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Elimination diet- Dr Gail Darlington

After months of looking for information on how diet affects RA, I have now started the elimination diet detailed by Dr Gail Darlington in her book ‘Diet and Arthritis’.

It would help if I had someone who has been through the same process to talk things through so if anyone has done it, please could you get in touch? I have found some posts on here about it but unfortunately they’re too old and didn’t get a response.

Also, if anyone is interested in what I’m eating and how I’m getting on, I am documenting my journey on Instagram (@bgeorgie13) in case it helps someone.

Here’s hoping it all goes well and I find a food trigger!

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How much

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How much what?

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Is this your first post ?

Best do it Monday morning not Sunday night when it suggests it is about selling a book. The moderators will pass Mon day morning if they feel the book is helpful. Always best to check.with NRAS .

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Thank you allanah, it is. I’m not trying to sell the book, just looking for some answers. I know someone on here posted about it 7 years ago, which I could get in touch with them, but they don’t seem to be on here anymore, I posted a reply on their post. Thank you for your advice x

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Good morning. Dr D is a fabulous doctor, she was my first rheumatologist in the 80s and is a family friend. I did the elimination diet 3 years into my prognosis. It helped me considerably at the time, and showed I was intolerant to Cows milk, wheat and pork. Good luck, it is certainly worth trying.

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Thank you so much, what a lucky lady you are to have a rheumatologist who’s not only open to the fact that diet may influence how RA manifests itself, but also has made the results of her studies so accessible to everyone x

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Haven't done it but keen to follow your journey! Am currently on day 3 of a 7 day semi-fast as recommended by a research paper I will find later! My pain is no better but the brain fog has definitely cleared somewhat. Would consider repeating at least a 3 day semi fast like this again for that reason alone! Will hopefully make it to 7 days but won't beat myself up if I need solid food! The further suggestion is to go vegan, but I know gluten free works for me so a gluten free vegan doesn't leave much to eat! I intend to treat this as a mini elimination diet and gradually introduce new things and see how I go. I am hopefull a plant-based maybe slightly Mediterranean diet will work... will see how we go!

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Best of luck! I had tried eliminating dairy and wheat at various points but I couldn’t notice a big difference. It was when I gave up highly processed foods and refined sugar, and only had dairy & wheat occasionally that I noticed an improvement in my symptoms- this is the next step to see if something I eat regularly is a trigger x

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Unfortunately, the discussion of diet in the treatment of RD is fraught with difficulty and disbelief. It has never been proved that diet alone has any effect on the disease. Had it been so, the NHS would be recommending it rather than spending a fortune on expensive drugs. These patent diet plans also tend to be expensive and a common view is that the promulgation of such plans are simply battening on the desperation of the suffering. Should this diet make you feel better then, good, but pushing it on here might be unwise as the subject tends to rouse quite a lot of antipathy. Wishing you well

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I’m not saying diet alone would be the answer, and also not saying that it would benefit everyone. In fact the book says it will only work for certain conditions, and may be worth trying for others. The study was conducted by an orthodox Rheumatologist and the book gives a lot of insight. Which is why I am trusting it enough & giving it a go. There’s no money to be made, I had to buy the book second hand, and no one is selling the programme. I’ve posted on here so I could find someone else who has tried it so we can hopefully share notes, and also to let anyone who’s thinking of trying it that they’re not alone and I’m happy to share my journey and whatever I find along the way. Thank you for your kind words and apologies if I antagonised anyone x

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I would take care with my privacy and would not give out my personal details on a forum such as this. People can PM you if they wish to chat with you.

Diets tend not to have a long lasting effect on RD, there are many posts on the forum discussing all sorts of diet, the pros and cons. Eating healthy is of course good for all, not just people with RD.

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Thank you x

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Do you actually have RA? If so, do you take prescribed medication?

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I was diagnosed in July but suffered for a couple of years before the diagnosis. I’m on MTX, folic acid and hydroxycloroquine (which is now been out of stock with the manufacturer for at least 3 weeks according to my pharmacist). Trying to find something else to support my body, alongside keeping as active as possible , reducing stress and eating a healthy diet.

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I have RA and fibromyalgia, when I found out I had Celiacs disease and removed wheat gluten it helped considerably. Removing the gluten also cured me of having to take two thyroid medications, being one point away from diabetes, depression and anxiety, heart inflammation, and high cholesterol. I am now working on removing dairy products to see if it helps with remaining inflammation. I wish you well in your journey!

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I'm Celioc and talking about gluten and not taking Thyroid medications is dangerous if you have an underactive thyroid which incidently is 1 medication on prescription!! Thyroid failure kills ! So can you clarify was this a medical diagnosis because if it is I would not trust your doctor. Glten free is never a lifestyle choice so did you have the cameras or again is it your own diagnosis ? I'm not usually bothered about diet claims but suggesting that Thyroid can be treated by removing gluten is crazy. I wish you luck. Incidentley gluten is not just in wheat so are still eating it in other forms.

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Thank you so much, it gives me hope! Best of luck with your quest to finding a solution x

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I am really interested, but finding the trigger is difficult. Cutting out dairy, gluten n sugar are all things which come up in my research. The problem for me is that it seems you need to cut them out for months to really know. Grateful you post your updates.

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I definitely noticed an improvement when I cut out highly processed foods and refined sugar. There is so much info out there and is difficult knowing what to do, without spending a lot of money for something that may or may not work. As the impact of this diet was studied by a real Rheumatologist, and is explained very well in the book, I felt I could trust it. If symptoms don’t improve in the first 3 weeks, the advice is to stop it as food is not a trigger. If they do improve, the reintroduction of various foods is tested carefully and it should take about 7 weeks in total. There’s also a plan what to do with foods which haven’t been tested. Fingers crossed x

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I tend not to get involved in discussions on diet as they can become so fraught but I thought I would add my experiences about food intolerance. Certainly folk with RD need to give thought to what they eat and maintain a healthy diet. We are all very different and have different triggers for our respective diseases, no one diet fits all. Pre developing RD I did discover that I had developed an intolerance to cheese, particularly cooked cheese; within an hour of eating this I developed migraine. I cut out cheese completely for 3 or 4 years and now I can eat it again without experiencing migraines. I had eaten a lot of cheese, as it was cheap and convenient, as a student and this is where I may have built up an intolerance.

Later in my life after developing RD, which was a good number of years back, I paid for some intolerance tests; milk and to a lesser extent corn showed up. I was advised to cut out milk and dairy and reduce the amount of corn in my diet. I totally cut out all dairy products for a period of 18 months. This did not improve my RD but it did get rid of my stuffy sinus problems. I restarted dairy after having the result of blood tests which showed my calcium levels had plummeted since giving up dairy products. I have stuffy sinus again but no change to my RD and I have healthly calcium levels again. It was a choice I made as I didn't want to add to my joint problems by adding in osteoporosis. I had attempted to maintain healthy levels of calcium by eating fish , meat , and calcium supplements in soya milk and vitamin and mineral supplements but I still ended up with calcium deficiency. My bones needed dairy.

I have found for myself that I need to eat a varied and healthy diet; that I can build up an intolerance to a particular food if I eat too much of it. Also that I do have a continuing intolerance to milk but this does not have an affect on my RA.

We all need to experience our own journeys with foods and diet until we come to a stage that suits us as an individual, remembering that one size doesn't fit all.

All the best for your journey.

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Thank you so much for sharing! Yes, this journey is to find out a diet that works for me, and how my body reacts to certain things to then be able to make an informed decision on whether the risks outweigh the benefits when cutting certain foods out. I’m not a fan of diets in general as I believe that we need a variety of nutritious foods to keep healthy alongside keeping as active as our illness allows, and managing our stress levels. All the best in your journey x

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v minor point but i always felt uncomfortable with dairy and yesterday bought oat milk in error - and it's tasty!!.

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40 DAYS UPDATE: pain and stiffness levels at the beginning of the diet were low (1 - 2 out of 10) and that may have been due to a combination of taking my RA meds as well as eating unprocessed foods 90% of the time. My pain & stiffness levels were a 6-7 out of 10 when I started the meds and "clean eating": both at the same time which is why it was difficult for me to pinpoint what helped most.

However, after about 4 weeks of following the elimination diet and not taking any medicine, my pain and stiffness level increased to 3 out of 10. Still low and manageable, and luckily no flare ups. The increase may be due to effects of the meds wearing off rather than the reaction to a particular food. I noticed a worsening in my symptoms when I reintroduced chicken and potatoes: I used to have these pretty much every day prior to the elimination diet and it is possible that I had built some intolerance to them.

Last week I decided to re-introduce all spices, herbs, seeds & nuts (except peanuts), fruit and veg back in my diet to ensure I get all the nutrients my body needs and I am glad I had no adverse reaction or worsening of symptoms (and luckily I am ok with nightshades, except white potatoes which I plan to re-test at some point in the future).

I still have to test some more of the foods that are considered problematic (wheat, corn, red meat, peanuts etc) - the thing is, I don't miss them now. I will also re-introduce the meds over the next few weeks.

So while the elimination diet did not improve my RA symptoms, it has helped me understand my body better (e.g. my skin breaks out when I have dairy, and I get bloated if I eat too much fruit in one go). This diet, and especially the drastic exclusion phase in the first week, made me appreciate vegetables and herbs more, my cravings for sugary and fatty foods have gone, and my palate has definitely changed. My mindset has also shifted form "I can't have x, y, z food" to "I can have so much nutritious and tasty whole food". I was really pleased I have managed to follow a strict eating protocol, and I am confident that I can maintain a balanced healthy diet alongside exercising and managing my stress levels, to support my body in coping with the disease (and hopefully one day achieve remission).

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