If you’ve found this blog, my guess is that you or someone you know suffers from an autoimmune disease. And for that, I have to tell you, I am sorry. The good news, though, is that you’re not alone. In fact, I’m right there with you, and it is my hope that through this blog, we can get well (or at least improved) together through diet and lifestyle changes to go along with the medicine side dictated by our doctors.
Of course, I need to tell you that I encourage you to discuss AIP, or any other diet or exercise plan, with your doctor before you begin. I also need to tell you that I am just a girl who loves to cook who happens to have an autoimmune disease. I’m not a nutritionist, I’m not a chef and I’m not a doctor. In an effort to learn more about autoimmunity, I’ve turned to research studies and articles and the good ol’ internet to fill my brain-fogged brain with everything I can get my hands on. But do know that while I will endeavor to never post anything to lead you astray and will try, when able, to share studies and articles, I’m not a credentialed expert.
Lastly, I need to tell you about me and why I am here. My name is Kate and last summer I found out that I was hypothyroid with antibodies present (hello, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis). I’m pretty sure I was suffering from Hashi’s for at least 3 years prior to being diagnosed, but like with many autoimmune diseases, the symptoms can be vague and easily written off. I was in a job I hated and chalked my crippling exhaustion, inability to concentrate and weight gain up to being miserable in my situation. Well, I changed my situation when I got the opportunity and courage to start my own online business and work from home. I was no longer in that miserable job, but my symptoms were still there. Sometimes, though, I was super productive and exercised and lost weight and kept on going like the energizer bunny. That energy never lasted and I came to understand that Hashimoto’s comes in swings oh hypo and hyper– each with symptoms that you wish you didn’t have. It wasn’t until this past summer when I was suffering from excruciating daily headaches, a horribly messed up menstrual cycle, sudden achiness of joints that never went away, a change in the texture of my skin and a sudden 35 pound weight gain over the course of around 2 months. I knew something was not right. And surprisingly, getting a diagnosis felt like a relief in some ways. I would just have to take one little pill every day for the rest of my life and I would be back to my normal self. That’s not really how it’s worked so far for me. It took several weeks to feel a difference in taking my medicine to feel a difference and there were a few days that I felt back to my old self. But the tiredness and aching joints came back (or did they ever really go away?) and at my next check-up, my levels were back to where I started and I got my dosage upped. It was at that point that I brought up the strange scaly dry patch on my ankle and my knuckles and that sometimes appeared on my eyelids. Without a biopsy, you can’t be sure, but to her it looked like early psoriasis, and with that, there was autoimmune disease number 2.
It was then (January 2016) that I started AIP. To be honest, I chose the diet out of fear. I was terrified that if I didn’t get my immune system under control (and changing my diet and my lifestyle were things that I could control) that I would end up with a laundry list of autoimmune diseases. I recognize, though do not diminish my experience with Hashi’s or anyone else’s, that Hashimoto’s is not the worst autoimmune disease someone can face and I am terrified every day that I’ll end up with Lupus or RA or MS or any other disease that so many people have to face.
I did a total elimination for 30 days, then added food items back in every three days. It was often confusing and not at all clear-cut, but I don’t think I experienced a reaction to any one thing. However, a couple weeks after I finished reintroduction, I swung hypo, gained 8 pounds back of the 22 I had lost, and was miserable again. I swore to myself that I would restart AIP after a planned vacation.
Maybe it’s just me and my fear, but I see autoimmunity everywhere I look. I’ve developed a permanent flush on my cheeks that spreads upwards towards my nose and I wonder if it is the tell-tale malar rash of Lupus. Up until a couple weeks ago, I had aching joints that were so painful, I couldn’t enjoy a vacation to the beach. I couldn’t get in the pool– the coolness of the water causing terrible pain. I woke up one morning with excruciating pain anytime I moved (or didn’t move) my arm.
I had some tests done to test for RA, specifically, since joint pain was my primary concern, and I’m waiting on an appointment with my doctor to discuss my results. My symptoms are MIA for now, but I know they’ll be back.
So that’s my story. I’ve done AIP once and I am preparing to make it my lifestyle. I want to share with you my recipe fails and successes. I want to share with you what works for me and what doesn’t in terms of lifestyle and exercise. And even more than those things, I want to encourage you and support you.