Friday, September 26, 2014

My Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) experience

It's been almost 2 years since my RA diagnosis. Some days are better than others. And some days just suck. I haven't been able to figure out what triggers my flare ups. It's obvious when I do manual labor. But it's not obvious the rest of the time. I've had a sneaking suspicion that it has to do with my diet. When I cheat and eat dairy and gluten, I go hog wild. If I've had a little bit, what's a little bit more? 

Before, during, and after our tropical vacation (Caribbean cruise), I had a perpetual flare up that went on for weeks. It just would not go away. I made up my mind  to take care of myself. (Another deciding factor was that I may have eaten my weight in food during the cruise, woops).  Of course, I never just ease into things. I decided to go full boar start both Cross Fit AND the Autoimmune Protocol at the same time. More on Cross Fit another time. My hope with this "diet" challenge was to see if my RA could be managed through diet (whoohoo, no meds?). Let's see how I did, shall we?

Week 1: September 2-8
Piece of cake. I chalk it up to being a 4 day work week and having prepped enough food in advance during the work week. I ate the same thing for breakfast everyday and have yet to make AIP porridge again. I didn't notice any changes or major cravings. Although I could have used a chocolate chip cookie. Rookie mistake: not packing enough food on the first day. I was starving by the afternoon.

Week 2: September 9-15
I was very gung-ho about researching recipes and cooking my food in week 2. But at the same time, it began to feel like I had lost my life to working out, grocery shopping, and food prep. This is also the week that I cheated during one meal. We host a monthly dinner club, which happened to land during my challenge. I tried to give myself a free pass, but I felt SOOOO guilty about it. It made me stop and realize that I can't be so hard on myself; it's OK to cheat. I did notice that the morning after cheating (not like a ate a lot), I woke up with a minor headache. Tip: don't EVER offer to pick up fresh donuts when you are on a restricted diet. Just say no!

Week 3: September 16-22
This is where things start to breakdown. While I was still excited to find new recipes, I failed when it came to execution. I found myself making the same things as week 1. Frankly, I was tired of eating meat and salad all the freaken time.

Week 4: September 23
Yup, I didn't even make it through the first full day of week 4 before I finally gave up. I had been hemming and hawing about giving up through the weekend. I'd experienced flare ups every week so far and the bloated belly had returned. So when a box of Wondermade marshmallows arrived on my doorstep and I said to hell with it and promptly tore the box open and devoured the sugary treat. Tip: don't order yummy treats while you are on a crazy diet. Hell, don't even look at regular recipes or food blogs. It'll just kill you.

Final thoughts:

  • Whole30 is hard. Whole30 AIP is really hard. If you are going to do it, be prepared. Have recipes ready and make time to prep food. 
  • It is possible to dine out while on this crazy challenge. Sushi, if you eat that stuff, is really safe. But I was able to go to an American Bistro and have them customize a salad for me with no problem. My only complaint was that I asked specifically for no pepper on my grilled chicken and they didn't listen. Thankfully, black pepper is safe for me.
  • With only salt and herbs allowed as seasonings, I learned how to properly salt my food. Previously, I had under salted everything. I have an irrational fear of over salting after an incident when I was 15. 
  • I'm getting really good at cooking meat: sear it in a pan, throw it into the oven, but most importantly use a temperature probe! Don't be guessing at how much time you need. 
  • Coconut milk is not my friend. Thanks to the reduced diet, I was able to figure out that drinking full fat coconut milk (steamers and smoothies) has adverse affects on me, aka bloating. 
  • I think I may have figured out a trigger food: sugar! Raw honey, maple syrup, cane sugar, etc. I'm pretty sure that when I eat too much of it, my finger swells up and becomes tender. I need to experiment more with this, but for now, there are cupcakes to be eaten.