In 2015, I began a quest to reduce my autoimmune symptoms and improve my general health. I was diagnosed with psoriasis and learned from a friend that it is an autoimmune disease, meaning that my body sees and attacks things in an overdrive type of situation. It’s as if I cut my leg and my body jumps to handle the situation and keeps on and on, only there isn’t a cut in the first place. That’s a super simple description, and not a medical one, in case you couldn’t tell.
The first thing I discovered was Melissa Joulwan’s Well Fed cookbook and blog which talked about batch cooking and paleo. The batch cooking made my hectic life much better, and I had friends who were going paleo via their CrossFit experience. All good. Melissa mentioned Whole 30, so I headed over there and they offered a great structure for cleaning up my eating “act” for a mere 30 days. It seemed easy with their email support and info. And through these interactions, I stumbled upon the autoimmune protocol (AIP) – a form of paleo plus elimination diet to see what foods made me feel better vs. worse.
In 2015, when I went full AIP I began to feel much better, the itchiness and pain of my psoriasis started to ease up and I lost 30 pounds quickly and easily. I was a believer! And I learned that so many diseases are autoimmune that I was astounded and a double believer! Multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Type 1 Diabetes, COPD (both of my parents had this) and on and on. There are other diseases that are suspiciously like these but no proof yet, including Parkinson’s which took my late father-in-law way too early in his life.
Now you know a little background on a very complex subject, and I say all this to confess that I spent the fall of 2015 helping take care of my Mom, and all of 2016 mourning that loss with the “help” of comfort food. While I still miss Mom (it will be a year in February), it’s time that I start taking better care of myself.
Here is a list of reference places you can go if you, too, are facing autoimmunity issues or just want to try a healthier lifestyle.
Books (links are NOT affiliate links – I’m not that sophisticated yet)
- Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat (Melissa has done several more cookbooks since this one so start with whichever one speaks to you!)
- The Whole 30 – I still tell newbies to start here. This link is to the website’s book page. There are several books now, and I recommend you poke around the website and join a Whole 30 Challenge while you are reading up on the AIP lifestyle and diet.
- The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body – this is the real place to begin AIP. Sarah Ballantyne is a research scientist and you’ll get all the science you never wanted here (haha). Then she’ll show you what to eat and how to change your lifestyle to fight autoimmune issues. I believe you have to start here, no kidding.
- The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook: A DIY Guide to Living Well with Chronic Illness – this is a new one and it’s the kinder, gentler version of The Paleo Approach (meaning less science, but without so much science this might seem like another fad). I highly recommend this book, but glance at that science one, too!
Podcasts – these changed my life, and they continue to reinforce my healing
- Phoenix Helix podcast – this is my favorite. Eileen uses AIP to ease her RA symptoms, and her advice and interviews and enlightening, gentle and encouraging. I never miss an episode, and I suggest you pick one that has “healing stories” in the title as your first listen.
- The Paleo View – I must confess that Stacy Toth and Sarah Ballantyne have so much fun on this show, that I never miss this one either. Besides, if I keep listening to science talk I know I will eventually absorb some of it. Still waiting.
- The Autoimmune Wellness Podcast – Angie Alt & Mickey Trescott will talk about stages of the lifestyle and give you great advice for doing it the easy way.
That’s a good start, and I’ll mention more of my faves in future blogs.
This week, I’m easing back into full AIP by giving up grains and alcohol. Next week I’ll give up nightshades & legumes. Nightshades are a group of veggies kin to the belladonna (poison) plants – tomatoes, potatoes, all peppers & eggplant.