Autoimmune Protocol Diet

So this thyroid thing I have….we don’t know what it is yet, but the doctor suggested early Graves’ disease.  I joined several facebook groups with people who have been diagnosed as hyperthyroid or Graves’ so I could talk to others about it.  I had very little knowledge about it other than the first few 50 page search results of google that are very generic “This is Graves’ diseases…here are the signs and symptoms….”.  It is a little intimidating to hear from people who have had this disease for years and still don’t have their thyroid levels in check, trying everything under the sun to help them feel better.  I had heard several times about a diet that had helped – The Autoimmune Protocol Diet.  I checked it out.  The science behind it made sense, and there were small studies that had shown it’s effectiveness in helping to reduce symptoms and even heal certain autoimmune diseases.  I researched the heck out of it.

It became apparent that it was worth a go.  Also, in the meantime, Chris had an annual checkup and was told he needs to adjust his diet and exercise more (he already walks everyday on his treadmill desk whilst he works).  So this seemed like a good time to start thinking about a healthy diet.  In particular as Chris had Guillen-Barre syndrome last year and suffers from vitiligo, both automimmune diseases.  Healing a leaky gut made sense.  Figuring out if there are foods that trigger our tiredness and give us upset tummy would be a good thing.

What is the AIP diet?  Basically kiss goodbye to gluten, dairy, soy, nuts, seeds, alcohol and all nightshade plants such as potatoes and tomatoes.  Yikes.  But it’s all about being nutrient dense.  It’s not a weight loss diet, it’s about healing and improving overall health.  We do this for 30-60 days to reset the gut and let it heal, then slowly re-introduce foods one at a time and observe.  My brother has celiac disease (I was tested and do not have it) and my mother can’t tolerate soy or eggs so I know how hard it can be to figure food out, especially when going out to restaurants.   We figured if we do it together that we’d be more likely to stick at it.

Along with the diet we decided to get back into the routine of regular exercise before breakfast and work (eeeek to 5AM wake ups!!!).  I subscribed to Beachbody on Demand and we decided to give PiYo a go.  We tried it many years ago and enjoyed it’s low impact way of getting the heart rate up with minimal equipment.  It’s a 2 month programme.  We started the PiYo for a week before starting the diet.  I wouldn’t recommend starting an exercise programme and a diet all at once, your body will kill you!

Maybe we should have waited for two weeks before starting the diet, but actually, we started to feel the effects quickly.  Chris lost several pounds in two weeks.  I needed to keep my weight stable which I was managing well to begin with.  Probably because the Methimazole is a drug that slows down the metabolism and so putting weight on is easy to do.

We bought a cookbook called ‘The Idiot’s guide to Autoimmune Protocol Diet’ and it was great in laying out recipe ideas.  We realized to stay on track we would need to do A LOT of food prep.  A diet of fresh meat, fish, vegetables and fruit can be delightfully tasty, but the preparation needed to make it tasty is insane.  Not cool when you are both working parents to a two year old (who is a picky eater BTW).

So fast forward and we are now six weeks into the diet and exercise and we have both stuck to it.  Well, whilst traveling for work I had a hard time being completely pure to AIP, but I definitely didn’t make a conscious decision to eat things non compliant to the protocol.  I had to eat something and couldn’t starve myself for this diet.

I have noticed a few improvements already….

  1. My poops are awesome!  I have had Irritable Bowel Syndrome most of my adult life and finally my poops are what I expect to be mostly normal.
  2.  My skin has felt softer, although my skin has become clearer over the recent years I am still breaking out around my period time of the month.
  3.  Fewer cravings and hunger.  Snacking has reduced significantly!  the first couple of days on the diet were hard, but then it never became an issue.  Now, I tracked my calories intake for a couple of weeks and realized it can be hard to keep the calories up!  So there have bene a few days when I have been ridiculously hungry and I suspect my body was actually hungry, rather than snack type hungry.  Not sure if that makes any sense!
  4.   Muscles!  I have muscles!  I have become leaner overall.  My legs are feeling like rocks, my arms are less bingo wings style and my abs are becoming defined.  (People who know me a probably rolling their eyes because they tell me I’m slim anyway – yes, on the slim side, but not toned or strong!)

Just a couple more weeks and we will be starting to do some reintroductions of certain foods.  I am looking forward to reintroducing almonds and eggs.  And the occasional glass of wine.  Each reintroduction of a food type can take a few weeks so, this isn’t a quick process.  But I’m feeling good about it all.  I just wish I’d done this sooner.

From scratch Home made AIP meals and snacks