A quick and easy recipe for breakfast on the go.Read More
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Lunch: Salad with chicken, sweet potatoes, olives, broccoli slaw, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Dinner: Hamburgers, roasted sweet potatoes, sauerkraut, roasted broccoli and bacon
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).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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,
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,
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,
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.
Tell me in the comments what your favorite vegetable is and how you like to cook it.
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):
- 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?