Iida’s 5 Top Tips

  1.  A positive outlook: what goes through our minds is so interconnected with our physical wellbeing, that seeing the upside of every situation and planning for a future where you’re well again will always boost healing.
  2. Eating raw greens with every meal – from spinach or kale in smoothies with my morning porridge, to salads and leafy greens with my lunch and supper. If I have a more advanced food (high in fat or protein) I up the intake of greens to help break it down.
  3.  Listening to your body and being patient. if you find that there is more inflammation one day, be cool with having a big reset with foods – no biggie, you’ve got this!
  4. Educating yourself on what a plant based diet can bring in terms of health benefits. The upsides are tremendous and knowledge brings comfort and motivation.
  5. Speaking to people in a similar situation and others who are on a plant-based diet. Sharing your thoughts with others who understand where you are coming from is super helpful – that’s where I found the Paddison Program forum to be amazing.​​
Iida’s Story A Kitchen Fairytale! Iida van der Byl-Knoefel, author of the no-oil, plant-based cookery book, ‘A Kitchen Fairytale,’ spoke for Without Wing’s ‘Tales of the Unexpected: Healing Against the Odds,’ event in July 2018. Here, we are very excited to share her incredible ‘Inspirational Story!’

“In August 2014, I developed ANA Positive Oligoarthritis (similar to Rheumatoid), at the age of 32. For a year my left knee was so swollen it wouldn’t bend. As well as making walking and standing both difficult and incredibly painful, this also impacted terribly on my daily life, causing me to avoid social occasions because of the pain. As with many people, I saw many doctors, osteopaths, homeopaths, acupuncturists and physiotherapists before finally being referred to a rheumatologist. When I finally saw them, they told me that no one knows why we get diseases such as these, and that I would have to be on medication for the rest of my life. I was also told I would be under the care of a specific department during any pregnancies.

It was in August 2015, that I therefore started taking Sulfasalazine, as prescribed by the rheumatologist. This was an awful experience for me, as it felt like metallic poison going through my veins and I had the most awful, unnatural headache. After two weeks I had an allergic reaction to the medication and ended up in the emergency room, where they took me off the medication right away. At that point I decided that I had had enough; I knew that there was nothing wrong with me and that I must be doing something to cause the condition in the first place and I decided to get well on my own.

I did a lot of research and came to the conclusion that it was all down to the food, because every time I read about someone getting well from various forms of arthritis it included a change of diet. I initially cut out dairy, gluten and sugar – I also started doing yoga every morning and evening, which helped increase the mobility in my knee and decreased the swelling notably. I was very lucky and responded quickly to the dietary changes – a couple of weeks later I saw the rheumatologist and she told my blood results were back to normal and to keep doing what I was doing!

However, I knew there was still some inflammation in my body so I continued my research and found the Paddison Program for Rheumatoid Arthritis which is a more thorough program of healing. I have been on this low fat, plant based, gut healing program since October 2015. Through it I have learnt to manage my illness so well that in August 2017 I gave birth to a beautiful little boy. Thanks to the Paddison Program, my pregnancy was managed without any medication or specialist care and although I am still very careful about how I eat, I have been able to retain complete remission and have also been able to breastfeed.

When I discovered I would have to go plant-based, I felt so passionate about not having to miss out on delicious food, that I started testing and developing very humble recipes that kept inflammation down, but still tasted amazing. I am now very excited to say that as a result of this, my plant-based, no oil cookbook, ‘A Kitchen Fairytale,’ have recently been published by Hammersmith Books. Nowadays I love eating like this and how great it makes me feel – I have huge amounts of energy and just love the vibrancy of colour in plant-based cooking!

Follow Iida on Instagram @akitchenfairytale

Iida’s cookery book can be purchased by clicking on this link

Steph’s 5 Top Tips!

  1. I never let the PsA stand in the way of what I really want. Yes having a baby with autoimmune arthritis can be extremely challenging, but it is also extremely rewarding.
  2. I learnt to never underestimate my kids! My children are super resilient. I had to pick my baby and toddler up very differently, but they always got into position to help me as they didn’t know any differently. They also got used to being without a pram from a very early age as I found it too difficult to push. They never complained and adjusted accordingly. My children have learnt too that sometimes they need to entertain themselves – their imaginations are fantastic! And they are so responsible around the home. They often help me with little jobs. My children have always kept me going.
  3. I learnt to ask for help. In my experience the occupational therapists were amazing! They took ‘I can’t do it anymore’ into ‘you can still do it, but in a different way.’ They were so positive and had brilliant methods for helping me manage around the home with different techniques and equipment.
  4. ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup’. I love this quote. Learning to rest has become so important. I prioritise what’s most important and let everything else go. Housework can wait. When the children were little I used local mums and tots groups regularly so I could speak to adults over a cup of tea. That hour of them playing and giving me some space was invaluable.
  5. I sought out support. I would have loved to have had a support network like Without Wings when I was first diagnosed! I really struggled for a long time after. When my second child turned 28 months I ended up having Psychological Therapy sessions, which, without being dramatic, saved me. Having a baby when you’re healthy can be difficult enough without the added stress of a chronic illness! Allowing myself to talk to someone when I was struggling, benefitted me massively. It was so good to know I wasn’t alone.​​

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