Reintroductions: AIP Protocol

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Last month I wrote about how I was doing the Autoimmune version of paleo to see what is causing my allergic reactions and inflammation. It has been challenging in some ways and easier in others. I still am having a hard time with no coffee and living in NYC this does make eating at restaurants challenging. On, the positive side, I feel good and this has really encouraged me to tackle some things in the kitchen I wouldn’t have attempted in the past. While buying hormone-free meat and pantry staples and health food stores may seem pricey because I’m eating out less and I’m only cooking for myself I have found that I’ve been saving money on my weekly food bill.

I recently began the slow process of reintroducing foods. This takes a while because you can only introduce one new food to your diet at a time and you need to give yourself three days in between introductions so that if you have a delayed reaction you know what causes it. You also are encouraged to reintroduce foods in a certain order. You start with the things that most people don’t have a reaction to and work your way up to foods that are harder to bring back. So far I’ve successfully reintroduced eggs, cardamom, anise, and alcohol in small quantities.   I keep a symptom journal to track any changes during each addition. Mustard and Almonds are what I’ll be trying to reintroduce this coming week. I can’t wait for coffee but that’s not until later.

 

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Mindful Monday: A New Challenge

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About a year ago I broke out into hives and never figured out why. A couple of months ago I woke up and my left eyelid had swollen half way shut. I was told at urgent care this was most likely a delayed allergic reaction. Antihistamines cleared up both the hives and the eyelid, but since it happened twice I was referred to an allergist specialist.

Based on my history and symptoms she didn’t think it was a food or environmental allergy. Instead of testing me for reactions to common allergens she recommended that we first do some blood work to rule out autoimmune diseases. She was able to rule out serious diseases such as Lupis but my ANA test did come back positive. This means that my allergic reactions are the result of healthy cells being attacked by my immune system from time to time. An ANA test can sometimes come back positive in a person who doesn’t have any autoimmune issues. However, since I have been diagnosed with psoriasis and mild rosacea in the past my doctor has ruled this out as a false positive. Psoriasis and rosacea are also autoimmune diseases and it’s not uncommon for someone with one autoimmune disease to develop more as time goes on.

My allergist feels that since my breakouts are not frequent I don’t need to be on antihistamines on a daily basis unless my I start having more episodes. Since I’m currently not exhibiting any clear signs of another specific autoimmune disease I’m waiting until my next appointment with my primary care physician so I can go over my labs with her and see if there are specific tests or specialists I should be consulting with.

Right now this isn’t a big deal, however, I know what autoimmune diseases run in my family and I’m a big fan of being proactive vs reactive when it comes to health issues. So after going over some resources that were recommended to me, I decided to try The Autoimmune Protocol or Paleo program. This is very similar to people who follow a paleo or whole 30 plan except it is much more restrictive. You cut out all foods that can cause inflammation and after 30 days you slowly start reintroducing them one at a time. You keep a log of your symptoms and how you are feeling each day. When you have a reaction to something it’s a sign that you want to avoid that food.

I’m over a week into the elimination portion of the program and it’s hard. You are limited to any meats and fish that are fresh and don’t have any additives or hormones and any fruits or vegetables as long as they aren’t nightshades. This means no grains, no seeds, nothing processed, no eggs, and no dairy. I’m lucky that I live in NYC and have access to butchers, fish markets, and farmers markets which makes meal planning much easier.

There are three things that make this plan challenging for me.

1.It is animal protein based: I’ve gone through spurts of eating a vegetarian diet. I started eating meat again this winter around the time of my surgery because my iron levels were so low and my body wasn’t absorbing supplements. I’ve been off iron for a few months now since I’m no longer anemic and had been eating less and less dairy. I was hoping to go full vegetarian again and perhaps eventually vegan but that doesn’t seem possible right now. I have a lot of guilt around eating meat which I shouldn’t because I was raised an omnivore so this isn’t a new concept to me. While meat is encouraged at every meal on the AI Paleo plan I’m following the suggested plan for people who aren’t used to eating a lot of meat. I typical day for me has one meat meal, one seafood meal, and a vegan meal which is usually soup and a salad or a breakfast shake with coconut milk for a little fat and protein.

2. It is challenging to eat out: A lot of my socializing is around meeting friends for a meal. This program makes it challenging to eat out. I generally have to limit myself to a salad and make sure there are no nightshades like tomatoes on it and do a vinegarette or oil and vinegar for the dressing. The other alternative is getting a meat and vegetable dish as long as I can get it without condiments or marinades that may contain nuts, seeds, or nightshades.

3. You can’t have coffee. Beans and legumes are also off limits which includes coffee beans. 😦 Caffeine is allowed in the form of tea. I like tea but I LOVE coffee and I’m still having a hard time with this elimination.

In all my posts about health, I must emphasize that I’m not a medical expert or doctor. I would like to share the resources that I am finding the most helpful right now:

The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook

The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook 

The Autoimmune Wellness Podcast

The Paleo Mom

Simple French Paleo

A Squirrel in the Kitchen

Mindful Monday: 35 Things I’ve Learned

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I turned 35 last week. I have mixed feelings about that. My mom’s funeral was on my 30th birthday so I have bittersweet emotions about the day in general and both my parents only lived to be 65 so one tends to put things in perspective. That aside I’d like to think that I’ve learned a thing or two over the years so I’d like to share 35 lessons I’ve come to understand.

  1. Laugh loud and often
  2. You’re not a special snowflake/unicorn/mermaid
  3. Your pet thinks you are a special snowflake/unicorn/mermaid so spoil them rotten
  4. You’ll have lots of geographical friends throughout your life based on living in a common place, working at the same company, or going to school together. You won’t have as tight of a relationship with many of them after you’re no longer a part of the same place or situation and it’s okay. We only have so much energy for deep relationships.
  5. You will have a few relationships that transcend being in the same location or situation and those people are the most precious. Don’t take them for granted.
  6.  Never wear white if you plan on drinking coffee or eating anything red that day. It will end up on your clothes.
  7. Worry less about the size of the dress or number on the scale than how you feel in your skin.
  8. When your mind is all over the place and hard to listen to listen to your body instead.
  9. You will always be your harshest critic.
  10. Learn to be comfortable with alone time.
  11. Don’t trust people who give compliments or critiques too freely before they’ve gotten to know you.
  12. Knowing what you don’t want is just as important as knowing what you do want.
  13. It’s okay if you don’t want things that society tells you that you should want.
  14. Watch less TV and spend more time outside.
  15. Instead of focusing on what you perceive as your shortcomings be grateful for what you see as blessings.
  16. Say I love you often to the people you care about.
  17. You don’t always have to say yes.
  18. Eat more vegetables.
  19. Kindness and compassion are contagious so pass them on.
  20. Do what you love since you’ll spend most of your week at work.
  21. If you learn something from the experience it wasn’t a mistake.
  22. Be generous and not too proud to ask for help when you need it.
  23. Find a hobby or activity you love and don’t worry about being the best at it.
  24. Face your fears in order to conquer them.
  25.  Walk often and wear good shoes.
  26. Appreciate the little things in life that bring you joy.
  27. Learn from the past, plan for the future, but live in the present.
  28. People think about you way less than you think they do so don’t worry so much about impressing them.
  29. Get more sleep.
  30. The only person’s approval you should worry about is your own.
  31. Don’t settle.
  32. Treat yourself the way you would treat your best friend.
  33. Fit in the things that are most important to you each day, if they’re truly important you’ll find the time.
  34. Never stop learning.
  35. Never stop loving.

Mindful Monday: Evening Rituals

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Last week I wrote about some rituals I try to practice every morning. I thought I’d also share some things I do to wind down most evenings.

1.  Light Movement: Some people love to work out right before bed and others find that it keeps them awake. I fall somewhere in between. If I do an intense workout like running or something with weights I have too much adrenaline and end up not sleeping well. I do find that a bit of low-intensity exercise helps me wind down. I usually mix it up between going for a walk, restorative yoga, and light cardio.

2. Aloe Water: I drink a glass of water with a table spoon of aloe juice and a few drops of liquid chlorophyll. It’s supposedly good for your skin and I do find that I have had much less insomnia since adopting this practice.

3. Meditate: This was not something that was an easy practice for me to adopt since my mind loves to race but this helps me calm my brain down before bedtime. I started off with guided meditations which I still sometimes do but lately, I’ve taken to choosing mantras that speak to me and saying them to myself using with a Japa Mala.

4. Journal: Unlike morning pages journaling is more personal and I can go back and reflect on passages later on. If I don’t know what to write I draw a zen tangle as my entry instead. Sometimes I write a bit and also include a zen tangle.

5. Audiobooks: Sometimes I’m so tired I know I’ll fall asleep when I hit my pillow but typically that isn’t the case. I’ve found that playing an audio book and setting the sleep time on Audible is great for me. I play a book I’ve finished in the past so that way it’s something familiar that is just providing white noise.

 

Mindful Monday: Rituals

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This week I’m focusing on rituals. The word ritual is a bit loaded since it holds a number of connotations and my association with the word has changed over time. Growing up I associated the term ritual as something you did in an organized religion during a high holiday or weekly ceremony. Over the years I’ve come to feel that a ritual is something that you can practice in the privacy of your own home and doesn’t always have to have a spiritual connection to it.

For me, ritual is a replacement for the word routine. I have a dislike of too much routine because it makes me feel like I’m in a rut. However building daily and weekly rituals has been a good practice in finding balance. Yes there are some days and weeks when I’m rushed and I don’t fit everything I want to in my day and I try not to stress out about that, but if I go too long without a routine I’ve come to find value in, its absence is felt.

I’ll be exploring specific rituals that I’ve adopted through the course of this week. Do you have any rituals that you’ve taken on?

Mindful Monday: 21 Day Goddess Workout

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So in the past, I’ve talked about my struggles with weight and body image. I eventually had lap band surgery and that along with exercise worked well for me. I wrote that I had some complications at the end of last year which resulted in having to have my lap band removed.

These past almost six months have been a real struggle for me. I had gained some weight prior to my lap band being removed and gained some more after my second surgery. I really want to get to a place where the number on the scale and the size on the pair of jeans don’t matter. It really shouldn’t. What should matter is being healthy and feeling good. Mid spring I wasn’t there. I was feeling sluggish and tired and wasn’t in a good head space at all.

For me, food and weight is a slippery slope. I have the tendency to obsess about everything I eat and sometimes undereat because I feel like I need to “discipline” myself. I wish the concept of just eat what you feel like worked for me but it really doesn’t. I needed to find a plan that worked for me.

That’s how I discovered the 21 Day Goddess Workout through Daily Om. The program which was developed by Jannie Murry is part fitness, part nutrition plan, and part mindfulness. For me, this was exactly what I needed it is a three-week low sugar, low carb, and alcohol-free plan. These are all foods I know are triggers for me. The exercise plan is cardio and yoga focused.

I lost weight and inches which I’ve managed to keep off so far but more importantly, I am starting to feel more energy and pep again. I liked this program so much that I am now starting Jannie Murry’s 8 Week Body Makeover which is also through Daily Om. It’s a similar program but has more complex carbs included in the nutrition plan and strength training/toning exercises. I’m not where I want to be physically or mindset wise yet, but I’m getting there slowly.

Bath Time

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Yesterday I kicked off this kindness series and wanted to start off with a small act of self-love. Self-care and attention seem to be the last thing that many of us focus on when it should really be the first. When we so ourselves a little kindness and compassion it opens us up to giving that to others too.

One little thing I’ve been doing for myself lately is a nightly ritual of taking a bath and doing a little restorative yoga before bed. I spend less than thirty minutes on this little act but it winds down my day and quiets my hyperactive mind so I can sleep better. This little act feels luxurious because I use bath salts with different fragrances. Epson and mineral salts are great for soothing the body. Here are a few of my favorites depending on my mood.

Balancing Soak by Soothing Touch: This blend of oils is great for clarity and mental focus. I like using this the night before a big meeting. It’s probably just a placebo effect, but it makes me feel good so who cares.

Eucalyptus by Aura Cacia Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus is refreshing and soothing. It’s a great oil to use for hand and foot massages too.

Namaste by Botania: This blend is spicy and citrusy. I discovered this company on a trip to the farmers market in Montreal. Their website is opening an online store in the near future so hopefully, I’ll be able to stock up before my next trip to Canada.

Nighty Night by EO: Nothing gets you ready for bed like chamomile and lavender. This is perfect after a particularly stressful day. If bathing salts aren’t your thing they also have the same fragrance in bubble bath form.

Sweet Honey Almond Froth Bomb by Pacha Soap Company: This is pure lux and my skin feels so silky smooth after a bath. I don’t get this often because it’s a little pricey, but when I feel like treating myself it’s a great reward.

Do you have a self-care ritual you love?