Help For Hashimoto's Episode 14

I was on this facebook group today for people with Hashimoto’s and autoimmune disease. Someone newly diagnosed was wondering about fatigue and being completely drained after workouts and wanting to nap even after 9 hours of sleep. I responded with take the exercise down a notch by trying to just walk for now and google the Autoimmune Protocol. Someone else responded with how they can eat what they want and exercise and that they get down sometimes and maybe a little tired but doesn’t everyone. She said she chooses to live her life, not her diagnosis.   

Article on green med info talking about using selenium and Myo-Inositol being used to put hashimotos in to remission and euthroidism which means your thyroid is working on its own. 

Selenium:

Before 1970 it was considered toxic but has since been classified as an essential nutrient needed in small amounts. It functions as an antioxidant. 

It is hard to get from foods because soil levels are varying so you never really know what you are getting especially if you are not eating local produce that is harvested in soil that is being managed properly. In the US the western part of the country may have higher levels than the eastern part with South Dakota having the highest levels and Ohio the lowest (According to Staying Healthy with Nutrition by Elson Haas.

We have less than 1mg of this mineral in our body and most of it is stored in the liver, kidneys and pancreas. Men need it more than women due to it being in their testes so it may have a function in sperm production. 

We lose selenium through eliminations and we should be able to absorb it through our intestinal tract at a rate of about 60%. This, of course will be dependent on your ability to digest your food well and also whether or not your gut is healed. We absorb it better when it is combined with amino acids- this means you have to be eating protein and breaking it down. 

Most selenium in foods is lost when they are processed like in white rice or flour. Food sources are liver, butter, fish and lamb, whole grains (out for most of us dealing with autoimmune disease), nuts- especially brazil nuts, shellfish, salmon, garlic, onions, mushroom, broccoli, tomatoes, radishes and Swiss chard can have good amounts of selenium if the soil is good where they are grown.  Many experts believe that Brazil nuts have such a varied content of selenium that we can’t necessarily rely on them. If you supplement, selenomethionine is your best bet at around 100-200 micrograms a day. Some suggest 200 mg for about a month and then a maintenance dose of 100 mg. Learn to listen to your body and if you are interested in knowing your levels, getting the plasma selenium test is ideal. Serum and whole blood will work too so if your doctor is able to test it, have them do it. 

Toxicity and deficiency symptoms are similar. Liver damage, hair loss, brittle nails with white spots and streaks. They can even fall out. These would be due to high soil levels.  If the supplement you are taking is formulated wrong, you can have muscle cramps, nausea, diarrhea, irritability, fatigue, loss of the hair and nails, pain, numbness or tingling of the hands and feet.  Deficiency will make you more vulnerable to infections, toxins, and other nutrient imbalances- again- this is where good digestion is key.  If you are taking anything to reduce stomach acid you will be deficient in selenium as well as many other vitamins and minerals. Most birth control pills will also deplete you of it as well. 

When you are NOT deficient you may tolerate cigarette smoke better as well as alcohol and poor quality fats. 

How does this relate to the thyroid? We need selenium to convert T4 to T3 which is the usable form of thyroid hormone that our cells need. Also, when TSH is produced and released, your body gets a message to make more hydrogen peroxide. This is needed to help make thyroid hormone in a round about way. It is needed to make some things happen in your body so the hormone gets made. We need antioxidants to neutralize the hydrogen peroxide after it does its job. Selenium is part of the process of helping glutathione neutralize the peroxide. 

In Isabella Wentz’s first book, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, she explains that if you are taking in too much iodine, more hydrogen peroxide needs to be produced which will mean you need more selenium to neutralize it. When you are already deficient in Selenium, you can end up with too much hydrogen peroxide which can cause inflammation around your thyroid tissue which creates an immune response, antibodies are produced and you have autoimmune disease. 

She recommends taking a selenium supplement on an empty stomach with vitamin E which helps our body absorb selenium better. 

Inositol 

Myo-insoitol is the same thing as inositol and is found in lots of fresh fruits and veggies so supplementing with it may not be necessary. High amounts are found in oranges, grapefruit and limes with blackberries, kiwi, cherries, peaches, apples being up there too. You can get it from brussels sprouts, beans, artichokes, cabbage, asparagus, dark greens, zucchini, bell peppers. As long as your digestion is working well you should have no problem getting enough from your diet as long as you are eating real whole foods. 

It was once considered B8 but since our body can make it, that distinction was taken away. Some still consider it to be part of the family of B vitamins though. It actually can help your body break down fats for digestion. It helps keep our cells firm so nutrients can get in and wastes can get out. It also helps brain cells work better. 

Caffeine can produce deficiency which can look like constipation, hair loss, high cholesterol and even eczema. Again, you can get enough from your diet so you don’t need to supplement. 

Link to Green Med Info article

Learn more about the nutrients our body needs here.

Elemental Diet Day Two

After day one I slept great but woke up with a massive headache so I think maybe dehydration and/or detoxification is at play here. I also have a good coating of white on my tongue which means yeast. There is so much sugar in this formula that it can really do a good job of aggravating a yeast overgrowth. 

 I started my day with 2 scoops in 12-13 ounces of water around 9am and finished off a second round of 2 scoops in 12-13 ounces of water with added MCT oil and the herbal supplements to keep the Candida at bay around 11:30 am. So far so good except I am not sure leaving the house is a good idea since eliminations are quick to come and I feel like I need to be near a bathroom.

The surprising thing for me is that I feel really good. My energy today is pretty good. My mood is positive and I don’t feel like just lying on the couch. I am actually getting some things done while working from home. I had several burning eliminations that were basically water and what looked like yeast through late afternoon. The rest of the day was great. 

My second round of 4 scoops or my lunch started around 1pm with two scoops, no extra MCT oil since eliminations are frequent and really watery with what I presume is a lot of yeast exiting the premises. So two scoops with 12 oz of water at 1pm and the second two scoops finished at 4:30 pm with a round of burning elimination loaded with possible yeast and nothing else. I am having a desire for a sandwich for some odd reason but no cravings for anything at all. This formula keeps me feeling pretty…. I don’t want to say satisfied but I don’t feel the need for anything else. I don’t really even miss chewing all that much. That is so weird. I have quite an empty feeling in my gut probably because it is empty and I was out in 84º weather this evening for about an hour and it took about the full hour for my feet to warm up. It felt good to be out in the sun. 

I finished the night off on the couch with 2 more scoops at about 7:45 and then didn’t finish the last two scoops because I just wasn’t hungry and I am getting really sick of drinking the formula and even more tired of the taste. My energy was still good, I had laid on the couch to watch some tv with my daughter. We went to bed around 11:30. I read for a little and went right to sleep and slept through the night. I woke up around 6:30 feeling pretty good. 

Today I did not feel hungry once. I experienced a bit of shakiness from low blood sugar only once but that was because I didn’t have scoops 5 and 6 until late in the afternoon when I should have been having scoops 7 and 8. I had zero food cravings all day long. My energy was level and good. I felt pretty clear headed and was in a really good mood. There was no negative track of thoughts playing in my head which is quite normal. The other nice thing, for me at least, was I didn’t think about food or cooking or what to eat. That was great. Not longing for a certain food was really nice too. I just didn’t think much about it. 

Read about my first day on the Elemental Diet here. 

Let's talk about this diet. What are your thoughts? Do you have any questions?

Do I Need a Calcium Supplement?

The short answer here is that you may not need one. Most of us get enough calcium in our diets but lack the needed cofactors to use and assimilate the calcium. 

Foods that are rich in calcium

  • Sardines

  • Sesame Seeds

  • Collard Greens

  • Spinach

  • Turnip Greens

  • Mustard Greens

  • Beet Greens

  • Natto (fermented soy)

  • Egg Yolks

  • Dark Meat Chicken.

You do not have to consume dairy products to get enough calcium but if you do, the best sources of dairy calcium are raw milk, yogurt and cheese (Jarlsberg in particular). 

Calcium makes up about 2% of your body weight contributing to bone structure as well as playing a role in controlling muscle and nerve function.  We definitely need calcium but you may not need to supplement with it as long as you are eating a well balanced diet. Too much calcium in the diet can deposit itself in places like blood vessels and as kidney stones in the kidneys. 

While calcium is essential for muscle contraction, magnesium serves as a calcium blocker. It is the calcium in too high amounts that creates a muscle cramp and magnesium that creates the relaxation. So it is important for these two to be in balance especially when it comes to your heart. 

It is not enough to try to replace these minerals that may be lacking in the diet. They need to be in balance and we need to be asking ourselves why there is an imbalance in the first place. 

Some things to look at to see whether or not your body is able to use the calcium in your diet are: 

How are your hormones functioning? Your parathyroid plays a very big role in maintaining blood calcium levels, thyroid hormone decreases blood calcium levels, adrenal hormones control sodium and potassium which have a relationship with calcium and sex hormones play a role in bone structure. Vitamin D works like a hormone in the body. We need it to increase the absorption through the digestive system. More on that later. 

Are you drinking enough water? Good hydration ensures that blood is fluid or thin and free flowing enough to efficiently transport calcium throughout the body. Having balanced electrolytes will help make sure calcium is transferred in and out of the cells. 

Are you getting enough other minerals in your diet? You should not only be looking at the amount of minerals you are getting in your diet (from food) but are they in balance with the amount of calcium you are getting. 

Are you digesting your fats or taking in quality fats?  Fatty acids are needed to transport calcium in to the cells and help increase calcium levels in the tissues. 

Is your digestion working properly? Calcium is only absorbed in an acidic environment and so it needs adequate stomach acid for the body to be able to use it. 

 There are two other factors that come in to play in regards to calcium and our ability to use it properly in the body. 

Vitamin K and Vitamin D. 

First let’s look at Vitamin K which has two forms. K1 and K2. This is a very simplified explanation of K1 and K2 as there are more forms of Vitamin K that play very specific roles in the body but for the purposes of this post I am keeping it simple for you all. If you want to learn about these vitamins in greater detail google Chris Masterjohn. He has made a career out of studying fat soluble vitamins. 

Vitamin K2 Health Benefits

It prevents calcium from going in to all the wrong places, as discussed above, like keeping it out of your kidneys where stones can form and the blood vessels where it can contribute or cause heart disease. It also helps get it in to your bones and teeth where your bones will get strong and your teeth will be able to fight off decay.

It helps you make insulin and helps to prevent insulin resistance. Remember this is when your cells turn the insulin carrying glucose away because they have had too much. In this way it helps to keep your blood sugar stable. It also helps you use energy properly making exercise a little easier and protects you from cancer.   

Vitamin K comes in different forms with K1 being the most well known for helping with blood clotting so you want to avoid supplementing with Vitamin K if you are on an anticoagulant. K1 is found mostly in plants and especially in leafy greens and K2 is found most often in animal products. This is a fat soluble vitamin so you might notice that the animal products it is found in are naturally higher in fat so you can use it. This is why I tell my clients and students to eat their veggies with a little bit of fat so they can actually use the vitamins in the plant. 

Vitamin D Health Benefits

This fat soluble vitamin plays a big role in your overall health by impacting around 3000 of your genes. It turns on or off the genes that prevent or make worse diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, MS, gum disease, IBS, colds and flu and many more. 

Much of the population is deficient in Vitamin D, especially those with darker skin and those living in the north. Most of us need about ten times what the Recommended Daily Allowance is (600 IU per day for RDA) and the very best way to get it is by getting sunlight daily or taking a high quality supplement. Be aware though that if you supplement you need to have your levels checked regularly by a doctor because you can take too much. 

Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium and vitamin K2 sends the calcium to your bones, again, keeping it from depositing in the wrong places.  A build up of plaque in the arteries results from a damaged blood vessel having calcium deposited there so that you can remain alive. This is how heart disease begins. A build up of this kind of plaque can result in an eventual heart attack. Remember that sugar and processed foods are what cause the damage to the blood vessels in the first place.  Vitamin K and D work together to protect your blood vessels from this plaque formation. 

If you are taking calcium and vitamin D supplements but are deficient in K, you could be doing more harm than good than if you didn’t take a calcium supplement at all because that calcium is just one part of your overall bone and heart health. 

Bottom line:

  • You may not need a calcium supplement, you are probably getting enough from your diet.

  • You need good digestion.

  • You need to be well hydrated.

  • You need to do some weight bearing exercise like walking or lifting weights.

  • You need those good quality fats in your diet and you need to digest them.

  • You need to optimize your vitamin D intake (and get some sun) and check your blood levels regularly.

  • Get K2 from leafy greens, fermented veggies, or raw milk cheeses

  • Eat a wide and varied diet of real whole foods.

 

Tell me in the comments. Do you take a calcium supplement or a vitamin D supplement? Do you spend time outside getting some sunshine?

 

Five Things I Learned on the Autoimmune Protocol

Deciding to take on the Autoimmune Protocol was not easy for me. Here I am eleven months in to it though and it feels much like it did after having been gluten free for at least as long. It is sort of just second nature for me now. I have reintroduced most foods like green and red peppers, tomatoes, pepper and other spices, eggs and some grains like rice and corn (always organic, and only occasionally), legumes, peas and some seeds (only occasionally). I have not reintroduced any nuts because they had started to create an immediate reaction on my tongue and throat. 

I reintroduced eggs in the form of carob brownies. That was a big mistake. I should have reintroduced them the way suggested in all the autoimmune books out there where you take a small amount, wait 15 minutes then add a little more. I just don’t usually have the patience or the time to do such a thing so I just go with the flow. I made these brownies from a recipe I had found via google and ate half the pan in 12 hours. It was a small pan and only two eggs were in the whole recipe so I thought it would be fine. Nope. It was not. I found myself extremely irritable and really irate over little things the next day (like in the 13th and 14th hours of consuming these brownies). I flipped out on my kids over a power cord that had gone missing. I couldn’t stand to be with myself. It is hard enough to be a parent and then you throw in all this autoimmune stuff on top of it. Man, I feel sorry for my kids. So, knowing that the eggs were the only new ingredient that I had not eaten in 8 months means that they are more than likely a forever no food for me. A couple weeks later I ate some gluten free crackers with hummus. Turns out they had egg yolks in them (no wonder they were so good) which I realized after eating them when I read the package. Same thing happened again except not as intense. 

I have not yet reintroduced eggplant mostly because I only eat it once or twice a year in a Paleo lasagna dish from the Everyday Paleo Italian Cuisine cookbook by Sarah Fragoso.

I have learned a lot about myself these last eleven months. I have a strained relationship with food that goes back many many years. Doing this elimination diet has taught me a lot about that relationship and also: 

I needed to eat more vegetables and particularly greens. 

I am one of those people who uses carbohydrates for energy way better than fat. I took an Organic Acids Test with a friend who is studying with Dan Kalish and she discovered my cells can’t convert fat and protein to energy as well as they can carbohydrates. This, combined with my Hashimoto’s means I should be eating way more quality carbohydrates than I was. If I am being honest with you, most of my diet consisted of proteins, fat and sweet potatoes with a vegetable in the evenings at dinner. This here speaks volumes to my relationship with food. I know better for goodness sake, I am a Nutritional Therapist. More than half my plate at each meal, including breakfast is veggies which has helped me feel so much better, especially when it comes to the energy I am feeling. 

2. I need to practice better self care. 

I had gotten pretty good at allowing myself to sleep in when I didn't’ sleep well the night before. I didn’t worry too much about the laundry piling up and not getting folded for weeks.I let myself be okay with that or at least I tried. If I was too tired after cooking a meal or batch cooking for a few days worth of food, I just let the kitchen be dirty. I left the dishes unwashed until the next morning when I knew I would have enough energy to clean up. Sometimes my husband would take care of it if he was home. That would always be an extra bonus. I worked really hard on not feeling like a failed wife and mother if the house was a pit. I knew I had a lot on my plate and still do with three kids, a husband who travels for his job, owning my own business and all the other stuff that comes with life. What I wasn’t good at was forgiveness. Forgiving my body for being in dis-ease. Forgiving myself for getting my body to the point of dis-ease. I needed to work on just letting go. On not taking shit so personally all the time. I had to let go of wanting to control all the outcomes. Of wanting to control how my body was behaving. Letting go of my kids not being little people anymore but kids who need to grow themselves and make their own decisions and their own mistakes. I had to work on letting go of all the stuff my husband did or said that irritated me. I had to learn to respond to things, life, better. I have had to work on not sweating the small stuff. I am a work in progress. I am okay with that most days. I have started to meditate more and that has been so helpful. 

3. I need to forge and nurture friendship. 

I am an introvert. I am also a homebody. I don’t love crowded places all that much. My close friendships are few and far between with my best girlfriend living 4000 miles away. This makes it a little hard to go out for coffee (or tea for AIP) on a whim. She did just come visit me though so we are both a bit recharged for the time being. My therapist tells me that it is important for me to work on relationships so that I can remain “recharged”. 

I changed my diet six years ago. I started out being just gluten free, then dairy free, then more Paleo except I ate a ton of organic corn chips…. These changes brought about changes in relationships too. My parents quit inviting us over for dinner. My friends thought I was on some freakish health kick. They probably thought, “oh boy, here we go again..”. I lost some friends. They quit asking me to go out for girls night. Some other things happened too that broke up my core group of friends that had nothing to do with me and so I was really starting over in the friendship department and after I started looking after my health and going to school for nutrition, I just didn’t work to keep those relationships good. I found new friends who thought more like me when it came to health and wellness. I have to work to keep and maintain those friends which I am never really super good at so here is to changing that about myself! Growing and nurturing these friendships so they are stronger will be key to maintaining some sort of wellness. Community is important for everyone but most especially when you are working on getting well again. 

4. I need to learn balance. 

Being so restrictive with a diet like the autoimmune protocol can lead you down a path to disordered eating. You have to be able to find a happy medium. I found myself worrying about every little thing I ate. I stressed out over how I was going to do this or that when i could only eat these few things. First of all, I had to look at this from a whole different perspective. There really is a lot of foods you can have on the autoimmune protocol. A lot of vegetables. A lot of starches. A lot of fish. A lot of offal. I don’t like fish, seafood or organs and have no plans in the immediate future to make any of them a regular part of my diet. I know it is key to healing on AIP. I am not there. I don't’ tell my clients they have to eat it but that they should. I also tell them I don’t eat it. 

I have not had a health relationship with food. I was/am addicted to sugar. I was/am a snacker. I like junk food. I still snack and eat some junk only now junk food consits of sweet potato chips or plantain chips. I maybe snack too often still but usually it is when i am stressed or when I have not eaten enough and am still hungry. What I am working on is not feeling bad or guilty about eating something. The stress of that just makes healing take longer because your cortisol and adrenal glands get involved in stress and they contribute to my already screwed up system. We are all works in progress, right. Strive for progress, not perfection. 

The other day I went out for lunch with a colleague and friend. We ate at a really high quality restaurant that sources locally when possible. I ordered a chicken curry dish. It had peppers and rice and I ate it full well knowing that I may have some issue later but I didn’t stress about it. I enjoyed it rather than stress about what was on the menu. Sometimes I found myself in a restaurant, usually with family, where my choices were few. I look back now and see that sometimes I took it personally that there were few items on the menu for me to eat. Now I see how ridiculous that is but I am pretty sure I am not alone in that thought process. Not taking it personally any more but that doesn’t mean I don't’ get a little frustrated when the menu sucks. 

5. I will not and cannot identify as being sick or having an illness. 

I do not want to let my autoimmune diseases get in my way of living. I don’t want them to take over my life so I don’t let them have top billing. I am me first. I am a mother, a wife and a business owner. I am a Nutritional Therapist. I am living with Hashimoto’s and Psoriasis but they do not own me. They do not take over my life. Sometimes they remind me to slow down. To eat a little better and to relax but they will not be me. 

Does Being on The Autoimmune Protocol Suck?

Autoimmune disease comes in all different forms. I have been on the autoimmune protocol for about 11 months.  I spent a whole year before going on it contemplating whether or not I should do it.

It is daunting. Overwhelming. A. Lot. Of. Work. All that cooking. I got used to it. 

I had questions. What will I be able to eat? Will I be able to go out to eat? Will I be able to have any fun? What will a social situation look like? I adapted. 

I have had such a love for food my whole life. It was my friend when there was no one else. It was love. It was comfort. It was my everything. It was the way I showed love or that I cared about someone. I cooked for them. I baked. I loved to bake. Bread, cake, cookies, brownies, muffins, more bread, more cake. What my kids didn’t eat I did. I love sweet things. I love chocolate. I loved sugar. None of this is allowed on the autoimmune protocol. So, you bet, I took a long damn time to decide to do this knowing what I would have to further cut from my diet. We can be positive and say, “Look at all the good stuff you CAN have.” Well. You can have a lot of stuff. Lots of vegetables. Veggies up the wazoo. You can have beef heart! And Liver! Yum! Do you hear the sarcasm? When 39 years of your life is consuming the Standard American Diet (SAD), this feels like kind of a big deal. Especially if you have emotional ties to food. 

I know I am supposed to be eating those nutrient dense offal things. I am not because I can’t get past the idea of what it is. The texture even. Gah! No thanks. 

When I did this. I was all in with what needed to be restricted. But I was not adding in any offal. So I didn’t and you know what? I still felt really good. My thyroid numbers got better. Then, as I started to feel better I added some foods back in. Not in the “proper” way but in a way that worked for me which was like this: You put pepper on that meat? Okay. Let’s see if I have a reaction to it…. No reaction. Okay. Pepper seems to work.  

One day in August I made plantain brownies with carob. The recipe called for 2 eggs. I ate half the pan in about 12 hours and had a major reaction but it wasn’t how I expected. Not even 12 hours in to eating those brownies did I become so irritable that I could not even stand myself. I couldn’t believe it. I was raging. My poor kids. So, no eggs for me. I reinforced that idea when I mistakenly ate some gluten free crackers that had egg yolks (no wonder they were so good) as a snack before bed and the next day became increasingly irritable. That really bums me out. I liked eggs. I know that I dot’ want to live life in a state of constant rage though so I am willing to cut them out. I am not happy about it. Don’t get me wrong. I am actually a little pissed. I have a pity party every so often and do the whole “why me?” thing but then I let it go. The more I do that the worse it gets. 

Now it is 11 months in and I have let some things slip. I have a vegan gluten free bread every so often and some Mary’s Gone Crackers crackers on occasion. They don’t seem to wreck my digestion and if I don’t eat them every day it seems to be fine. 

I have decided that if I am so restrictive with my diet, I am unhappy. I do my very best most of the time and on occasion I do enjoy something off the protocol and I don’t feel bad for it. I still always eat gluten free but occasionally have some dairy. Dairy and I don’t get along so if I have it, it is usually just a tiny bit. Like a lick of ice cream or a dab of butter. I definitely feel better when I stick closer to the protocol. I have not reintroduced peppers or eggplant but have done well with some of the nightshade spices like chili powder. I am not so sure on tomatoes though. I have to do a "real" reintro to know for sure. That would mean just eating tomato instead of adding tomato in to a recipe and wondering if that is what has caused the issue. I'm not very diligent about doing a proper reintro of a food. I let life get in the way. 

The real killer for me is sugar. I am addicted and I have intense cravings which are related to a yeast overgrowth which I am working on killing off. Too much sugar has resulted in me having to deal with psoriasis and this last go round with it gave me two new patches to deal with. Needless to say I got really mad when these popped up. I first got mad at myself for eating stuff I know is bad for me and then I got mad that I just can’t be normal. That is the most frustrating part for me. I just want to be like every one else sometimes and I can’t. When I look back on my life though it seems like I never have been able to be like every one else. When I try to be I find Idon’t feel like myself. So I have come to realize that my path is to take the road less traveled and see what I find. For me that is this new life of stress management, sleeping when I need to and eating so that I don’t continue to stay sick. Being well means different things for different people and my mission is to help you figure out what well means for you. 

What do you do that makes you feel good?

What to Expect When you Go On a Sugar Detox

 

Locally I teach a class called RESTART®. It is a five week long nutrition program with a three week sugar detox built in to it. I am a sugar addict and have been toying with the idea of giving up sugar for at least the last nine years. I used to work at a fitness center and one of the instructors there didn’t eat any sugar at all except for what was naturally occurring in fruit. None. At. All. I just could not get over how happy she was about it. It was a mystery to me at the time because sugar and sweet treats were my life. I baked almost every week and ate whatever my family didn’t finish. Muffins, cookies, cakes, bars. You name it and I baked it. Except croissants. My neighbor and friend made those and I never got around to making them before I gave up gluten. I always wanted to try to make them though. That and marshmallow’s from scratch. My husband thinks I am crazy but I find it almost meditative to bake. I loved it. Sugar became such a problem for me that I could not make any treats because I would end up eating the whole pan of whatever it was I made. 

So, this idea of giving up sugar sat with me and marinated in my head for nine years. It nagged at me occasionally especially when I started to look at how diet can affect well being. When I started to see a Naturopathic Doctor for my Hashimoto’s, she told me I needed to cut sugar out of my diet. I always said I would try or that I was trying but as Yoda says, “Do or Do Not, There is No Try.”. He was right. I did not give up sugar and didn’t even really try to do it until I was put on a specific diet to heal my gut. No sugar allowed. It wasn’t even that hard to do it when I was told specifically to stay away from it. That lasted for 3 weeks and the chiropractor that put me on it said I didn’t have to be on it anymore. That was all I needed to give myself permission to indulge in something sweet. I don’t remember what it was but I know I went off the deep end and ate too much sweet because my psoriasis came back with a vengeance. When that happened I got so mad and frustrated with myself for “screwing up” that I caused a flare. 

Fast forward a year and I became a RESTART® instructor leading a group of people to detox from sugar and learn about nutrition. I questioned how I could walk through a sugar detox if I didn’t give it up too. 

I gave it up with my first class. I went through the whole detox with them and for me, it wasn’t so bad. I had already given up most refined sugar but was getting my fix through potatoes and a lot of fruit. Yes, you read that right. Potatoes. I replaced my need for a sugar high from sweet treats to potatoes and other starches like sweet potatoes and plantains. Sugar is sugar and your body treats all sugar the same really. It converts the sugars in potatoes and fruits in to energy just like it would a piece of candy. Of course there are nutrients in the foods I was eating so it wasn’t all bad but my body still needed a break and RESTART® gave it just the break it was looking for.

It allowed me to regain control of that demon I had been dealing with my whole entire life. 

If you are wondering if the program is right for you, then keep reading.  On the RESTART® program, you will be cutting out all forms of sugar including most fruits. Preparation will be key to your success. You will be prepping all of your meals for the 3 weeks you are cutting out sugar. There is no way to do this while eating processed junk foods or convenience foods with some exceptions that we discuss in class. You will be given a list of what is allowed and what is not allowed on the plan. We will also share ideas of how to plan our meals so we aren’t left in a jam where we are starving and there is nothing to eat. 

A great tip to remain successful is to tell your friends and family about what you are doing so you can have lots of support. Better yet, enlist a friend to do it with you so you can support each other and be accountable to one another. You will also have the support of the other class participants each week as well as my private Facebook group that is just for RESTARTers. 

The RESTART® program is about adding lots of real whole foods to your diet and replacing all the processed foods in your life. We all have our go to’s and we can all give them up for 3 weeks. 

I am an emotional eater. When I am feeling down or stressed I want to sooth myself with a treat. It might even be a coping mechanism for me. This program forced me to take a look at the reasons I turned to certain foods like sweets. The RESTART® program has helped me learn and to develop a new relationship to food and my reasons for turning to sugar. It is an uncomfortable place to be at times but I came out okay on the other side. 

I have regained control of my sugar addiction. 

Treat yourself in ways that don’t involve food. Hikes or walks, relaxing baths, massages or a yoga class. All of these things can make you feel just as good as a pint of ice cream (better in the long run) without the guilt that usually follows. 

When you cut sugar out of your diet, you will likely experience the “sugar flu” or detox symptoms. It usually happens within the first two weeks and lasts for a couple of days. Mood swings, depression, issues with digestion, skin rashes, muscle or joint aches, less energy. This is the result of toxins leaving your body. You will feel so much better in the end. 

You will also find that things that didn’t seem so sweet before will taste sweet enough to you after the three weeks are up. I had a private client recently who I put on this diet and she did not like green apples. She refused to eat them while on the program because they were too sour. I encouraged her at the end to just try one before she had a naturally sweeter apple. She found that the green apple was significantly less sour to her after the three weeks and she actually enjoyed it. Most of us consume things that are extremely sweet and when we give those things up, our taste buds have a chance to reset and we are able to really taste our food. This reset allows our brain to reset too. It won’t crave the crazy sweet stuff like it used to. 

Real whole foods will be enough. 

We all slip up. It’s okay. There is no guilt in RESTART® about slipping up. Just move on. it doesn’t mean you have to start over. Be kind to yourself. Nobody is perfect. Our motto is “Whatever I eat, I choose it consciously, I enjoy it thoroughly and then I let it go.”

You will see positive changes. Everyone is different but you may experience weight loss, more energy, improved digestion, clearer skin and a clear mind. You just won’t believe how negatively sugar was impacting your whole body. By the end you will feel so great about how you have impacted your health for the good. All in only five weeks. 

Are you feeling ready to give your health a RESTART®? Classes do run regularly but sign up for my newsletter here to stay on top of when the next class is. You can even host one in your home or we can do one via the web. Contact me for more information. 

In Health, 

Stephanie

What I ate for a week on the Autoimmune Protocol

I remember knowing in my gut that taking on AIP was inevitable if I really wanted to feel good. It took me quite a while to come to terms with giving up more foods and not feeling angst over the decision. When you love food, when you were an emotional eater, this can be a real struggle. So in light of that, I thought I would just share what my meals looked like for the past week starting with last Wednesday. 

Wednesday- 

Breakfast: celery root soup and a pork patty with sweet potato hash browns mixed in. 

Lunch: a big salad with turkey (I buy half a turkey breast and roast it and eat it all week long or my kids take some for their lunches), roasted sweet potatoes, olives, plain broccoli slaw (bought at the store, pre shredded), olive oil and balsamic vinegar. 

Dinner: baked pork chops with salt, garlic powder, onion powder and italian seasoning with roasted brussels sprouts, and fennel with bacon and garlic. 

Thursday- 

Breakfast: A protein smoothie (Designs For Health Pure Paleo Protein- technically not AIP), frozen banana and a handful of frozen cherries with coconut milk and Vital Proteins gelatin or collagen

Lunch: Salad with chicken, sweet potatoes, olives, broccoli slaw, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. 

Dinner: Hamburgers, roasted sweet potatoes, sauerkraut, roasted broccoli and bacon

Friday- 

Breakfast: protein smoothie just like the day before. Celery root soup. Pork patty mixed with shredded sweet potatoes. 

Lunch: A great big salad with turkey, olives, leftover veggies from last nights dinner, broccoli slaw, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. 

Dinner: Beef soup. I have an Instant Pot and so I cut up a beef roast like a bread and butter roast or an arm roast in to bite sized chunks. I turned the Instant Pot to sauté, added some coconut oil and sautéed the meat in batches until it was browned. I added chopped carrots, celery and onions and sautéed them a bit as well then added garlic, salt and a bay leaf and chicken broth (water would work too). 

Saturday- 

We were working on getting our house ready for sale so it was a busy day but I planned for it and had some good food ready to eat. 

Breakfast: Bacon and a pork sausage patty with shredded sweet potatoes and a protein smoothie. (I knew I would need the fuel for all the painting we were doing). 

Lunch: Hamburger salad. This is where I make my big salad with the olives, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and the other stuff but I put a burger on top and add sauerkraut to it. 

Dinner: Venison steak bites and Applegate organic 100% grass fed beef hot dogs. I didn’t take enough steak out of the freezer and everyone was starving because of all the work we did so we had steak and an entire package of hot dogs. The best part about this was my girls made dinner (mostly my ten year old who loves to cook). Steak bites are just venison steaks cut in to bite sized chunks and cooked in a cast iron skillet over a medium high heat until they are about medium rare.  The other best part about this dinner was that my daughter said the food tastes so much better when you cook it yourself. LOVE that! 

Sunday-

More work on the house. 

Breakfast: pork patties with shredded sweet potatoes and a smoothie with protein powder and Vital Proteins gelatin. 

Lunch: Another big salad with chicken, olives, broccoli slaw and roasted sweet potatoes. I should mention that the potatoes are usually the white or purple ones, not the orange ones. They roast up nicer and have a less sweet taste in my opinion. 

Dinner: Beef soup and a salad for me. My non AIP family fended for themselves. 

Monday- 

Breakfast: Beef soup

Lunch: I bet you can guess. A big salad. Basic same formula as every other lunch. 

Dinner: My teenage daughter and I had burgers cooked in bacon grease with a side salad and I had sauerkraut on mine. The other two kids go chicken wild rice soup from the co op because I didn’t feel like cooking. 

Tuesday- 

Breakfast: A protein smoothie and two pork patties with shredded sweet potatoes. These meat patties are my new favorite thanks to a friend bringing some over and sharing with me. She got the recipe out of a cookbook that called for chicken but I have a whole pig in my freezer so I have been using a pound of ground pork with one white sweet potato about the same weight and combining the two with salt, garlic and I had some lemon thyme I harvested and dehydrated from my garden so I added that. They are fried in a cast iron skillet and are freaking delicious. I reheat them in a skillet so they crisp up again each day. So good. 

Lunch: Big salad. Aren’t you bored of that? This time though I made beet salad and added that to it with some micro greens (little sprouts of kale and pea shoots). The beet salad is equal parts shredded beets and carrots with sliced dandelion greens. The dressing is olive oil and apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt. 

Dinner: Beef sirloin steak seasoned with salt, cooked carrots and roasted sweet potatoes. 

All delicious and so good for healing. It is not always fun to have to cook everything I eat from scratch but for as good as I feel now, it has been worth it. I feel better and better every day and miss all those foods I didn’t want to give up less and less. 

As you can see from my weeks worth of food that there is not a lot of gourmet dishes being cooked up at my house. I eat a lot of the same things and that is okay. I don’t like fish but that would be an excellent thing for you to add in to your diet. I also have not ventured in to the offal or organ meats that everyone says is so important to getting well. I don’t envision a time when I will be sitting down to beef heart or kidney for dinner. Maybe liver some day with the key word being some day. 

When you are first starting out with this you just have to cook what you have the energy for and go from there. 

Have a question about this weeks worth of food or about how to begin on AIP? Leave it here and I will help you out. 

In Health, 

Stephanie

How isolated do you feel on the autoimmune protocol?

How lonely and isolated do you feel?

I have said it before and I will say it again. The autoimmune protocol is a challenge. I hate that it makes me feel so much better than a regular paleo diet. Believe me, that was way easier to manage than AIP. I have definitely decided though that it is worth the sacrifices I am making so that I can feel good again. I am struggling a bit with sleep this week and I’m sure some of that is residual effects from the “cheat” I had with the gluten free bun and the barbecue sauce on my burger a week and a half ago. We went out for dinner again this past Sunday for my son’s birthday. We went to a chain restaurant where chicken wings are the big offering. My son’s choice. I wasn’t going to make him choose something just so I could have some decent choices on the menu so the chicken wing joint was where the party was at. 

One thing that is super helpful when you are planning an outing such as this is to go online and look at the menu before you get there so you don’t have to worry. My standby at most restaurants is a burger with out a bun but reading the allergen list for this restaurant online showed soy in the burgers. I mostly avoid soy for the principle of it and not because it is something I should avoid. Most soy in the US is genetically modified and I try really hard not to support that industry. You do what you want. That is just my “thing”.  So a burger was out. The other option was the pulled pork with no sauce and no bun. So I brought my travel size olive oil bottle with and ordered the pulled pork and a side salad with no cheese and no croutons. I took the tomatoes off the salad and put olive oil on the lettuce. Then I topped it with the pulled pork. I probably had a spice or two that would not yet be allowed on AIP but I was willing to risk that. My meal was so so. The wings looked way better and while I am not a supporter of factory farming (your shopping dollars say quite a lot when you are purchasing your food) I would have rather had the wings. 

Everyone enjoyed the night out but if I were to be completely honest, I am not over feeling like I am stuck in this rabbit hole of not being able to enjoy food like I used to. Food was my life. I used it to comfort myself. I baked because it was therapeutic and I ate because it temporarily made me feel good. To me, baking and cooking for my family was a way to show I loved them. I enjoyed going out for dinner with friends. Food in some way or another is the foundation for so many social gatherings and I can no longer participate. We are invited to a birthday party in a couple of weeks and there will be nothing for me to eat. I will have to eat ahead of time or I will have to bring my own food. I don’t have a problem with that for the most part. I guess I feel a little envious that I can’t just be normal. If I am having a little pity party for myself I would even go so far as to say it just isn’t fair that I can’t live my life like everyone else. 

I made this choice to begin the autoimmune protocol. I knew in my gut it was the next step in my healing but there is still something missing. I just now have to decide if I want to spend thousands of dollars to figure out what is going on. My gut, again, will tell me that it is heavy metal toxicity. I grew up with a mouth full of mercury fillings and only recently had them removed and replaced with white BPA free fillings. I have been slowly and gently detoxing the mercury over the last year with a clean diet, high doses of vitamin C, regular infrared sauna and clay baths. 

Now, I guess I just have to be patient and wait. 

What if you are doing “all the right things” and still not getting or feeling better. What do you do then?  We have to take a look at the rest of our life and see what is going on. Our cells act the way we think. I often think negatively and my cells react to that. Have you ever forced a good mood on yourself by smiling even when you don’t feel like it? Try it once. You will feel uplifted. Your cells will also respond. Our minds are powerful things and we do have some control over how we feel. Fake it til you make it. 

What about your relationships? This is a big problem for me. I am alone a lot. I have kids to care for by myself a lot. My closest and dearest friend lives 4000 miles away. Needless to say, we don’t get to spend a lot of time together. It is difficult to call her up and meet for coffee. Being alone doesn’t have to mean being lonely but I often am both of these things and that has affected my health big time. When I am with people, I have more energy and I feel better. When I am teaching my nutrition classes like RESTART®, I usually come home with a little pep in my step. This is a big clue to me that I need to have more contact with the outside world. 

How about you? What has been your biggest struggle in your health journey, autoimmune protocol or not? Do you feel isolated having to restrict so many foods? What keeps you going?

I would love to hear from you. Leave your answers in the comments or shoot me an email. 

I am about nine weeks in. 

All the best to you, 

Stephanie

RIP Glen Frey

A really big reminder as to why I will continue on this frustrating autoimmune protocol. 

Glen Frey of the band the Eagles died on January 18th at the age of 67. He had rheumatoid arthritis, colitis an pneumonia. He died from complications after being treated with drugs for rheumatoid arthritis. He had RA for over 15 years. He had an autoimmune disease. The drugs he took for his disease killed him according to his friend. This reinforces why I am putting myself through this process of the autoimmune protocol so I can find out what foods are indeed f-ing up my immune system and keeping me from feeling my best. 

I think I have yet to make it through a week without cheating on this diet. I have not. I did great until Sunday when my husband and I took our youngest out for dinner. She had been sick for a week and was finally feeling better. I was sick and tired of being home with her so even though it was -15 degrees outside we ventured out to a gluten free friendly restaurant and I had a burger. I ate it with a bun and forgot to tell them not to put BBQ sauce on it and so I ate it with the sauce. Yesterday I was thinking it was all okay because I felt pretty good. Then today came and I found myself increasingly irritable. I had to question if it was actually the food or if it might be the fact that both of my teenagers were gone for the weekend and were now home and being, well, teenagers. I think it is the bun or the sauce and I am really irritated about the whole situation. I don’t know if it is food that causes mood changes. I don’t even know if there is any science to back it up. I do know that without eating a gluten free bun or BBQ sauce (grains, eggs, tomatoes, pepper) I felt a lot better than I do today. I am also just plain feeling a bit sorry for myself that I can’t just wake up and eat like a normal human being. I eat really good, filling and tasty food but some days I really miss just enjoying some crusty f-ing french bread with loads of delicious butter on it. Those moments are often but fleeting at the same time. Today I am just feeling a little extra ticked off about the whole situation. Travel is more of a challenge and so is being social in general. Do any of you feel isolated on this diet? I know I do. It doesn’t help that my husband travels for his job and so is gone quite a bit so I am alone a lot. My close friend lives very far away and as my kids got older, my group of friends dwindled. Being alone a lot makes this lifestyle difficult too. No support but that of a group of people in a support group on facebook. 

I wonder if Glen Frey ever knew he had the option to at least try to curtail some of his symptoms with his diet. Did he know and choose not to? I can totally understand going with that option. It is not easy to eat like this and anyone who tells you it is should come show me. This diet involves a lot of cooking from scratch and a lot of cleaning up of dishes and a lot of grocery shopping. It is a challenge to be social, to go out with friends, to do the holidays with family. Maybe all he thought he had for options was the medications that conventional medicine has to offer. Who knows. I do know that I am reminded that if I don’t remain on this anti inflammatory diet and figure out which foods my body is reacting to, I could end up with more than just Hashimoto’s. It is so common for autoimmune sufferers to get more than one autoimmune disease and frankly, I am good with dealing with just this one. 

I have been reading more about my Hashimoto’s and how it affects the body and the immune system today. Yesterday I was helping my ten year old daughter clean out her closet and get rid of what doesn’t fit her. In her closet I found the outfit I had bought for my baby before her to wear home from the hospital- the one that died at 34 weeks gestation. I decided to donate that outfit still on the original hanger from the store with the tags on it. I was a little sad about that and it was a reminder of how my own body betrayed me 12 years ago and maybe that is why I am a little bit irritable today. It takes all I have within me to not be perpetually angry at my own self for killing that baby boy. Every time I do some research on autoimmune diseases or Hashimoto’s it reminds me that had I known what I know now, that little guy would be here. My son would have a brother to rough house with an my husband would have another grouse hunting partner (something he has always dreamed of was taking his kids out hunting). Our oldest daughter deer hunts with him but she is not one for doing the rest. I can’t help but think I could have saved him had I known to give up gluten. If I had known I was in the middle of a thyroid storm with him I could have done something. All of these are normal things to think and I do think them every so often but I don’t let them rule my life. I have done my grieving. I felt all the feelings and will forever have a place in my heart for the baby I didn’t get to know. I have to be grateful for all that his death has taught me and brought me. I have a wonderful little ten year old daughter that I would not have had he lived. I have knew knowledge about how to live my life to the fullest and healthiest and I have a deep passion for teaching others about nutrition and helping them on their own journey to health.

I have come a long way in the 13 years since my hypothyroidism diagnoses and in some ways have a long way to go. I will continue to get myself to the point where full on strict AIP will happen and I will discover just what those foods are that cause my terrible moods. Isn’t it crazy that food can affect your mood so intensely? I think so. Now if only I can figure out how to not let my teenagers affect my mood! 

Rest In Peace Glen Frey. I have always loved your music. May your family find peace. 

Please tell me in the comments what you struggle with when it comes to your diet. To food and your health. 

All the best, 

Stephanie