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?

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

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

Week Three on AIP (Autoimmune Protocol)

I failed a bit this week. I enjoyed some chocolate and a Coconut Secret coconut bar made of chocolate, coconut, coconut sugar and mint. I really enjoyed it, twice. Plus I had a truffle. They all were good. I have not had any flares or issues except now that I think of it, I have had disturbed sleep this week. See how it pays to pay attention to your body and how it is trying to speak to you. I was unprepared and hungry with the first coconut bar and the rest is history. I am an addict and sugar is my drug. 

Over the last week I ate well aside from the coconut bar slip ups. I ate a lot of salads, I made chicken bone broth in my Instant Pot and then chicken soup which always disappoints my family because they like to have noodles and there are no noodles on AIP or Paleo. They ate it only because it was the only option and it was delicious. When the AIP cook is cooking, you get what you get. 

We tend to eat pretty simple and this week was no different. I made a couple meals for my kids while my husband was traveling that we don’t have often. They had gluten free pepperoni pizza and I made a pizza out of no mato sauce (I don’t have a link to one that I have tried and loved) and the Russ’ Flatbread recipe from The Paleo Approach Cookbook. I added artichokes, kalamata olives and onions to it and baked it until crisp. It was good but it was way too much tapioca starch for me. I ended up with a rock in my gut and a headache the next day. We also went out to eat one day and I was not sure if I would have any thing to eat so I brought along some Epic bars but they had prime rib on the menu so I had that with some veggies for dinner and it was delicious. It was not grass fed but this is one of those situations where you do the best you can with what you have, eat it, enjoy it and move on. I did just that and was quite happy afterwards. 

When on the Autoimmune Protocol we can eat a very large amount of vegetables. They are not only filling but you cannot usually over do it and there are so many different things you can do with them. They are also loaded with fiber. 

Why is fiber important?

It keeps you regular. It slows down the release of insulin and you may find your inflammation levels go down. It feeds the bugs in your digestive tract and keeps the bad bacteria or pathogens in balance. The fiber that is best for your digestive tract was talked about in Episode 12 of The Real World Paleo Podcast and it is the prebiotic fiber. This is fiber that you cannot digest but the good bacteria in your gut thrive and grow on it. This can help regulate your immune system which is what we autoimmune sufferers are after, right?

The bugs in your gut play a crucial role in your immune function. You have many different kinds of cells that work to keep you healthy. Some of these are called immune cells and more specifically things like natural killer cells, T cells and more. If your gut is off, so will be your immune cells. Your immune system launches attacks on unknown organisms or things they mistake for non self (like your thyroid which results in autoimmune thyroid issues).

According to the USDA Americans consume around 12% plant foods and about 63% processed foods. No wonder we are all sick!  Fiber comes from plants only. When you embark on the Paleo diet and then the Autoimmune Protocol you find yourself eating all kinds of new veggies and even acquiring a taste for them. I used to hate beets and squash (I prefer certain squashes over others still) and even sweet potatoes were gross to me. Now, I eat those things regularly and even have a taste for them. I prefer my beets raw and shredded on a salad or made in to a salad of its own. 

Eating foods in their whole form will keep you healthy and help reduce any risk of type 2 diabetes as well as keep cancer at bay. Fiber and whole foods help reduce your risk of heart disease too. It doesn’t matter where the fiber comes from as long as it is from vegetables and plenty of them. 

How will you get your veggies in?

I did not love veggies. I grew up eating carrot and celery sticks and canned corn and peas. Not a lot of variety on the dinner table at my house. We might have had salad on occasion too and I love salad now but it gets old eating that every day for lunch. I didn’t eat broccoli until I started dating this guy (my husband) and he made it for me. 

The options are endless

  • Brussels sprouts roasted with bacon or shredded and made in to a cole slaw like salad.
  • Cauliflower roasted, made in to soup or the ever popular caulifried rice. 
  • Butternut squash roasted with cinnamon, made in to a chili or a soup, made in to noodles. 
  • Green Beans roasted, steam sautéed, added to soups. 
  • Carrots can be shredded and put on salad, roasted, steamed, used in soups or eaten raw. 
  • Root veggies like parsnips, rutabaga and the like can be roasted, mashed, made in to “fries”, or used in soups. 
  • Greens like chard, kale, or beet greens can be sautéed, used in salads or soups. 
  • Asparagus are great roasted with olive oil and lemon. 
  • Broccoli is great roasted. 
  • Sweet potatoes can be mashed, baked, fried, sliced and baked, made in to chips or fries. 

You can take just about any veggie you want and put it on a salad. 

As I have said before your options are endless with this diet and vegetables. You can include Acorn squash (great stuffed with pork and spices), beets, plantains, taro, yams, cassava, tapioca, yucca. These are all what you might call more dense because they are starchier. You may do well with some and not so well with others. 

  • Any greens like arugula are great options to add to salads. Basil is another good addition. 
  • Onions, leeks, shallot, green onions or scallions and garlic all all flavor enhancers. 
  • Artichokes, avocados, fennel, zucchini, radishes.  
  • Bok choy, cabbage, celery, chicory, cucumbers, water chestnuts, kohlrabi and many many more. 

So with that, I leave you with a recipe for my beet salad that I have adapted from my NTA instructor. It is delicious and I dare you to give it a try. It is fantastic for your liver and gallbladder. 

Beet Salad also known as Liver Gallbladder Salad

  • 1 large beet shredded (in a food processor is easiest)
  • 2-3 med carrots shredded
  • 1 bunch of dandelion greens or cilantro chopped
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 Tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp salt

Combine shredded beets, carrots and either cilantro or dandelion greens in a large bowl. In a small bowl combine dressing ingredients (oil, acv, lemon juice) and mix well. Add to bowl of veggies tossing until combined and sprinkle with salt taste. 

This gets better after a couple days in the fridge.

In health, 

Stephanie

Tell me in the comments what your favorite vegetable is and how you like to cook it. 

Week Two on The Autoimmune Protocol

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. 

In Health, 

Stephanie

Instant Pot Smothered Pork Chops

I bought an instant pot on Black Friday. I had been hearing about how great this thing is for about a year and the price was finally right so I went for it. I thought, if it can make yogurt, I will get rid of my yogurt maker. I am going to try that tomorrow and see how it goes. 

Tonight I made Smothered Pork Chops. My husband had been deer hunting and brought home some pork chops that had not gotten cooked up so they were my first experiment in this magical thing called the Instant Pot. 

I was in a hurry to get dinner on the table so sadly, I don't have a photo of the finished project but trust me, it is a winner. My very picky husband who rarely says "good dinner, make that again" said just that. He said, "Make that again and don't change a thing." So I wrote it down and am sharing it with you. Again, sorry there is no photo. 

This recipe was adapted from the Cooks Illustrated Family Cookbook. A classic cookbook with lots of great dishes that are adaptable to those of us with Autoimmune issues. I did not partake in this dish because I wanted to make it as close to the original version, spice wise so it was not AIP but I will give you AIP alternatives. If you don't have an instant pot, I will give you stovetop directions. 

Smothered Pork Chops in the Instant Pot

  • 4 bone in pork chops

  • salt and pepper (omit pepper for AIP)

  • 2 T fat like lard, bacon fat, tallow, coconut oil (I used bacon fat)

  • 1 large onion minced (orig. recipe called for it sliced thin)

  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2-1 tsp dried tarragon (orig. recipe called for thyme)

  • 4 oz ham sliced thin (my husband bought high quality lunch meat for deer hunting, this was left over. Orig. recipe called for 3oz bacon)

  • 1 1/2 cups broth

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 T parsley, chopped

  • 3 T arrowroot

  • 1/3 cup milk (I used raw but you can use coconut milk or more broth for AIP)

 

Use sauté feature to sauté the chops on both sides in 1/2 T of the fat, place on a plate.

Add the onions and sauté in a little more of the fat until they are translucent (five or so minutes).

Add the garlic and tarragon and sauté until garlic is fragrant.

Add the sliced ham or bacon and sauté until heated through.

Add the broth and bay leaves.

Turn off the sauté feature. Return pork chops to the pot.

Close the lid and use the meat/stew feature and reduce the cooking time to about 20 minutes (my chops were only about 3/4" to an inch thick, if you have thicker chops you may need to increase the time a bit). 

Once the 20 minutes are up, release the steam and remove the lid. Turn on the sauté feature and remove the chops to a platter.

Mix the arrowroot with the milk (or more broth or water or coconut milk) and add it to the mixture in the pot, stirring with a whisk. It should make a gravy consistency, if not add more arrowroot mixed with liquid of your choice until you have the consistency you like. 

Serve with cauliflower rice for AIP or rice if you eat it. 

If you don't have an Instant Pot, you can use a 12 inch skillet and simmer the whole thing for about 30 minutes, covered. 

Enjoy. 

In Health, 

Stephanie

Follow My Journey on The Autoimmune Protocol

I have decided to dive in head first with the Autoimmune Protocol. Never thought I would commit to it but at this point I feel I just don’t have anything to lose except my symptoms. So, what is this whole idea about?  The autoimmune protocol or AIP is about promoting healing, removing inflammatory foods so your body can calm down and work on healing itself. Food as medicine. I have been gluten free and dairy free for 5 years. I have been on a paleo diet for probably 3 1/2 years. Truthfully, I didn’t really pay attention to when I made the switch to a paleo type diet. I really just call it eating real, whole, nutrient dense foods instead of paleo because that is really what it is. None of this, “Is this allowed on the Paleo Diet?” stuff happening over here. It is more like, “What sort of reaction might I have to this?”.  I am just like my clients at this point: sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was really hoping the paleo diet would be enough for me to feel my best but as my luck would have it, that was not the case. 

What got me “sick” in the first place was the good old Standard American Diet or SAD and some really poor eating habits that I have had since I was a kid. I grew up eating processed foods like nobody’s business. Remember Swanson TV Dinners? Boxed frozen donuts you could bake in your oven? Canned pie fruits?  My mom cooked a lot too, don’t get me wrong but she also worked so we had a lot of “convenience” foods growing up and I didn’t complain. I loved it. We had dessert every night, a solid rotation of chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookies, or a variety of fruit crisps made with the pie filling (cherry crisp, apple crisp or blueberry crisp) served with cool whip. I remember those fondly. They helped me develop a serious craving for sugar. We ate a lot of bread too. I still love bread or at least the idea of it. I still kind of miss it probably because my family doesn’t eat the way I do so there is still bread in the house. So, a childhood of the Standard American Diet coupled with the Autoimmune Thyroid problems running rampant in my mom’s family lead to me having Hashimoto’s and trying desperately to feel good again. 

The first couple of months on just a gluten free diet, I felt pretty good. I had tried to replace most of my old favorites with gluten free versions, either store bought or home made. That lasted a couple months like I said, then I had some food allergy testing done and found out I also should avoid dairy, eggs, oats, yeast (bye bye gluten free bread), shellfish (didn’t like it anyway) and goats milk. The biggest hits for me were dairy ( I was living off cheese to keep me full since I couldn’t have gluten any more), eggs and yeast. I gave all that up and was the best patient my naturopathic doctor ever had. She even told me she loved how compliant I was. Yay me!  

This all helped but I still suffered from terrible PMS, fatigue, brain fog and my thyroid numbers have not been in any labs normal range for most of the last five years. Something wasn’t right. My ND told me to keep sugar to a minimum. That didn’t work for me. I was an all or nothing type of person and so I kept sugar in because I was severely addicted.  I saw this ND for several years and asked her if I should be on the Autoimmune Protocol. She said that she had me on what was basically my own Autoimmune Protocol which made sense since we are all bio individuals, there would not be a once sized fits all protocol. I was happy with that because I didn’t want to give up nightshades (especially tomatoes, potatoes and peppers), nuts or my treat that became a regular thing- corn chips. 

Cut to the beginning of 2015. My ND had moved her office about an hours drive from me and I had found an MD who was willing to treat my thyroid based on my symptoms and not just my labs. Plus she was willing to test me for more than just TSH and she was about a 40 minute drive for me (See this post for more explanation on what TSH is.). With my Nutritional Therapy Background, I knew what I needed to do to heal so I didn’t think I needed my ND anymore. I did however go to a chiropractor that had a “Thyroid Protocol” because I was so tired all the time and I didn’t know what to do about it. This protocol gave me a taste of the Autoimmune Protocol which I did well on and started to feel pretty good three weeks in so he took me off the protocol and I started to eat nuts and sugar and some other things and it completely wrecked my digestion and I was back to feeling tired again. I knew I should go back on it but without someone telling me that is what I should do, I was basically lying to myself that I was fine and that my gut was healed. 

This fall I became a RESTART® instructor teaching a five week nutrition class with a sugar detox built in to it and I also decided to start the Autoimmune Protocol.  Cutting out sugar has been life changing for me. I relied pretty heavily on fruit before the detox and having to be strict on the sugars with my class was the best thing I ever did. I really felt good. So about 8 weeks in to AIP and three weeks on a sugar detox, I made pumpkin pancakes from Practical Paleo which used 4 eggs and I ate the whole batch for dinner. Very shortly afterwards I became really irritable and I couldn’t figure out why. The next day, discussing food intolerances with my RESTART® class I was telling them how a food intolerance can show up as irritability. Duh. So, I realized that eggs were not ready to be reintroduced. I also did not reintroduce them properly so that didn’t help either. 

Shortly after that class ended, it was Thanksgiving and I made a traditional dinner for everyone that was gluten free. I enjoyed some of my gluten free stuffing and ate green beans, both of which are not allowed on the elimination phase of AIP so today I am back to square one of the elimination phase of AIP eating only healing, nutrient dense foods for at least the next two months. I will then try to do a reintroduction the proper way which I will talk about in later posts. I am hoping you will follow me on this journey to healing so that you can see it can work for you too. 

I thought I would list my current symptoms for my Hashimoto’s so we can get a baseline of what is going on. I will also list my latest lab work so hopefully we can compare results for the better. 

Symptoms (since we are all bioindividual, your symptoms may be different than mine):

  • fatigue
  • cold hands, feet and bum and sometimes a general cold to the bone feeling (especially in winter)
  • sleep disturbances (especially when stress is not managed)
  • irritability, mood instability
  • heavy periods (I do have an iron deficiency but hypothyroid women tend to have heavier periods)
  • brain fog
  • slow to process information (if you listen to the Real World Paleo Podcast you can hear that I take some time to develop a thought)
  • a general feeling of blah (almost as if I am depressed but I am not)

As of 10/6/15 my labs were as follows: 

  • TSH 6.13 uIU/mL high
  • FT4 .74 ng/dLlow
  • FT3 2 pg/mL normal

I keep forgetting to ask my doctor to test my Reverse T3 since it hasn’t been tested for a year (it was 11.4 ng/dL November 2014 which is in their normal range). 

I should also list for you what supplements I am taking to help this process along: 

  • Betaine HCl (Biotics or Pure Encapsulations)
  • Fish Oil (Biotics or Metagenics)
  • High dose Vitamin C (Metagenics)
  • Adrenal support (Biotics or Pure Encapsulations)
  • B Complex (Pure Encapsulations)
  • Vitamin D3 (Biotics)
  • Selenium (Pure Encapsulations)
  • Zinc (Douglas Laboratories)
  • Vitamin E (Pure Encapsulations)
  • Iron (Pure Encapsulations)
  • Fermented Cod Liver Oil (Green Pastures)

I do not recommend you buy supplements of any kind from retailers like Amazon and here is a good blog post explaining why.  Buy only from a trusted and reputable source or from a practitioner like myself. Buying from a practitioner like myself not only helps me make a living but helps to run my website and podcast. I also think you should, run, not walk away from anyone who wants to fill you up on a boatload of supplements without first finding out exactly what might be troubling you. I never ask my clients to take this many supplements even though these are pretty basic and are needed for my particular situation. It is always best to start out slow with supplementation and work on getting your digestion working first so at a minimum you might want to try the Betaine HCl which can be purchased at health food stores or food cooperatives or Whole Foods. No one has a better HCl than anyone else. There is no proprietary ingredients. Stomach acid is stomach acid. 

My next post will talk all about what foods to include in AIP and what foods to exclude and the reasoning behind all of it. Join me here next week, won’t you?

In Health, 

Stephanie

Healthy Eating 101

Last Tuesday was National Night Out (I think it is called something else now) and our neighborhood makes hamburgers and hot dogs for the event and everyone else brings a dish to share. We were discussing hamburgers and a seasoning someone brought that made the burgers tasty. I didn’t have any because I wasn’t sure it was gluten free but I was telling them about making burgers that were half chopped bacon so basically 50% burger and 50% bacon. They are really the most delicious hamburger. Someone said that was funny that someone so “healthy” would suggest eating a burger like that. Just goes to show that people are still soooo mislead by the media about what is healthy. I don’t eat burgers like that every week or even every month but they are a fun treat to have and all that saturated fat is sure good for the body. This has been discussed a couple of times on my website already.  

So what exactly is healthy eating?

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One survey conducted by the National Cancer Institute showed only about 9% of the people surveyed eat three or more servings of vegetables or two or more servings of fruit in a day. This was a recall study of foods eaten the previous day. Do you recall how many fruits and vegetables you ate yesterday?  Yesterday was a good day for me. I ate lots of veggies but that is not typical for me and I am a Nutritional Therapist so I KNOW what I should be eating. 

In the U.S. 46% of our food dollars are spent on foods (meals or snacks) eaten outside of our homes.  For my family I would say that percentage is more like 15%-20% at most so someone else has to make up for my share of not eating out. The number of convenience stores has more than doubled in the last ten years!  Americans drink a heck of a lot of soft drinks consuming their body weight in sweeteners! Yikes.  Americans also drink more soft drinks than water although I would guess this may be changing as we seem to be really getting wise to how terrible soft drinks are for us.

 Where in the world do you start to eat healthy?

You can get rid of chronic health issues, prevent further disease and make the quality of your life much better by making some pretty basic changes. Change is hard. People are resistant to it especially when it means giving up some of those comfort foods we have so grown to love.  The thing you cannot forget is that a diet of proper nutrients gives your body all the materials it needs to detoxify and heal or to maintain good health. If your body is broken down with chronic health problems it is because you are not giving your body the fuel it needs to run properly and it is broken. Sometimes the damage can be reversed, sometimes it can be slowed down and sometimes you can stop it in its tracks. It really just depends on how much damage is done. 

In any case, I guarantee you will feel better by making the following basic changes to your diet. 

 

Start drinking more water. 

Many people or other health professionals will tell you to drink eight 8oz glasses of water per day. The standard I follow is half your body weight in ounces per day. 

What if you don’t like water? 

You can read all about why water is so needed by your body here.  I have always loved water so I don’t have a good answer for you on how to make yourself like it.  You can try to start out with a sparkling mineral water like Perrier or San Pellegrino. LaCroix is a start too but it is not the same as the other two. Mineral waters have all the minerals your body needs including magnesium which most of us are deficient in. Your tap water can be a source of chemicals like fluorine, chlorine and other things like lead or plastics (depends on what kind of pipes you have). 

Eat lots of vegetables every day. Eat 1-2 servings of fruit.  

More than half your plate should be covered in veggies at every meal.  One of the best ways to lose weight is to eat a lot of vegetables. The fiber can help you feel full longer and will help get things moving. It can even help keep your cholesterol and blood pressure in check.  

Leafy greens are an excellent source of folate which is important for the methylation cycle in your detoxification system and also plays a role in producing the feel good hormone serotonin. 

You get lots of minerals from veggies too but they are best absorbed when you eat your veggies with some fat (butter on broccoli, asparagus roasted with olive oil, a simple salad with a homemade dressing of olive oil, mustard and salt and pepper). 

They help keep cancer at bay, increase your energy and help keep the toxins moving out of your body. 

Avoid the deep fried foods, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils (Trans Fats). 

  • High levels of trans fats in your cells increases your chances of developing cancer, especially breast cancer. 
  • High levels of trans fats are associated with heart disease. 
  • Consuming trans fats increases pain and inflammation. They keep your body from creating its own natural anti-inflammatory substances. If you have chronic pain this is one thing you will want to avoid for sure. 
  • Trans fats get in your cells making it easier for a virus or bacteria to invade and keep your immune system struggling. 
  • It is thought they are linked to ADD, depression and fatigue. 

Stay away from refined sugar.

This is a tough one for a lot of us, myself included. Americans eat a lot of sugar every year. There are many different statistics on this but one study concluded that Americans consume around 170 pounds per year. That number was seven pounds per year in 1750 England. This stuff really wreaks havoc on your body. 

  • Eating it causes a loss of minerals, especially magnesium
  • Eating sugar makes your body’s need for vitamin C and the B vitamins that much greater. 
  • Makes emotional stress even worse. 
  • Feeds yeasts in your body causing an imbalance and makes cravings worse (those yeasts in your body will actually make you crave sugar- it is their fuel)
  • Have you ever been on the blood sugar roller coaster? Have the need for a pick me up in the afternoon? 
  • Sugar increases pain and inflammation

Limit or just don’t eat refined carbohydrates

Most of us get at least 50% of our calories from refined carbohydrates. These are all the grains that have been processed to nothing and made in to bread, cake, cookies, pasta etc. All you have left is the starch because all of the nutrients are gone. Have you ever eaten something you thought you were craving only to feel so unsatisfied afterwards and still looking for “that something” to fill you up. Well, if it isn’t an emotional need you are looking to feed it is your body looking for the minerals and vitamins that it is not getting.  These foods will fill you up but they will not nourish you and that is really what you need to function properly- nourishment. 

If you have Autoimmune disease of any kind you may be best served by avoiding all grains most especially wheat. If you must eat any grains it is best to consume them properly prepared which means soaked and sprouted. If you are going to take the time to do that you could benefit from their nutrients but you can get all the nutrients you need from other foods.

Keep the chemicals out of your diet and your life in general

There are around 80,000 chemicals approved by the FDA for use in anything from food to make-up and so on. We are inundated with toxins on a daily basis from our environment too. There is definitely no getting around that.  You do have control over what you eat and what you put on your body though so you can control a bit of how toxic your life is or has become. 

Your average American eats around ten pounds of chemicals in the form of food additives every year! 

Did you know that additives are tested in their singular form and not together. So no one really knows what a combo of these things in a food product does to your body.  Toxins and food additives are a huge burden on the liver. If you are consuming large amounts of sugar your liver is probably too busy to do anything about the chemicals in your body so they get deposited places (like the fat on your body) until your body can deal with them later. 

Mono and diglycerides are listed by the FDA as the kind of additives that cause cancer, birth defects and fertility issues. Granted you probably have to consume a huge amount for these types of problems to occur but many people eat a whole lot of processed foods every single day. If you are one of those people you are getting way more additives than you should. 

Brominated vegetable oil (an ingredient in some sodas like that yellow one depicting the droplets of water on the mountains) that keeps things mixed together. It causes kidney damage and is poisonous. It can make its home in your fat and nerve tissues. 

Red# 40 is thought to be carcinogenic. Many food colors added to foods have been implicated in other things like ADD or ADHD making them worse. Avoid all colors that are followed by a number. 

Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners. These are bad news for your brain and are thought to cause headaches, depression and anxiety. 

TBHQ was not easily approved but somehow it was. Five grams of this stuff can kill you yet it is used as a preservative in many foods so it can sit on the shelf for a really long time without spoiling. 

One could go on and on about a whole host of these types of food additives but you get the idea. Read the ingredients on what you buy or just stay away from processed food as much as possible. 

Eat your food slowly and chew it thoroughly

In American culture is seems to be the norm to wolf down your food as fast as possible so you can move on the next thing. Or maybe you are running from work to a kids activity and eating in the car. Whatever the reason, it will serve you best to take some time out of your day to sit down and eat your meal. Relax. Enjoy. Be grateful for the food and the nourishment it will provide you. Take a bite, put down your fork and chew it well. Really chew it, 20-30 times before swallowing. You will find you eat less and you will feel more satisfied. 

Don’t skip any meals either. Pack some snacks if you need to when you are out so you are not stuck with crappy food choices where you may end up. I usually plan for myself but sometimes my kids don’t want to eat what I have packed. We were on a road trip recently and stopped at a gas station (for gas but the kids were hungry because our dinner was small) and the guy ringing us up said he was really impressed with the choices my kids made. Okay, so it was gas station food but choosing a sandwich over a bag of chips was a good choice. The kids picked sandwiches, yogurt and cheese and Clif Bars. You will find in a pinch many stores are carrying something a little better than a overly processed snack cake or donuts that are stale. 

Changing your diet can be overwhelming. I would suggest you don’t go on a diet. Those things NEVER work. Eat real food. Even if you cannot afford organic food it is cheaper to eat real food. Not only is it cheaper but it is better for your body. Your body knows what to do with chicken but it may question what to do with all the ingredients in a chicken nugget. Be kind to yourself when making these changes. You have to start somewhere and baby steps are always good. Even if you slip up. Be forgiving of your slip and move on. You will be happier and healthier for it!

In health,

Stephanie