This second week went well except for the trip to Revival Minneapolis where my husband and I shared a whole gluten free fried chicken. We brought the leftovers home and both enjoyed it a second time. I had no adverse external reactions. No sleep disturbances, no rashes. That was good. I ate a lot of salads with home made dressing. My salads have consisted of lots of lettuce. This week it is romaine, escarole and baby arugula. I top it with whatever meat is on hand, olives, onions, avocado, and shredded carrots or beets if I have them prepped. Two salads a day is where I am at now for most meals and because I struggle to eat enough I try to roast sweet potato slices and eat those at least once a day. If not sweet potato then some kind of squash.
Being so restricted makes it difficult to be social. It makes “date night” a little challenging and frankly, it really sucks. It is a challenge even at the places that make it convenient to eat healthy out. What restaurant doesn’t use both salt and pepper when they prepare a dish? I don’t go out to eat often with my husband but when we do, we go somewhere that is somewhat accommodating to my dietary needs. I do try to think positively about how this is allowing my body to heal by calming the inflammation that has been wreaking havoc on my life for so many years but we all need to vent occasionally.
I have seen people talking about all the prep involved in the autoimmune protocol. There is a lot of prep for sure and it is hard to do when you don’t feel good or your joints hurt. Who wants to chop veggies when your joints hurt? For me, the problem is energy. Not having enough energy makes prepping all day quite a task. But, I have seen for myself the changes that just a month on this protocol can make. I did quite well for eight weeks prior to starting over last week and about six weeks in had more energy than I had had in a long time.
All foods consumed on this protocol are recommended to be the highest quality you can afford. I happen to have access to local farmers who practice organic farming and treat their animals well so I buy my meat in bulk. If you cannot afford to do that or buy your meat from a local food cooperative you can shop where you can afford it. Eating any real food is better than not eating it! If you are buying meat from a regular grocery store you can trim the fat from what ever cuts of meat you buy or buy leaner cuts. Toxins are stored in the fat of animals and humans so trimming the fat will help give you a “cleaner” meat. Also eating a variety of meats (and veggies) is best practice. But again, do the best with what you have. Any changes you make from the Standard American Diet to a real whole foods diet will make you feel better.
Red meat does have saturated fat but if you go back and read my post on fats, you will understand how that fat is not necessarily bad. Red meat is a great protein source and contains all the essential amino acids needed by your body. It has some great minerals and vitamins as well. You can find iron, zinc, selenium, copper, the B vitamins and your fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Pretty nutrient dense and really sounds pretty good for you, right? The obvious red meat is beef but most wild game is considered red meat and stores are carrying some bison and pork is considered red meat!
Let’s talk a bit about organ meats. This is also called offal and was once a staple in our diets. The organ meats are the most nutrient dense parts of the animals. While I am not totally on board with eating this option yet, I encourage you to give it a try if you think you can do it. For me, it is a texture thing and a mind over matter thing. Offal not only includes the organs but it includes things like tongue, cheek, fat, blood and marrow. You get the most nutrient dense bang for your nutrient deficient buck with these. They are the best way to get all the vitamins and minerals needed to heal autoimmune disease. I have the tongue and heart of the cow I buy ground in to the burger meat that I get so I don’t know it’s there. So far, I have made jerky treats for my dogs out of the liver I have gotten but I am working on making it in to little frozen liver pills that I can swallow without tasting or chewing. Someday….. You can also buy liver pills from Vital Proteins. They have dehydrated it and packaged it nice and neat for you.
Poultry is another category of meat and leaves you with many choices if you are a hunter or know someone willing to share their wild game. Of course you have chicken and turkey but you also have duck, goose, grouse, pheasant, quail and a few others. There is a vast difference between the taste of pheasant and duck. Not all poultry is the same. Wild turkey is mostly dark meat compared to a conventional or farm raised turkey. Find what you like and go with it. Again, buying the highest quality you can afford.
I don’t personally like fish or shellfish at all. Not in any form. There are many types of fish and shellfish that you can eat. I would encourage you to go with wild caught vs. farmed fish. Keep in mind when buying fish too that the higher up on the food chain it is, the higher the chance for contaminants like mercury.
If you are buying meat in bulk (even if you are not) you can make lots of delicious bone broth by cooking the bones. This can be used in soups or you can just drink it from a mug. It is really healing because it will contain all the minerals from the bones and you need and will be rich in glycine which is an important amino acid for many functions in the body.
The Real World Paleo podcast has done an episode on shopping locally. You can listen to that to find out how to source your best quality meats.
I typically eat a 4 oz portion of meat for lunch and dinner (sometimes breakfast too depending on the morning) and top that off with a large size portion of veggies and a bit of starch. When you first embark on the autoimmune protocol you can take it slow. You may find yourself eating a very bland diet until you get to a point where you start to feel better and then you can experiment a bit with your food choices.
Use this opportunity to look at this from a positive standpoint by thinking about all the things you CAN have instead of all the things you can’t. I get it believe me, especially when your family isn’t AIP with you. It is tough to smell the popcorn popping that everyone else is eating while watching a movie and you there just sitting there with your bag of plantain chips! Hang in there. It is not forever.
Next week we can talk about all the veggies you get to eat and why that is so important to your healing.