I didn’t make it through Christmas.
My husband worked very hard to ensure there would be AIP compliant foods on our dinner table for Christmas. We host Christmas Eve and we do an appetizer sort of dinner rather than a fancy sit down dinner. We had a large pork shoulder in the freezer from our last pig so we smoked that on the grill and he made a spice blend (which he is sure he cannot recreate) from AIP approved spices. It was so nice to be taken care of in that way. I get so sick and tired of cooking that it is a real treat to have him cook for me. He also made chicken wings and both were a big hit. There was plenty left over that we ate it for the next three days. Christmas day is a lazy hang around the house kind of day where we have a big breakfast (that was not AIP) and we snack all day long and play with our presents. It is a nice relaxing day and a day in which indulged in some treats. I didn’t stress about it though but it did get me wondering about how it would affect my healing.
How long will it take to heal? That is what crossed my mind. I did some research and here is what I found:
This diet is grueling. Who wants to be so restricted in what they can eat for months or even years? No one. Everything you will read about this diet will tell you that eating this way for a month is the bare minimum. Some people do have to be on it for years. Seems daunting right? What if after those couple of years, you were able to reintroduce most foods you eliminated? Would it be worth it? I know I would love to have nuts again, and what about eggs. They are one of the most common allergens out there and what if you could eat them again. It certainly opens up the possibilities in your life for food choices and would certainly make travel, or social events so much easier.
How long you need to do this diet depends on many things.
We are all bio individuals (our chemical make ups are all different from one another). Your gut may be in worse shape than someone else who has the same autoimmune disease and even that is dependent on so many different factors. Things like, what kinds of foods you are intolerant to, how much of those foods you ate and how much damage did they do and what kind of stress you have in your life.
If you have an autoimmune disease, you have antibodies attacking something inside of you. That will never change but you can stop the attack. You can heal but how quickly that happens is dependent upon your body and how it heals. This can be frustrating. Believe me. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired and I have been trained to help people with autoimmune disease find balance again. I know that no matter what I do, my body will forever need thyroid hormone. I cannot change that. I cannot change the past and how I was initially treated. All I can do is go with the philosophy of “Know Better, Do Better” and move on.
That is exactly what I am doing too. This fifth week on AIP was over Christmas. I did well considering all the junk I was around. I did indulge in some gluten free cookies, some chocolate and some potato chips. I enjoyed every bite and did not beat myself up about it. I did get some reaction on my neck so I will have to be strict for a couple weeks to allow for some healing and figure out what the culprit was. My hunch is it was dairy. We shall see once I do a proper reintroduction. This is why there is no 80/20 rule in the autoimmune protocol. You have to be strict and comply with it in order to find true healing because many of us with autoimmune disease have little tolerance for a cheat. My skin flare ups are a perfect example. They happened almost instantly. It is a lesson learned that even “just a bite” can undermine all the effort put in to the protocol. If I had a peanut allergy, I would not even consider eating just a tiny bite of a peanut. I get immediate reactions from nuts in the form of a scratchy throat and a feeling of a swollen tongue so I made sure to stay away from those. The potato chips didn’t seem to pose a problem for me though so I am hopeful.
So, I fell off the wagon and from all I have read that is okay. The guilt and shame that sometimes comes with a “cheat” can be more detrimental to your health than the cheat itself. If you cheat and you feel physically bad it is probably because your body is not happy but don’t beat yourself up. It happens. Sometimes on purpose and sometimes on accident. Learn to pay attention to your body and what it is trying to tell you. If you had been following the protocol for a while and then had a cheat, like me notice if you had digestive upset, trouble sleeping, joint or muscle aches, moodiness, fatigue, headaches or skin problems. All of these are signs from your body that what you ate is a problem. These may be immediate or they may take a day or two to manifest. Again, it is all bio individual.
If you have fallen off the wagon, what do you do now?
Like I said before, don’t beat yourself up and then just get right back up on the wagon. Eat cleaner than before for awhile filling yourself up with nutrient dense foods like broth, soup, lots of veggies and organ meats if you can tolerate them (I am not on board with the organ meats yet).
If you are falling off the wagon, not because it is Christmas, but because you have cravings that feel uncontrollable you may want to seek out a functional medicine practitioner or naturopath to find out if you are deficient in basic nutrients. You may also want to do some investigating in to your sleep and stress and see if those are the culprits.
We are coming up on New Years and another opportunity to indulge in things we shouldn’t. Do you best to put yourself in a situation where the non AIP treats are not calling your name. Go to your party already full and nourish yourself well so that you are able to enjoy yourself.
We are hosting teenagers at our house for New Years Eve so there will be plenty of junk. Most of which won’t appeal to me because it will be gluten full and that is one thing I do not ever indulge in. Chocolate though is another story.
Much peace and light to you and yours in this new year. Here is to and very happy, healthy new year.