Last updated: November 2023
Hidradenitis suppativa is a chronic skin disease which causes inflamed lesions sort of like boils on the skin. Many people on the internet will say they have a magic cure to sell you and honestly that’s like fool’s gold. While there is no cure for HS, there are many ways to manage the disease.
Learning more about my diet
Let’s start this with a question. When you were diagnosed with hidradenitis suppurativa, were you advised about how to eat to avoid flares? I didn’t receive much information about HS when I was diagnosed and no information on how to eat. I was on Google one day and came across a list of foods to avoid and I started the journey of an elimination diet.
While living in China, I gave up eating meat and excess sugars. The low to no sugar was easy at the time since most foods outside the United States have a lot less sugar. I didn’t eat meat for two years. I didn’t have a single flare up during this time. Unfortunately, this wasn’t sustainable for me. I wasn’t meant to live a meatless life.
I moved back home, started eating meat again and consuming more sugar than I did overseas. Surprise, surprise - I felt a painful lump under my arm and the swelling continued.
Reviewing my eating habits
I needed to review my eating habits. I tried to give up the entire nightshade family but that presented harder than one may think. If you don’t know, nightshades can consist of tomatoes, white potatoes, peppers, eggplant etc. I didn’t realize I ate from this family so often. Nightshades have been said to lead to more flare ups in some people. This elimination didn’t help with my triggers because I eat salsa and fries often.
I decided to reset and try to cut out other common HS triggers. I stopped eating dairy and cut back on red meats and sugar. My once HS riddled body was healing. I was seeing less and less flare ups. I don’t live a perfect trigger food free life. Some days I want to stop at a fast food restaurant and get fries with ketchup. And I will never pass up salsa and chips when we go out for Mexican food.
My trigger foods may not be yours
No two HS patients are exactly alike. My trigger foods may not be yours. While I may eat salsa once a month or baked potatoes with butter and cheese in small amounts, I don’t have negative reactions. I have found if I limit my intake and don’t eat all the triggers at once, I don’t flare up. I have a friend who eats one pepper flake, and she will flare up. Her tolerance is extremely low, and she may not be able to eat in moderation like me.
While cutting foods out is never fun and often hard to stick to, having a flare free life makes it worth it. There are many elimination diets online or list of HS trigger foods I would like to advise you to start with one to two items and see how you feel. If you are extreme you can cut all the foods and introduce the ones you cant live without one at a time to see what is causing your flare.
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