My Autoimmune Protocol Experience

posted in: Health | 32
My number one supporter, my incredible husband!
My number one supporter, my incredible husband!

Well, well, after curiosity got the best of me, I finally did it! I dove head first into the autoimmune protocol on January 1st. You know, I just woke up thinking it would be a good day to start, so that’s exactly what I did! I’m someone who certainly likes a challenge, I don’t really “prep” for anything, and I want to know exactly what works for my body, so I figured, why not? What did I have to lose? For those of you not familiar with the autoimmune protocol, I’ll tell you more about it, as well as my personal experience with it.

Having an autoimmune disease makes me more likely to have sensitivities towards certain foods, and since I changed my diet, I’ve always wondered if any of these foods could be causing any issues. For the month of January, I completely cut out eggs, nightshades, nuts and seeds. Autoimmune basically means that your body has learned to attack itself (in a super mean way!). With Crohn’s disease, my immune system overreacts and attacks my entire digestive tract, which is why doctors put me on medications to lower my immune system. I told you it’s mean! Now that my body knows how to do this nasty attack on itself, it’s something that can’t be undone, but I can do my best to keep my disease in remission. Forever. And that’s my number one goal!

I’m always looking for ways to improve my health, and I’ve wondered about this protocol since first changing my diet. Let’s be real though, it’s not like I was looking forward to doing this, it’s very restrictive. Anytime I think I don’t really want to do something, I think about how many months I’ve spent sick in bed, and you know what? 30 days no longer seems that bad.

So, for 30 days, I cut out all of the following, on top of already eating strict paleo:

  • Eggs 
  • Nightshades, including:
  • Tomatoes
  • White Potatoes (which I haven’t had in a year anyway)
  • All peppers, sweet and hot
  • Spices including anything from peppers (chili powder, paprika, cayenne etc.)
  • Red pepper
  • Tomatillos
  • Goji berries
  • Nuts & Seeds (including seed based spices)

For more details, check out The Paleo Mom, she has incredible information on autoimmune disease as well as the protocol!

As I said before, I don’t really “prep” for any sort of diet change. I totally don’t suggest doing that. No seriously, don’t do that. While I was on the protocol, I started to really research it as well. That’s pretty much how I work, I do everything in reverse. First I dive right in, then I prep for it, then I research it. See, backwards! Once I start something, I also don’t ever give up on it. I’m stubborn like that. So I knew going into this, that there was no going back.

After about a week, I started to get pretty bored. Everything started to taste the same. I’ll definitely say that I didn’t get very creative with it either. I did, however, learn a lot about myself, and once again I really changed my relationship with food. I ate just to fuel my body, not because I was craving something. I definitely found a renewed love for herbs, cinnamon, ginger, and coconut aminos! I found beauty in the true simplicity of food, seasoned with just salt, pepper, and some garlic. The absolute best, most flavorful meals that I ate while on the protocol happened to be my own recipes! My Chicken Picatta, Teriyaki Chicken & Toasted Coconut Cauliflower “Rice,” and Beef & Broccoli. So, what else did I eat? Well, LOTS of grassfed burgers, meatballs, stuffed squash, cauliflower “rice,” sweet potatoes stir-fried with grassfed ground beef and veggies. Everything was seasoned with herbs, salt, pepper and garlic.

photo-12 copy 2

So, when it comes down to it, I didn’t notice a single change in my health with the protocol, but I was also what I would consider to be very healthy before starting. I wasn’t sure what to expect considering my disease was already in remission, so I’ll just take that as a good thing! Now that the 30 days are up, I’m following the reintroduction process. I started with an egg, which was delicious, and didn’t notice anything! Next were tomatoes; so I made a Bolognese. Nothing with that either! I also added back in my beloved Frank’s hot sauce, then almonds, macadamia nuts, and cashews, and I’ve done great with them all! Coming out of this, I also have even more compassion for those who have no choice but to be very restrictive with their diets, either because they’re in the process of healing their bodies, or because they found they have sensitivities towards certain foods. A HUGE high five to all of you out there!

With all of that being said, it’s important to remember that I was already deep into my healing process before I started the protocol. My experience is my own, and could be completely different than yours. Each body is unique, we all have different needs, and our bodies can handle different things. I’m blessed that my disease has been in remission for 3 years, so I haven’t had any autoimmune symptoms in quite awhile. However, with that said, through all of the stories I have now heard about others putting their autoimmune disease into remission using this protocol, I fully believe in just how powerful it can be. Knowing this, if for any reason my Crohn’s disease did reoccur, I now have all the tools I need to put myself back into remission, without medications. And that, my friends, is AMAZING! I have complete and total control over my own life!

I’ve come a very long way since I started on this journey over a year ago, and the longer that I stick to eating strict paleo, the more my body heals. Let’s take a step back in time for a minute, so I can share a bit more of my healing process. It didn’t happen overnight, and I can certainly understand the frustration that comes along with the patience that is so necessary when it comes to healing. Although I noticed changes happening in my body pretty quickly once I switched to a paleo diet, I had to remember that it took YEARS for me to get as sick as I was, so I couldn’t expect every symptom to vanish right away. It was actually just last April that I went to see my Ear Nose and Throat Specialist, and he stated that my ears were so scarred and inflamed, that they would never heal. It’s not that he wasn’t a good doctor; I actually had the best of the best doctors. It’s simply the system that he works for; he doesn’t understand the power of real food, and it’s ability to heal. I was already feeling so much better, but my ears were still constantly infected and I was having major trouble hearing. My ears constantly hurt, and I always had a ton of pressure in them. My doctor told me that I could just keep taking antibiotics and see him every 4 months, and that there was nothing else he could do. I smiled to myself knowing that I could, and would, heal my ears myself, and that it would just take time. My ears completely healed on their own last August, and I haven’t had a single infection since, nor did I ever need to see that doctor again. Before that, they were infected nearly everyday. Never, ever forget where you started. Healing takes time, keep your focus on the victories, no matter how small they seem.

Do you want to know more about the types of things I’ve done to help my body heal? If so, leave me a comment on this post, and I’ll get to writing!

We LOVE grassfed burgers :)
We LOVE our grassfed burgers 🙂

Disclaimer – I am not a healthcare professional, nor do I have any medical training. Everything you will read on this blog is based solely on my personal opinion, or research that I have done. I technically don’t recommend anything, make sure to do your own research and talk to your healthcare provider.

32 Responses

  1. Whole Belly
    | Reply

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Kristen! It’s funny how you mention diving right in without preparation – I can relate. I did the same thing when I decided to change my diet a few months ago. I guess it can work but I agree that it can make the process a bit harder, haha! I’m glad to hear that the foods you’ve reintroduced haven’t caused any problems. I would have such a hard time giving up eggs and nuts so happy to know you can now go back to enjoying them 🙂

    • livinglovingpaleo
      | Reply

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read my post! I didn’t even know anyone was as prep-free as myself, ha! It definitely makes things a bit harder, I found myself wandering around my kitchen aimlessly trying to figure out what to eat 😉 Eggs were a hard one to give up for me, as well as spices! So thankful to have them back! Thanks for your sweet comment!

  2. crystal
    | Reply

    would love what else u have done to help heal your body i have hashimoto’s – what did u eat for breakfast since u didn’t eat eggs for 30 days ?

    • Mika
      | Reply

      Hi!!!!! My favorite egg free breakfasts are: bacon, with sweet potato slices fried in the bacon grease…..and italian sausage patties with sauteed vegetables. Also I usually make my lunch in the morning (I take it to work with me) and sometimes I just make extra and eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch 🙂 good luck! I would love to hear other people´s ideas too….

      • livinglovingpaleo
        |

        Your breakfast idea’s sound amazing, Mika! I had a lot of leftover for breakfast, but my favorite was (and still is): a hash made with bacon, and then yams, ground beef, garlic, and onion sautéed in the bacon grease and then topped with avocado and parsley. I also loved just having bacon and a green smoothie (spinach, chard, celery, lemon, parsley, and ginger all blended in my vitamin). Love the idea of sausage patties too, didn’t even think of that! Yum!

    • livinglovingpaleo
      | Reply

      Hi Crystal! I’m working on that post now, hope to have it up soon! Check a few comments below, from me and Mika, we both listed our favorite egg-free breakfasts 🙂

  3. Stephanie
    | Reply

    I would like to know what else u have done to help heal your body. I too have an autoimmune disease, RA arthritis. I have done a few elimination diets where sugar, grains, and dairy are removed from my diet and found that I felt better and I lost weight to boot! I think I need some kick in my determination to move over to the Paleo lifestyle. Any suggestions there?!!

    • livinglovingpaleo
      | Reply

      Hi Stephanie! I’ll get to writing 🙂 That’s great to hear that the elimination diets have helped you so much! Maybe try out a few paleo recipes that sound good, that’s what it took for me! I made a batch of paleo pancakes and I was sold 😉 I think it’s most important to find what works for you, something that’ll you’ll stick with. Best wishes to you, hope to get my healing post up in the near future!

  4. Mika
    | Reply

    Love the post!!!! It is great to remember that these things take time….we all want to start feeling better the next day, but often that is not going to happen…..keep up the good work 🙂

    • livinglovingpaleo
      | Reply

      Thanks so much, Mika!! SO not an easy thing to remember, patience isn’t easy 😉 Hoping you keep feeling better and better!

  5. Nic
    | Reply

    Hello,

    A lovely post and yes, I’d like to know ore on how you are healing yourself. I’m especially interested about the ear infections as I have been troubled with this over the last few years. All the doctors can advise is antibiotic ear drops, which help at that moment but not the long term reason. I am sure there are ways I can help the body heal this properly.

    • livinglovingpaleo
      | Reply

      Thanks so much, Nic! Ear infections are the worst, I truly hope you can find some relief. Antibiotics worked the same for me, they were really just a bandaid. I also had tubes put in my ears about 5 years ago, but that didn’t help much either. What helped the most was really just lowering the inflammation in my body, especially through my diet and removing all inflammatory foods. I’ll get to writing so that I can explain more 🙂 Best wishes to you!!

      • Nic
        |

        Excellent! I have noticed that if I consume too much cow dairy it flares up. I’m working on it now to wean myself off it all, have a rest from it and then if I want dairy, I’ll have the odd bit of non cow dairy now and then.
        I understand doctors can only talk about what they have been trained, but it is frustarating everytime you go back, you get the following:

        “you swim alot don’t you”
        “No, i’ve stopped for the last few years since this started”
        “Oh, well, take antibiotics. I’m afriad you’ll have this problem for the rest of your life”
        “hmm……”

        I look forward to your musings 🙂

        Nic

      • livinglovingpaleo
        |

        Nic, you TOTALLY get it 😉 Unfortunately doctors are quick to tell us that we’ll be sick forever, which even more unfortunately, some will believe. Have you tried raw dairy at all? My husband is unable to tolerate dairy, but does just fine with raw dairy. Maybe worth looking into 🙂

      • Nic
        |

        It’s so nice to have “met” you and find someone who understands 🙂
        I’ve just moved and the farmer’s market sell raw buffalo milk which I’ve tried and like. I only now have milk in my tea, which I’m finding hard to give up – does that give me away as English? 🙂 I am also trying to resist cappuccini as the large amount of milk in that (even the buffalo) is a bit much (that’s the Italian part of me!) And I have sheep’s milk yogurt for breakfast. I seem ok with this but would like to stop all dairy for a bit, see what happens.

        I’d love to sort all this out. I wasn’t born with it, so there must be a way to help the body heal.

        Best wishes

      • livinglovingpaleo
        |

        It’s so nice to have “met” you too, Nic! I love the way you think, and I love that you’re English too 😉 Dairy is a hard one to give up! Have you ever made your own bone broth? I make mine from grassfed beef bones, slow cooked for 24-48 hours. I drink some everyday, it’s a HUGE help when it comes to gut healing. I’ve heard quite a few testimonies from people saying that bone broth has healed their gut to the point that they no longer have issues with certain foods (most of which seem to be dairy). May be worth looking into!

  6. healthyleanfit
    | Reply

    I’m so so so very happy that this was a successful experience for you and even more happy that you’ve been able to reintroduce all of those wonderful foods successfully!! Hooray for tasty, healthy food!! Hugs!

    • livinglovingpaleo
      | Reply

      Thank you so much, Deanna! I’m so grateful for this entire experience, and thought of you a ton during this time 🙂

  7. Amy Ayers
    | Reply

    A great post!! Thank you for sharing your experince with us. Diving head first is the type of thing that I would do as well. That’s actually how I first started Paleo just about 18 months ago…..head first, cold turkey into a Whole30. On Day1, I started reading It Starts with Food (probably should have before I started). Trying out AIP though, I’ve got a slightly different mindset. I’ve started reading The Paleo Approach, and only 70+ pages in, I’ve told myself on more than one occassion that this is something that I need to give a try. Hopefully sooner rather than later so I can try and work out a few issues I feel like I’m having.

    Thank you again for your inspiration! 🙂

    • livinglovingpaleo
      | Reply

      Thanks so much, Amy!! That’s actually the exact same way I started paleo, dove head first into a whole 30 🙂 I think I pounded my head against a wall for the first week, but I stuck with it, and I’m sooo happy I did! That’s so great to hear that you started reading The Paleo Approach, I need to order that book. I was the same way, it took me almost a year to finally give the AIP a go, and even though I didn’t notice any changes, I’m so happy that I did it. I’ve always wondered, and now my mind is finally at ease, and I learned a lot over those 30 days. You know I’ll be cheering you on whenever you decide to start!

  8. Rachel Rosenbaum
    | Reply

    I happened to stumble across your blog via instagram! I too am diagnosed with crohn’s since I was 18, when I had 3 feet of my intestines removed. After 1 year of immune suppressors while living in a college dorm, we decided that solution wasn’t the best for me and thus began my adventure. Since then, I’ve been going to a naturalopath for 5 years, gluten free for 3, began paleo about a year and half ago and just a few months ago took the dive into being strict paleo, with the past few weeks following the autoimmune protocol! It’s nice to see others’ experiences and how they are also using their diet to keep this disease in remission. I have learned just so much about my body I know this has become a lifestyle change for me!

  9. LynnLivingLife!
    | Reply

    Just found your blog. Definitely a fan and can’t wait to see your meal ideas! God bless on your journey ~ your tenacity is an inspiration!

    • livinglovingpaleo
      | Reply

      Thank you so much! Please let me know if you ever have any special requests 🙂

  10. Dea
    | Reply

    I would love to know more about how you healed your body. I have had 5 years of pain and discomfort and many many nights laying in bed with a heat pack on my stomach breathing through the pain. I have been seeing a holistic doctor for the past year and have seen improvements, but still have about 5/7 days/nights in pain and my food is so limited since I am sensitive to so many things. I have been gluten free for 2 years and saw no changes… I am trying to make the change to grain free, but am becoming overwhelmed. Any suggestions?

  11. kp
    | Reply

    Hi, love your blog!! I have celiacs and am currently following aip. I am also breastfeeding so I cant take any supplements that I have read are helpful with healing leaky gut.Do you think broth alone is enough to help? Or should I just follow paleo until I’m done nursing and then get back on aip when i can take supplements? I am currently on week 2 of aip and feel awful.Im exhausted all the time.

    • livinglovingpaleo
      | Reply

      Hi Kiley! So sorry to hear you’re struggling 🙁 Each body is so unique, so I’m not sure what would work best for you. Have you heard of the new book The Paleo Approach? I actually just received it, and it’s truly the most amazing book I’ve ever seen on autoimmune disease. I really think it would be worth looking into if you haven’t already, the author is SO knowledgable on healing autoimmune disease. I truly hope that you feel better soon, I can’t imagine how tough it is with a baby <3

      • kp
        |

        thank you so much for the reply…I have heard of the book ,now I think I will get it since you find it so amazing:)

      • livinglovingpaleo
        |

        You so won’t regret it 🙂 I’m just starting to really get into it, it’s beyond words!

  12. […] how amazing they would turn out! This is a perfect breakfast for anyone, even if you’re on the autoimmune protocol, or if you’re unable to eat eggs, as breakfasts can get a little tricky. Just serve them with a […]

  13. […] you’re following the Autoimmune Protocol, just leave out the nuts from the pesto, and this recipe will be totally AIP friendly. AIP will […]

  14. kristine bellomy
    | Reply

    hi. i would love to know how you healed your body as well. i am just starting the paleo approach and struggling on the what else i can eat and recipes but also would love to hear what you have done. i saw a couple recipes you do from this blog and sounds yummy so any other recipes and how you healed YOUR body would be great, thank you.

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