30 Days on the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol

30 days ago, I posted about being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. I started the autoimmune paleo protocol, and wanted to share it with those who have heard about it or were thinking about trying it. According to AIP Lifestyle, "The Autoimmune Protocol is a diet that helps heal the immune system and gut mucosa. It is applicable to any inflammatory disease. AIP works to calm inflammation in the gut and also calm inflammation in the body." It eliminates foods with gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, grains, alcohol, sugar, nuts and seeds. So basically, it's a bunch of meat and vegetables with some fruit. I will say that if the thought of going on this stresses you out even more, it might not be worth it right now ;)

Journal

Day 1

Feeling awesome! A little tired but otherwise the day is good.

Day 2

The caffeine headache withdrawal kicked in, I had major cravings for chips, was sick of making things in the kitchen, was ill-prepared for my post-workout meal, and sad about having an entire pantry full of food I couldn't eat.

Reading about the Israelites only getting “meat and manna” so I’m feeling better about only getting to eat “meat and veggies.” Bought a bunch of plantain chips that I thought were AIP and then it turns out they were fried in sunflower seed oil 😔  Was mad about that. 

The food I did eat tasted amazing, and I was happy to know every thing I put in my body. 

Day 3

Headache is worse today, plus I'm sore from my workout and Ellie is still "grandparent detoxing" but at least I got plenty of sleep! I'm in a bad mood but I'm listening to Leviticus where the Lord is telling the Israelites what they can and cannot eat, so I'm sympathizing with them and also seeing the good in food restrictions as a blessing :)

Day 4

Getting into a groove. Ordered plantain chips, carob powder, cassava flour to replace chips, chocolate, and flour. This diet isn't so bad after all!

Day 5

Went out to eat at Cal n Titos. I thought I could eat the yuca fries, but I called ahead and they fry everything in vegetable oil. I should've known! I looked at the menu, and decided I could get an avocado salad and skip the dressing and cheese. It was a dark restaurant with lots of kid toys everywhere, so I snuck in my own sautéed fish from the night before with lime juice and olive oil. Feelin sneaky good. Made AIP pumpkin bars as a weekend treat. 

I'm feeling more even-keel. Not anxious, but also feel like I'm missing out on the exciting highs of caffeine and sugar. Not sure how I feel about it. I have also lost 3lbs, which is a huge deal because I've been the same weight for 10 years (besides pregnancy). I'm not trying to lose weight, but it feels good for my stomach to feel relatively flat again and not bloated. 

Day 6

Went to tailgate with friends. Asked the day before how they smoked the meat--they used spices I couldn't have--surprise surprise. Going out to eat is so risky. I brought my own huge mason jar of a green salad, chicken, roasted parsnips, and homemade pesto. I really enjoyed it but had a few people make some comments about what I was eating. I don't like isolating myself in social environments and feeling like a food snob. 

Hubby and I had an argument over food. I nagged him about eating more vegetables and he said he wasn't happy with what we were eating. I think we were both arguing hangry which is never productive. We decided on having separate sections for each of us in the fridge and pantry for now. Feeling more depressed about food, like it's dragging down my happiness factor. 

I’ve been going through Clean Hearting, and all the benefits Alisa says I should be feeling are on point (except for the headaches part):

  • Sleeping better
  • Fewer energy highs and lows
  • Better mental focus/clarity
  • Less of a craving for sweet things
  • Improved complexion (a glow)
  • Your workouts are getting stronger
  • Stress level going down
  • Fewer headaches
  • Increased energy

I have less anxiety, but also feel lower, like I am wearing gray-colored glasses. It feels like I have lost something, a part of me, and I'm mourning? I know that sounds so drastic but I can't put my finger on it. I have know I am gluten, peanut, and garlic intolerant for 3 years now and have cut out most of it, but still have gluten every now and then. Probably too much. It is a lot easier to go gluten-free now (thankfully!), but yes it's a hard transition to take everything else out that I depended on (like nuts and coffee and chocolate!) I feel like it's all being stripped away and I can relate so much more with Job (even though his situation was WAY more mournful) and am learning to depend on the Lord for my joy instead of food, because it's obvious I have been depending on food too much for joy. It has become such an integral part of fun time with family (going to Chick-fil-A, going out to a fancy restaurant for date night) and friends (going to Mexican after church) that I feel like I can't do much of that. I have to bring my own food everywhere, which is fine, but it still feels weird.

Day 7

Got 8 hours of sleep but still feel a little tired. Didn't have a break all day but felt great! No major fatigue, no rashes. Frustrated that I can't wake up early anymore with the help of coffee. Writing time has gone out the window. 

Day 8

Headaches. Did a heavy weightlifting workout and felt good during it.

Day 9

Headaches, weak, bad mood, sad. I think my body did not recover from the previous workout. I also forgot to take my zinc, magnesium, and multivitamin last night. On the plus side, I got to talk to family and friends over the phone. I didn't hide my feelings but talked through them, and they offered encouragement and prayer. Rescheduled clients so I can focus on sleeping in and working later with the help of babysitters.

Day 10

Feel much better! Better energy and mood than yesterday for sure. Ate more calories in the form of heavier snacks like energy bites between meals. Taught a HIIT class and felt good, still a headache at night. 

Day 11

Feeling better. I end up laying down with Ellie for her naptime and falling asleep for 20 minutes, which I've never been able to do before. Headaches are better but still present. Got the rash on my legs again; I think from teaching class at the Y yesterday.

Tonight is date night and I felt at a loss of what we would do because usually we go out to eat together. We decided to picnic at a pretty spot by the water, but it started raining. We went to Rook and Pawn to play games, and I brought my own food to eat while he ordered his own. 

Day 12

Only got 7 hours of sleep bc I wanted to watch another show with Mattox on a Friday night and Ellie wakes up early. I could not get up! By body was way too tired. I'm surprised how long I can go without food bc I'm more satiated. Realizing that I was taking my blood sugar on a roller coaster throughout the day. Now, I can go meal to meal feeling hungry but not like I'm going to pass out and not super lethargic. 

Day 13

I felt good during the day. I had higher energy levels but still get headaches if I don't eat every few hours. 

Day 14

Convenience food is more expensive now, so I eat less of it. I think that's the way it should be. I ate some plantain chips because I craved a salty snack. I only ate a few because I know how pricy they are and how much time it takes to make chips of my own. 

Day 23

I’m starting to have some insomnia. I think my thyroid is regulating itself and my medication is now too high. 

Day 30

I got my lab test results back from the doctor. She confirmed that I needed a lower dosage of synthroid. All other levels for ferritin, Vitamin D, B12, and cortisol were normal. 

Final Physical Results

  • No more hives, no more bloating, no more heart burn
  • Lost 5lbs
  • Better thyroid levels
  • Still have headaches and occasionally feel sick at night (this might be due to allergies; going to see a naturopath today!)

Lessons Learned

  • Be prepared. Think about what you eat during the day and have AIP replacements planned and ready the week before you start. I was not prepared for on-the-go food and protein shakes the first week. For protein shakes, I made coconut milk and put about half a cup into a blender bottle, a scoop of Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides, a squirt of maple syrup, and filled the rest with ice. Over the next two hours of my workout and travel time, the ice was half melted and I had a delicious post-workout meal.
  • Meal prep for fun. There’s a lot of food that has to be made. Batch cooking is best, and doing it with family or in front of a favorite show makes it an enjoyable experience. Freeze extras for emergency food.
  • Going out with people. When hanging out at houses, I brought my own food and offered to the guests so I didn’t feel as secluded. They usually really liked my food but were sad I couldn’t eat theirs. I cooked my own food when we stayed with the in-laws for almost a week. For date night, we would picnic or go to Rook and Pawn, a local board game cafe. At restaurants, I ordered what I could off the menu, which was usually a green salad, and carried around a cooler with mason jars of food to add to it. If it was a fancy restaurant, I just ate what I could there and planned to eat more at home if I was still hungry. I looked at the menu beforehand, called and asked about the ingredients and the oil things were cooked in, and asked questions about specials at the restaurant. Some places I could eat: 
    • Seafood: We have a local seafood place that we walk to from our house. I had raw oysters, shrimp cocktail (I just squired lemon on mine), and mussels. 
    • Thai: Tom Kha Gai soup is delicious, but the waiters didn’t understand “no spice,” so I ended up eating spice. Felt fine, but can’t do this often.
    • Mexican: We ate this several times. I brought my own plantain chips and ordered lettuce, a sliced avocado, and lime. I mixed them together and ate with my chips. I either brought my own protein, like chicken or fish, or ate when I got home. 
    • South American: Same as Mexican, but sometimes they had boiled yucca or mashed plantains on the menu, over which I squirted lime and sprinkled salt. 
    • Steakhouse: Asked to only season meat with salt, cook vegetables in olive oil.  
  • It’s tough, emotionally. The first week, I was just sad. Maybe it was infections dying off in my gut, or maybe I was mourning the loss of foods and my old lifestyle, but it was tough. I didn’t have the highs and lows of sugar and caffeine, so life felt a little gray. 
    • Get a Hashimoto’s buddy! My friend who has it asked me to be hers, and she checked on me daily through texts. She also invited me to a Facebook support group which is helpful. I asked lots of questions and received plenty of support through my friends who have gone through the same thing.
    • Be open with family, because all this extra time making food and being moodier can get to them, too. My husband needed extra food, so we compromised by dividing up “our food” in the cabinet and fridge to make it easier to know whose is whose. Each week, I made a big batch of his favorite basmati rice, along with beans and veggies for him to add to meals.
    • To make it emotionally easier, ask for extra hugs, plan fun outings that don’t involve food, and get pampered, whether that’s a massage, nails done, or splurge on your favorite tea or kombucha. 
  • Journal. I definitely need to journal the reintroduction period so I will remember what affects me and how. It’s easy to forget. 
  • Whole foods heal. It seems that whatever diet people are on (whether vegan, paleo, raw), if the diet includes whole foods, the person feels better. I didn’t realize how many fillers and artificial ingredients I was eating until I stopped eating them. Convenience foods became inconvenient and expensive because I had to order them on Amazon or spend an hour making chips that I couldn’t just grab from the store. I learned the ingredients restaurants used, had more respect for those that used real food, and am learning to stay away from those that don’t. I spent more money on groceries, but spent way less on eating out, so doing that balanced out the budget. 
  • Weight loss benefits. Because I cut out sugar and caffeine, food was no longer addictive (except for plantain chips). I didn’t  feel tempted to eat more than I should, because once I was full I felt satisfied. It’s a good feeling. I never felt too hungry because I ate a lot, but still lost weight (which I wasn’t trying to do). I worked out with less intensity and walked more, which was good for my mental health too. 
  • Forced me to get more sleep. I couldn't cover up sleep deprivation with caffeine or sugar, so I had to prioritize sleep. I saw significant differences in my headaches and brain fog when I slept in til Ellie woke up around 6:30am versus waking up to an alarm and drinking coffee to get up and "be productive" at 5:15am. 

 I'll keep y'all updated via Instagram with the reintroduction process! 

 

Have you done an elimination diet? What was good or hard about it?