Lupus and Weight Gain: Why Do We Pack on the Pounds When We’re Flaring?
1) Prednisone (and other steroids). This is probably the biggest cause. Steroids cause lupus patients to both retain water and have intense food cravings. It also makes you hungrier, which is even worse.
2) Fatigue. Fatigue can lead to inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle. This particularly leads to weight gain when coupled with number three and/or if you’re active when you’re not flaring and used to eating a certain amount of food. If you’re laid up and eating the same amount of food you eat when you typically run a mile a day and work a job on your feet, you’re going to gain weight.
3) Cooking. As most of us don’t live with our parents or have the luxury of a live-in chef, we have to fend for ourselves when it comes to creating meals. This is really tricky when you’re sick, as being ill can cause both financial constraints (which, in turn, makes it hard to purchase healthy and filling food) and makes it very difficult to prepare meals adequately due to pain. Surviving on take-out, frozen dinners and processed foods may become the norm during a flare.
How to Control It
You can only control weight gain with lupus to an extent. Even if you starve yourself while taking prednisone, you’ll still get a bit of a moon face and gain a few pounds.
Try to eat healthily and keep your calories to a minimum when you’re flaring. Try to eat whole foods and avoid processed foods and foods high in sugar. Eat low-calorie, filling foods, such as those with lots of protein in them. Keep track of your calories with MyFitnessPal.
Exercise when, and if, you can but don’t push it.
Breathe. It is easier said that done, but try to focus on healing yourself rather than what you look like. You may not be totally satisfied with your physical appearance, but when you’re flaring, it is only temporary. Try to retrain negative thoughts by countering them with one positive thought.
Remember. Your external appearance’s changes are temporary. Healing your body is the most important thing.