Friday, August 21, 2015

The Autoimmune Protocol :: My Journey Towards Better Health & Weight Loss with the AIP Diet


Last August I was in bad shape... I had hit my highest non-pregnancy weight ever (just 5 pounds away from my highest full-term pregnancy weight), I had just had another miscarriage that June, my back, chest, stomach, and arms were covered in a painful rash (later determined to be an autoimmune skin disease called Lichen planus), and I was struggling with chronic fatigue, joint pain, mood swings, depression, and anxiety.

I was trying my best to eat nutritious foods, avoid dairy/grains/sugar, and exercise. I would start to feel better, lose a little bit of weight, and then something would happen to make it all come right back... I started to think it was pointless and that I would never be healthy again.

My doctor was trying to get me to start taking all sorts of prescriptions - bandaids for my symptoms, complete with their own long list of side effects - but I knew that wasn't the answer. I knew there was something else going on, but I just couldn't figure it out. After finally getting a correct diagnosis and being told "there is no cure", I started doing some of my own research and discovered the autoimmune protocol. I decided to try a 30-Day Autoimmune Reset Diet. I started the diet the next day, quitting everything (coffee, chocolate and Chipotle!) cold turkey, and was able to successfully implement and stick with the diet for the 30 days. I figured Lent was the perfect time to make the extra sacrifices. The results were incredible.

Day 30 ended up being Holy Thursday, so I spent Day 31 fasting for Good Friday. Most websites suggest extending the reset to a minimum of 60 days for people with severe autoimmune conditions. I was so encouraged and motivated by my initial results that I decided to stick with my new diet through Easter and beyond since my lichen planus wasn't completely gone.  I shared an update from Day 100 here. Since then I have continued on the autoimmune protocol and am slowly starting to reintroduce a few foods, some successfully and others not so successfully.

As of this month (August 12, 2015 to be exact) I have lost 50 (FIFTY!!!) pounds since last August, with 40 of those pounds dropping after beginning the autoimmune protocol on March 4, 2015, just over five months ago!  I now weigh what I weighed in college. I am just 10 pounds away from my lowest post-pregnancy weight (I weighed 128 for one day in 2002 - New Year's Eve - before finding out the next day that #3 was on the way) and just 14 pounds away from what I weighed when I got married! It is so nice to finally be within the "Ideal Body Weight" range for my height and body frame!

Here is a little peek at the various charts in my TargetWeight app this morning:

  


What is the autoimmune protocol?

The autoimmune protocol (AIP) is a version of the Paleo diet (no grains, legumes or dairy) where a person also removes eggs, nuts, seeds, nightshade vegetables, food chemicals (like thickeners and alternative sweeteners), guar gum, and all over-the-counter medications like NSAIDs.

The autoimmune protocol is an elimination process, removing certain categories of food for a period of time, allowing your body to heal and to help you figure out your personal ideal diet. All of the foods and substances that are eliminated on the autoimmune protocol are those that can irritate and damage the gut, resulting in leaky gut which leads to auto-immune diseases. They are also foods that are nutrient deficient and hormonal disruptors. By removing them from the diet, and focusing on anti-inflammatory food, the gut lining can begin to heal resulting in relief from – or even remission – your autoimmune symptoms.

Once your symptoms have gone away you then add the eliminated foods back into your diet, one at a time, as you figure out what's affecting you. In her book, The Paleo Approach, Dr. Sarah Ballantyne outlines the protocol for reintroductions.


Foods to be avoided on the AIP:  

  • grains
  • legumes
  • dairy products
  • eggs
  • nuts (including nut-based spices)
  • seeds (including cocoa, coffee, and seed-based spices and oils)
  • nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, and the spices derived from them)
  • refined and artificial sweeteners 
  • alcohol
  • NSAIDs
  • emulsifiers, thickeners, and other food additives

Note: While fruit is allowed on the AIP, one should aim to keep fructose levels lower than 20 grams per day since excessive fructose can also be problematic while healing the gut. 

When I first read the list of what was not allowed on the Autoimmune Protocol Diet I didn't think there was any way that I'd be able to survive 30 days… let alone indefinitely!  Instead of dwelling on the long list of foods I needed to eliminate from my diet, I focused my attention on what I could eat.


What can you eat?

  • VEGETABLES (except for nightshades)
  • ROOTS  (including beet, carrot, onion, parsnip, turnip, shallot, sweet potato, and yam) 
  • FATS (including animal fat, avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil, and palm oil) 
  • MEAT (preferably 100% grass-fed, free-range chicken, no nitrates, no antibiotics/hormones)
  • OFFAL (I stick with just bone broth. I haven't been able to bring myself to eat the rest yet...) 
  • FRUIT
  • HERBS
  • SPICES (except for nightshade, nut or seed-based spices)
  • FERMENTS (sauerkraut, fermented vegetables, kombucha, water kefir) 
  • OCCASIONAL SWEETENERS (dates, dried fruit, honey, maple syrup, molasses) 
  • ADDITIONAL PANTRY ITEMS (mine include: apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, arrowroot powder, coconut flour, coconut flakes, coconut aminos, olives, salmon, tuna, ume plum vinegar)

The first few days weren't too bad, but by day seven I was really struggling. Eliminating the eggs and nightshades was my biggest challenge. In many of my past diets I would turn to foods like Zucchini or Spaghetti Squash and top it with red sauce (nightshades), my salads were always topped with peppers and tomatoes, and for breakfast I would often have eggs (scrambled, fried, poached on top of sweet potatoes, or turned into omelettes or quiche with the help of peppers - more nightshades...) I loved eggs and nightshades! I also had to completely change my idea of breakfast... On the autoimmune protocol breakfast isn't really that different from any other meal of the day - just more meat and veggies!


Note: Pacific Natural Foods now carries Bone Broth. I pick it up at Natural Grocers to keep in the cupboard for when I run out of homemade broth. 

Thankfully I have had amazing support from both my husband and my mom. When the flu hit our family my mom dropped off homemade bone broth. When I had extra busy days (between tutors, piano, and hockey lessons) with no time to cook (and sore teeth due to my braces at the time, which made carrot sticks, apples, and most other approved foods a bit difficult, at least raw), she would meet me in town with a thermos of homemade veggie soup (making sure it was nightshade free - no potatoes!).

My husband has been great about helping with the grocery shopping and grilling meats and fish, always making extra for my breakfast or lunch the next day, even when I tell him not to worry about it. He knows me better than I know myself! ;)


Introducing the ferments took a little bit of adjustment... I had never tried kombucha before so I picked up a bottle of Synergy at a local health food store. The first sip was quite a shock and then, after drinking the rest, I felt really funny...  I googled "Can kombucha make you drunk?"  Apparently I'm not the only one! I cut way back the next time - only having a few sips - and slowly added a little bit at a time to my diet. I love the stuff now! Trilogy and Gingerade (our closest Costco carries the Gingerade) are my favorites. I also enjoy Bubbie's Sauerkraut on my salads at lunchtime. I make sure to include some sort of fermented food and/or drink in my diet daily.

Once I hit the end of the first month, I had settled into a good routine and had developed new habits. I no longer have the cravings I had before I started the autoimmune protocol. It was getting much easier to stick with the diet. Plus I felt great!


How much can you eat? 

I really don't worry too much about portion sizes... I eat whatever I feel like eating of my allowed foods, focusing on a variety of nutritient-dense options.

When I first started the AIP, I felt that I was giving up so much already, I didn't want to feel hungry on top of the other sacrifices. I adjusted our over full schedule so that I could spend more time in the kitchen, especially those first couple months, preparing the food that I could eat and keeping the rest of my family well-fed at the same time.

I make sure that I eat some sort of meat or fish (just fish on Fridays) with each meal and also include plenty of healthy fats (olive oil on my salad, sautéing with coconut oil, lots of avocado) in my diet as well. These are the things that help keep me feeling satisfied.

  • Protein (probably around 4-8 oz)
  • Starchy Vegetables (one small sweet potato, carrots, etc)
  • Non-Starchy Vegetables (lots of these, piled high!) 
  • Heathy Fat (one tablespoon of coconut oil to sauté my veggies, or one tablespoon of olive oil on my salad, or 1/4-1/2 avocado)

My breakfast the other morning: Apple Sausage, Carrots and Asparagus sautéed in coconut oil with a little Garlic Salt
My husband likes to joke that I'm on a "strictly gourmet diet!" I can't argue... The food that I am eating is delicious! 
Another favorite is Chicken with julienned Zucchini sautéed in coconut oil with garlic and basil... Mmmmmm!
This Spiralizer is now on my wish list after seeing Charlotte's recent post

I also include some fruit each day as well. It is surprising how sweet it tastes after eliminating sugar for so long. The same goes for sweet potatoes, carrots, and a few other sweet vegetables as well. 

In addition to lots of water, I drink hot lemon water (first thing in the morning, I was much better about this when I first started. I haven't had it as much this summer), bone broth, roasted dandelion root tea, and kombucha. I also have a stash of AIP approved snacks on hand for when I really need a little "treat." 


What supplements do you take? 

  • Vitamin B6 (for hormone balance, take in the early afternoon as an energy boost)
  • Vitamic C (for stress management) 
  • Magnesium Complex (digestive aid and stress management, taken before bed)
  • Natural Calm (purchased recently to use instead of the Magnesium Complex)
  • Vitamin D (we live in the Pacific Northwest...)
  • Probiotics (in addition to the daily fermented foods)
  • Pro-Gest Cream (for hormone balance, anxiety, and night sweats - two weeks on, and then two weeks off at the beginning of a new cycle)

I've been considering adding a few other supplements (digestive enzymes, L-glutamine, DGL, etc) suggested by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, but haven't yet. I stopped taking Zyrtec for my angio-edema, another auto-immune disease I developed about 12 years ago. (Since starting the autoimmune protocol I've had very little trouble with my angio-edema!)  I also love these Pure Magnesium Flakes for body soaks, especially when my rash was at it's worst.

My Lichen planus has also caused problems for my nails, including awful ridges and splitting. I just started using Purifying Tea Tree Nail Saver and it has already made a difference.


Do you have any favorite resources?

I checked this book out from the library when I first started the autoimmune protocol. It's such a great resource and I'd love to own a copy. I also checked out the author's cookbook as well: The Paleo Approach Cookbook: A Detailed Guide to Heal Your Body and Nourish Your Soul.

This is the only cookbook I have purchased so far and I love it! The food lists in the front were very helpful and I have some new favorite recipes inspired by this book. I don't use it as much any more, but it definitely helped me survive my first month.

You can actually print out these Autoimmune Protocol guides. I kept them in my purse for awhile when I started the diet so that I'd always have them with me at the grocery store.


Any tips for keeping the grocery budget affordable?

With a family of nine, including two teenage boys, our family goes through a lot of food and our grocery budget was already ridiculously high. My diet hasn't made too much of a difference, in fact we might even be spending a little less now. I no longer buy coffee drinks when I go to town, my husband and I rarely eat out any more, and I've cut way back on all pre-packaged foods and all the fun treats I would make in the past. By cutting back in those other areas, I've been able to keep the money spent on food each month pretty much the same as before, even with the additional special foods I'm purchasing for my diet.

Here are a few things I have done to save money:
  • Shop at Costco - I'm able to find some AIP foods here at good prizes. (Kombucha, Chicken, Bacon, Freeze-Dried Fruit, etc) 
  • Shop at Trader Joe's (and/or local Farmers Market) for produce (and a few other things)
  • Buy specialty/hard-to-find items from the Health Food Store (Natural Grocers) by the case for the extra 10% off case discounts (Beef Jerky, Plantain Chips, Sweet Potato Chips, Coconut Milk that doesn't contain guar gum, etc) 
  • Price check on Amazon - I found my favorite tea for about 50% less online compared to our local stores, when purchased by the case. 
  • Buy 1/2 Grass-fed Beef from a local farm each year 


There are a few things that I eat now that aren't 100% AIP approved including my favorite sausages from TJ's (they come in a pack of 4 for $3.99 and unfortunately contain a tiny bit of nutmeg and chardonnay) and some coconut milk yogurt that I'll eat with some fruit for either a snack or breakfast once or twice a week.


What about the rest of the family? Do you make separate meals for you or does everyone eat the same things?  

I am the only one in our family who is currently on the strict AIP diet. There is no way that I'd be able to afford to keep our growing children full on the limited list of foods that I am eating, and it just isn't necessary for them right now. They need the grains, nuts, seeds, dairy, eggs, and other healthy (for them) foods that I've had to eliminate for now.

My breakfast and lunch is usually different from what the rest of my family is eating (although I often make extras in case anyone else would like some) but I do try and make something for dinner that we can all eat, adding an extra side or two for everyone else. For example if I'm baking chicken for dinner I'll eat the chicken and roasted vegetables, and then also make some pasta or rice as well to serve on the side for the rest of my family.



Have you had to make any other lifestyle changes? 

Yes! The diet alone is not enough to improve my health and stimulate weight loss. Sleep and stress management have been just as important and essential to avoiding new lichen planus from appearing.

I also had to make changes in how I was exercising. I had been working through the Couch 2 5K app and as I neared the end the running became way too much stress for my body. I stopped losing weight and started getting hives after exercising as well as new rash break outs. As soon as I stopped running my weight loss resumed and I started feeling better again.

I now avoid excessive or overly intense exercise and focus on including some sort of low to moderate intensity exercise each day (walking, playing with the kids, going on hikes during our recent road trip, etc) while allowing for plenty of rest between "workouts." It's also important to limit sedentary behavior but, with seven children and much less time for blogging, that's easy to do! ;)

I also make sure to pray and get outside to soak up some sunshine as much as possible.

With the combination of the AIP diet, low(er) stress, and plenty of sleep (ideally 8-9 hours per night), I've been able to manage my autoimmune skin issues without using any of the prescribed steroids!



Is the autoimmune protocol too hard?

Following the autoimmune protocol is hard but it also gets easier over time. I think it is definitely worth trying for anyone who suffers from one of the many autoimmune diseases, or anyone who is dealing with inflammatory symptoms of any kind including headaches, joint pain, skin conditions, etc.

Sacrifice: Accept that the autoimmune protocol, like most diets, will require sacrifice. Remember the words of St. Therese: "Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look , there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love."

Offer it up:  For me it helps to choose a specific intention to offer up my suffering and sacrifices. Choose a specific intention and just "offer it up!" 

Be diligent and patient: It took many years for my body to develop my autoimmune health issues and gain all the excess weight. It's not going to all go away over night. It's going to take hard work, diligence and patience.

Don't give up: Have a plan for when things get tough... Sometimes just the smell of something is enough to satisfy the cravings, and I still enjoy baking some treats for my family on certain birthdays and feast days. If all else fails find a "treat" that you can enjoy that doesn't sabotage your goals. For me those treats have included Roasted Dandelion Root Tea with Coconut Creamer as a replacement for coffee, baked pears topped with cinnamon and coconut sugar, and a few other snacks that I will share soon.

Pray for perseverance: Don't under estimate the power of prayer. Pray often and be sure to pray specifically for perseverance.

"Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations!" 


82 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Can you give me an idea of how it's going now for you, 7 years later?

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  2. Thank you for the huge effort it took to write this post. We have a son that has had problems with alopecia areata (among other things). He was born 6 wks early and so we were told he would always have "problems" with his immune system. Through trial and error (and not much in the way of help from our doctors) we have learned what he is allergic to (dairy and gluten). Even after all these years of dealing with food allergies it seems counter intuitive that the food we eat could be so toxic to our bodies. I am so thrilled for you that you have been so successful! You look wonderful and I can not imagine how energetic you will be now that you are so much more healthy (especially since you are so!! extraordinary in your wifely/motherly duties while not feeling your best! ;-) God bless you Jessica!

    2015-08-21 19:02:41

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    1. You are welcome! I've been meaning to write this post for awhile and am glad that it is finally done! :) Thank you for the sweet comment! I'm so glad you've been able to figure out the best diet for your son. God bless you and your family!

      2015-08-21 23:09:42

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  3. Jessica, What an inspiration you are....always! I have been following your progress and you gracefully have embraced this. You have given me the encouragement and tools I need to begin this process. I do not suffer from an AI disease but have been suffering from chronic fatigue, depression, migraines and mood swings, all diagnosed with drug therapy, which I avoid. I want to be full and present for my family and our educational endeavors and have found prayer a comfort and a physical help. My concern has always been "falling off the wagon" if I were to bake and cook for my family. How do you avoid the desire to endulge with them. You have so much strength! Also, from your last post, am wondering if you could tell me where I could find information on Camp Joan of Arc. We live in California and have not found anything like this for our children. We have family retreats, but our girls would really like to have the independent experience with others who believe as they do and act according to God's plan. Thank you for being a constant Light to our family.

    2015-08-21 19:33:14

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    1. Thank you, Kristi! I think the only reason I was able to continue baking for my family with out eating any of it is because I had felt so very poorly before the diet. I never would have thought it was possible. Plus I think I enjoy taking pictures of the desserts more than actually eating them! ;) I will say a prayer for you that you can persevere and recover from your own health issues!

      Camp St. Joan of Arc is run by an FSSP parish in Idaho. It was only open to the parishioners at first, and then, after a certain date, it was open to other girls as well, which is when we registered our girls. (My husband's brother is the pastor which is how we originally found out about the camp, and one of the reasons we decided to drive the 650+ miles each way to get our children there.) It filled up really fast once it was open to those outside the parish!

      The seminarians also run a couple boys camps each summer in SD and PA: https://seminarycamps.wordpress.com I'm not sure how to find out which other parishes around the country have camps like Camp St. Joan and Camp St. Joseph during the summer... Perhaps you could contact the FSSP parish in your area and ask. I know that St. Anne's in San Diego has a Chant Camp, but I'm not sure whether they (or St. Stephen in Sacramento) have any other summer camps. You can find a list of their US apostolates here: http://fssp.com/press/locations/

      Hope that helps!

      2015-08-21 23:08:10

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    2. Thank you, so much, for taking the time to respond. I just don't know where you find the time. I appreciate all the information and will contact them. And I am so thankful and receptive to your offering up prayer for me. God Bless you and your beautiful family.

      2015-08-22 04:58:00

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  4. What a nicely written post, Jessica. I commented on a recent post. The other day, I had visited the doctor for some new tests as well as a thyroid check-up and left feeling utterly frustrated. Since I have toyed with the idea of doing the AIP protocol, I know I have to give it a good try. (I have done paleo or paleoish 90% of the time since the spring, but still have trouble.) I am diagnosed celiac, which I feel is under control, but there is definitely something else going on (or more). The fatigue is crushing at the moment. My kids are good about it, but when mom can't wake up until mid-morning or needs to take a nap NOW, something needs to give. Epsom salt (magnesium) baths are a life saver for pain for me right now. Supplementing with vitamin d and magnesium do well too. I try calcium but they make me feel sick. Using essential oils for headaches and upset stomach help (my favorites right now are peppermint and frankincense). I think it's nice to share what helps people because every body is different and anything is worth trying when one is in pain or beyond exhausted despite a "healthy diet or lifestyle." Thank you for taking the time to write all this out, and make people aware! (I saw those yummy looking apple sausages and I was like, no way is that AIP-friendly unless she hand-made them! ;) )

    2015-08-21 19:37:34

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    1. lol! They are very close to AIP-friendly and so far they haven't been an issue! Yay!! They are all natural chicken raised with no antibiotics, minimally processed with no artificial ingredients. The ingredients list includes: Chicken, dehydrated apples, contains less than 2% of salt, roasted onion, celery juice powder, white pepper*, nutmeg (not allowed), thyme, ginger, chardonnay (not allowed), rosemary, in a natural pork casing. (I eliminated black and white pepper initially but now include it in my diet.)

      Trader Joe's also has Garlic Herb Chicken Sausage that I also buy that doesn't include any of the off limit foods! I just don't like it quite as much as the Apple, but I eat it as well. The ingredient list on this one: Chicken, contains less than 2% of Salt, Parsley, Roasted Onions, Roasted Garlic, Celery Juice Powder, Marjoram, Oregano, Black Pepper, White Pepper, in a natural pork casing.

      They are SO good! I cook them first, then I save three for later and slice one to sauté in coconut oil. Yum!!!

      I remember your other comment and you have been on my mind. I'm sorry you left your last appointment so frustrated. I can relate... It wasn't that long ago I left every doctors appointment feeling the same way. In fact, I haven't been back to see a doctor since March. :/ I'll continue to pray for you!

      2015-08-21 23:22:45

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    2. Thanks Jessica. :-) I have no Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, or Costco's by me. Some pantry items I purchase online. But slowly other stores are increasing their "natural" meats and foods. One question I meant to ask. What do you do for communion? Do you receive it or refrained for this test period? As a celiac, I occasionally take the low-gluten host but I typically place myself so I can receive from the cup first. With traveling or visiting another parish we often take a spiritual communion. (Three of my children also have celiac but only two are old enough for communion age.)

      2015-08-22 01:17:44

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    3. Ooohh! That does make it much more challenging for you. We don't have Whole Foods, but I'm not sure what I'd do without Costco (It's been the main place I grocery shop for many years, especially with a large family) and I've fallen in love with Trader Joe's too, since they opened here last fall.

      The first two Sundays of my AIP I missed Mass due to the flu making it's way through our home. I didn't even THINK about my diet when I went to receive Our Lord that third Sunday, after being off ALL grains and gluten for three weeks... at least not until I got back to the pew and my mouth felt funny/itchy and my mouth began to swell slightly like it would when I have angio-edema flare ups. (I hadn't eaten much for dinner the night before and had not eaten before the late Mass, which I think, made me even more sensitive.) I wasn't sure what to do from there, but decided to try again the next Sunday and I was fine. Since then Holy Communion once a week, and a handful of times at daily Mass, hasn't been a problem for me, but I don't suspect that gluten is one of my big triggers, unlike wine which often gives me hives, even just a small sip. The only time I have received the Precious Blood was during our wedding Mass nearly 16 years ago, before I knew how sensitive I was to alcohol. (My husband and I got married when I was 21 and I had never had any alcohol whatsoever until my 21st birthday, due to a bet I made with my Dad when I was 15! lol Then I was pregnant by the time I was 22 and was pretty much pregnant or nursing up until last summer! ) Anyway, for me I've decided to just continue receiving and count that in the very small percentage of things not AIP approved in my diet. I'm so glad that your parish offers a low-gluten option for you!

      2015-08-22 01:40:30

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  5. Congratulation Jessica! I must say that you have inspired me some time ago and I have decided to try the diet for myself. I suffer from severe anxiety and somewhat depression and all of the bad stuff that comes with it: palpitations, headaches, foggy brain, extreme exhaustion and overwhelming dizziness ( nothing wrong was ever found with me ) etc. I started the diet 2 weeks ago. So far I am not as tired and I don't have headaches. The rest is maybe slightly improving even though I found myself dizzy the past few days. Also I lost only 2 pound so far! When did you start feeling better and how quickly did you see your weight coming off? Thank you for inspiring me and God bless you and your beautiful family!

    2015-08-21 19:45:12

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad you have been noticing at least some improvement. And two pounds is two pounds! Not bad for two weeks. At first I did lose weight fairly quickly - about 1/2 pound a day, but I was also sick at the time, losing 17 pounds in the first month - after that it slowed down to about 1 pound a week on average. However, I always seem to hang onto weight from mid cycle to the end of my cycle, having another drop when my new cycle begins.

      That reminds me! One thing I forgot to mention in the post is that I also have been using progesterone cream for two weeks out of each month, if I remember. It makes a HUGE difference with my anxiety. I can feel the anxiety and panic attacks coming on and can usually stop them within 30 minutes if I apply some progesterone. (My progesterone levels were super low when I had them tested in March.) I have also started tracking the anxiety and it always hits mid-cycle (right around ovulation) for some reason, possibly the shift in hormones? I don't know. Just thought I'd mention it since low-progesterone can make it hard to lose weight. Might be something to look into. I should go back and add that to the post.

      God bless you and your family too!

      2015-08-22 00:57:03

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    2. Thank you for the progesterone suggestion! Next time I am at the doctor I'll ask for the test.

      2015-08-23 00:10:11

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    3. Kinga, I'll pray for you. I can relate...If you ever want to talk , contact me. gwen308@gmail.com .

      2015-08-25 01:55:16

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    4. Thank you Gwen! It is so encouraging to see other women go through similar issues and I am not alone! My anxiety is really bad. I know that the dizziness that I experience and being lightheaded is a consequence of anxiety. I feel that being on AIP for the past 30 days helped a little. I feel happier and some problems are disappearing. I need to mention that I was never diagnose with autoimmune disease, but I do have gluten allergy even though it is not celiac. Doctors though ignored it. I do believe since it is a gut-brain connection, that fixing the gluten (and sugar) problem will eventually heal me :)

      2015-09-07 01:34:26

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  6. Oh Jessica, I am almost in tears reading this blog post. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease (Hashimoto's) in January. While our autoimmune diseases are different, it sounds like they are doing similar things to our bodies. I currently weigh the same as when I was about to deliver my twins (almost 8 years ago now). I gain weight rapidly and have a horrendous time losing it. (I lost 10 pounds on the Whole30 and quickly gained them back when I complete the program.) I am exhausted, and since May I have had swelling in my feet and legs that won't go away. I clearly have to make longterm adjustments to my diet and lifestyle, like you did. But also like you, I have seen doctors who tell me there is nothing I can do ... I have felt so helpless and overwhelmed, especially with the kids ... You know; being a mom to many is a lot of work already; focusing so much on health and food is another full-time job. I just saw a new doctor this week who has given me hope. He is diving into the "why?" and get at the root cause of the autoimmune disease, the inflammation and all the rest ... Reading this detailed blog post has given me courage to do something radical for the long-haul. You have encouraged me! Congratulations on your success! It is truly inspiring, and I am so happy that you are feeling better!

    2015-08-21 19:57:24

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    1. {{{Hugs}}} to you Sarah! I can so relate to what you are going through and it is so hard! I'm glad that you have finally found a doctor who has given you some hope and that this post has been encouraging as well! You'll have to keep me updated on how this diet works for you if you end up trying it for your Hashimoto's. God bless you!

      2015-08-22 13:51:03

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    2. Hello Sarah, I had Hashimotos diagnosed this year too. I sympathise with you. There is a very good "thyroid community" at Health Unlocked online. Many good suggestions their for dietary changes which may help. Praying for you, blessings in your search for good health.

      2015-09-22 20:19:12

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    3. Thank you, Rachel! I will check that out! God bless you!

      2015-11-05 05:22:24

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  7. Praise God for your perseverance for and healing!

    2015-08-21 20:19:54

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  8. Way to go, Jessical! So happy you were able to get diagnosed, and then treat it in a healthy and natural way. Jacek and I had decided to re-start our Paleo diet on September 1st, and this is just the inspiration I needed...when I have those tough moments, I'll think of you to help me through.

    2015-08-21 20:31:33

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  9. Great post Jessica! Keep up the AWESOME work!!

    2015-08-21 21:25:26

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  10. Way to go!

    2015-08-21 21:46:41

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  11. GIRL, SO PROUD OF YOU!!!!!! You look fab and I"m betting all that new found energy and happiness has given you NEW LIFE!!! GOD IS GOOD!!! Sending love and BIG SMILES your way!!!! :)

    2015-08-21 22:10:10

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  12. Jessica, I'm so interested in your experience. Thanks for sharing it. I can relate in that I have to follow a strictly gluten-free diet. I've been doing it for years now and so at home I hardly notice it; it's just how we do things. But even with all the new popularity of gluten-free eating, I still have a really hard time when we travel. How do you handle your diet when you travel? The problem with mine is that everything I eat has to be prepared -- no prepackaged food (even the GF stuff they sell prepackaged is not worth it to me, as it is usually both unhealthy and very expensive). Do you find that serious health problems reoccur if you fall off the wagon briefly in situations like travel, or is it generally a mild thing unless you have a major relapse? I would like to try a more extensive anti-inflammatory diet, such as what you have done, but the idea of handling it while travelling or, worse, when invited to a meal at someone else's home seems terribly daunting. I have found that even when people wish to be understanding and accommodating, sometimes they just can't be or just aren't. In other words, every once in awhile I just "get glutened," and that seems to be how it is. What is your experience?

    2015-08-21 23:36:58

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    1. Hi Dixie! We actually spent most of the month of July on the road (a 25 day and 3,500 mile road trip through multiple states to visit National Parks and to take our children to summer camps) so I got to test out traveling on the AIP diet. Thankfully we have an RV so I packed along some of the things that I can eat, filled the little fridge/freezer, and was able to do most of my cooking on the RV stove while we traveled.

      We did eat out a few times during the trip which is always really difficult. I have to ask a LOT of questions about what I order and half the time it comes out incorrect - I ordered a seafood dish with no peppers/tomatoes one night and it came out covered in peppers... It's also really hard to find a restaurant that has the option of cooking with the oils that I can have. What I usually end up doing is finding somewhere where I can order some meat/veggies (cooked without seasonings) or a salad. I'll scan through the salad menu and ask a server to have them make me a salad from various ingredients from a combination of salads and then just bring me olive oil and vinegar for the dressing. I also have had good luck with burgers. There are quite a few restaurants out here in the west that offer grass-fed beef now so I will order a burger (making sure that no spices have been added) topped with avocado and grilled onions and/or mushrooms (if they can be grilled in olive oil) wrapped with lettuce.

      Mexican restaurants are completely out of the question. Last month we took a visiting priest out to dinner after Mass and the closest place to go was the local Mexican restaurant. Finding something AIP approved on their menu is impossible. I tried to have them sauté me some veggies (they happened to have broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onions, celery, mushrooms in the back) served with avocado slices and lettuce, WITH NO spices. When she brought it out it looked like there were some spices on it.... She reassured me that there wasn't... I decided I had made enough of a scene already so I just ate my meal. Sean tasted it and said that it did seem like there was something on it. My best guess is that they didn't clean the grill first and remnant seasonings got onto my veggies. The scale went up at least 4 pounds over night (inflammation) and my whole body ached for the next couple days, especially my head. It took about 3 days to feel better. The same happened after I ate some of the meat at the St. Anthony Festa earlier this month. Nightshades seem to be my biggest issue.

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    2. I have had much better luck at the homes of friends and family. They have all been so understanding when I explain my health issues. They realize that I'm not just doing this to be difficult and truly want to try and accommodate my diet. However I know how hard that is to actually do... I usually tell them not to worry about me and I either eat beforehand or bring my own food along (a thermos of soup or a salad or some Plantain Chips and an avocado).

      We spent nearly two weeks at the home of a dear family for most of the time our children were at the summer camps and would eat dinner with them. They were so thoughtful, always asking about the spices they were using on the meats/fish (main dish) to make sure I'd be able to eat some, or pulling out some vegetables/salad/etc before adding ingredients that are off my approved list. Such a blessing! I'd also try and make one of the side dishes (AIP approved) to help out and make sure that there was a side option for me.

      Despite all my efforts, and those of friends, traveling was still challenging! Especially not having easy access to grocery stores during the 10 days we were at Grand Teton and Yellowstone) - somedays were so full it left little time for cooking so I would eat some of the pre-packaged foods I packed along (I plan to post that list soon) and there were a few times where I ate things that I knew were not okay (I had some oats and egg whites one day, but they didn't seem to affect me. I also tried quinoa which upset my stomach.) I haven't added any of those back in permanently... I figure once I fully recover from the trip I will try reintroducing them one at a time so I can pinpoint exactly which foods are the most problematic, and whether my initial reactions were actually food related or possibly caused by other factors including lack of sleep (the biggest challenge on the trip was getting enough sleep) and additional stress from all the driving (I drove the van while my husband drove the RV). Towards the end of the time in the parks I was also running really low on food I could eat. Thankfully on our drive to the camps we got lost somewhere in Missoula, Montana and ended up right next to a Natural Grocers where I was able to restock my supply! It was perfect!

      I was really worried about what the scale was going to show when we got back home (I meant to pack it along but forgot) but I ended up weighing exactly the same as when we had left 3+ weeks earlier and started dropping again within the next week or so after I started catching up on sleep. So, overall, it was not too bad!

      2015-08-22 14:44:37

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    3. Thanks for this great reply, Jessica. It sounds a lot like what I've experienced in the past so maybe it would be workable for me. I'll have to think about it more.

      I'm so glad this has made such a difference for you! And I'm sure it will be a relief in a few months when you have successfully reintroduced a few more things, too!

      2015-08-26 00:34:00

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  13. I'm glad that you're feeling better. Will you be on this diet for the rest of your life? God bless you and your family.

    2015-08-22 00:35:49

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    1. My hope is that, as my body continues to heal, I will be able to successfully reintroduce at least some of the eliminated foods back into my diet. So far I have been able to add some cocoa successfully! I don't know if I will ever be able to eat nightshades again. God bless you too!

      2015-08-22 15:04:35

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  14. Jessica. Congratulations and thank you for sharing your experience! I'll be sharing this post - as I have done many others.

    I hope that this continues and gives you a new lease on your health!

    2015-08-22 00:51:03

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  15. This is such a wonderful wealth of information, help and inspiration. Great job! I'll be looking into the links you've shared. Thank you!

    2015-08-22 03:16:09

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  16. So glad this diet has helped you to regain your health! I noticed the comment on low progesterone and it peaked my interest because mine tested low too. .. and I plateaued in losing weight and need to try to get 20 more pounds off! I am on progesterone suppositories now for the second half of my cycle. Hoping they help me to get pregnant, but I have also wondered if my weight is causing difficulties with conception too. Can you eat all meats as long as they aren't too processed. .. chicken, beef, pork? We love our grass fed beef. You really should go for the offal! It's not that awful, lol. Grass fed beef liver is really good as is heart and tongue. Now beef kidneys, no, they were disgusting, ha ha. I have been making some ferments myself lately and have been so disappointed that kombucha and any fermented drinks I make give me a terrible, debilitating headache. But what you said about drinking just a little at a time is smart, to build up... I am just nervous to do so since these were the worst headaches I'd ever had that I thought I must be hurting my body somehow! I can do the fermented veggies with no side effects.

    2015-08-22 04:00:21

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    1. I'm pretty sure that it has been my low progesterone and possibly chronic fatigue - not my extra weight - that caused my miscarriages and is probably the reason I was having such irregular cycles and haven't gotten pregnant again. I read online that "Some autoimmune diseases move into remission during pregnancy, only to rebound with sometimes violent flares when the mother is postpartum." which explains why my initial rash broke out and was at it's worst last August following my miscarriage in June... It was pretty much the first time I haven't been pregnant or nursing in 15 years other than for the few months following my previous miscarriage before getting pregnant with Rose.

      Yes, I can eat all meats! I've been able to find bacon at Costco that works for my diet. I'm still not sure I'm ready to try any offal... I just... can't! :) Maybe I'll try it sometime, if someone else prepares it for me. ;)

      On the kombucha... I wonder if the homemade versions can be even stronger than the store bought? I would be nervous too if it trigger such bad headaches for me as well! At least you can do the fermented veggies! I really want to try making my own sometime, but just haven't had the time.

      2015-08-22 16:08:09

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    2. I think low progesterone may have caused my miscarriage too, but now I weigh an additional ten pounds more than when I got pregnant... I have always weighed less than now when I have conceived, and I wonder if that is part of why I haven't again yet, or if my hormones are just still wacky... cycles have seemed normal overall, so I'm at a loss for what is going on unless I just need more time on the progesterone. I'm inspired to read about people who make dietary and lifestyle changes to improve their health, so thank you so much for sharing!!

      I do think homemade kombucha may be stronger, because I have had a bottle of the kinds from the store and been okay. Fermented pickles are delicious... but challenging too, because sometimes they come out too mushy instead of crisp. sauerkraut has been easiest to make, but I'd like to get a fermenting crock because if the water levels gets too low in a standard jar, you get mold on top - yuck! The crock comes with weights to hold the veggies under the liquid.

      2015-08-24 02:11:02

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  17. Oh, and I would love to know how you handle eggs and cacao if you add those back into your diet... those are the two things that I think I'd have the hardest time giving up, followed closely by nuts!

    2015-08-22 04:24:49

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    1. I had some egg white on our trip (it was in something I ate) and I think I did okay with it, but I am waiting to reintroduce it at a later time when I can really test egg yolks and egg whites carefully. I haven't tried reintroducing nuts yet either.

      I have successfully reintroduced cacao though! I was so happy about that! :) I've tried these Cocoa Nibs and have used this Cocoa Powder to make Honey Sweetened Grasshopper Bars.

      2015-08-22 16:25:19

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    2. Oh, that is great that cocoa doesn't bother you! This is an incredible smoothie recipe that uses cherries, cocoa powder, avocado, coconut milk, and frozen cherries: http://breakingmuscle.com/recipes/2-sugar-and-dai...

      Lots of good and filling fats in there; an easy way to get in the equivalent to a meal! I have thrown in some leafy greens too, and made it both with and without the turmeric. It is good either way!

      2015-08-24 02:15:45

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  18. Jessica. Congratulations and thank you for sharing your experience! I'll be sharing this post - as I have done many others.

    2015-08-22 04:47:49

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  19. Hi Jessica.

    I'm so sorry for the double post. I saw my message in the message box and thought that I must not have pressed reply. You can sure delete the second post.

    Again and again, congratulations! I have watched two of my sisters battle and win. They've each lost 80+ pounds. This really is a huge blessing!

    2015-08-22 04:50:00

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  20. A splendid result, Jessica, and a just reward for your perseverance. Thank you for this wonderfully informative and helpful post, and good health always to you and those who've posted above.

    2015-08-22 08:15:52

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  21. SO happy for you, Jessica! You are an inspiration. I'm a 39 year old mom of 9 50 lbs overweight,dealing with anxiety....have you found its greatly helped your anxiety?

    2015-08-22 10:48:35

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    1. Thank you, Gwen! Yes! It has made a huge difference with the anxiety and panic attacks I was having. I rarely struggle with it anymore! Probably because I eliminated all coffee... which I still really miss!

      There have been a couple times that the anxiety has hit in the past few months, but there was usually a good reason. During our last couple days in Yellowstone I was really struggling (I had run low on food I could eat plus we were also at very high elevations, over 8,000 feet, and I think the low oxygen levels might have been triggering the anxiety/panic... the cliffs and Grizzly Bears might have had something to do with it too.) and then again last week when I realized the dangerous conditions my husband is currently working under on the night shift fighting a wildfire (he has been gone almost two weeks now) and hearing about the deaths of other firefighters in neighboring states this season... I noticed that both times it was also mid-cycle (right at my temperature shift) and I'm curious if the hormone changes made me more susceptible to them at that time? I'm not sure. I wasn't sleeping much at either of those times, so that could have added to that too... Anyway, I know that if I make sure to use the Pro-Gest Cream and eat enough (especially protein and healthy fats) I can get the anxiety to go away again pretty quickly now.

      2015-08-22 17:23:45

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    2. Thank you for replying, Jessica! Wow..I'm still amazed..FIFTY lbs lost! I'm encouraged because I can barely squeeze into a size 14 and 50 lbs overweight. I plan on following a similar diet..but allowing eggs and some dairy. I don't have autoimmune disease. Along with the occasional anxiety, I am ALWAYS tired.... I mean DEAD TIRED!!especially after lunch and often dizzy. Today I noticed that by cutting out the breads and sugar I WAS NOT tired! And this only the first day. . .Thanks for commenting on the anxiety issue. It really is a horrible thing. Its one of those things that I just never understoood till it happened to me. So I'll pray for you..also for your husband safety fighting those fires. May God bless you. Thankyou for helping others.

      2015-08-25 01:47:34

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  22. Deo gratias! So glad the diet has helped you regain your health. Thank you very much for sharing your experiences with us. God bless you and your family.

    2015-08-22 16:38:19

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  23. Jessica, you are incredibly brave and strong to have gone through this. It is very difficult to cook for your family and eat something else. But, I understand feeling awful and just being willing to do anything to feel better. I tend to just skip meals, which is not good, and still I don't lose weight. It's just so hard to feed the family and make meals for myself. And I rely on so many of the foods you don't eat -- like dairy and eggs and nuts. Tomatoes, potatoes -- I just can't imagine. I don't really like raw food (except fruit), so I'd have a hard time and would end up eating the same foods over and over. Did you have medical support (a doctor) to give you guidance or did you do this all on your own? I have been diagnosed with several different conditions but none of them are absolutely autoimmune, just possibly related. No doctor can say yes or no. I'm sure you know how frustrating it is.

    But, good for you! Your children and husband need you and you have done what you needed to do.

    2015-08-23 00:19:00

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    1. Thank you, Barbara! It has been difficult, but definitely worth it.

      Yes, I've done this on my own without medical support. I got very frustrated with my doctor (she treated me unsuccesffully for over six months with various prescriptions before ordering the biopsy and realizing all her various diagnosis were incorrect) and I haven't been back since she gave me my results and sent me home with even more prescriptions which I never ended up taking... I don't plan to go back, at least not to her. (Although I have been tempted to just so I can show her the difference making some diet changes made. ;) She had told me it wouldn't make a difference and that I would need to use the steroids for the rest of my life to manage the pain... crazy.) I thought about going to see a Naturopathic Practitioner, but they aren't covered by our insurance and I had so many extra bills already from my biopsy and all the previous doctors appointments that I decided to wait. I also really wanted to contact a NaPro doctor (there aren't any in our area, but I've been given many great suggestions for finding one who would still work with me) but haven't done that yet either. I have noticed that the issues I was having with my cycles (irregular, night sweats, and many other symptoms) continue to improve along with the rest of my health. So that's been good!

      I have continued to pray for you and your health and will keep praying! God bless you and your family!

      2015-08-27 14:11:43

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    2. Hi Jessica. I once had a friend who had had a similar non-AMA success who "almost" told her doctor. She was 62 and had a fracture in one of her vertebrae. Between the time of the X-Ray that the specialist took himself, and the time of the pre visit to her surgery, a homeopathic remedy had fixed it. He told her that if he hadn't take the X-ray himself, he wouldn't believe that the two pictures were of the same person. Her homeopath told her that that was precisely when she should have told her doctor - for the sake of others. 'Just an idea.

      2015-08-27 15:17:09

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    3. Oh, wow! Amazing! I'm not willing to pay for another appointment with her, but maybe I'll stop in and say hello sometime and give her a little update. :)

      2015-08-28 02:52:34

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    4. Hi Jessica. There may come a day when she would appreciate knowing what you've done for the sake of someone else or for her own sake. Duties to family first, though!

      2015-08-28 16:36:40

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    5. You can always write a letter. You could probably edit this post and send it in letter form. I send my doctor articles every once in a while. I figure I pay a co-pay and my insurance picks up the rest often enough, that she can read a letter every few months.

      2015-08-30 13:22:27

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  24. Jessica Thank you for sharing your journey, tips, everything!! Absolutely fascinating and encouraging for those of us who struggle with health issues. And I'm so proud of you. I imagine it hasn't been easy, good on you!

    2015-08-23 07:32:05

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  25. Congratulations, Jessica! I understand what it is like to have to face things like this. I am trying to pull my life back on track using something similar. I was just having a hard time keeping up with the cost of the supplements so it is taking longer, which of course is killing me! I am eating eggs, though. I can't imagine not having them at all. I seem to thrive with them so I am not worried. I do get free-range local eggs that don't eat anything bad, so I am hoping that is ok for me. Please whisper a prayer for me that I am successful. I am getting older but I really would love to have another child without worrying that the pregnancy will not end well. God bless you!

    2015-08-23 22:13:47

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  26. Thanks for such a detailed post; your explanations of each step and food choices are very helpful. I pray everything continues to go well. God bless!

    2015-08-24 18:59:49

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  27. I have Hypothyroidism and have been really wanting to do this but its hard with our budget and eggs are a part of my everyday. What are some good AIP approved snacks to keep on hand?

    2015-08-24 23:28:58

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    1. Hi Jenny! I'm working on a post with some of my favorite snacks to keep on hand (in addition to fresh fruit and veggies) and hope to have it finished by the end of the week.

      2015-08-27 14:14:26

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    2. Hi again! Here is the link to a list of some of my favorite AIP approved snacks:
      http://showerofroses.blogspot.com/2015/08/seven-s...

      2015-08-28 22:20:50

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  28. What a very thoughtful post! This has the potential to help so many or show others what might be able to address some of their own health problems. I'm so thankful that you've had such good results for your own health! You've always looked lovely, but feeling well is imperative too! Deo Gracias! I'm looking forward to the list of healthy snacks! I think anyone could use those! Of course I'm curious about a few things, but totally understand if you can't answer. Do you buy the avocados at Costco? I've bought them twice now, and they don't taste good! They're very different. So sad. They're a good price and I could live on them!! Is avocado oil allowed? I know C carries it, but it seemed that it had some strange additive. I'm so jealous that your Costco has kombucha! Particularly, gingeraid! That is my favorite! And bubbies! Yay! Love their products, especially their dills! I have been making fermented dills this summer...it took me forever because I was afraid to do something wrong, but it worked and we're enjoying them.

    You're perseverance is amazing! Great job!!

    2015-08-26 04:35:36

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    1. Thanks, Genevieve! I have the same experience with Costco's Avocados. I don't care for them and most of the time they would all be bad to begin with and need to be returned. I don't really buy very much produce at Costco anymore. I usually get my avocados at Trader Joe's. Avocado oil is allowed, but I haven't tried or purchased any yet. I noticed the bottle at Costco but didn't pick it up to look at the ingredients. I've wanted to try Bubbies Dills, but the ingredient list includes "Spices" and Mustard Seed, so I've never purchased them. I'm nervous to try making them myself but I really should try sometime!

      2015-08-27 14:36:24

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  29. Hello Jessica, At the moment I am breast feeding my three month old that was conceived while breastfeeding my 17 month old at the time. Do you know if this good to do while breast feeding? Do you know if one were to conceive while on it if they would have to stop?

    2015-08-26 13:27:48

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    1. Hi Charline, Congratulations on your new baby!

      In her book, The Paleo Approach, Dr. Sarah Ballantyne addresses the AIP while pregnant or breastfeeding in the FAQs section:

      Can you follow the Paleo Approach While You're Pregnant or Lactating?

      The answer is yes! Absolutely! You will not miss out on a single nutrient your body needs to support the growth and development of your baby. In fact you will be consuming only the most nutrient-dense foods available, and it's pretty hard to beat that. If you have an autoimmune disease that goes into remission while you're pregnant, following the Paleo Approach may help reduce the severity of the flare once your baby is born or even head it off altogether.

      I'm pretty sure this is why mine surfaced/flared so badly last summer...It was the first time I wasn't pregnant or nursing in over 14 years, other than for a few months following my previous miscarriage in 2008.

      She goes on to say:

      If you get morning sickness, broth, bananas, applesauce, fish (as you've learned, the protein is very easy to digest), well-cooked meats (think stews or braised meats), and vegetables (again, think stews) will be the easiest on your delicate stomach. Ginger is a powerful antiemetic. Avoid peppermint tea, which can actually relax the lower esophageal sphincter (as can caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, smoking, and high-fat meals). This can make heartburn, nausea, and vomiting worse. Protein can actually help tighten it. Fresh papaya or papa-enzyme supplements are often recommended for heartburn or morning sickness: papaya contains proteolytic enzymes, which improve digestion.

      You can also listen to her answer this question (#3) in this podcast. Hope that helps!

      2015-08-27 15:30:46

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    2. Thank you so much, Jessica! I have some children that will need to do this with me. After seeing a rash over my daughter's wrist, a doctor said he thinks it is more than gluten we need to eliminate from her diet. I will be looking around for breakfast ideas, especially on Fridays.

      With prayers, Charline

      2015-08-28 14:51:31

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    3. Charline, you might want to look at Bre'anna Emmitt's cookbook and blog about her AIP journey called "He Won't Know It's Paleo." She just had her fourth baby after a totally AIP-compliant pregnancy and wrote a Facebook post about her experience the other day. Plus her recipes are simple and really good! http://hewontknowitspaleo.com/

      I'm currently pregnant (and still nursing too) and had just started doing AIP when morning sickness really kicked in and my diet was totally derailed. Hoping to get back on track now, so thank you for the encouragement, Jessica! +JMJ+

      2015-08-28 22:40:21

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  30. Thank you for taking the time to post this. I also suffer from angio-edema and have depended on a combo of zyrtec and benadryl for the past seven years. You have given me hope, finally!! Please continue to update.

    2015-08-28 02:09:38

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  31. Hi Jessica, I too have been looking into diets to sort out my own health issues this past couple of years. I think you may be interested in the "Perfect Health Diet" by Paul Jaminet, if you haven't come across it already. His book is fantastic. It is also available as an audio. He and his wife are scientists and started researching nutrition etc... after they developed health issues doctors could not cure. He also has a blog and I love his post on Good Friday (see his comments defending the faith): http://perfecthealthdiet.com/2012/04/a-good-frida... There are many testimonies of autoimmune cures on this diet.

    2015-10-31 00:36:23

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  32. Great post - I recently tried the AIP diet for my worsening psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis. I was so depressed after one week of eating meat and veggies that I gave up. The diet was making me more stressed and anxious and making my autoimmune symptoms even worse. I am going to try again after the holidays, but I'm not looking forward to it at all. I am one of those rare women who is underweight and actually am supposed to be trying to GAIN weight at the recommendation of my doctor, and that is very difficult to do on the AIP diet. After just one week I already noticed I had lost weight. Praying for a miraculous healing of my disease right now :) Anyhow, just appreciate reading about others who have found success.

    2015-12-09 22:31:02

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  33. Hi Jessica, I am so thankful I landed on your beautiful website and then read this post! We have parallel stories in many ways. I moved to Kentucky 9 years ago from California. I was healthy, trim, and in fantastic shape (having exercised regularly and intensely). After a few short years after moving to Kentucky, adopting four children, and being in an environment that wasn't as healthy, I had lost all my muscle mass and had put on 50 pounds. In addition, I had severe fatigue, joint paint, and hives that would not go away! In addition, aspirin and advil began sending me into angiodema. I saw the ER a few times and started carrying an epipen. I saw 6 doctors and not one could help me. Finally, doctor number 7 diagnosed me with Hashimoto's disease even though my TSH was in the normal range. I began taking tirosint (which is like synthroid) and my hives became manageable. Instead of taking zyrtec in the morning and allegra at night, I only had to take allegra at night. It was so much better than where I was.

    Then two years ago I went in for a gynecologist appointment. She decided to check my Vitamin D levels. They were extremely low. After taking Vitamin D in high doses (and now 3000 units a day), I am a new person. I exercise vigorously about 4 times a week, I don't need a nap two hours after waking up in the morning, hives completely gone, and a few months ago I took advil and had no reaction.

    For me, I am convinced that my Vitamin D deficiency caused most of my problems. If they allowed coffee I would do the AIP diet. ;-) Actually, I am wondering if I should do it and still drink coffee.

    I just wanted to share my story with you. I was so incredibly discouraged. I have lost about 25 of the 50 pounds I gained. I am sure I have gained back some of my muscle mass. The most important thing is that I feel fantastic when I exercise. I have also been more dedicated to my prayer life and this helps with stress.

    God bless you and thank you so much for sharing your story! I just couldn't believe the similarities and had to share.

    In Christ, --Caroline

    2015-12-12 03:16:59

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  34. Thanks for posting this! I'm a diagnosed celiac/Hashimoto's thyroiditis and most recently fibromyalgia. I have 50 pounds that will not move despite exercise and a GF diet. I have known that I need to do AIP and I bought Sarah Ballantyne's books around this time last year. Your post has inspired me to do it this year!! Thank you for sharing!!! God reward you!

    2016-01-02 17:21:41

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  35. I just started the AIP today...and am wondering if there's any "deli/lunch meat" that is AIP friendly? I saw one at Whole Foods that might be ok...but it has organic white vinegar...and honey is listed. God bless, Jennifer

    2016-02-10 19:06:26

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  36. Wow, Jessica! I think I got here from a recent post of yours on Catholic Cuisine. What an update! I'll have to go back to your home page and see how you've kept this all up.

    One of the reasons I backed out of blogging myself was because of the stress of not getting enough sleep (something's gotta give, right??), discovering special needs among my children that required (require!) lots of challenges in our daily routine/ approach to schooling, and ... going low carb!! Four years ago my husband, teen daughter and I all got off the carb roller coaster. Huge change. I discovered my 10 yo also needed to back off the carbs, too, and that both my boys had issues with artificial colors & preservatives (think Feingold). So, while our food journey has not been as restrictive as yours, it has certainly presented its own challenges!!! I've actually had a lot of fun coming up with low carb recipes (especially bread-like stuff and pizza) that my family will actually enjoy, and have gotten pretty good at such things, if I do say so myself ... but I'd be lost without almond meal and eggs!!!

    Anyway, you continue to be a source of inspiration, and I really do think of you often. I can only dream of having even half of your talent and dedication! I obviously need to drop by here more often. Is there *any* subject important in my life in which you *don't* have experience and inspiration to share???!!? :)

    2016-06-11 18:23:39

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  37. I wonder if guacamole salad might be an easier option for Mexican restaurants. Just make sure they don't top it with poco de gallo.

    PS: Thanks for the helpful post!

    2016-09-04 13:48:55

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    1. I also use Zyrtec (or generic of it) -- does anyone know if this is allowed during AIP's first 6-8 weeks?

      2016-09-04 14:48:37

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  38. We traveled the road of illness for over 10 years with my daughter. Western medicine had no answers. Threw continued research on the internet re: naturopathic remedies and such we have finally got my daughter and ourselves healthy. So glad you have got this start to the road back to eating healthy. I would also recommend you look into Weston A. Price organization and continue to learn. You also need to think about what you are cooking your food in (No teflon etc) think about what is in your water, and that the "food pyramid" is not used on any scientific research. Lastly, if you were this ill you need to educate and train your children to eat like you do to forego the problems you had. Many of us walk around not realizing how sick we are until we return to organic, chemical free eating and cooking.

    2016-09-09 05:00:07

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  39. Thanks for sharing this helpful post....!

    2017-01-06 07:01:27

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  40. Hi Jessica, As a fellow PNW'erner, AIP-compliant dills are available via Oregon Brineworks (Hood River, OR). Delish garlic dill! Also, have you ever thought of making your own? (I will be attempting once the cuke season is on.)

    After success with kombumcha, sauerkraut, and water kefir, I am looking to 'branch out' into coconut milk yogurt, and more, to save $ (HS'ers know how fast those $ go toward our own curriculum!)

    Hope this is of some help:)

    2017-03-12 05:23:58

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    1. Ooh! Thank you for letting me know, Marla! I will have to see if I can find them around here, or order some online! I have considered making my own, but having enough time/energy has always been the challenge for me. I really do need to start trying though, to save some money, especially for those reasons you mentioned. :)

      2017-03-12 14:39:55

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  41. Hello. I was wondering where you buy your 1/2 grass fed cow. I am in the nw and have been looking into this

    2017-06-03 18:31:41

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  42. Thank you for sharing your story and giving us new AIP'ers insight on this diet. My mom has RA and I am trying to learn as much as I can about this protocol to help her through the process!

    2017-06-30 09:17:36

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  43. Thankyou, God must have sent this post my way. I've been struggling and feeling lost but also praying. I have Hashimoto's. I don't take the meds because I read the side affects and they are scary . I need to get it under control and am depress by this illness. I pray and pray. Reading your article helps a little.

    2017-07-11 15:18:15

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  44. I too have Hashimotos along with plantar fasciitis , which brought me to this diet. Been gluten /soy free for 3 yrs, but that alone did not help. On day 6, hoping to loose weight with it , along with helping with this pain I have my heel , as both of your stories , sound like me. Good luck and stay in touch . I would love to know how your journey goes and to have somebody that understands what I am going through.

    2018-01-27 20:27:46

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  45. Thank you for sharing this. I just found out my bloodwork shows a very high number pointing to an autoimmune problem. Still need to move forward with more tests to get a diagnosis. I have 5 children under 9 and definitely do not sleep much. My youngest is a tough sleeper and we are currently working on weaning him at night to fewer feedings (actually comfort nursings). He's 21 mo and still wanted to nurse over 6 times a night. So we are working on reminding him that "nursies go night-night but when the sun is up, nursies are too" in hopes that he will start waking less. Currently he's waking a little less but has at least one terrible tantrum a night when he realizes nursies are not available. But we are making progress. Maybe we are down to 4 wakings a night now. My point int explaining this is THE SLEEP! It's so hard to get! Any tips on how you increased your sleep with babies? I'm also not looking forward to an inevitable AIP diet because even though I already eat all the good stuff, I don't like to eat meat. I'll eat fish but it's so expensive where we live and not that fresh (often farm raised on corn, even though we are 45 minutes from the coast in CT! We eat a lot of nuts and legumes... womp womp womp...

    2020-11-11 18:11:40

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  46. Jessica, You probably already know by now but MyCatholicDoctor.com has a long list of practitioners from NaPro to DO to Mental Health... you can utilize them completely via telehealth. So distance is no longer an issue! Hoping this helps you in case you are trying to locate doctors you need per the email above.

    2020-11-11 18:44:38

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