Hi! I’m Jamie and welcome to TV Dinner. While the name — inspired by my waking up early everyday to be on TV and my husband Brian being up (not as early) to write about and be on TV – is fairly new, the idea has been marinating in my brain for years.

I’ve always loved to cook. I got it from my mom, who made dinner for my dad, two brothers and I almost every night of the week growing up. But I started to care a lot more about what I was cooking when — after years of chronic pain and trials and tribulations with countless drugs to treat my rheumatoid arthritis (RA) — I went to see a Chinese acupuncturist. He told me if I wanted to feel better I needed to cut the meat and dairy from my diet. I scoffed at the thought: me — vegan? No way. What I’m eating is making my joints hurt? Not a chance. That following New Year’s Eve (my birthday, to boot) I was keeled over in pain, in tears. I woke up the next morning and decided it was time to go vegan. What did I have to lose? I went all in, right away — no meat, no dairy of any kind — and I decided to stop drinking alcohol, too. Within days my pain went from a 10 to a 0. I was making solid fists and opening jars and doors for the first time in years. Three months later, I ran the NYC Half Marathon. I was a real life Shuperwoman, just like Brian sometimes calls me (even though I’ve since married him and changed my name from Shupak to Stelter).

Years later, I added fish and eggs back into my diet and I still felt great. Then my ankle started nagging me and after about a year of denial and limping — and being terrified that it would permanently affect how I walk — I went to see Dr. Lipman, an internationally recognized expert in the fields of Integrative and Functional Medicine. I first learned of him when I read that he helped Chef Seamus Mullen get off all of his arthritis medications — a big dream/goal of mine. His theory was that a parasite gave me leaky gut syndrome which either caused my arthritis or made it a whole lot worse. He referred me to an infectious disease doctor who, sure enough, found a parasite and treated it (killed it?) with two rounds of antibiotics. (No, we don’t know where the parasite came from and no, we don’t know yet whether it’s completely out of me.)

In the meantime, Dr. L switched me to a strict Paleo diet (no grains, sugar, dairy, beans or alcohol) and gave me a slew of probiotics and herbal supplements to treat my leaky gut. He says that a healthy gut is a healthy body and mind. I know there is some controversy surrounding leaky gut — Google it and you’ll see — but as I’ve always said here, I am not a doctor. I can only speak to what I feel and what has worked for me; keep in mind that part of the pain of RA lies within its infinite mysteries, so I continue educating myself on new treatments and experimenting with different food and herbs until I get it just right. I’ll tell ya this much: after just 6 weeks of eating Paleo my belly felt better. And I never even considered my stomach to be an issue! So Dr. L and I are on our way to solving at least part of the problem.

I’ve since had a subtalar fusion in November 2014 to fix my foot once and for all. Turns out it wasn’t my ankle after all, it was two bones in my foot that were rubbing against each other. Now that I’ve got two screws in there to help me walk normally again, without pain, I can focus my energy on staying healthy and strong and keeping my RA at bay — which is where TV Dinner comes in. I started it in January of 2013 to share my healthy recipes, but I also want it to be place where people with RA (and all types of arthritis/other autoimmune diseases) can share what we eat, what we learn, and support one another. It’s my way of turning something negative into something really positive. Take Margaret’s story for example, which brings me endless joy and gratitude.

Eating healthy can be easy and it makes you feel good. It’s that simple. I understand that the idea of changing your diet can be daunting, but it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. If you ever have a question about a recipe or want to know more about what I do for my RA — send me an email. Otherwise get ready for quick and easy-to-replicate TV Dinners. I’m all about ease. Remember: I have to cook, clean, digest and get to bed. My alarm’s going off at 3:24 in the morning!