If you’re like me—and for your sake, I really hope you are not—you’ve got one of those fancy autoimmune diseases that seems to act up at the most inopportune moments. Like, Mondays. Or Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Okay, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sundays too. The biggest problem with battling an autoimmune disease is that you have the obvious signs—in my case, pooping, sharting, joint pain, gut pain, skin disasters, fatigue and serious crank—and the not at all obvious signs. Is that headache related to the stress grinding at night, or something else? What about that fatigue and irritability? Could that be grief and stress and unresolved childhood issues? Or do I have something else up in my autoimmune? Hmmm.
So when my friend Beth over at Tasty Yummies started down the path to wellness by committing to the autoimmune protocol diet for a month, I thought I should give it a try too. It’s time to solve any issues that are solvable without therapy and/or more costly dental work. And Beth made her journey sound so rewarding, if not challenging. Which, I mean, when you’re giving up basically everything and asked to enjoy organ meats . . . Anyhoo. I’m trying it.
I started reading about this whole shebang with the The Paleo Approach, and the author has the most in-depth explanation of why and how about the autoimmune protocol. She is backed up with doctors who also specialize in, or suffer from autoimmune diseases so I’m feeling good in her hands. I ordered the book, started reading, raided my CSA box, and ordered meats and fish from my local grass fed (well, except for the fish) farm where they also sell bone broth and the like. I bought the highest quality gelatin in hopes of making this recipe topped with coconut whipped cream, and well, that was this.
Hey, it turned out much better than my kale smoothie up there. Which, while it tasted fine if you don’t mind kale chunks in your teeth, was incredibly unappealing to drink. I just kept thinking about how good it was for me. Because I’m treating this “diet” 100% like a medical order and not like a “won’t it be fun to try to be a vegan!” thing I’ve done before. And apparently gelatin (grass-fed) is a huge boost to the old immune system. But just like my attempt at the kale smoothie, nothing has turned out quite right so far on this journey. Which makes me wonder if maybe my whole heart is not in it. Oh, right, that’s totally it. My whole heart is not in it. Still.
The interesting thing about the autoimmune protocol diet is that while it is super restrictive (I can’t have coffee and this is a problem), and you basically can only eat vegetables (no white potatoes, corn, the good ones, and preferably wild, local, organic), some fruits, grass-fed meats and wild caught fish, you also must include immune system sustaining foods. These foods are not good. Well, I guess bone broth is okay, but organ meats I cannot stomach (or liver, or kidney, or testicle). Sauerkraut and other fermented foods are also part of the healing process as well as sea vegetables and even edible insects (which are not mandatory but highly recommended). I cannot do these things. I know I need to, so I’ll drink more kombucha than I would like instead. Still, it’s very important to your immune system healing to eat healing foods. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to do that. More Jell-O?
Do you know when is not a great time to start a grueling food regimen? When you’re exhausted and cranky. And that was my first mistake so far in the 36 hours + I’ve been on the autoimmune protocol diet. Here’s more!
These are the plantain crackers I attempted.
I’m so all about a cheese delivery device, or in this case, a meat delivery device, that it makes no sense this would be my first big oopsie. If nothing else I’m an expert in crackers. In eating them, making them, enjoying the heck out of them. Why, then, did I forget to set the timer???? Yet, there it is. This should have been a sign.
I have had a few wins. Like the coconut oil roasted chicken (recipe in my first book) I always make, and added sweet potatoes and carrots. And again, the sweet potato hash for breakfast—just without the egg topping. These are standards that I enjoy on or off the diet so I’d like to do more of those things. I also enjoyed some tuna steaks even though I like mine a bit more rare, but still this was purty good. The suggestion is that you eat fish and shellfish 3-4 times a week. Of course, again, it’s got to be all wild caught and stuff. I made a cilantro, caper and lemon sauce (just a smidge of olive oil) and seared those suckers on broil in the old oven.
My other ongoing mistake that I anticipate making every day until I go to New York and have my “long weekend away from this diet” as I’m now calling it, is that I take that “you should take a nap and relax” part of the diet VERY seriously. Too seriously. This is what I do: The kids leave for school at 8. If I take them, I’m back home by 8:50 at the latest. If my husband takes them, I can totally be back in bed by 8:05. If I sleep for 2-3 more hours then it’s practically lunch and I only have to think about two meals for the day! Genius! Plus, nap! (This is not really recommended, FYI.)
So yeah, I’m off to a whimpering start but that’s okay. I’m not quitting. I was inspired by others who share my autoimmune disease frustration, and I will also try and jump start my health, no matter how pathetically I go about doing it. Hey, we cannot all be the best at everything. Beth is the best at delicious, healthy recipes, yoga, design and being awesome. I’m the best at cursing loudly and creatively and eating cookies. So, we both have our things.
I know this way of eating is going to be helpful, even with my long weekend break, and I know I need to do something to help me start feeling physically better. So, I’m in. I’m not happy about it but I will continue to push forward because, jeez, feeling like crap is no way to live. I mean, neither is drinking kale, but if you’ve gotta’ choose?