Sunday, April 3, 2016

My Journey to the Autoimmune Protocol

It has been a really long time since I updated my blog! After we came back from (and even while we were on) our Wild West Winter 2015 Trip (post coming soon!), I was feeling awful. I was bloated, achy, tired, and I wasn't sleeping well. I had put back on all the weight I had lost over the last year and nothing fit right.

My husband and I had done the Whole 30 before, and since he was not feeling great after a few months back on the SAD (Standard American Diet) either, we decided when we got back that it would be another Whole 30 for us... except he took it up a few levels and decided to do a Whole 60! This is a link to another post I did during my husband's first Whole 30. It has some general info and some links to books on the topic.

That would be 60 days of strict paleo eating, no treats! I committed to 30 days and on January 3rd, we dove head first into what would be his 4th round of Whole 30(60) and my 3rd round.

As soon as I got back, I started trying out some new recipes. Of course my best friend, Pinterest, and my other social media love, Instagram, helped me find new and delicious things to try! I'm not going to go through each recipe, but here are two of the boards I worked on during this time:

Both the Whole 30 board and Paleo board have various recipes that I have tried, however the Whole 30 board has no treats, sweets, or paleo baked goods on it. Whole 30 bans these for the 30 days as a way to form healthy habits. Each Whole 30 I've done, I've gotten better and better about understanding my habits and dietary needs. I always lose some weight, but this time something was different...

I go to my see my awesome chiropractor at least twice a month (though she's on maternity leave right now... enjoy that new little squish, Dr. Santiago!!!). I mentioned to her--maybe two years ago--that I was having some pain in my wrists, but over the last few months it had been building up and I was getting concerned. I thought that by cleaning up my diet, and losing some weight, I could help relieve the pain as well, but after my Whole 30, even though some of the weight was gone, I still had that ache in my wrists.

What else could I do? I already took a huge step in removing all the junk from my diet and eating clean for 30 days...

I enjoy browsing the new books section of my local library. I just look for things that catch my eye and I take them home, because hey... they're free! This book caught my eye:

The part that looked most interesting, other than the fact that it was another book of paleo recipes to try out, was that bottom left corner that said that these recipes help fight auto-immune diseases... hmmm... Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease...

So I read the first part of the book and it sounded like Whole 30 on steroids!!! In addition to no grains, dairy, legumes, sugar, alcohol, soy, processed food, or refined seed oils, I'd have to give up EGGS, POTATOES, TOMATOES, seeds and seed-based spices and oils, nuts, ANY KIND OF CHILE, including paprika, jalapenos, bell peppers, etc. Oh no!


I spent a couple of days weighing the pros and cons. This sounded awful. "What the hell am I going to eat?" was all that went through my mind. But I also thought about my pain...

There were signs that things weren't going so well for my weak little wrists. It was most apparent when I struggled to open things, like jars, bottle tops, the bottom of the humidifier to refill it with water. It hurt my wrists to massage my husband's back. or pick my growing son up to change his diaper. Yoga was no longer relaxing and meditative. It was brutal and embarrassing. Downward dog had to be done on my elbows.

I thumbed through Rachael Bryant's Nourish and decided that I could do this. I decided on trying it for 60 days. I had already done a Whole 30 and was still following the guidelines for over a week afterward.

I could do this.

Today I'm on day 57. Here's my board (so far):

The first week was probably the most difficult. I am not much of a planner and it bit me in the butt right away. I was scouring Safeway on my break at work for ANYTHING I could eat. It was so hard and I went home hungry and grumpy that day.

With practice, and a little planning (okay, a lot), I got better and was able to be prepared at work and out in the world for eating. Eating out is still kind of awful, but I'm managing.

While I am so eager to get back to my beloved paleo diet and just stick with that (now Whole 30 seems like a treat, though I have gotten to add honey back in!), I want to do things right. I have read a couple more books to help me on my journey.

The first book I recommend reading, which is like the bible of the autoimmune protocol, is Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, PhD's The Paleo Approach. This book is incredibly complete with all of the science and answers to why this all works the way it does and why certain foods can lead to an inflammatory response in the body. It also discusses the nutritional value of a myriad of foods and explains why a comprehensive approach includes more than just diet, but adjustments to lifestyle, including sleep, activity, stress management, and more. Check out The Paleo Mom blog by Dr. Ballantyne for more information and check out her Instagram and podcast, The Paleo View, with Stacy Toth who blogs at Paleo Parents.

I, of course, highly recommend Nourish, by Rachael Bryant. Her recipes have kept me going when I thought that I couldn't do it anymore. I've found some new favorite recipes in that book and have posted a few on my Instagram. Follow her on Instagram, too, and check out her blog, Meatified. She has even been really supportive when I've Instagramed the meals I've made and has given me some hope and courage through her kind words.

Now this isn't meant to be a forever thing. As I said before, I'm aching to get things back that are completely Paleo, but potentially autoimmune triggering, so I need to go through the process of reintroduction. This is where foods are challenged one at a time to test for reactions. I am eager to get started but also a little terrified of messing it up. 60 days is a long time to invest into a healing protocol. Screwing it up in a matter of weeks is not what I have in mind. I have a better relationship with food now, but still crave the macaroni and cheese I make my toddler (which he proceeds to refuse and break my heart at the same time. Uneaten macaroni and cheese?! Sacrilege!).

Made @grazedandenthused's AIP Red Sangria and it delivered! Actually steeped the cloves and cinnamon with all the fruits for 5 days! AIP Day 50 after a Whole40... no easy task, especially when it inconveniences others, but I'm putting my health first for awhile. I'm loving the positive changes I'm seeing in my health and that makes it worth it 😊 down 20lbs since January and 60+ down since the little was born. Still have more to go, but more positive I'll get there since other things have improved, like my arthritis, joint pain, and insomnia. Looking forward to reintroduction soon! Would love some #aipreintro advice from those who've done it! #aip #healthy #autoimmune #autoimmunepaleo #autoimmuneprotocol #paleoeats #paleoliving #paleolife #paleodiet #paleolifestyle #paleogirl #aipeats #healthyliving #healthyeats #healthymom #primal #sangria #paleomami #paleomama #gains #weightloss #iamwhole30 #whole30 #wholefoods
A photo posted by Victoria (@lsgtorie) on

Today I downloaded and read Reintroducing Foods on the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol by Eileen Laird. This book is short and simple and gives some great tips on getting through the reintroduction phase. She explains that it might take anywhere from three to six months, and while that is slower than I'd like to go (deviled eggs haunt me), it seems like the right thing to do. I have my little moleskin journal ready for day 61 and will start with egg yolks.

Whether you found this post randomly, or by clicking on a link from me because you are my friend, I could use some encouragement or words of advice in the comments below! If you have any questions, though 60 days of this is nowhere enough time to become an expert on the autoimmune protocol, I do know a thing or two and would be happy to share what I know. Hopefully this can inspire someone to begin their own journey of healing and health.