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:
- Nightshades, including:
- 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
- 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.
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!
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.