CHRONIC HEALTH: Foods to consider eliminating

When living with a chronic condition, it is important to consider what foods you are consuming regularly. Certain foods can intensify symptoms, trigger flare-ups, and contribute to the progression of chronic diseases. Here are some common foods to consider eliminating from your diet:

By Cindy Pivacic.


  1. Processed and fried foods: Processed and fried foods are typically high in calories, unhealthy fats, and sodium. These foods can increase inflammation in the body and lead to weight gain, which can worsen symptoms of chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease.
  • I avoid fried foods as much as possible and was fortunate enough to be gifted an airfryer, so I do not feel done in as the results from this cooking procedure are fantastic, in my opinion.

2. Sugary beverages and desserts: Foods and drinks that are high in sugar can cause spikes in blood sugar levels and contribute to insulin resistance, which is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Sugar can also lead to inflammation in the body, which can exacerbate symptoms of chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.

  • I have a sweet tooth and adjusted my sweet intake by including more fruit and changing to dark chocolate amongst other changes.

3. High-sodium foods: Consuming too much sodium can increase blood pressure and contribute to the development of heart disease. Many processed and packaged foods are high in sodium, so it is important to read labels and choose lower-sodium options whenever possible.

  • I drastically cut out processed foods containing sodium and replaced them with Himalayan salt and other herbs and spices to add flavour to my food.

4. Red and processed meats: Red and processed meats are high in saturated fats, which can increase cholesterol levels and contribute to heart disease. Processed meats such as bacon, sausage, and deli meats are also often high in sodium and preservatives.

  • After my cancer diagnosis I chose to cut out red meat (I will, very occasionally have biltong or some form of red meat but generally choose chicken).

5. Gluten-containing foods: For those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, eliminating gluten from the diet is crucial. Gluten can cause inflammation in the intestines and damage the lining of the digestive tract, leading to symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and malabsorption of nutrients.

  • I have not cut out gluten but have periodically had issues where I have had to eliminate certain brand items from my diet.

6. Dairy products: For those with lactose intolerance or dairy allergy, eliminating dairy from the diet can be important. Consuming dairy products can lead to symptoms such as bloating, gas, and diarrhoea. Dairy products are also high in saturated fats, which can contribute to heart disease.

  • Fortunately, I am not lactose intolerant and doubt I could give up full cream milk or white cheddar cheese, or any cheese for that matter! 😊 

7. Alcohol: Alcohol can worsen symptoms of certain chronic conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout. It can also increase the risk of liver disease and contribute to weight gain.

  • A couple of years post my HIV diagnosis and before my cancer diagnosis in 2008 my mouth would burn on consuming wine, even a wine spritzer so I gradually stopped and after my chemotherapy treatment, never started up the habit again.

8. Artificial sweeteners and additives: Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose can contribute to headaches, migraines, and other symptoms in some people. Additives such as MSG and nitrates can also cause symptoms in some people.

  • I use Stevia as a sweetener as it is plant-based, and avoid MSG like the plague as that affects me negatively by blocking my nasal passages and puffing up my eyes. It is not a pleasant experience.

Eliminating certain foods from your diet can be an important step in managing chronic conditions and reducing symptoms. It is essential to work with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to determine foods that are best to avoid based on your individual needs and health status.

A chronic condition can affect anyone. How you manage it is what makes the difference.

You can get cover of up to 3 million rand for your chronic health condition and up to 10 million if you are living with HIV.

SMS CHRONIC to 33857 to find out more. 

I did!

Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure, and is not a substitute for professional consultation with a health professional.


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