You will often hear of a link between obesity and psoriasis. It is another of those “is it fact or not?” scenarios. Personally, I feel this is another case of your largest organ, your skin, reacting to your general health. If you are unhealthily overweight then my guess is that your psoriasis could worsen. Those who find their psoriasis is very reactive to their general well-being will surely find that their weight will also affect it.
I read recently about a study undertaken in Denmark which showed that the severity of psoriasis lessened as the patient lost weight. Most of the patients reported an improvement in their skin, although the results did not reach statistical significance. In my mind, this casts some doubt over the whole diet and psoriasis link.
However, I think that if the patients were feeling better about themselves then surely that’s a good thing, whether their skin was significantly clearer or not? Psoriasis attacks the mind as well as the skin – it gets into your psyche and can tell you you’re ugly and can make you just want to stay in. If losing a bit of weight gives you more confidence then that’s definitely a positive thing. Carry that positivity with you and you may see your psoriasis improve too.
As well as being reactive to our physical health, psoriasis can often react to your mental health. So feeling good about yourself is part of the battle.
Am I obese?
This is a question I have asked myself, partly due to writing this article. Yes I am, technically, yet some would say I’m skinny and some would say I’m just about right. For my height, age and build I am just about obese – that’s if I go by the standard health check – but I do not look fat or unhealthy and this is an added problem. I am told I am obese – what a lovely thing to tell another human being! I have had a health check recently and apart from psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis, I am in fairly good health. My cholesterol is at a good level, blood pressure is fine and yet I am obese so deemed unhealthy. My GP would disagree, he has often told me I am in good health and doesn’t even think I need to cut back on drink, although I am sure it wouldn’t hurt if I did.
The point I’m trying to get to here is that you need to be happy with yourself. Society has certain standards it tries to impress upon us through the media and this causes much of the hurt and anguish that anyone deemed to be ‘imperfect’ can feel. How dare we not be stick thin, beautiful and flawless all the time! I used to be a lot more vain than I am now. I used to shave, do my hair, iron all my clothes and make sure I was looking good even to go to the local shops. Now I shave every now and then, don’t always do my hair before going out and think nothing of throwing on some old creased clothes to pop down the shops. I am happy with how I look, well… “ish”.
What if I want to lose weight?
If you do want to lose a few pounds then good for you, do whatever makes you feel better. The key here is to do it for yourself, not for anyone else. You have to be comfortable and please do be sensible. Don’t try to lose half your body weight in a month, a few pounds a week is all you need and do speak to a dietician or your GP if you feel you are unhealthily overweight and need to control your diet. I have never followed a diet. I have taken advantage of my wife using a well-known points system and cooked around it. When I did last lose weight, I still ate regularly and enjoyed great food.
My tip is to go fresh! Cook from scratch and abandon ready meals and jars of readymade sauces. You will not believe how fresh a curry can taste if you make one from scratch and it doesn’t take as long as you might think.
I have mentioned before about steaming veg to lock in the goodness and flavour. It’s simple cooking and if you increase the portions size of veg and cut down on meat, you will still have a substantial meal without feeling hungry afterwards. Talking of cutting down portion sizes, me and my wife went through a phase of halving our meat. This meant one chicken breast between us instead of two, which also has the added benefit of helping to save some money. If you do this I would suggest going to a proper butcher for your meat to ensure there’s no added water. You will find something like a chicken breast will end up twice the size of a supermarket one when cooked.
I’m sorry if you wanted to hear that losing weight will clear your skin. It could do, it may not. The fun of having psoriasis is not knowing what will work for you until you try it. It shouldn’t stop you trying though. A healthier you is a better you, whether your skin is clear or not.
This content is not intended to advise you about your health. Always seek advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare professionals.
UK/IE 2013b/00058j; Date of preparation: January 2016