Week Six on the Autoimmune Protocol

 

Will I ever stay on the wagon?

I ate some popcorn. With butter. I paid for it too. Slower digestion and immediate almost cystic like acne on my neck. That was it in week six but I am starting to wonder if I am ever going to have a week where I don’t find myself eating something not allowed on the protocol. Gah! 

This diet is no joke. You know what though? I feel really good. My mind is clear, my mood is positive and I have been sleeping really well. The diet is working. I have not had my thyroid lab work done yet to see if my numbers have improved but my symptoms certainly have. I plan to continue on the autoimmune protocol for a few more weeks before the reintroduction of anything while hopefully sticking to the diet strictly. I won’t beat myself up over falling off the wagon though. I simply refuse to treat myself that way. This diet is hard enough as it is. 

I went to the library and checked out Mickey Trescott’s Autoimmune Paleo Book. If you have an autoimmune disease and don’t have this book. You need it! The recipes are for the most part very easy and Mickey has a way of explaining this diet that is comforting to me. That sounds weird but it is true. She is a marvel. She creates wonderful recipes and she puts it together so nicely for you in this book. I have a PDF copy of this book but enjoyed flipping through the pages. 

So it is a new year and a time when people set New Years Resolutions. I never stick to mine no matter what they are. Do you set resolutions?

This time of year you are inundated with weight loss adds every where you go. The weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that spends a lot of time capitalizing on your New Years Resolution to lose weight. If you have made a resolution to lose weight, stop right there. Don't focus on weight loss, focus on your health instead. Focusing on your health is really what we need to do anyway when we are faced with autoimmune disease. Our choice is to be in pain, or constantly fatigued or whatever your symptoms are or focus on our health. We can be offered bandaids in the form of pain relievers or steroids but those things only mask symptoms. Don’t get me wrong, if you have rheumatoid arthritis, you may need pain medication but by focusing on your health and what you are putting in to your body, you may need less of it. 

Dieting and being healthy are two different things. 

Let me explain. Dieting usually means restricting calories and forcing yourself to work your butt off at a gym. You may see some weight loss and you may feel good for awhile but what happens when life gets in the way? What happens when the diet is over after you have reached your goals? Do you go back to eating pizza on Friday nights and eating out every weekend? Does the weight creep back up and you start to feel terrible. You might even beat yourself up for falling off the wagon. Don't do that anymore. The autoimmune protocol is a diet but it is not dieting. It is helping you figure out which foods are causing you problems. It is the only reliable way to figure this out. 

Americans spend over $33 billion dollars each year on weight loss products and programs, yet obesity is on the rise and we are gaining weight faster than ever. 

Around 80% of American girls have been on a diet by the time they are 10 years old. What kind of message does that send? At any given time 45 million Americans are on some type of diet. 

When you focus on your health, you begin to look at things a little differently. When you nourish your body instead of just feeding it your body responds and if weight loss (fat loss really) is your goal, you start to see a difference in how your clothes fit, how much energy you have and even in the choices you make naturally as to what you will put in your body. 

How do you focus on your health instead of dieting?  A diet in the true sense of the word is what you feed your body not something you restrict. For permanent results you need to transform your food lifestyle. You just have to look at food differently. 

Making gradual changes to your eating habits is a sure way to ensure success. Some people can’t dive right in to something as strict as the autoimmune protocol especially if they have been eating the Standard American Diet. Start making changes in your foods by eliminating the worst offenders in your kitchen first like the sugary snacks, boxed meals, frozen dinners and soft drinks. Start reading food labels and ingredient lists. You will be amazed how much soy is in processed foods. Pay attention to the quality of your food. Where did it come from? Was it made in a factory? For autoimmune sufferers, food quality is really important but if you can’t afford to buy all organic, that is okay. Start with these changes and go from there. 

Eating "health" foods that you don't like or that taste terrible will mean you are less likely to continue to eat it. Nutrient dense whole foods are plentiful, you are bound to find something you like. I saw someone post something about how the only way to heal an autoimmune disease is by including organ meats and especially liver in to your diet. I am not all that thrilled about eating liver plain or mixed in to something else. I am not there yet. It may be impeding my healing and for now I am okay with that. Not going to feel guilty and not going to force myself to eat something that frankly gives me the gag reflex. 

Focus on eating whole foods and less processed foods. We have become accustomed to convenience foods. There is no doubt about that. Work on shopping the perimeter of the grocery store rather than the center. Whole foods are in the produce and meat departments for the most part, then the dairy department. The internet is full of recipes using whole foods rather than processed foods. You can make your own cream of mushroom soup for your hot dish rather than buy if from a can(read that label and see if it resembles the real ingredients of cream of mushroom soup which would be mushrooms, cream or whole milk, broth and spices). It only takes about ten minutes. 

When you learn to eat a whole foods diet rather than go on a diet, you are nourishing your body and your body will respond most positively. You will lose weight, you will sleep better and you will feel better too. It is unrealistic to expect yourself to be perfect all of the time. Having a healthy food lifestyle is about making sure the majority of your diet is nutrient dense. We all want to enjoy a treat here and there and you should be able to. Treats are just that. A treat. Dessert was not meant to be eaten after every meal as it was when I was growing up. 

Give yourself permission to enjoy your food (and your treats) and to let go of any guilt you may have with treating yourself. The stress from that is actually more harmful to your health than the treat itself. 

If you are just not ready to make a change to your diet here are a few things you can do to kick start 2016: 

    •    Drink enough water. Everyone generally needs half their body weight in ounces each day. Being low on water will mean you get tired easier, you will have difficulty regulating your body temperature, your joints may be stiff in the morning too. 

    •    Manage your stress levels. Meditation is a great way to manage stress. Think it isn't for you? I encourage you to read 10% Happier by ABC News anchor Dan Harris or listen to my podcast episode on meditation linked above. Support your adrenals by drinking less coffee and eating less sugar. You can learn how to do that in my RESTART® class which runs every five weeks locally here in Anoka, MN but can be done one on one by Skype or telephone. Regular acupuncture treatments can also help with stress. 

    •    Exercise. I hate exercising. Always have. I like to walk and I like yoga though and those are exercise enough for me. Remind yourself that exercise doesn't have to mean you kill yourself at the gym. Do something you enjoy. I once tried to be a runner for about a year. I hated every minute of it. You don't have to do something you don't like to do!

Throw your New Years Resolutions out the door and just start doing something you love! That will do more for your health than any restrictions you put on yourself anyway. 

Not sure where to start? Send me a note and let me know your conundrum. I will give you some tips! 

Happy New Year!

In good health, 

Stephanie