Climbing the Mountain

One of the views from a mountain Josh and I went camping on last summer. Quite the journey to the top, but it was worth it!

One of the views from a mountain Josh and I went camping on last summer. Quite the journey to the top, but it was worth it!

I’ve read story after story of how living an AIP lifestyle helps with autoimmune diseases. There is testimony after testimony of people reducing their symptoms, getting their lives back, and even going into full remission. (At the end of this post there is a list of the blogs I love to read. Some of their stories are incredible!) These people seem to be able to sprint up mountains! But what about starting the journey, looking up at the daunting pathway to the top?

I’ve read about how hard it is living this way. About not wanting to try AIP. About only taking the plunge when all else fails and desperation strikes. I admit I fall into this camp. For the longest time I resisted the idea that I was sensitive to gluten. I believed macaroni and cheese, eggs, and mashed potatoes were the three safest foods I could eat. I believed that no matter what I ate, my stomach wouldn’t digest it properly so why bother experimenting?

And I was very wrong. When I finally “took the plunge” I noticed within a week that I felt better. I could finish a meal without running to the bathroom or feeling incredibly uncomfortable. I was excitedly seeing results and that gave me motivation to keep going.

But then I hit a wall. I wasn’t getting any better. It was time to really evaluate what I was doing. I realized I was still eating unsafe foods. (Corn chips, an occasional chocolate bar, a sip of my husband’s wine every now and then.) I was cheating all the time, and this is unacceptable if you want this lifestyle to work.

I started logging EVERYTHING I ate using an app on my phone called twogrand.
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This app’s catch phrase is “no more diets” and instead of a boring calorie counter, everything you eat is logged in pictures. This is super helpful if you are visual like I am, and knowing I have to log everything for others to see is an incentive to stay on track. There are also daily goals you can work on, such as “move for 30 minutes everyday” or “cut out sugar for 7 days” or “no eating past 8pm.” There is even a “read the Bible daily” challenge that I have eagerly taken up as a great reminder to spend time meditating in God’s Word. I use this app to log my workouts, my water intake, and journal about my symptoms and how I’m improving. The best part about this app though, is all the people using it. You can “follow” people much like a twitter account, and I have found many people eating AIP or SCD with ulcerative colitis or crohns. We encourage one another, swap recipes, share successes and truly understand each other when things are hard.

So all was well, for a while. Then I hit another wall. What is it this time!? Once again evaluation of my eating habits revealed unsafe foods, but this time they were trickier to spot than foods on the standard non-AIP list. I found my body was sensitive to over 20grams of sugar per day, and I had to learn that fruit was not always ok for me to eat. This was especially hard, as I adore any type of fruit and have always been told that eating it was healthy.

After I learned to manage my fruit consumption, I noticed yet another snag. Gluten cross-reactivity.

When your body creates antibodies against gluten, those antibodies recognize similar protein structures in other foods, tricking your body into thinking you are eating gluten when you really aren’t. For more information on how this works and foods to avoid, I recommend reading this post by the Paleo Mom. Since I had been logging everything I ate with twogrand, I found the culprit without much guessing. Tapioca and coconut. I had been making coconut milk tapioca pudding using maple syrup as a sweetener. My grandpa used to make tapioca pudding when I was growing up, and it’s creamy texture was a huge comfort to me. Unfortunately, I moved my beloved tapioca pearls to the back of my cupboards, waiting for the day when I can successfully reintroduce them into my diet.

The best change you can make though, is a mental shift. Instead of telling myself “I can’t have that, it will make me sick,” I am learning to instead say “I won’t eat that, it’s not healthy for my body.” Making the switch from being a victim (I can’t) to being in a position of authority (I won’t) is very empowering. Each time I make another healthy choice, I know I am doing it to help my body grow stronger. I know I am setting myself up well for the future. I know I am taking care of myself the way God intended me to, not destroying my body with food and stress, but building up my body with nutrition and exercise. And the benefits don’t stop with me. If I am healthy, I will be able to take care of future children. I will be able to serve my community in ways I can’t if I am at home and in bed sick. I am able to live the life God intended me to live, doing what my heart loves to do where my hands are called to serve.

Since then I’ve noticed a few other snags, (beware of too much coconut flour!) but each time it’s been easier to identify the problem and promptly remove it. My body takes less time to recover from a food mishap than it did before, and I am on my way to joining all those inspirational stories I mentioned above! I am climbing the mountain, knowing the view at the top is worth it!

Blogs I Follow

The Paleo Mom
Sweet Potatoes and Social Change
Slightly Lost Girl
Phoenixhelix
These are all amazing resources for living the AIP lifestyle. There are countless posts on troubleshooting, recipes, and encouragement on this journey we share!

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