cut into small squares. Store in fridge in baggies or uncut still in pan or dish.

  19. I want to thank you all for sharing your pain with us. My mother suffers terribly from RA, and I try to share as much info with her that I can find.

  20. i do not care much in detail about how much protein intact, calories, fats and other i am getting in my daily food. But i still try to manage my health by having various juice of fruits and vegetables which is really very helpful to maintain our body fitness.
    and yes i do Yoga on weekends as i am not able to get time on weekdays form my busy work schedule and hey Wish you Luck for your Yoga training from Jan 😉

  21. I also have problems with joint pain and have slowly started to change my eating habbits, making sure I get at least 1 vegan meal in a day. I have noticed a difference in the way I feel when I eat clean. I would love some advice on how to make veggy patties that hold together without using egg.

  22. Thanks so much for your inspiring story. I am new to this site and after a tearful meltdown was directed here by a friend. I have been diagnosed with RA in January of this year, I am still in disbelief and am fighting it as opposed to taking the Plaquenil or Methotrexate that they want me on. I guess I am just not ready. I began my fight with the removal of my silicone implants as I believe this was my trigger for this aweful disease. All my symptoms started 2 weeks after they were inserted in October. I have removed all gluten and dairy and now am working on all animal products. It has been very difficult and painful. Have you heard of a Dr Kolb? I have recently read her book “The naked truth about breast implants” and I believe I can beat this thing. I hear all of you say that you wished you had known years ago how diet can change things, well I am taking your advice and attempting to stop this before I ever begin the meds, with the exception of predisone, which I hope to stop very soon. I am taking numerous herbal supplements and vitamins and just hope I can change my fate. Thanks again for the great story.

  23. Joann, you are on the right path just please, please, please stay on it and broaden it as you’re able. You will NOT be sorry! I was on plaquenil and methotrexate, and prednizone, as well and also enbril and daypro. The daypro (anti-inflammatory) was the last one I just could not get off of without experiencing pain and swelling. I finally did what I’d talked about doing for a long time and that was go to an acupuncturist and that first day I saw him in May ’08 was the last day I ever took that daypro again. He made me an herbal medicine I took for about a week and I also went in for treatments as needed for a year. I haven’t even seen him in over a year now because since then I’ve changed my diet even further. It takes time to make the changes but it’s so worthwhile. I’m excited for you that you’re able to nip this RA in the bud before even getting on the meds. Once you remove the animal products you will be amazed at the difference. If you can eliminate sugar – wow! What a difference for me!!! You hang in there and I wish you all the best!

  24. Vicki, This has been very informative. I am a post dialysis, post kidney transplant patient, as of 1994. I have RA, OsteoRA, , post two lumbar L4-5 surgeries. and now degeneration in my neck. My daughter, whom is a certified yoga instructor (SignYoga, Minneapolis, MN) has been encouraging me to do a veggie/fruit diet, and beginners yoga for a couple of years. She, two, is post transplant of 2 years. Your education and the posts from your followers are very encouraging. I am going to start tomorrow and get serious. Already, after reading I have recognized a food, mixed nuts, that I have snacked on recently, and I noticed much more pain. So, there is one to eliminate, immediately, including red meat and pork. Sorry for writing a book. You have given me the “push” I needed to get off to a good start. Thank You :o)

  25. Don said on March 4, 2010

    Hello, I have RA, Poriasis Arthritis plus Gout Arthritis. I am on Narcotic pain meds but I hate them. I am going to go on the diet you talk about and layoff ALL Meat, Dairy, Wheat and suger. My ONE weakness is fried Catfish. Would it be OK to have this once a month?. I thank You In Advance For Your Reply.
    Don, Rogers AR.

  26. I’ve often thought that arthritis is due to lack of movement and diet! Another amazing account of such in action.

  27. Don, if you eliminate the things you mentioned and continue with your fried catfish once a month, you will be fine and should likely notice less pain. I encourage you to use trial and error to see what affects your pain levels, every body truly is different. Continuing to indulge in your favorite food once in a while will keep you from becoming discouraged from all that you might feel you’re giving up. Good luck! I wish you all the best!!! And remember, hang in there, it won’t happen over night… but you can do it and you’ll be amazed at the difference. I’m so excited for you!

  28. Great Post… My mother has suffered with this for 20 years but has only just had it confirmed by a doctor. I will certainly tell her about your experience and see if it helps her.

    She has not yet been put onto medication but has been having other treatment.

  29. Dear All,
    Thank you for inspiring and informative support for those contending with arthritis.
    I read the blog and each comment and did not see my (literally burning) question covered.
    It is the middle of the night so I do not have time to seek elsewhere on this most magnificent website.I am on NO MEDS at the moment as I am preparing my body for a Partial Knee Replacement as there is No Cartilage in my left knee and no Harvesting Procedures here in the UK on the National Health Service. I am fortunate to have a Good Surgeon for the Op in the near-future.
    I am green juicing 80 green 20 fruit at least 1.25 litre a day of more. The food I eat is mostly Alkaline now as I am trying to heal my Stomach as well as this undiagnosed severe inflammation.
    Here is what I need from you- Do you experience More Inflammatory pain as the Green Juice makes its way through you? I am trying to get to a 3-day fast phase yet am Slim/Curvy for my age of 48. My Blender is broke and I cannot get to Store to get replacement one so I need to eat the Alkaline fats I crave and need. A flare woke me up and I turned to the Internet for Help on this matter. Prior to Menopause A Fast would “Flush out All the Inflammation” yet that was Before my Knees and Hormonal Imbalance a factor. Thank you all for being here. Gwendolin x!

  30. I have been getting aches and stiffness in my hands. Off to the doctor tomorrow. Its freaking me out about aging. I decided to become plant based September last year Because i wanted to eliminate medication due to high blood pressure and surgery which removed three parathyroids, which were non-cancerous.
    What helped with your arthritic symptoms?

  31. Hi, I have been a vegan for 5 yrs. I was vegetarian before then. Help! Anyone who has any advice for me as to my hopeless sugar addiction. I rarely eat cakes or desserts, but I can’t seem to quit sugary drinks. I have tried for so long. To make matters worse, I have both rheumatoid and osteo arthritis. I know this sugar jones just exacerbates my pain. I eat such a healthy diet otherwise. All scratch cooking. Absolutely no processed foods… (That stuff shouldn’t even be described as food), but any tips on getting off the sweet poison would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much, Kathleen

  32. Hi Vicki

    I’m fairly new to this vegan/juicing/pure food lifestyle. I’m a mum of 2 from England. I’m 41 years old with 2 children – 4.5 year old and a 22 month old. Over the past 7 months I’ve had a few mysteriously swollen joints. A finger. A wrist. A shoulder. No inflammatory markers in my bloods however. Still a bit in the dark. my rheumy is keeping an eye on things every 6 weeks. Anyway, I had the Deliciously Ella book so i embarked apprehensively on cutting out refined sugar (and reducing what other sugar i do eat), dairy and wheat first. Then her book lead me to Kris Carr’s amazing journey and book! It’s early days. I find it hard with a family as it’s not all about me so I have to put a lot of effort in to make sure i get enough from my food swell as make the family meal times normal. And i don’t want my daughter especially to get picky or have hang ups about food – that would be the worst thing! I had an eating disorder as a teenager as my mum ate very little and “differently” as i perceived at the time. So i think it made me over aware of food and i received confused messages about what “I” should eat or what was healthy for me. But basically i have a few questions . Can i still eat some good sugar/ fruits ( as i read somewhere i should avoid completely – i couldn’t bear this!). And i read about there being a nightshades and joint pain link? I’d love to still eat tomatoes/cooked tomatoes and peppers! But if i can’t i won’t! I’m just curious if you had to eliminate these or not. So far i feel good since only over 2-3 weeks having no dairy. I’m hoping for this to stay. I’m also still combining food groups as i just feel i need to but i mainly have carbs and veggies with little protein or protein and veg and a little carb.

    Sorry for long post but although I’m not actually diagnosed yet, you’re post is just what I’ve been looking for and i really feel i connected with your post being a similar age with similar aged chidden.

    Many thanks, Clare