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

I need some answers!!!

Unexplained infertility, unexplained Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), unexplained bowel problems – aka Irritable Bowel Syndrome, the bucket for all unknown bowel problems. Now I'm potentially facing unexplained joint pain and stiffness…I really hope that doesn't become the case, because I'm going to be pissed if I don't get answers!

Today I went to the doctor's because I have been experiencing progressively worse joint pain and stiffness for the past 4 months or so. A couple of months ago at my annual medical exam I mentioned that I had been experiencing numbness and tingling in my hands and feet. My doc said it was probably carpal tunnel syndrome, it's not uncommon after pregnancy as the body changes shape to experience this. She told me to try ibuprofen and if that didn't make a difference to come back and see her. I tried the ibuprofen and it didn't work. Without any sign of improvement I decided it was time to go back.

I wake up in the mornings stiff and sore in my hands, feet and more recently, my knees. It's most painful in my hands and it takes about 10 minutes or so to warm my joints up to move properly. I get out of bed and hobble as if I'm an old person. It's not getting better, in fact I say it's just getting worse as I feel sore from it during the day now. This week my little finger on my left hand locked stiff after waking up, it only lasted a few moments. But still, that's pretty freaky. I don't dare pick up Aviana as soon as I've woken up in case I were to drop her, in fact I probably wouldn't be able to lift her anyway.

The doctor thinks it is probably postpartum related because I'm breastfeeding still and my periods haven't returned yet. She's running some tests to rule out other things like Rheumatoid Arthritis, but because I don't have other symptoms she doesn't think it will be that. That would suck a lot if I have that.

Whatever it is I really hope they figure out what's going on because I am BORED of doctors not being able to tell me why I get this crap!!

5 Surprising things about my postpartum recovery

When I was pregnant I geeked up on my pregnancy, what was happening day by day, how my body was changing, how it was going to change over the 40 weeks.  I read books, blogs, downloaded 3 different pregnancy apps and read them like the Bible everyday. Some of the articles touched on postpartum recovery, but really I didn’t pay that close attention. So there were some things that surprised me when it came to my postpartum recovery I wish I had known a little about before so I wasn’t obsessively googling!

1.Urinary Incontinence. I learned about incontinence fast. And I’m not talking about the kind of incontinence you get when you laugh or cough and just a little bit of pee comes out. I’m talking about standing up out of bed and your entire bladder falls out from between your legs into a warm puddle beneath you, with no way of stopping it no matter how hard you think about it.  Apparently postpartum incontinence is very common (1 in 3 will women suffer) – so how come I had never heard of this before?! What’s more…it can take months to recover.  When the nurse told me it should get better within a few weeks, I believed her.  But now, I am not so sure.  It has definitely got better since the immediate week after giving birth, but I am no way near being fixed.  Chris had me sit on towels on the sofa and in the car, he even put multiple layers of waterproof blankets under my side of the bed (a picnic blanket with a waterproof bottom, and one of the pads we took home from the hospital!).  Fortunately I haven’t had any real big embarrassing accidents.  I’ve been working on my kegels (I did do these when I was pregnant BTW) and trying to stop/start the urine flow when I pee.  Sometimes I can control the flow and other times I can’t no matter how hard I try, this gets me upset and frustrated at myself.  Here’s hoping the nurse was right and this doesn’t last long.

2. Night sweats.  The first night home I woke up after an hour (because that is all my sweet one would let me sleep) and I was DRENCHED – as if I had jumped into a bath in my sleep.  Weirdly, I had even managed to shape my duvet into a wet ball and was cradling it like it was my baby (that’s another story!).  The same thing happened night after night.  I suffered night sweats when I took the Progesterone in oil during IVF, so I hazarded a guess that it is hormonal related.  Again, a quick google, and apparently night sweats is very common in postpartum recovery! It is the hormones aiding the body to rid of all the excess fluid no longer needed that was made for pregnancy.  Oh OK then.  Could have warned me so I could be prepared with a few towels by my bed! Just as well Chris put those layers down in the bed for my incontinence!

3.  Body changes.  OK so I knew my body was going to change after giving birth – No shit Sherlock!  But what I wasn’t prepared for was how MY body was going to change.  Suddenly, I could sleep in what ever position I wanted.  I had got used to bending at the knees when I picked up things from the dishwasher/bottom cupboard etc.  But now I could put my shoes and socks on without having to contort myself into a yoga pose.  All of these things changed gradually when I was pregnant and now the change back was almost instantaneous…I couldn’t get out of the habit of doing my pregnancy moves! I only needed my maternity clothes for perhaps 2-3 days after giving birth, it wasn’t long before I was  able to fit back into my pre-pregnancy clothes.  Yesterday I packed away my maternity clothes and I felt an overwhelming sadness.  I haven’t packed away my maternity trousers/jeans though because they are so comfy!!! I missed my pregnant body so I had a little cry, I don’t know why I felt like that because now I have more clothes I can wear!  Part of me was also deeply sad for myself as I wondered whether I would ever wear those clothes again.  It was hard to let go.

4.  Weight loss.  Speaking of body changes…within 3 days I was down to my IVF weight and within a week I was back down to pre-IVF weight.  Some of you are probably hating me right now.  But honestly I did not expect it to be that fast, I started to worry if that was even normal.  I must have lost my IVF weight when I was pregnant which would explain why I only put on a total of 12lbs.  Remembering that I felt guilty for Aviana being growth restricted (IUGR), this just reinforced my guilty feeling.  May be I hadn’t eaten enough when I was pregnant, may be I wasn’t nourishing Aviana.  I have so many questions about Aviana being IUGR and what this means for a future pregnancy if we decided to try again.  I am hoping that my OB will shed some light on this at my postpartum appointment with the results of my placenta testing.

5.  Phantom kicks.  It is the strangest feeling…I know there isn’t a baby in there, but I was still feeling ‘kicks’ for two weeks after giving birth.  Whenever I felt something I would rub my tummy as if Aviana was still in there.  So so weird.

None of these surprises are terrible (except for perhaps the urinary incontinence being rather a pain), just wish I knew about them before!