Patient Blogs | Ankylosing Spondylitis
Tipping the Scales in Your Favor
photo of low section of man standing on scale

Let’s talk about the subject that no one wants to talk about, that evil four-letter word: DIET. I’m sure you have heard that changing your diet will affect how you feel. I wasn’t a believer that it would make any noticeable difference. I was wrong. Here are a few things I have learned about food and how it affects my body. I have no formal education on diets, but I just want to tell you about my experiences and how changing my diet affected me.

When I was first diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, I researched everything. Not only me, but my entire family as well. We all kept coming back to the same place: Diet and exercise would help. While I understood how exercise was good, I wasn’t so sure how changing my diet would change how I feel.

After reading about all the different diets out there, I honestly got confused and eventually discouraged. Which one was right for me? Could I actually make the necessary changes and stick with it? How will this affect my family? I had all of the questions swirling around, so I did nothing. That is, until …

About 3 years ago I had some GI issues resurface, and we decided to do a food sensitivity test. We got a lot of great information out of that, but the experience is what changed my attitude about how food can affect our bodies. I started an elimination diet. I eliminated all the foods on my sensitivity test and slowly added them back in over about a 2-month period to see if there was any change. It taught me a lot about my body.

The one thing I noticed about most of the diets for ankylosing spondylitis I researched is that they say to avoid starches and sugars. I don’t know about you, but those are my weakness. Breads, pastas, and candy were a staple at almost every meal. When I eliminated everything at the beginning of the elimination diet, I began to notice I was feeling better. Not necessarily my GI issues, but my body as a whole felt better. When I added some starches and sugars back in, I went back to feeling how I felt before. 

For me, it wasn’t realistic to expect myself to adhere to a strict diet. I know me, and that has never worked. Instead of totally cutting out starches and sugars, I just cut back on them. We no longer have bread, potatoes, or rice at every meal. We make an attempt to eat more vegetables, especially fresh vegetables. 

It’s crazy how much more active I am when I’m eating healthier. My joints feel better not carrying around an extra 40 pounds that I didn’t think I needed to lose! My weight is more consistent now, too. No crazy swings in either direction. These small changes have given me an overall better outlook on this disease. Will it take away all my issues? No, but it helps manage my pain and energy levels, so that’s a win in my book. 

Make sure you check with your health care provider before you get started. 




Photo Credit: Sellwell / Moment via Getty Images

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Daniel Garcia

Daniel Garcia

Diagnosed since 2003

Daniel Garcia was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis in 2003. He enjoys gardening and traveling in his pop-up camper with his wife, Melissa, and dogs Chloe and Tilly on his good days. Garcia writes about travel on and gardening, technology, and DIY on You can connect with Daniel via his Instagram account.

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