Thursday, July 28, 2022

My Comfort Foods for a Chronic Autoimmune Disease

Food always brings me comfort. It's one of the reasons I started this blog: I love sharing recipes and foods that make me feel better in both body and soul. 

Some are family favorites found in my grandmother's recipe box. Others are meals at a cherished restaurant or served at a friend's backyard cookout. A few are treats in my pantry or freezer, just waiting to soothe my spirit when necessary. 

Of course, comfort foods change depending on life's adventures. Chocolate was my go-to for heartbreak, especially Häagen-Dazs chocolate-chocolate chip ice cream and Hostess cupcakes. (These are brownies made from actress Katherine Hepburn's recipe.) 

When my husband Mike, The Picky Eater, died eight years ago, I wrote about the comfort found in a pot of homemade minestrone

My consistent comfort go-to is mac and cheese, whether homemade, frozen or from a box—with peas on the side.

In May, I started treatment for the return of Birdshot Chorioretinopathy (also known as Birdshot Uveitis), a very rare autoimmune disease of the eyes. (Read all about it here.) I've had to deal with some not-too-pleasant side effects from the steroid prednisone and methotrexate, an immune suppressant medication. I'm experiencing extreme fatigue, loss of appetite, puffiness, moodiness, and some stomach queasiness. My digestive tract is—well, how do I pleasantly say this—not happy with me much of the time. I'm also trying to eat fruits, veggies, whole grains, and protein, as well as staying hydrated, for my overall health while dealing with these meds. And I'm watching my sugar and sodium intake because these meds can increase blood sugar levels and blood pressure.

Here are the foods and beverages bringing me comfort while I fight to save my eyesight (which has dramatically improved since I started the meds! Whoo hoo!):

Yogurt: This is my number one go-to food right now. It soothes my stomach while providing me with protein, calcium, and probiotics. I usually eat it for breakfast by mixing one container of Chobani Zero Sugar with a couple spoonfuls of plain yogurt, which makes it more filling and satisfying. I top it with a bit of cereal for crunch and blueberries. (I love blueberries.)  

Iced Tea: Hot and iced black tea has always soothed my stomach when it feels queasy. I make decaf iced tea so I can drink it anytime and not worry about messing up my sleep. I also add a bag or two of ginger tea into the mix for its stomach-soothing qualities.

Bare Organics Cardo Care Coffee: I started drinking this coffee right before I started on my meds. I love mocha and cinnamon coffees, so the ad for Cardo Care on social media caught my eye. It turns out this coffee is soothing to my stomach (do you see a theme happening here?), perhaps from the ginger. And the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric help combat the inflammation in my eyes caused by my over-zealous immune system. 

Aura Bora Sparkling Water: I try to stay well hydrated, and water with bubbles makes the effort more enjoyable. I love Aura Bora's unique blend of herbal and fruity flavors. My favorite depends on the day, but the Ginger Meyer Lemon, Lavender Cucumber, Peppermint Watermelon, and Basil Berry are tops on my list. Oh, and Cactus Rose is good, too! 

Peanut Butter: Probably my favorite go-to food besides yogurt. I eat a piece of whole grain bread slathered with peanut butter almost daily!

Cheese: Another great way to tame my hunger, nourish my body, and comfort my spirit. Especially on hot summer days, a light supper of cheese, crackers, and veggies is perfect!

Homemade Trail Mix: I like making my own mixture of nuts to get the ones I like—almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, macadamia, and peanuts—without the ones I don't—cashews (yep, I don't like them) and pecans (which I like for baking but not for snacking.) I add whatever dried fruit I have on hand, usually cranberries or blueberries.  

Fruit: Refreshing nourishment! I usually eat a banana and apple every day at a minimum.

Chicken Noodle Soup: When I began the meds, it was still cool enough for soup. I like to give homemade chicken noodle soup to friends and family when they are sick or recovering from an illness. This time, I made it to help me feel better.

Whole-Wheat Banana Muffins: I love a good muffin for breakfast or a snack. This recipe is my favorite. I usually add 1/2 cup of oatmeal to the mix to give it more of a nutritional boost. 


Homemade Chocolate Chip Blondies: Based on this recipe for candy-filled blondies, I changed it up to use In the Raw Zero Calorie natural sweetener blend, Truvia Brown Sugar Blend, and Lily's No Sugar Added chocolate chips. It is the perfect "sweet" treat! 

What are the comfort foods you enjoy to soothe your soul? Leave your favorites in the comments below. 

***Hey, thanks for reading! If you've enjoyed my posts or tried one of my recipes, you can support my writing efforts through Buy Me a Coffee...or tea...or flavored fizzy water. Your donation will be greatly appreciated, especially now as I deal with a chronic autoimmune disease that flared back up again. The button is located on the right-hand side of this page or you can follow the link here. If you can't donate, that's okay, too. Either way, thank you so much for reading my stuff!  

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