Wellness Diaries: Autoimmune Protocol Diet Update
It has officially been a whole month of being on the Autoimmune Protocol Diet and it honestly just flew by! I’m very proud of myself for sticking with the restrictions, but I think it just goes to show how much better I’ve been feeling since focusing on my overall wellness rather than just taking prescription medications to treat my illnesses.
In mid-November I was in so much pain all over my body. I couldn’t even eat a full meal due to painful bloat and sharp pain from digestion, muscle and joint pain had gotten to the point where the only activity I could really manage was walking Momo around the park, and my skin was incredibly red, inflamed, and sore. At this point I fell into a depression - I felt so helpless, I was exhausted, and in so much pain.
This is when I really started to take my health more seriously. I’ve mentioned that I always allow myself some self to wallow and feel sorry for myself, but always eventually need to become solution oriented to pull myself back up. So, I went to see a gastroenterologist who ran a ton of tests and recommended a diet shift: no dairy and less acidity. The first couple of weeks I didn’t feel much of a change, but I did notice a bit less bloat. That’s when a few of my friends who also have inflammatory illnesses told me about AIP and I read the Autoimmune Solution. I am naturally a little skeptical of diets as I feel they’re often fads that are fed to us by social media that ultimately make people insecure about their bodies, but I was so desperate that I decided I’d give it a go.
Honestly, the mental challenge of the first few days were the hardest. I was already depressed so I started this journey in a negative mindset of needing to completely uproot my lifestyle and give things up, rather than a mindset of healing. But, after a week I already felt better. My bloating dissipated, my skin slowly started to heal, and I’ve finally gotten my appetite back! And, now I’m completely sold on how you can heal inflammation with what you do or don’t put in your body.
I am beyond happy that I decided to make this lifestyle switch! Don’t get me wrong, it is definitely not all rainbows and amazing digestion - I am still learning what works and what doesn’t, but this is what I’ve gathered so far:
Gluten: The biggest change that I made when going AIP was giving up gluten. I had already started cutting other things, like dairy, out, but the biggest difference I saw was just a few days after cutting out gluten. While, my blood tests showed a very mild intolerance to gluten which causes inflammation, I’ve also learned that when consumed in large quantities (as Americans generally do) gluten can cause “leaky gut”, which means that the lining of your stomach opens tiny little holes that releases microbes out of your gut. Leaky gut is one thing that my GI did say that I had, so it makes sense that I feel much better when cutting out one of the biggest contributing factors!
Processed Sugar: I think it’s so important to allow yourself a treat. For me, mentally, it’s impossible to eat only veggies and lean meats! But one thing I’ve noticed is that consuming a large amount of processed sugar makes me feel all around awful. Over the holidays I allowed myself maybe one too many treats and the effects of this are only just dying down. The things I really notice from eating processed sugars are that my skin breaks out, I have awful stomach bloat and digestive troubles, and my body feels swollen (i.e., joint + finger swelling and knee inflammation). What does work for me is creating homemade treats with ingredients that I know won’t make me feel bad! I’ve been loving experimenting with paleo brownies and golden milk!
Substitutes: After about a month of being fully on AIP, I decided I could allow myself to try a few gluten free substitutes like gluten free pastries, bread, etc. Overall these things didn’t have a huge positive or negative effect on my stomach, but I will say that when I OD’d on treats during the holidays I had to cut all of these substitutions out! After a few days of being fully clean and focusing on good whole foods I felt good again. Now, I aim for a slice of gluten free bread for breakfast only once a week or a pastry on the weekends as a treat. So, moral of the substitute story is, good in moderation but not excess (as with most things in life - sigh).
Overall I’ve learned what to eliminate to help reduce inflammation, but I’m excited to start learning what to add to actually make myself feel even better and give vital nutrients that my body needs to heal!