Where Did My Appetite Go?
I'm not as much of a picky eater as most people think. Granted, I will never like pork chops or alfredo sauce. But I'm not actually that choosy when I'm feeling well. I'm only picky when I don't feel well, which is most of the time.
When you have psoriatic arthritis, people love to tell you how to eat. They tell you about anti-inflammation diets to relieve pain or tell you to lose weight to help your joints. But one thing we rarely discuss is food aversions that occur with arthritis.
Keeping my appetite with psoriatic arthritis
Depending on how I'm feeling, my desire on what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat changes. Psoriatic arthritis flares sometimes make me crave comfort foods, while side effects make me desire lighter fare. There are even times I'm not hungry at all!
The impact of pain
When pain strikes, food can be the last thing on your mind. You might not feel hungry because you're overwhelmed or nauseated by pain. Jaw pain can easily make eating seem unappealing. Even the thought of having to get up to cook can ruin your appetite.
If the pain doesn't curb your hunger, it might make you crave different foods. Sometimes, they may be foods you know you can make without much prep time: flares are when I tend to be tempted for fast food. They might also be foods that contain things your body or brain is craving, such as salt, sugar, or certain vitamins.
Tips to eat through the pain: It can be helpful to snack during the day or have five small meals instead of three large meals. I personally try to keep easy, somewhat healthy meals on hand during flares.
Those draded side effects
Side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can make it hard to find foods you want to eat. It can be scary when side effects make you feel ill or even cause you to lose large amounts of weight.
Whenever a medicine caused any of those side effects, I noticed my cravings changed. Sometimes, my cravings were for things easily digested. Other times, I almost exclusively ate salty foods to combat nausea. There were also plenty of times where I was turned off of everything.
Tips to combat side effects: It's during those periods that it's important to take vitamins, let your doctor know what's going on, and journal how you feel. Depending on the severity and length of time you're not feeling well, it may mean it's time to adjust or change your meds.
A terrible, negative association
Remember the first time you partied a little too hard? I bet there's a drink you can't touch anymore. A lot of people can't even tolerate the smell of certain drinks because it made them sick before. This common, shared experience doesn't just apply to alcohol though.
Sometimes you may turn your nose up at foods you associate with bad side effects. For years, I could not eat vanilla ice cream because that's what I ate the night I took methotrexate. I started getting nauseous at the idea of vanilla ice cream just because I associated it with taking methotrexate and the vomiting that occurred the next day.
Managing food and psoriatic arthritis
Food can be a hard topic for people with psoriatic arthritis for a variety of reasons. I think it's important to be sensitive to one another about it.
We all have our own struggles, and we should acknowledge that everyone's needs are unique. For some of us, balancing a healthy diet can be hard. But for others, simply finding something that doesn't gross you out is half the battle.
Will you help others by taking our Psoriatic Arthritis In America survey?