I’ve always been pretty good at finding ways to keep my wallet stuck inside of my pocket, but since getting Lyme disease, I’ve been forced to further refine the art of not spending money. Make no mistake, getting well from Lyme can be costly. There are often physician visits, antibiotics, lab tests, supplements, sometimes top-quality herbs, etcetera, etcetera. So I’ve found that creativity is needed to save some of those ever-shrinking funds.
When to Spend and When to Save
You can always cut out frills, but you have to eat. When I first got sick, I had to change my diet, and it was strange and difficult. But once I made the paradigm shift, I found the new normal to be far superior, and cheaper. Successfully making these changes required seeing through a couple of food myths.
The first: Vegetables and fruit are expensive.
The second: Going gluten-free is really expensive.
Eating lots of vegetables, health experts agree, promotes better health. And while some veggies are costly, many of the ones that are most helpful for people with Lyme, such as garlic, onions, leeks, cabbage, parsley and carrots, are cheap.
When I go to my fruit and vegetable store (a much better option than the supermarket) I aim at spending 30 cents per serving of veggies, and I easily meet that goal. And if you want to spice things up (literally), you’ll find that spices are often the cheapest foods you can find. However, staying within that price range with fruit is tricky, often requiring buying sale items. I also buy the smallest pieces of fruit available, as this reduces both cost and sugar intake.
One thing that’s not a myth is that organic produce is expensive. If you can afford it, great, but even if you think you can’t, sometimes you can. My store sometimes has specials where the organic version of a veggie is cheaper than the conventional one.
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I find it difficult to convince people that eating gluten-free doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank. If you can’t imagine a world without packaged food, then gluten-free prices are ridiculous. But if you shift to eating fresh veggies, fruit, eggs, nuts, seeds, non-gluten grains like brown rice, quinoa, and buckwheat, and moderate amounts of meat and fish, you’ll be off gluten with substantially reduced cost.
I’ve also learned that I can save a lot by eating prebiotic and probiotic foods. There are dozens out there, usually common everyday items, and you can find their names by doing a quick web search. This reduces my need for expensive probiotic supplements. And some experts, like Dr. David Perlmutter, author of the bestselling books Brain Maker and Grain Brain, and Jeff Leach, author of Rewild, say that while bottled probiotic supplements are good, eating a wide variety of probiotic foods is also important for gut health.
I’ve found several other ways to fight Lyme inexpensively or which don’t cost anything.
Exercise is one of these areas. Fortunately, I can exercise, but I can’t afford a gym membership. So instead of paying hundreds of dollars, I bought a $10 book on Amazon that outlines dozens of body weight exercises. These exercises use your body’s natural resistance as weights. Push-ups are one example. This approach is made more valuable by doing it outside — in your backyard, at a park, or better yet, at the beach or ocean. I’m allergic to mold and several other things, and the breeze coming off the water clears away a lot of the allergens.
That brings me to two of my favorite free ways to reduce Lyme disease symptoms: fresh air and prayer.
No one would dispute fresh air’s benefits. Studies suggest outdoor air is generally much cleaner than indoor air, so I get outside as much as I can, while guarding carefully against further tick bites. I also open my windows as much as possible, as long as there are no allergens around and as long as it doesn’t put me in the way of a draft.
Many studies have been done on the benefits of prayer for healing – some conclude that it helps the body to heal, while others conclude that it doesn’t. But personally, I’ve seen important benefits from it. Prayer can promote a state of calm, similar to what happens in meditation, and being in a peaceful state helps everyone. And meditation, of course, can be free too. One method is a simple breath meditation, where you still yourself and follow your breathing. This and other free meditation approaches can be found online.
I have also personally received considerable health benefits as a result of receiving prayer, and it hasn’t cost me a cent. If you are interested in prayer for healing, I recommend asking around at local churches or by checking the web to see what churches might offer this. Healing prayer by phone is also offered through many sources, one of which is well-known Lyme author Connie Strasheim’s, prayer conference call group.
Perhaps the widest variety of useful, free resources can be found at your local library. Here, you can get not only free printed books, ebooks and audiobooks, but also free movies, music, computer, and internet access.
An ongoing battle with chronic Lyme disease means that you never know when you may need to use that extra cash you kept in your bank account. Maybe you need to try a new treatment that shows promise, or travel to see a top-notch physician. And while holding on to money may not be as much fun as spending it, I think I’m one of many people who derive no small amount of joy from finding new ways to save the stuff.
This article was first published on ProHealth.com on February 26, 2016 and was updated on April 1, 2021.