In case you didn't see on my Instagram feed, I must say I felt NO SHAME in enjoying some holiday baking this year. Sugar cookies, to be exact. I think I had about 40. Not kidding. Oh, and homemade pralines. And Chex Mix (Chex and Cheerios are gluten free now, so I celebrated by eating a body weight sized amount) And cake. Plus pizza, wine, pie...so yeah, I pretty much enjoyed everything I could get my hot little hands on.
Evidence. At least they were GF.
And as fun as it was, imagine my surprise come January when I realized I was feeling pretty awful. All my autoimmune symptoms were back: bloating, gas, sleeplessness, brain fog, fatigue, and to top it all off, this time I had a mild skin rash as well...so weird! Ryan has never wanted me more. Right babe? Babe??? I was thinking that maybe I had just gotten gluten'd during our travel, but the rash plus the fact that my symptoms weren't going away made me feel like something new might be up. Do you suffer from symptoms like this that are seemingly unrelated to each other? If so, keep reading!
Now, in case you're just getting to know me through this blog, I must confess that I'm a nerd and I read about nutrition in my spare time. Healthy eating. Healthy lifestyle...all that stuff. I love it. I did it before my diagnosis, but after finding out I have Celiac disease, research kind of came with the territory if I wanted to get well and ever learn what to feed myself again. Along the way, I kept seeing a few articles about how some foods can exacerbate autoimmune symptoms. After digging into this a bit I decided I need to try to figure out which foods (none of which contain gluten...sigh...) are further causing some issues for me.
The way I'm going to do it is called the Autoimmune Protocol (I'll refer to it as AIP). The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) is - very basically - a way to determine which foods cause flares for you by temporarily eliminating all known trigger foods for a period of time, and then slowly and systematically re-introducing them into your diet to evaluate your reaction. [Read more about it here and here.] And I thought going gluten free was an undertaking! But I'm always up for a good challenge, and it'll be great to know exactly what aggravates my symptoms. I like to think of this as an investment in my health, which keeps me motivated in moments of weakness.
So I started by buying this new cookbook (pictured at the top), and downloading a paleo* recipe e-book. *Paleo is not the same as the Autoimmune Protocol. They are similar, however AIP eliminates additional things and gets much more specific, so it's important to know the differences. Let's dive in to the details!
What you can eat:
HAHAHA! Just kidding! It's probably better to start with what you can't eat.
Adios, chips and queso!
Grains. Any kind whatsoever. This includes rice, quinoa, oats, barley, wheat, kamut, rye, spelt, buckwheat, corn...and all the other lesser known ones. Products with these ingredients such as crackers, chips, bread, waffles, bread crumbs, oatmeal, pasta, tortillas, crepes, and pita chips are off limits. Even the gluten free substitutions must be eliminated - those are full of starches from grains too.
Beans, legumes, and lentils. No peanuts, hummus, green beans or soy products including edamame and tofu.
Nightshades. This was a weird one that I had no idea about - nightshades include tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, goji berries, potatoes, and any spices derived from them. No paprika, chipotle, cayenne, red pepper flakes, jalapeños, etc.
Nuts and seeds. This includes all the nuts you know about plus seeds such as chia, flax, pumpkin, etc. Also steer clear of hemp, coffee, cocoa, and spices derived from seeds such as mustard, cumin, fennel, black pepper, and coriander.
Eggs or dairy. Dairy can be a little tricky because things like casein and whey, whey protien, and whey protein isolates are part of the dairy family and those have got to go too! Check labels.
Processed foods, nut or grain oils, alcohol, sugar or alternative sweeteners, emulsifiers/thickeners (things like corn starch, modified food starch, xanthan or guar gum, and carrageenan), or NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.) are all out. Basically, if it has an ingredient you can't read or have never heard of on the label, it's off limits for now. Even wine...bye-bye wine...I'll miss you!
So what does that leave us with? Lots of fruits and veggies. Healthy meats and seafood - pasture raised, grass-fed, hormone-free and wild caught. And bacon. Fermented stuff to help our guts get those good bacteria thriving again like pickles, krauts, and kombucha. Bacon. Soothing drinks like herbal tea and spiced coconut milk. And bacon. Rich sweeteners like maple syrup and honey. Maple bacon. Healthy fats, like coconut, avocado, olive, ghee, tallow, and even lard. And to cure our ailments we may have been popping Advil for, supplements such as probiotics, collagen, essential oils and simply baths with Epsom salt. And I almost forgot...Bacon!
Man, this is going to be a challenge because as I read through that list, I'm seeing how much stuff I eat on a regular basis that is not on that list. But aside from figuring out my aggravators, one additional benefit is being forced to think on a deep level about what you are putting in your body. Many times, I don't even look at the label of the things I buy regularly. Like, I just know I like Stubb's barbecue and the label says gluten free, but what's actually in it? Couldn't tell ya!
Read about how it's going in my next post, My Foray Into The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), Part 2