Mornings and the Autoimmune Protocol

Week 12 prompt for the Ordinary Everyday project was “Mornings”. Most people shot their families and kids getting ready in the morning. But the most significant thing about mornings for me right now is my Coffee Jam. The Constitutional. I drop the kids off and spend an hour or even more sitting, drinking coffee, reading, social media, journaling, devotions and music. Coffee wasn’t part of my mornings until the last year. I went straight to soda, man! I’ve cut so far back on soda that I don’t even consider it in the morning. I’m quite sure that most of this year would have been spent napping and looking at Facebook if it wasn’t for coffee. So I’m sticking to it.

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Today, March 31, marks nine days on a sloppy version of the Autoimmune Protocol version of the Paleo Diet. I’ve spent a lot of time reading up on diet since last year. Like a lot-a lot. My South Bend doctor told me not to try diet changes or lose weight. This new doctor said I could work in more veggies and fruit. I’ve dabbled a lot with Paleo recipes, sometimes getting on a pretty good streak but never committing to a serious change. The main reason being that I don’t (didn’t) feel like I have a terrible issue with any certain food (except apples and strawberries, wowza). I haven’t been having any GI symptoms. I’ve been feeling good overall. A major breakthrough occurred during the crazy cookie cupboard time in February when I was outside, so cold and lifting cookies for hours at a time. I was taking Epsom salt baths every night. And I wasn’t getting the sicky chills & aches I had been getting the evening or day after overdoing it with exercise. Aha! Magnesium! I bought a bottle of capsules. I told friends. “Magnesium. MAGNESIUM!!”. Suddenly I was capable, focused, rested and wonder of wonders, not a total bitch all afternoon and evening! What would I conquer next? A DIET, of course.

The Autoimmune Protocol is an elimination diet, meant to be temporary and restrictive in order to identify issues when foods are added back in. It’s a version of the Paleo Diet which excludes grains, dairy, sugar & refined foods and legumes. It is a diet of meats, eggs, nuts, fruits and fruits & vegetables. The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) further eliminates eggs, nightshades (potato, tomato, peppers and seed-based spices like paprika), nuts and seeds (including cocoa and coffee). Neither allow sugar or alcohol or artificial sweeteners. The idea is that you cut all this out for a time and methodically trial foods for reintroduction. I’ve committed to a 21-day elimination but am allowing coffee and wine. Those allowances technically screw the pooch on this being a true elimination diet at all. The idea is that you avoid all potential irritants and inflammatory triggers, track your symptoms, or lack thereof, and then reintroduce to figure out which foods you can trust long-term. In addition to failing it from the start with the coffee (1 cup per morning) and wine (I’ve had two glasses so far), I face the additional caveat of having to eat fairly low-fiber. White carbs have been my comrades this year; salad being the enemy. We know fiber as being good because it gets in your guts and cleans things out…like a scrub brush. My guts can’t tolerate the scrub brush action. I’ve eaten the occasional side salad, roasted veggie or fresh fruit but the thing where you go buy out the produce department to start eating healthy doesn’t do for me anymore. I’ve felt so defeated looking at recipes in the past when thinking about really changing the way I eat. Even flipping through the beautiful Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook. Please, for the love of pete, do NOT expect me to make any diet food ever that is not photographed well and presented nicely in the recipe, whether it be hard copy or internet version. Just don’t.

So after a restorative, relaxing spring break spent in Missouri at the farm where I rode the 4-wheeler, did yoga, ate, drank and slept:

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I decided I was up for a challenge for a few weeks. I pinned some recipes, outed my efforts on social media and am giving it a go!

I pinned a bunch of do-able recipes. Dishes I’d want to eat myself, not worrying about pleasing the rest of the family. I don’t like to short-order cook but I also don’t like picking a recipe just for no one else to eat it, let alone enjoy it. I told Brian he’d probably have a choice each evening of sharing whatever I was having or easy kid food. He’s been great about it.

My favorite things so far have been Carolina Style BBQ Pork from My Big Fat Grain Free Life. A neighbor kid said while it was cooking, “MMmmmm, it smells like chili and cinnamon in here!” Yes child, it sure did, and my kids didn’t like it so it’s been breakfast almost every day since. My other favorite was Avocado Chicken Salad. I’ve seen it on Pinterest a ton (usually really heinous pictures, might I add) but hadn’t tried it. Well, it’s a new staple. I’ll make it at least once a week and am planning to try it with tuna as well. I’d heard a podcast by Chalene Johnson on which she said many healthy, fit people eat a fairly restricted combo of safe foods. They eat a well-balanced diet but usually have a few standbys. That clicked with me because I like a good standby. Something easy and trustworthy to fall back on in the midst of the other eleventy-billion recipes and food images I subject myself to daily. This is #1 on a current list of 1 for good standbys right now.

I’ve used #nelaip on Instagram every day. Let me tell you, I have not rocked this thing. I’ve cheated at least once a day but not even in a moment-of-weakness-bad-choice kind of way, but an intentional decision to eat something “forbidden” by this diet. I had lasagna Friday night as well as a regular beer. I’ve had ice cream. Twice. The biggest, maybe even HUGE, thing I’ve learned is that I’m a sugar junkie. Like WHOA sugar addiction. I’m still letting that set in and trying to process it. If all I get out of this is an easy dedication to mostly-Paleo eating, I’ll have won the jackpot. Actually, long-term, I see myself settling more into the framework of The Perfect Health Diet. They finagled the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and Paleo into a nice mesh and allow what they call “safe starches” like white rice and potatoes. I can dig that.

Nana Linda - i am so proud of you. Great work. And so agree on the pictures of the food.

Amy - I’m so proud of you for trying this and I hope it helps you figure out those trigger foods. I’m glad coffee and wine made the cut though because that would have been TORTURE!!!

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