From Here to Health

My journey back from autoimmune disease

Elimination Diet

I have  been reading Digestive Health with REAL Food by Aglaee Jacob.  It is an incredibly comprehensive book covering all aspects of IBS and other digestive issues.  She covers symptoms, treatment, underlying causes, supplements, testing.  If it relates to digestive distress you can bet she covers it in this book!  While most of the information was not new to me, it is great to have it all in one place as a reference.  Through reading the book, I have been inspired to do an elimination diet.  I have tried multiple elimination diets over the past few years, but never exactly as she lays it out.  I would try doing the autoimmune protocol for a while, then the low-FODMAP diet, then the 21 day sugar detox.  Sometimes I would feel a little better, sometimes a little worse.  Then inevitably something would creep back in.  These diets are tough!!!  Life is busy, other family members want different meals (who wouldn’t), finances get tight, etc.  Also, now that my health isn’t as bad as it was it is hard to find the same motivation.  But, “not as bad” is not the same as GREAT!! And I want great!  So, for the next 3-4 weeks (her timeline) I am going to do this elimination diet.  I am choosing to blog about it daily because she highly recommends keeping a journal and I would rather keep it on here than on paper.  Plus, maybe it will encourage someone else to do it:)  The guidelines look like this:

I can eat:

Meat, Poultry, Fish, Organ Meat

Extra-Virgin Coconut Oil, Ghee, Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, Duck Fat, Tallow or Lard

Bone Broth

Carrot, Zucchini, Spinach, Green Beans

Unrefined Salt, Chives, Cinnamon, Lemon Juice, Lime Juice, Apple cider vinegar, fresh herbs, green part of green onions, garlic/herb infused oil

Sparkling Water, Rooibos tea

I am not going to lie…it sounds boring as hell.  However, as a person who still turns to food when bored or stressed, I am praying that this elimination diet will help in that domain as well.  I don’t see how turning to those foods to relieve boredom and stress would be very effective!

According to Jacobs, I need to be symptom free for 5 days before I consider introducing a new food.  I will be keeping up with symptoms on each  blog post or at least giving each day a rating.  Just so I don’t forget, here is what my BEFORE symptoms look liked:

Symptom Frequency Severity
Bloating Almost Daily Moderate
Abdominal Pain 1-2 X Times per week Moderate
Flatulence 1-2 X Times per week Moderate
Belching Rarely Mild
Feeling of Urgency Rarely Mild
Acid Reflux 1-2 X per week Mild
Fatigue 1-2 X per week Mild
Depression 1-2 X per week Moderate
Brain Fog Almost Daily Moderate to Severe

Bowel Movements:   Frequency 1X a day  4 on poop scale

Other:  headaches (especially around my cycle), itchy hands and feet ( few times a week), itchy bumps on arms and legs ( comes and goes), irritated gums, sensitive skin

Alright.  There it is.  I have no delusions about this being easy, but I know it needs to be done.

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What Went Well Wednesday

First strawberries of the season

First strawberries of the season

1. I slept until 7:45!  Unheard of!

2.  Finn had her annual acrobatics and dance recital rehearsal.  She was super cute!

3.  My Aunt Chery, my mom, my grandmother and my cousin all came to watch her at the rehearsal.  I felt so blessed that they would spend 3 hours out of their night to come watch her.

4. Had a romantical morning with my hubby;)

5. Did a short sprint after my morning walk and it went well.  I was a little concerned that I might have lost some of my aerobic capacity since I haven’t been running or WODing, but it was surprisingly easy.

6. Enjoying lots of reading on Jen’s borrowed kindle. Blessed to have such a generous friend:)

7. Calls from friends just to let me know they are praying for me.

8. Made an Egyptian collar necklace with Finn.  This absolutely makes the cut for What Went Well because I am not a crafty person so it feels like a huge triumph when I make something with my crafty kids.

Just another day:)

Just another day:)

My Egyptian Princess

My Egyptian Princess

 

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Autoimmune Protocol Step 4

Yesterday was my first day without nuts!  This might seem inconsequential, but it turns out that I eat a LOT of nuts.  For instance, I realized that I had nuts at every meal one day last week.  I had pine nuts in the pesto I put over my eggs at breakfast.  Then I had toasted pecans on my chicken salad at lunch.  I don’t always snack during the day, but that particular day I had some almond butter with strawberries.  And then at dinner we had sliced almonds on our green beans.  While every day is not that nut heavy, it is going to be an adjustment.  I do think that the autoimmune protocol is helping though so it will be worth it.  I haven’t had any really bad bloating for 7-10 days now.  I have had some mild discomfort a few times, but that is still a vast improvement.  There is also still some stuff going on with my skin that I suspect could be autoimmune/food related.  Hopefully the nut removal will help.  Only time will tell.

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Autoimmune Protocol…Step 3

Step 3 for me is cutting out nightshades.  This will mainly be tomatoes and peppers for me.  Eggplant and white potato are included, but I rarely eat those anyway.  I don’t think I am going to cut out spices yet.  Honestly, I hope I don’t have to, but my husband cooks dinner around here a fair amount and he loves using all sorts of spices and I don’t really want to lay yet another restriction on him when cooking.  He is always so good about cooking to suit my needs.  I am crazy blessed in that regard. On this autoimmune topic,  I feel that I should tell you guys that I had some kombucha the other day.  I thought it settled fine, but then later on I did have some short-lived bloating.  Who knows if it was related to the kombucha or not.  I have such a hard time telling.  My bloating/stomach distress has been better the past few days.  Not really sure what to attribute it to though?  I started some new digestive enzymes that could be kicking in.  Or maybe it is dropping some of the autoimmune foods?  Or maybe dropping the FODMAPS?  Maybe it’s the bone broth I have been drinking every morning?  This is why I don’t like changing multiple things at once, but I was SO desperate for some relief that I didn’t care at the time.  I have been emailing back and forth with my doc about what has been going on and he wants me to come in for a “pow-wow” as he called it.   Hopefully we will be able to piece together a more sound plan for what is going on with me.  I’ll keep ya posted:)

 

 

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Autoimmune Protocol…Baby step 2

So I miss my morning Kombucha, but I am hanging in there. Giving it up hasn’t seemed to make a difference in my bloating  and digestive upset.  In fact, it’s worse!  That is why I have decided to move on to step 2- removing seeds.  For me, this means sunflower seed butter (which I totally love) and chocolate (which I totally love more).  Of course there are other seeds like pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and coffee beans.    I don’t consume very much of any of those so not a super big deal for me.  Chocolate, however, is my only real treat.  I can’t do gluten or dairy and most other “treats” seem to fall into one or both of those categories.  It is also my stress relief at times.  I know, I know…it is  not the healthiest  form of stress relief.  I am hoping that I can replace it with prayer, meditation or yoga.  Or maybe writing.  You guys may be seeing some seriously random posts as I adjust to life without chocolate.  I am keeping the kombucha out for now, but seeing as it didn’t really provide any relief to cut it out, I may add it back in soon:)  I am also trying to convince my doctor to test me for SIBO so will keep you guys in the loop on that too.

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Hormones Part 2…Low Progesterone

According to the quiz in Dr. Sara Gottfried’s book, I have low progesterone.  This did not surprise me, as it was low the last time I had it tested.  It was in the “normal” range, but at the very low-end of normal.  Add in the fact that apparently my testosterone is converting to estrogen and you likely have a scenario of estrogen dominance.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that my progesterone is technically too low, but in relation to my estrogen, it is too low.  Unbalanced.  The story of my life these days!  The steps that she recommends that I am incorporating right now are:

1. Vitamin C- She recommends 1,000mg per day.  I am currently taking 800mg.  I have played with it a little and I don’t think I can take more than this without getting loose stools.  TMI, I know.  You can always count on me for that;)

2. She highly recommends hanging out with others.  This is because of women’s coping mechanism of “tend and befriend.”  I am a naturally social person.  I LOVE being with others.  However, when I am not sleeping and my hormones feel wanky, I sometimes want to hide in my bedroom.  For me this step means making a conscious effort to go to the gym even if I am not working out.  To accept that lunch invitation even if I have to cram myself into a pair of pants that feel too tight.  To go to that party, even if only for a little while, because inevitably I feel better and sleep better when I stay connected to the people that I love.

3. No Joe- Not a problem since I don’t drink coffee, but I expanded it to include caffeine in general.  For me, this meant no kombucha which I was already giving up due to the AIP. (Autoimmune Protocol)

4. No wine-  I rarely drink wine anyway because it makes me feel junky.   It screws with my sleep and gives me CRAZY heartburn.  I would love to indulge in it once in a while because I truly like the taste, but this is one more reason why I will be staying away.

5. Chasteberry- She highly recommends chasteberry for balancing progesterone.  She suggests two brands and since one is from Germany and I couldn’t read the site, I went with the one I could get at my local GNC.  It is called Fertility Blend.  It has a proprietary blend of chasteberry along with vitamin E, B6, B12, folate, Iron, Magnesium, Zinc and Selenium.  My plan is to try this for 1-3 months depending on the results I get.

I am having some hormone panels done tomorrow, so I will have some updated info, which of course, I will share:)

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Easing into the autoimmune protocol…?

Alright, I am taking the first step.  I am not even going to tell you guys where I am headed with this because I really don’t know.  There is a part of me that wants to go in whole hog and really do this AIP.  But it is HARD!  So I am going to ease in and see if I get some results one food at a time.  I am going to start with my kombucha.  I realize this isn’t the first food people think of with AIP.  The biggies are eggs, nuts, seeds and nightshades.  However, kombucha contains yeast and that is often a problem for people with autoimmune issues.  And as much as I love my kombucha in the morning, my husband is convinced that it is giving me gas.  He’s probably right.  I didn’t have it while we were at Disney and the gas was noticeably better even though I was eating other things that I normally wouldn’t eat.  Presley is the only other one in the house who likes kombucha so he is getting the rest of my stash.  If there isn’t enough improvement with dropping the kombucha then I will decide what I want to deal with next.  One step at a time is all I can manage right now.  I’m not even totally convinced that the digestive stuff is food related.  I am convinced that my biggest issue right now is lack of sleep.  I know it is hormonally driven and over the course of my investigating, I have realized that all of my digestive complaints can be explained by my hormonal imbalance.  I just have a strong gut feeling that nothing else is truly going to resolve until my sleep issues are resolved.  To this end, I have listened to several of the webinars on The Healthy Life Summit.  They have only served to cement my idea about the sleep.  The first one I listened to was Chris Kresser’s talk on Chronodisruption.  As a light therapy practitioner, most of the info was repeat, but he did have a couple good studies that I hadn’t heard about and his presentation was super easy to follow.  The next one I listened to was Liz Wolfe.  Seeing as I already have the Skintervention Guide, her stuff was also mostly repeat, but I just LOVE her.  Last night while cooking dinner I listened to Vanessa Romero.  Her story was so similar to mine that I cried.  I wanted to cry a little more when she said it took her a full year to regain her sleep cycles. Oh my!  But after a few moments, I felt hopeful.  Healing takes time and I know this.  Her story and her transformation are truly inspirational.  I encourage you guys to check her out.  Especially if you have ever suffered with adrenal fatigue.

Here is an example of why I am hesitant to go full force with the AIP.  I made these for the kids this morning, but I just had to have one fresh out of the oven with some grass-fed butter.  So good.  All of Danielle’s recipes are awesome.  Try this one, you won’t regret it- Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chip Streusel.

Banana Chip Muffins

Banana Chip Muffins

Last night when I went to read to Finn and tuck her in, I found her doing this.  I’m not really sure where she picked it up.  She does do yoga with me sometimes, but I don’t really chant and she was “ommmming” to beat the band!

Finn getting her "OM" on!

Finn getting her “OM” on!

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Health Update…Good News!!!

So it was all clear at my dr. appointment yesterday!  Well…almost.  They do think I have a hormonal imbalance, but of course we all knew that already, right?  My OB thinks that the testosterone that my general doc has me on is converting to estrogen and causing my symptoms of tender breasts, headaches, insane crying episodes and abnormal bleeding.  I know that is crazy TMI, but that’s just the way I roll. I am SO thankful to the Lord above that there was no evidence of cancer, polyps or anything else.  It is a huge weight off my shoulders.  However, it leaves me wondering what to do about these hormones!!  My system is so delicate that it responds on a hair trigger.  I always take the most natural and smallest dose of whatever I am on and I often still get results that are more dramatic than necessary.  I am searching for that sweet spot that puts me in a blissful state of homeostasis…aaaahhhh, I can just feel it.  When I get there, it will be wonderful.  In the meantime, I am eating paleo, talking with my doc about how to adjust my meds and supplements, and dialing down my exercise.  I am trying not to do anything that raises my cortisol.  I am still going to CrossFit because they are my family, but I am just doing the warm-up and lifting and a little very easy rowing.  No WOD for the time being.  I am doing a little yoga and pilates at home, along with some walking when the weather cooperates.

Yesterday's Breakfast

Yesterday’s Breakfast

I am experimenting with pastured eggs at the moment.  I had been off of eggs until my trip to Disney.  I am still not sure if they bothered me or not.  I am planning on doing the autoimmune protocol strictly during the month of April and posting more about my food.   The above breakfast was sausage, 2 pastured eggs with lots of sauteed veggies sprinkled with Lewis Labs Brewer’s Yeast, and some avocado.  It was yummy!

Mint Chip Shake

Mint Chip Shake

I made this twice last week for the kids at breakfast last week and they loved it!  Mint Chocolate Chip Shake I used coconut milk instead of almond milk and Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips.

Cooper with his standard after drink mustache!

Cooper with his standard after drink mustache!

 

 

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21 Day Sugar Detox Days 21-21

So it is over.  It is currently the morning of the 22nd day and I’m done!  I am going to try to recap a little of what I learned during this 21 days in list form.

1. I was addicted to sugar and treats!  For the first 2 weeks I had some of the “legal” treats everyday.  But, for the last week, I let them go and I survived!  It was nice to feel that sense of freedom from that need.  I found what worked for me was going for a quick walk or picking up a book and relaxing for a few minutes.  It was more doable than I thought possible.

2. The “detox” period lasted longer than I thought it would.  I was probably 2 weeks in before I quit having periods of what felt like low blood sugar.  I felt better on days when I at least had some rutabaga or something slightly more starchy.

3.  I think I have SIBO.  Or some other form of intestinal issue.  I took on the autoimmune protocol while doing this 21DSD because of it.  I am also flirting with low FODMAPs.  I experienced what I think was some die-off effects about 10 days in and continued for a week that made me come to this decision.  Because of this, I plan to continue with some version of this plan for the next few months.

4. I LOVE kombucha!  And I can tolerate liver, for my health.

5.  For those of you wanting to know, I felt like I lost a little bloat/water weight during the first week.  However, once the SIBO/die-off stuff came on, the bloating came back with a vengeance.  It is still working it’s way out.  I think for the more “typical” person though, there would be some weight loss.

6.  My CrossFit performance was better and more effortless.  Yesterday’s WOD was:

20 Hand Release Push Ups, 21 Thrusters (squat to a ball then push barbell overhead) , 400 meter run

20 Hand Release Push Ups, 15 Thrusters, 400 meter run

20 Hand Release Push Ups, 9 Thrusters, 400 meter run

I finished first in the gym with a time of 11:47.  And it wasn’t very hard.  I used a 35# barbell for my thrusters so next time I will have to raise that.

For dinner last night I made a delicious soup.  Well, I guess delicious is debatable because 2 of my kids wouldn’t eat it.  It was grass fed beef, organic green beans, parsnips, carrots, celery, red and yellow onion, garlic, parsley and lots of seasonings.  Basically anything I had left in the fridge or freezer.

Fridge/Freezer Soup

Fridge/Freezer Soup

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21 Day Sugar Detox – Days 15-18

Sorry I have been MIA for the past few days. Both my boys have some flu-like virus thing going on, so that has disrupted the normal schedule around here a bit.  I can’t believe I only have 3 days left on the challenge!  I also can’t believe that I’m not jonesing for some sugar.  I mean, sure, I would take it, but it’s not like the only single thought that I am having 24/7 which is what I expected.  I have learned so much through this process.  I started out thinking that is would just be about the sugar addiction.  As time went on I realized that the physical things going on had to have a deeper root.  After some research, I think it is likely that I have SIBO (small intestine bowel overgrowth) or some other type of gut dysbiosis.  It doesn’t come as a shock.  I have always been prone to yeast issues and this is a similar deal.  I think the reason that I have been having such a difficult time physically with this 21DSD is because I am having some die-off effects.  From my reading, it appears that you can have a worsening of symptoms when you go through this phase.  So…I think I am going to have to stick with the no/low sugar approach for some months to come.  I have also taken on the paleo autoimmune protocol (no eggs, nightshades, nuts, seeds) because my systemic inflammation is up.  I thought it would improve since we all know that sugar is inflammatory, but per the usual, my body didn’t respond in the typical way.  Instead of giving up and going back to the sugar though, I am going to stick it out.  I think my gut is just not fully healed from the Celiac and leaky gut issues.  The past 2 years have been full of lessons learned.  Sometimes I wish they would have all come at once so I wouldn’t have to keep going through this cycle, but then I’m sure I would have just been overwhelmed and possibly given up.  In His perfect timing, God has given me just enough information to make progress without making me feel like it was impossible.

On the more day to day stuff, I have been walking, CrossFitting and doing a little yoga.  I would love to find a yoga studio I could go to a couple times a week, but I don’t think it is feasible at the moment so I am doing it at home.  We did G.I Jane at CrossFit on Monday and I was pretty pleased.  I did the level 1/2 which was 75 burpee pull ups.  My time was 9:39 which I thought was respectable, especially considering that I am not in top form.  Not much else going on.  I still haven’t finished the Downton Abbey season finale, but I know about the giant spoiler.  It was bad enough with Sybil, but now Matthew?!  I’m going to try to finish it tonight so I can actually see what happens.

This was my breakfast this morning.  I though it was delish!

chicken sausages, spinach, rutabaga hash

chicken sausages, spinach, rutabaga hash

My boys finished this Lego project.  I thought it was good for a couple of 10 year olds:)

LEGO Taj Mahal

LEGO Taj Mahal

 

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