Dietitian Tanya helps the Lupus community to reduce their symptoms with diet and healthy living.
Published Aug 23, 2023 • By Lizzi Bollinger
Tanya lives with several auto-immune disorders but has learned how to control them with diet and healthy living. She offers her services as a Dietitian to the Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus community. It took a while for her to receive a definitive diagnosis, but ever since she has been learning how to improve the lives of those living with Lupus with a proper diet.
Despite her diagnoses, Tanya loves to travel, hike, do yoga, and most recently, play pickleball. What can you accomplish with a proper diet?
Read about Tanya’s journey!
Hi Tanya, Thank you for agreeing to tell your story to the Carenity audience.
To start, could you tell us more about yourself?
Hi! My name is Tanya Freirich, I am a Registered Dietitian and Lupus thriver. I run a private practice to help others with Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis reduce their symptoms through changes to diet and lifestyle. I am passionate about educating and advocating for diet education and awareness so that everyone can implement changes and improve their quality of life! I love so many things! Reading, hiking, travel, spending time with my family and friends, yoga and trying new things. I just tried pickleball and loved it!
Could you tell us about your diagnosis? How did you react?
I’ve had many autoimmune diagnoses over my lifetime, starting when I was 12 years old. I had already been following a general “healthy” diet as a Registered Dietitian, but my Lupus diagnosis led me down the path to implement a dietary plan for Lupus specifically. After I started, I saw a HUGE difference in how I felt. My labs, joint pain and energy all improved dramatically!
How long did it take to be diagnosed with lupus? How many doctors did you see? What tests did you have to take?
I first noticed symptoms more than 9 years ago. Because I already had an entire team of doctors, I was diagnosed pretty quickly. I only had to do lab tests thankfully to confirm my diagnosis.
How did you feel when you were diagnosed? Were you able to receive all the information you needed to understand the disease?
I was disappointed and a bit confused when I was first diagnosed. The first doctor was not definitive in her diagnosis, but said it “was likely that I had Lupus”. Shortly thereafter, she moved to another state and practice. When I moved on to the next doctor, they presumed I had been given a definitive diagnosis as well as a proper education on Lupus, but I really had not. That led to more confusion and the need to educate myself to understand my Lupus diagnosis.
Are you satisfied with your current health management regime?
My current health management regime is exactly what I hoped for: I have been able to discontinue many medications and feel really great with the diet and lifestyle changes I implemented! My rheumatologist is thorough with our follow-up appointments and answers every question fully and thoughtfully!
What do you think is the most bothersome part of your daily life?
When I was first diagnosed with Lupus, I had terrible joint pain, a malar (butterfly) rash, and fatigue. This had a huge impact on my ability to do anything. I had to be helped to dress in the morning, I couldn’t open door knobs or use my hands. Thankfully, because of my dietary changes, I can live my life as I want now! I have energy, no joint pain and my organs are no longer being damaged by inflammation. Now, the most difficult part of my daily life is not having the time to do all the things I want to do - not the lack of energy anymore!
You are the Lupus Dietitian and offer health plans for those living with lupus. Can you tell us more about this?
I started my private practice in 2021 and offer 1:1 private nutrition counseling as well as lead group programs for those living with Lupus. The response is amazing! My clients are able to live their dreams now! People that had been told it would not be safe for them to become pregnant are having safe and healthy pregnancies! Clients are able to accept job promotions, move to new places, and more because they are feeling great and confident that they will continue to feel fantastic! Again and again, clients tell me their rheumatologists have declared their Lupus symptoms in remission!!! I absolutely am following my life’s passion in helping others feel their best through diet! I couldn’t be happier helping people this way!
What advice could you give to Carenity members also living with lupus?
Be kind to yourself. It’s so hard to not feel frustrated. Many people living with Lupus want to do so much and feel trapped in a body that doesn’t have the energy. You are still worthy and amazing!
Any last thoughts to share?
Stay positive! Look for the things to be grateful for everyday. Reframing our point of view can help you look for the opportunities instead of the limitations. I don’t mean toxic positivity or ignoring your feelings. Allow yourself to be sad and grieve. That is an important part of living with a chronic illness. Additionally, if you are starting a health journey. Give yourself credit for any small steps in the right direction! Focus on progress, not perfection! You don’t have to overhaul your diet all at once, make one small change to start.
A big thank you to Tanya for this interview!
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