Updated May 31, 2014
The following are typical examples of the results achieved by people with various forms of inflammatory arthritis who have followed my dietary recommendations strictly.* You can read the short quotes beside the pictures of these people for a glimpse at their lives before the McDougall Diet. There is little need for individual comments about life “after McDougall” because the outcomes are all so similar: complete relief of their inflammatory arthritis. Clicking on the arrows over their pictures leads to comprehensive stories about these real people.
“I’ve had some ups and downs with my health, but when I woke up with such severe pain in my hands that I couldn’t lift my son out of his crib in the mornings, it was terrifying. All of a sudden my feet and knees were aching all the time. There were many days when it was difficult for me to get out of bed because I was so fatigued. I had to quit my job because my joints were so inflamed that it was difficult and exhausting to move. For the next nine months, I spent most of my time on the couch due to the pain and fatigue caused by this disease.”
“When I was 30, one eye became so bloodshot and painful that I nearly lost sight in it. Similar eye episodes (iritis) appeared about 10 more times in the following 28 years. At 45, near the height of my physical fitness activities (ranging from martial arts to running), I began having painful tendons. The problem spread from my hips to my legs and arms. I had to stop running, and sometimes I could not even walk. At one point, when the arthritis spread to other joints, I became so crippled that I began shopping on the Internet for a wheelchair.”
“My rheumatoid arthritis began in 2008 with pain in my knees, which soon traveled to my elbows and hands. Each day it got a little harder to walk. I felt like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz, rusting in place. I could not roll over in bed and, I would wake up crying in terrible joint pain. I could not button clothes or tie my shoes. I was convinced that I was dying. I felt like I had PMS most days, especially within 48 hours after my methotrexate dosage. I would crash so hard and feel so depressed.”
“It started gradually then it got to be a 24-hour a day thing where I would fight to see how far I could get without eating a handful of Advil. I had spasms and pain in my back, neck, shoulders, and hips. I was in so much pain I could not sleep. Then I could not go to work because I was so tired. I started getting depressed and it just sort of spiraled from there. I actually considered killing myself.”
“It started when I was 15 years old with pain in my jaw. I couldn’t easily open my mouth to chew. When I was 16 ½ we realized something was very wrong: my knuckles were very swollen and I couldn’t make a fist without intense pain; even shaking hands was painful. My right foot was so swollen I couldn’t wear a shoe comfortably, and I walked with a limp. I actually told my mom that I thought my foot was broken because it hurt so badly whenever I walked. I was difficult for me to get from class to class because I was limping. I started becoming depressed when I was told there was no cure.”
“My hands throbbed with such intense pain that my husband had to stop holding them. In bed, I pulled the blanket up with my teeth. I kept pliers at my desk to pinch the ink cartridge in order to remove it from my printer. My hands wouldn’t close into a fist. My hips and shoulders ached so much that there were nights that I could not sleep. My knees were ruining my life. The pain was disabling. I was crippled. My husband had to pull me out of a chair. When he was not around, I chose chairs with arms so that I could push myself up and out with my elbows.”
“In December of 2008, the day after I qualified for the prestigious Boston Marathon (I had been training 3 times a day for almost a year) I was struck down with painful arthritis. Even though I was forced to take many months off from running, I still kept getting “injured.” A short time later, I developed inflammation in my jaw, my right hand, and elbow. I practically lived in my orthopedist’s office, getting one cortisone shot after another every few weeks in different joints and living on the anti-inflammatory medication for almost a year.”
“As I entered my late thirties, I was struck with crippling psoriatic arthritis. I came to the point where I had unrelenting symptoms with fluctuating levels of pain in both knees and pain and stiffness in many of my other joints and pain in my muscles. At times I could not walk, dress, or bathe myself. I found myself unable to move, and even breathe, without causing jarring, dizzying pain to shoot through my joints. It took about 8 months to get a diagnosis. Having a name for my disease was minor relief, which did not offset the bad news that psoriatic arthritis was a disabling illness with no cure.”
“It started in one finger and then spread all around my body to my knees, elbows, and ankles. The things I loved to do the most, I could not do. The pain was so terrible that I could not ride my bike. I was not able to open my bottle of shampoo to wash my hair or even open my medication. I was feeling like an old lady. My husband and son were very supportive but they do not feel my pain. Only I know how much pain I have. After using steroids for a long time I was put on methotrexate with bad side effects. I was told I would have to live with this condition for my whole life.”
“I began experiencing “traveling” inflammation to various parts of my body: one week it would be in one or two fingers, the next week in one of my wrists, a month later in my shoulder. The turning point was when I spent two days unable to walk. The pain was so intense in the balls of my feet that the slightest pressure was unbearable. I cried as I tried to make my way across the room. The rheumatologist spent almost an hour examining me before giving her diagnosis of mild-to-moderate RA. It sounded like a death sentence”
*These are not simply “best case scenarios.” Patients with inflammatory arthritis, not osteoarthritis, should expect similar outcomes. (There are exceptions.) Plus, residual, post-inflammatory changes, including permanent structural damages to the joints, will remain. Otherwise active disease is stopped.