If you’re not familiar with the Autoimmune Protocol diet, it’s a diet that is designed to reduce inflammation and provide a wholesome diet for those suffering from Autoimmune Diseases – Crohn’s Disease etc.
To be clear, I have not been diagnosed with any of those.
However, for the last 6 months or so I have been suffering from a long list of symptoms, which we initially thought could have been Coeliac, but a blood test has since proven that to be negative. The symptoms I’ve had include:
- Fatigue (even to the point that leaving the house for a couple of hours meant I needed to lay down when we got home)
- Bloating (I looked pregnant at some points)
- Varying bowel movements
- Stomach cramps (including around my belly button, which I can only explain it feels like someone is trying to rip my belly button out – it hurts)
- Extreme sugar cravings
- Diagnosis of Leaky Gut by a naturopath
- Irritability (just ask Mario – he’ll vouch for this one)
- Itchy ears
And that’s not even going into the private ones 🙂
There’s only been a handful of times I’ve found the fatigue really went away, one being two weeks before Noosa Triathlon when Mario and I drastically reduced the number of carbs in our diet for a week (we carb loaded directly before the race). I felt simply fantastic that week, and if I recall correctly, had a lot of energy. When Mario and I first got together we would get up, go and do some training (either boot camp, ride or run), then I would come home and grab my dog and take her for a walk. After work I was still full of beans. As time has gone on, I’ve varied to the struggle-to-get-out-of-bed, right through to the I’m-not-moving-I-need-to-sleep-in. For someone that is used to always being on the go, finding it a struggle to climb out of the bed in the mornings was not fun.
After talking to the doctor we decided a blood test was in order, but it came back clean – no diseases, including Coeliac.
I had heard about the paleo approach before, and even tried paleo for 30 days before (another time I felt great) but I always thought the Autoimmune protocol was a bit hardcore. You can’t even eat eggs! However I realised the point was to completely remove all inflammatory foods for 30 days to allow your digestive system time to “heal” as such. From there, you reintroduce foods in a structured manner, allowing you to pinpoint any sensitivities you might have.
I may find that after all of this, I actually don’t have any problems with any food. It could have just been some seriously bad eating that has just built and built to the point that my body had had enough. I may also find that I can’t handle certain breads, or savoury/sweet foods. Either way, it won’t be a waste of time since I will have learned something about my body and hopefully had a dramatic improvement in my health.
The whole reason for this blog post is to just point out that I’m not trying to follow some trend or fad, but that I do have some issues that need addressing. Hopefully this diet will provide the answers I’m looking for.
I started the diet yesterday and the first day was hard. I had headaches and extreme fatigue again, and even found it tough walking up the stairs at one point. A good deal of the day was spent laying on the couch or sitting on the floor. My mood in the morning was disgusting, I was so grumpy. I’m just so lucky that Mario is so patient, and so supportive of me going through all this. It’s so hard not to direct my grumpiness his way, and I think I did a pretty poor job of it yesterday. Today I’m feeling a bit better, I still have a headache but my mood has improved substantially, and I don’t feel so drained. I had plans of taking my dog for a walk today, but with the rain outside I might give that a raincheck (see what I did there?). I’m planning on going to the gym this afternoon, and will see how I’m doing then.
So far I’ve found the meal planning to be incredibly hard as well, given the restrictions are incredibly long:
- Eggs (especially the whites)
- Seeds (including cocoa, coffee and seed-based spices)
- Nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, sweet and hot peppers, cayenne, red pepper, tomatillos, goji berries etc. and spices derived from peppers, including paprika)
- Potential Gluten Cross-Reactive Foods
- Fructose consumption in excess of 20g per day
- NSAIDS (like aspirin or ibuprofen)
- Non-nutritive sweeteners (yes, all of them, even stevia)
- Emulsifiers, thickeners, and other food additives
Resource: The Paleo Mum
It took me about an hour to make my first weekly meal plan, but given I don’t really enjoy cooking (and don’t do it often) it’s understandable that I wouldn’t be all that creative. This is Mario’s domain, but he’s chosen to take a back seat and let me try and handle it myself. Last night I was so fatigued that he took the opportunity to be a wonderful boyfriend and make dinner for me although still sticking to the meal plan. We agreed it was quite nice albeit a bit strong where the seasoning was under the chicken skin. The avocado dressing and kale salad that he made (his own recipe) was divine.
Wish me luck!