Paleo and Autoimmune
What Works for you is what matters
I have been trying to figure out Paleo for a while now, figuring out what works for me and my health. Over the past few weeks this journey has been anything but smooth. I am not a one day wonder or two week success story and will not pretend to be. I will write this journey as it goes, the good, the bad, the truthful and ugly side of it all.
One of the things that drew me to Paleo was that there were no gimmicks, set rules or unrealistic promises, no counting points, or pre-boxed meals, just clean healthy foods to be eaten however YOU choose. Right from the beginning it just all made sense. For the first time ever, I wanted this food journey to work for a life time, not to just look good for an event or because summer was quickly approaching.
However; for some of us even starting the Paleo diet with the best intentions is not so cut and dry and it can throw us off. In an earlier post I touched on how emotional eating can derail us, today it is about autoimmune issues. If you are like me and start out a little behind the eight ball, Paleo can be a little less straight forward.
I have been blessed with (2) autoimmune issues (I don’t like the word disease, it sounds so final). I have what I like to think of as a beautiful dancing butterfly in my thyroid called Hashimotos and a little thing called celiac, that reminds me to stay on the straight and narrow every day.
Believe me, I am in no way trying to minimize either of these issues by giving them pretty visuals or calling them “little things” I have been deathly ill from both, suffered years of not knowing what was wrong, been from Dr to Dr and had every blood test possible until I finally got my answers, and I also have 2 children with celiac, so I know firsthand the struggles, but I do try to look at them and find some sort of peace and joy in living with them.
On my goods days, when I feel strong and well, I feel bless to have both. They say something good always comes from something bad. One I inherited from my father who has passed on, so every time it flairs, I find a little smile on my face somewhere beneath my abdominal pains, cause I know he is looking down on me holding my hand and gets it. I also found Sarah, the Paleo world, the wonderful community on Everyday Paleo, EPLifefit and the deep inner strength that autoimmune issues gives you to never give up, even on those day you really want to.
So in this situation one would think Paleo would be perfect, no grains, no gluten, no intestinal pain, no thyroid inflammation, right?….wrong! sometimes we can do everything we think is right and still innocently slip up or put trust in the wrong hands. I had not been feeling very well as of late, I knew the signs (swollen thyroid, IBS, fatigue so bad I could barely walk, nausea morning noon and night, loss of appetite, bloating, the list goes on). But could not figure out where they were coming from, and why after hearing all these great success stories on paleo was I still not becoming one of them. I was eating clean whole foods, following the Paleo rules but actually feeling worse than before. What was going on??
Don’t get me wrong I was not an A+ student in the healthy eating department before Paleo, just a gluten free, vegan version of bad. Gobbling up lots of carbs and gluten free processed foods, hey there are really good vegan, gluten free cookies, cakes and muffins etc. out there and I found them all!!. But I had taught myself how to keep the lion in me tamed this way and it was working, it was keeping my autoimmune symptoms away, I still felt like crap, just in a different way.
Situation one which I had not dealt with while being vegan, where eggs and meats (there seems to be some controversy over this comment but here it goes) It seems that depending on your level of sensitivity to gluten, eating meat and eggs that have been grain feed as opposed to grass feed can set you off. For me this seems to be true. I was eating what Paleo told me, but was feeling my autoimmune symptoms come on worse than before; how could this be? I had eliminated all grains and was definitely not eating gluten; or was I? It seems for me the grains in the meats and eggs were enough to irritate my symptoms! As soon as I switched to grass feed meat and took out the eggs, things seemed to improve for me.
Second setback came from a restaurant chain that has a gluten free menu, (again not something I dealt with being Vegan, I usually would have ordered salad with oil and vinegar on the side) this time I ordered a nice gluten free paleo dinner and within a few hours was so violently ill I could not move for days. Mistake number two …cross contamination!! It may have been a gluten free menu, but certainly was not a gluten free meal…
So does Paleo still make sense, Yes. Is this journey still amazing, yes, even with its ups and down. But in my opinion it is only amazing once you make it your journey and have figure out what is best for you and your situations. And there we are, back to the reason I loved the Paleo Plan in the first place, it is NOT a one size first all…..
Until next time, much peace and health