Friday, February 20, 2015

...of one week on AIP

I am sitting here waiting for a very tired, teething, stuffy, grumpy 11 month old boy to fall asleep. Instead of torturing myself with thoughts of any other ways I could help him sleep comfortably, I will concentrate on a few minutes of blogging!
We have been incredibly busy since arriving in Austin. Mostly because last weekend, I officially started the Auto-Immune Protocol diet. I've been reading the very thorough book The Paleo Approach by Sarah Ballantyne and I've seen and heard many encouraging stories from people who have done it. So before starting on a serious medication regime, I wanted to try going the natural route first.
This is a pretty brief and good explanation of the thought behind the approach from Sarah Ballantyne's website,
"Autoimmune disease is caused by the immune system losing the ability to differentiate proteins belonging to your own body with proteins belonging to a foreign invader (like a bacteria, virus or parasite). What causes symptoms is the build up of damage to cells, tissues and/or organs in the body–damage caused by your own immune system attacking those cells. Which proteins/cells are attacked is what separates once disease from another. In Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, the thyroid gland is attacked. In Rheumatoid Arthritis, the tissues of your joints are attacked. In psoriasis, proteins within the layers of cells that make up your skin are attacked. However, the root cause is the same.
"Genetic predisposition to autoimmunity makes up about one third of your risk of developing an autoimmune disease. The other two thirds of your risk come from environmental factors, which include: diet, lifestyle, infections (both prior and persistent) exposure to toxins, hormones, weight, etc. While you cannot control your genetics or whether or not you had mono as a kid, you do have an immense amount of control over your diet and lifestyle (and the extent that these affect hormones and weight and even toxin exposure). By removing the foods that contribute to a leaky gut, gut dysbiosis (the wrong numbers, relative quantities, or types of microorganisms typically growing in the wrong locations in your gut), hormone imbalance, and that stimulate inflammation and the immune system, you can create the opportunity for your body to heal. By addressing important lifestyle factors and changing your focus to eating nutrient-dense foods that support optimal gut health (and optimal health of your gut microorganisms), that restore levels of important nutrients and provide all of the building blocks that your body needs to heal and properly regulate the immune system, that help resolve inflammation and support organ function, you create an environment in your body conducive to healing." 
I would venture to say that the Auto-Immune Protocol (AIP) elimination diet is one of the strictest of it's kind. It is Paleo, but even more restrictive. The idea is to take everything out that could be triggering my immune system (and making my Psoriatic Arthritis worse) and then start to slowly add things back in after about 6 weeks to find out what my specific triggers are. But for now, I am: grain free (thereby gluten free), dairy free, soy free, sugar free, nut free, egg free, seed free, and nightshade free (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant). That leave all meats, most vegetables, and most fruits. And a LOT of coconut stuff: milk, cream, oil, flour, etc. Can I just tell you that even out of the 9 soup options at Whole Foods, none of them are AIP. And the only thing from the prepared food section that I can have is brats and sauerkraut and a weak salad. 
So that leaves me here. At home. Cooking most of the day. The last week, I followed Mickey Trescott's Auto Immune Paleo menu plan to a T. I thought it would be easier than formulating my own plan. Turns out, there is something to be said about enjoying what you are spending hours cooking. I mean, it all tasted good, but not necessarily 5 hours in the kitchen good. It's not supposed to take that long, but when you are a chopping and cooking novice like me, it takes longer than it should. I know it will get easier in general, but this week I made my own meal plan with a few slow cooker meals and mostly "easy" stuff. I went grocery shopping today and got 7 different meats from the butcher at Whole Foods. He kept asking me if that was all... "Ummm... No." 
There are other things that I am doing that I never imagined I would do. I've always wanted to make bone broth, but never have. That's about to change tonight and it will probably be a weekly ritual from now on. I was also with the rest of America and thought that "lard" was some horrible thing I would never consider having in my kitchen. But I rendered 4 pounds of pig fat yesterday and now have a huge jar of lard to use on a regular basis (it and coconut oil are the best cooking fats). I've also order the "creme de la creme" of lard, leaf lard, from a company in Portland called Fatworks . Lovely.
So, after one full week of AIP, I can say that my sacroilitis is significantly better. The last week we were in Colorado, there were a few days where I was literally laid up on the couch because my back hurt so bad. Now, perhaps it was stress related, but since being here and having to spend so much time in the kitchen and not having a spare moment for anything (even pictures of my cute kids!) I think I can safely say that I am not any more or less stressed. I'm sleeping better, but honestly, that's probably because I'm not in excruciating pain every time I roll over in bed or cough. That right there is enough to make me want to keep trekking on this diet. My back was debilitating for months and now I haven't thought about it for about 4 days. That's huge!
I can also say that I was very worried about how I would do on this diet. My self-discipline and will-power is almost 0. But I haven't had any horribly anguishing moments over being at the same table as doughnuts, soda, coffee, chic-fil-a, or BREAD. I mean, don't get me wrong. I wanted to have all of them, but I believe that the Lord is giving me the will power to not give in without too much effort. That makes me feel like I'm on the right track. I think this is what He wants me to do right now and I'm going to do it. One of my hands feels great, but my other hand is really hurting, and my Psoriasis doesn't look any better, so those will be some of the long term indicators. If they don't get better in a few weeks, we will start to think through medicine options.
No more. Too much. And my hand is hurting. Just for fun, here are the few pictures I've taken in the States:
Uh. Having some picture problems and trying to fix it on my own at 4am while waiting for aforementioned baby to go back to sleep only made it worse. I'll look at it in the morning... Sorry. 

My beautiful Mom :)



Happy, well-rested kiddo

Abram fell of , apparently.
My lard.
My snotty, sick boy

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

...of an update

Because I have had no time for a real blog post these last few weeks, but have had lots of sweet friends asking about how things are going, here's a brief rundown:

1. In Austin for a week now with wonderful friends who have opened their house to us. Our boys are getting along famously (and loudly!)

2. I have been grain, dairy, egg, nut, and nightshade free for 5 days and strictly on the AIP (Auto Immune Protocol) elimination diet for 2. My sacroiliitis is already feeling a lot better! Now hoping my fingers and skin will show improvement also as I continue. 

3. I've been spending many hours a day in the kitchen (since I have to prepare all my meals) and it's a little overwhelming for my non-chef self. Hoping I'll get better about chopping massive amounts of veggies more quickly in the near future. 

4. I haven't been too tempted to cheat yet, which is totally The Lord. But Jill's ice cream looked really amazing tonight ;)

5. Missing our friends and home in Fujairah a ton, but glad to be in Austin reconnecting with friends here. Also excited to have Quinn's mom and sister and our nephew coming for a visit over my birthday weekend! 32 years old... That's a lot! And I have grey hair and arthritis to prove it :)

I've wanted to be better about keeping at least the blog up to date, but there's literally no time! Maybe I'll be back with a post and some pictures in the near future. But for now, that's it. Have to be in bed soon. Thanks for all the love and support!!