When you can’t shake the fatigue…

I have so many memories of myself sitting on this bed, resting, or doing nothing, or mindlessly scrolling through social media, looking for something to ‘wake me up.’

A particular Wednesday afternoon when I felt completely worn out.

I’ve also spent a lot of my time sadly shaming myself for feeling this never-ending need for rest. Do other moms spend sometimes half or more of their days laying down just to rest for “a few minutes,” but it ends up turning into an hour or two? I look back and try to remember my own mom in my childhood. Granted, while my mom also had four kids in roughly the same amount of time I did, I still have to remind myself it’s not fair to anyone to compare ourselves to others—but we do also take cues from our environment to know if we’re onto ‘the right path,’ or if we’re off. I do recall my mom laying down to rest after busy days, before dinner time, and sometimes I’d catch her nodding off. Man, just replaying that imagery in my head and I now feel completely transported back to that time and knowing how tiring certain days can be as a parent, I wish I’d let my parents snooze just a little more 😉

Regardless though, I find myself still feeling shame for not always having boundless energy. I’m generally an upbeat, happy person but lately I’ve felt this diminishing ability to respond to stress. My resiliency to stress has really taken a beating.

It usually goes like this:

I get up thanks to the youngest waking me up and wanting to comfort nurse, and start executing several tasks simultaneously: I make myself lemon water; I boil more water for coffee. I assist small children in their quests for breakfasts. I try to remember to make my own breakfast. I make sure the PreK’r has his lunch packed, and that he’s getting his clothes on in due time. The older kids are way more self-sufficient and do their tasks, but they still need reminding of what to do and by when more days than not still. I try to get myself dressed and brush my teeth, hurriedly, and if I have time I wash my face before running out the door. There’s usually a panic yell for help for Greg to get Rowan changed and dressed and we are bursting out the door grabbing shoes and waters at 8:31am when Will’s school drop-off ends at 8:40am. And it’s more like a 10 min drive, not a 9 min one :P. Sometimes I’m so wound up by the time we’re pulling out of the driveway that I can’t even handle any noise, talking or questions, and I ask my kids to keep it quiet until we get out of our neighborhood, because I’ve escalated my flight-or-fight system so much in such a short amount of time and my sensory system feels overloaded. If I’m lucky we get there by 8:40 and I don’t feel additional shame dropping him off as the last, or almost last parent, I try to put on a happy face that exudes ‘calm,’ not frazzled, and I quickly zip on out of their parking lot where several city police cars hang out and take my older kids to their school 20 mins away with no time to spare.

We do this, x3, every single week—because of the way our kids’ school schedule falls. By Friday morning, I sometimes catch myself at a breaking point after drop-off and I remember one day in the fall when I just pulled into a parking spot after drop-off and just tried to breathe for 20 minutes to calm my nervous system down while I fought off tears. I think that was the closest to a physical panic attack I’ve ever had. And it was…exhausting. I felt completely strung out after that experience.

On one hand, there’s no one else who can do all my jobs, or more importantly, the needed job of motherhood. But on the other hand, I literally….can’t do all these jobs. The feeling of expectations and demands vs physical ability and the mental load — it’s a mean matchup and very rarely do I feel like I’ve conquered it all. In fact, on days when things do seem to be going well, it feels so foreign and so unusual I often think, “Am I missing something? Am I doing something wrong? It shouldn’t feel this easy, today…”

ALL THAT TO SAY—I think I have adrenal fatigue. Also known as HPA axis dysfunction. Yay! Neither term sounds amazingly desirable, but it all points to the cute little dances our hormones do when we burnout and get stressed day after day after day. We burn through so much cortisol and adrenaline and it taxes our endocrine system, which controls our hormones and glands, and things start to break down. It’s repairable, but if left undamaged it can lead to some narsty and much worse health outcomes, like metabolic syndrome, heart disease or stroke :-/  When I’ve read about it before, I remember thinking: how does literally not every American mother have this?? And why do we keep doing this?

What Makes My Life Ten Times Easier on the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) Part II

qrdhsllomha5gIn my last post, I detailed how meal planning and plotting out 4-5 meals a week, PLUS making one or two soups for the week helps me get by and avoid getting hangry. Because no wants to be hangry.

What also helps? Knowing what foods and ingredients I can use, and where I can get them (for cheap!). There’s varying levels of “thrift” to describe shoppers and I’m somewhere in the middle of the spectrum of thrift and extravagance. But if there’s one thing I LOVE to do, it’s getting a good deal! When you start the autoimmune protocol, it’s quite possible you’ll be spending some dough building up your pantry with some new-to-you ingredients, and I have great news: There’s a thrifty way to do that!

Enter Thrive Market.

If you haven’t heard of it, Thrive Market is described as “Whole Foods meets Costco.” It’s pantry, grocery and some household items at “wholesale prices” and they cater to gluten-free, paleo, etc. You can register for free and begin a free 30-day membership trial, where your first order is 15% off! If you decide to join, it’s an annual fee of $59, which, in my experience, I quickly surpassed in savings!

Here’s what I love to buy from Thrive Market:

Do you shop at Thrive? If so, what do you love??

What Makes My Life Ten Times Easier on the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP)

I’ve been following the autoimmune protocol for almost two years now, minus that one time I was pregnant and had a major aversion to all the foods I had been eating and just consumed whatever I wanted for a while! However, since having the baby, I’ve learned I continue to feel and operate best when I stick closest to the protocol and try not to obsess and stress over the few times or occasions when things don’t exactly work out the way I want/plan for it to (thank you, growth, and flexibility, for not morphing me into a neurotic orthorexic person!)

Having said all that, though, there are a couple of things that make doing the AIP infinitely easier. Do you want to know what they are?!

Meal Plans

I know. Rocket Science, right? The hardest part when you start AIP is figuring out “what in the world am I going to eat?” When you see the list of things to avoid it can immediately and initially feel depressing, like life will never be enjoyable again. I totally get that. Once you focus on what you CAN eat, and how it’s helping heal your body, though, life will start to lighten up and you can experience hope again. The great news is is that in the two years since I started AIP the internet has exploded in terms of AIP bloggers and therefore the AIP community is massive and super supportive to anyone wanting to work towards better health and realignment of autoimmune issues. One of our greatest fears is being ALONE and this community will ensure you never feel that way! Although I haven’t found a ton of people working through scleroderma issues while on AIP, since it all ties back to an inherent issue in the gut, I know I’m still walking alongside people who make gains, sometimes experience setbacks, but are also reclaiming aspects of their lives that were broken or not working. *heavenly chorus*

Back to meal plans. So, what you need to get your hands on are some AIP cookbooks or websites with tons of yummy recipes so you can get your tastebuds inspired and your body fueled. Ain’t no one got time for a cranky person, most especially you!

Here’s a few places to start:

And seriously, that ain’t even the [sixth] of it. There’s like 40 billion more where that came from. Google “AIP + ________ (whatever meal you’ve been craving)” and it’s quite likely someone has come up with a recipe for it!

I’m not a super scheduled strict person, but I do like having options, so what I like to do is find 4-5 recipes to try for dinners for the week, grocery shop according to that, and then I always have some options each night for dinner and hopefully leftovers for lunches and sometimes breakfasts. (I often do smoothies, AIP waffles, or bacon/sausages & veggies & fruit, or soup for my breakfast.)

I have a couple more tips, but this is getting long so we’re going to keep it short today and I’ll add more tips later. My last tip for today is to make one or two batches of a soup at the beginning of the week that you can eat from for any meal if you’re in a hurry. This was part of my survival strategy when I began AIP and I like to continue it even now.

My favorite soups:

Make one of those soups on Saturday or Sunday and then whenever you’re in a pickle you always have something ready to go, PLUS it’ll contain the gut-boosting gelatin from the bone broth we all so desperately need! Ready to win?


Pregnancy & the Autoimmune Protocol (surprise!)

If I have any luck, I’m not down to zero followers, and maybe I have a random one or two lurking here or there. But you may have noticed it’s been pretty quiet on this naturally-in-progress front. That’s because some other things have been in progress! Like a BABY!

photo credit: wikipedia

After the holidays I was planning on doing a post on how I survived through the holidays without straying off the autoimmune protocol (I was way proud of myself!), but instead, I had a few unusual symptoms that led me to take a pregnancy test, and voila: preggo.

What’s this mean for me and the autoimmune protocol?

So, that naturally changed my course a little bit. At first, I was able to continuing eating as I had been, and was including some super nutrient-dense foods into my diet. Salmon, dark leafy greens, fresh berries, and then about a week after I found out my news, the aversions began to hit, and the cravings swung in full-force. I was having an AIP mental crisis and really didn’t know what to do. While I had told my functional medicine doctor the news of the pregnancy, I was afraid/embarrassed/ashamed that I had already “given in” to some of my non-AIP cravings. There just was nearly no way around it, lest I wanted to throw up from an empty stomach or deal with major nausea and gagging… which sounds better?

Eating food I wanted to eat was helpful, and gave me energy, but eating really bad food day after day for a couple of weeks took its toll. And by bad, I mean, takeout, or quick and easy restaurant fare (not necessarily just non-AIP foods). By week 10, I decided to scale back on the easy fixes and try to strike a more moderate approach.

Where I am now

Believe it or not, I started to write this post mid-March and am just now catching back up to update you guys. I’m 22 weeks now, and am looking at a late summer (late August/early September) arrival.

I’ve come to a place mentally where I’ve stopped shaming myself for not being perfect on the protocol. I think in some ways the guilt and negative self-talk can be just as detrimental to your overall health as an imperfect diet. For now, I’m focusing on taking my supplements, resting a lot, lots of outdoors time (which has been easy to accomplish during a beautiful spring in Florida), and maintaining other support systems that are helpful to me. My diet is 80/20 somedays, and 50/50 other days. I’ve done some anecdotal internet research to find out I’m not alone in my AIP struggles while pregnant, and that’s reassuring. I think if I suffered from a different set of symptoms, my resolve to stick closer to 100% would be different, but my particular autoimmune disorder bothers me at a different level than some. What I do know is I have some tools in my arsenal to help me should things progressively worsen, and I know my functional medicine doctor will see me at the 3rd trimester and after delivery to help me navigate the potentially massive hormonal shifts that can occur.

What I’ve been craving

Italian sub sandwiches — There’s hardly anything redeeming about these sub sandwiches from an AIP perspective, but I can confirm they are indeed delicious. As a good friend pointed out, at Jimmy John’s, I could always get them lettuce-wrapped for less guilt 🙂

Seafood — I never feel guilty about this! Lately I’ve been enjoying lots of salmon and shrimp, which is great because I’m still a little iffy on eggs occasionally and these foods are some of the most nutrient-dense and help with so much brain development in a growing baby.

Sauteed shrimp with Zoodles (zucchini noodles) — inspired by @WholeLIfeFullSoul on Instagram

Fresh fruit — watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, berries, again, no guilt

A pretty decent breakfast // my steadfast smoothies were giving me some indigestion so I’m switching it up for now & trying new things

Ice cream — Publix grocery stores sell an awesome organic variety of vanilla ice cream (yes it’s dairy, but it’s organic and has a pretty clean list of ingredients). I do want to investigate making my own fruit sorbets, however.

Popsicles — Cold treats are just … top-notch especially as the weather heats up. I intend to make some AIP-friendly ones sometime soon 🙂

Asian-inspired food — I think this was spurred by following Dora from ProvincialPaleo on Instagram. Wow, does she have amazing & inspiring recipes! I wish I knew how to cook like her! Trying some of her suggestions has led to some yummy new creations in the kitchen, and an expanding of my repertoire!

With my other two pregnancies I craved Mexican, but I’m just not feeling it at much this time around! I’m trying to listen to my body and what it wants while also exercising moderation. I know our bodies change with the season as well and I feel the influences of spring and summer in what I want to eat.

I’d love to hear from any others who have done or struggled with the autoimmune protocol while pregnant. What was your experience, what did you crave, what were you averse to, what was most supportive? Please comment below, and thanks for sharing!

Traveling on the Autoimmune Protocol

This past week I had the exciting opportunity to travel with my husband on a work trip to the beautiful city of San Diego. As it stands right now, I’m sitting in the Houston airport awaiting our final connection to fly home, and as I reflect upon our trip I have a few tips to share with you all from this AIP travel experience.

I love traveling. I don’t travel nearly as much as I’d like, but when I get the chance, I thoroughly enjoy it and tell myself to make a commitment to do more of this when offered the chance! However, as exciting of a destination as San Diego is, I was nervous about heading so far from home while still on phase I of the Autoimmune Protocol. The only foods I’d reintroduced were green beans, black pepper, and ghee. 😛

Here’s what I did to combat my fears and make the trip what I’d call a success:
Cook and freeze several meals that may travel well, and store in an eBags Crew Cooler II (right now it’s only $39, $10 off the usual $49!). I got this cooler tip from a comment on Phoenix Helix’s travel tip page and as it’s designed well for airline travel, I decided I should have it for my trip too! It can be a personal item or carry-on, and with my food and ice packs frozen solid, I had no problems getting through TSA.

I cooked the following meals, then froze them, to take with me:

I was going to be gone 4 nights and about 5 days, and I actually believe I packed more food than I needed. Even at the last second, I took out a jar of frozen soup from my cooler, and I’m glad I did, because carrying the cooler through two airports can be taxing. However, I didn’t know what to expect and would have much rather had too much food than not enough! I’m actually coming home with some of my frozen food!

Stay at a hotel or place with a mini-kitchen or kitchenette. We stayed at a Residence Inn, which is designed for travelers on extended stays, so the kitchen had everything except an oven. I was able to reheat my food either on the stove or (gasp!) sometimes in the microwave.

Invest in tools that will make your trip easier. Just like getting the eBags Crew Cooler II, I also got a super simple and inexpensive mini-blender off Amazon for less than $15! As I’m working with a functional medicine doctor, there are still many supplements I take each day and several of them are powdered, which I add to coconut milk smoothies every morning. They are also very filling, and so it was a good idea to keep up this practice while I was on the road.

Research your destination for AIP-friendly eateries and grocery stores. Going to San Diego alleviated some of the concerns I had as I know Southern California is pretty hip to the real food scene. After we landed, our Uber driver (highly recommend! Use my code MeganC1149 if you’ve never tried uber before!) drove us to the closest Trader Joe’s, where I grabbed bananas, applesauce, coconut cream, canned salmon, and some dark chocolate (and trail mix for my husband). We basically participated in a supermarket sweep: see how fast you can run through Trader Joe’s buying the essentials while your driver waits in the car! I think our exact time was 8:02. 😉

I wasn’t able to find totally compliant AIP restaurants in my research, but I did find this great resource for people looking for paleo restaurants in San Diego: http://paleolocal.com/san-diego/. From that list I came across Tender Greens, which was the perfect place to stop after two days of sightseeing! I was able to get chicken, roasted veggies, salad with olive oil & vinegar and a mint lemonade lightly sweetened with raw cane sugar. After cooking so much for myself, this was a major delight!

Other foods I brought with me:

  • Plantain chips (should’ve brought more; I ate all of them in two days!)
  • Juice jello (also should’ve brought more, ate my three squares the first night)
  • Stretch Island Fruit Co. all-natural fruit strips
  • Applegate Sunday morning bacon (frozen in my carry-on)
  • A few pieces of fruit
  • Empowered Sustenance’s banana bread macaroons
  • Plum Vida fruit & veggie purees
  • Real salt mini shaker
  • Mini bottle of olive oil
  • My supplements

So, how did I do??
Overall, I think I ate really well on this trip. In the mornings I followed my usual breakfast routines with my smoothies and some protein. I took my time getting ready in the morning and ate a few extra bites before I headed out for the day to sightsee. I also packed snacks in my purse like bananas, bacon, fruit strips and crackers for when I was out. The only “lunch” I ate was at Tender Greens on Tuesday, other than that, I ate when I got back to the hotel mid to late afternoon and then went out with my husband for dinner.
We got sushi at Nobu Monday night. I did have a bite of salmon avocado sushi (I know!! Rice and sesame seeds!) and felt no issue with it afterwards.
We went to a French Spanish restaurant Tuesday night called Chez Loma on Coronado Island. I ordered duck breast with cauliflower. It was delish, but I’m not positive the sauce the chef prepared did not contain some kind of nightshade. I tried not to fret about it. This was “vacation” for me so relaxation was key!

Our third night we ate at a Mexican restaurant in Ocean Beach. I’ll confess: I was not planning on completely deviating from AIP at all while on this trip or to this extent, but I ordered a meal at the Mexican restaurant with no sauce that likely unchecked several of my “free” boxes. It was tasty, and filling, and I also didn’t feel ill physical effect, but I basically felt like I had committed a major transgression! If there was an AIP task force, I’m pretty sure they would’ve taken me to town, but thankfully this is a pretty friendly (and forgiving!) healing community.
The toughest part was the dining out at night in such a fun and delicious food city. And by tough I mean, only slightly tempting, and I definitely could have exhibited more self-control. But I set my limits and knew what to look out for and what NOT to cross.

The best part of the trip, from an AIP perspective, that I’m taking away with me, is stress reduction, relaxation and sleep. If there’s one thing I’ve been missing on my AIP journey so far it’s those things. As a mom it’s somehow too easy to skimp on sleep and not find time for yourself, but this trip I walked a ton, was outside everyday (vitamin D), went to bed early thanks to time zone confusion, slept in, and even got a massage! I know from my reading that sometimes these positive conditions can help offset both intentional and accidental exposures to foods your body may not be ready for or used to yet, and that’s some peace of mind I rested in while traveling.

So, traveling on AIP? Don’t be scurred, don’t be confused, it’s totally worth it!
Plan it out, make lists and do your research and then enjoy your time while the fruits of your labor will pay off! It’s kind of a nice change of pace that will definitely add some (nightshade free) spice back to your life!


The insides of my fridge at the hotel plus the goodies I quickly picked up at Trader Joe’s or had stashed in my luggage!


An AIP-compliant meal I was shocked to find at a Pei Wei in the Las Vegas airport. If you ask for the chicken “stock velvet,” then it’s just steamed in water. Ask for no sauce and extra veggies instead of rice!


We stumbled across a market in Ocean Beach Wednesday night with tons of grain-free vendors. I found one from SDSU who sold nut-free, soy-free, grain-free treats. This lemon bar was made with coconut and tapioca flours. Score!

IMG_1826-0.JPGMy meal at Tender Greens. The Salt & Pepper Garlic Chicken, extra veggies instead of potatoes, and field greens with olive oil & vinegar. And oh, a yummy mint lemonade! 😀

Week 11 on the AIP & what’s next

Week 11 update on the AIP || naturallyinprogress.wordpress.com

A new favorite meal around here: sear-roasted pork chops (recipe by autoimmune-paleo.com) candied carrots (recipe from Practical Paleo) fried apples (recipe by EverydayPaleo.com)

Last time I checked in was well over a month ago and I thought I would be coming back to tell you how awesome my reintroductions were going, or that my reintroductions were…going.

But the crazy thing is I’ve been at this phase for nearly 3 months (what!!) and I haven’t “officially” started reintroductions.

Unless you count the occasional serving of green beans, sometimes using black pepper, and feeling permission from Jessica at AIPLifestyle to try ghee.

What happened? I thought we were going to introduce foods after eight weeks?!

Well, let’s do some catching up

The last five weeks

The week following my last post, which, sadly, was a month ago, I had what I can only describe as a digestive onslaught. It seemed like nearly every day, something I ate would offset my tummy and I’d be in the fetal position on my bed with major cramping and digestive distress. While I do use essential oils, and applying them to the abdominal region provides some comfort, it was still an unpleasant week.

The good thing about working with a practitioner during this time is that we were able to trouble-shoot and play with some variables to see if I would start feeling better, and thus we did.

I took out a new-to-me supplement from my regimen, while also noting that I seemed to have these attacks after eating a few common foods, so I removed those as well (adiós, avocado, Godspeed till we meet again).

My doctor recommended reintroducing the supplement in micro-doses in about a week, and if I still reacted, we would know it was a culprit and go down plan B. And also test for SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth)! I was honestly afraid of reintroducing this supplement, because, simply, ain’t nobody got time for a stomachache! I mean, seriously, who wants to pass up 2-3 hours of their day for that? Not I.

However, the reintroduction with the micro-dosing went fine and all was well! No testing at this time for SIBO, either! 😀

And then we went to DisneyWorld. And Disney was great. I packed all my food to eat the park for the day we were there, and felt nourished and happy. After a long day there, we drove through Panera so the entire family could eat something, and I thought I would take a chance on Panera’s  “hidden menu,” and I ordered a very simple salad with grilled chicken, bacon and real olive oil as the salad dressing (without the hard-boiled eggs and tomatoes). Yet, although we were basically driving in the dark at that point, I thought I noticed red, thick spices on the chicken, and realized I was probably eating something nightshade-based, even though it wasn’t terribly spicy.

Then, the next night, we wanted to go out to eat as a family (it was Saturday night!) and we chose a local, hip, fresh Cali-fusion restaurant near to our house that often advertises Paleo-friendly meals. I ordered a meal with spaghetti squash as the base, sautéed in olive oil and garlic, …and apparently red pepper flakes. I didn’t know that extra spice was included, but my two night experiment let me know my body is not ready for these spices yet in my diet. I started to feel those tingly flares of inflammation in my leg and was discouraged.

Despite all my weeks of great eating with much caution and sometimes feeling like a diva with all my questions when eating out, some accidents occurred and while I did the best I could, I feel they set me back a little, so it took away some of the enthusiasm about reintroducing foods.

So, while I’m still in Phase 1, I know I won’t be here forever, but I know the longer I stick it out in this phase and let my gut heal, the better I’ll do with reintroductions. Did you know that? The longer you let your body heal, the more likely it is your body will do better with the food reintroductions. So, it may stink in the meantime but it will likely lead to a greater payoff with less frustrations and mess-ups in the future.

And I’m still getting to eat yummy food like this sausage and kale soup from Sweet Treats Baking.

I even made AIP-friendly marshmallows following this recipe from Mommypotamus.com.

Occasional indulgences like these are just that: occasional and indulgent! I think they would taste great on sweet potato casserole on Thanksgiving!

AIP-friendly marshmallows! Recipe available at mommypotamus.com

Speaking of…

What’s Next

I’ll be traveling a bit over the next two weeks and would love your input on the best way to handle AIP phase 1 while traveling (this includes flying and driving). I’ve looked up places to eat at my destinations, including local grocery stores, and I’ll be staying where there’s a kitchen. However, I could easily see myself trying to pack my entire kitchen into a suitcase and that just ain’t gonna fly (pun intended).

Suggestions?! Also, anyone in the San Diego area on the AIP? Any good restaurant recommendations? I’d so love your input!

Six weeks in on the AIP

I’m six weeks into my eight-week elimination phase of the AIP. When I started this at the end of August, I immediately counted out when eight weeks would be because I wanted to mark it on my calendar so that I would know this is when I will stop feeling deprived. But the truth of the matter is, I’m not really feeling all that deprived!

Why I’m not feeling deprived on AIP

I’ve eaten delicious food (nearly the entire time), my blood sugar has stabilized, and I’m not feeling those “twingy, creepy” feelings in my leg (probably my sign of inflammation).

In a way, I’m in semi-shock that I have less than two weeks, potentially, until I can start gradually reintroducing foods. I literally feel like I just started this whole thing.

What’s been working

The last several weekends, I’ve found pockets of time usually in the early evening after dinner’s been finished, that I have some energy to do some batch cooking. Batch cooking always seemed like a great idea in my head but it never became a reality until now. I keep mentioning these in my blog posts, but it’s because they’ve seriously become staples! Every week I make Phoenix Helix’s Juice Jello, and the Paleo Mom’s plantain crackers. I could probably make them more than once a week, but I try to get them to last as long as possible.

I also tend to roast meat on Sunday in the crockpot, and depending on the size of the chicken, or hunk of pork, I’ll have a good bit of meat left over for several days that I can incorporate into other meals and leftovers.

It also seems to be a good idea to make a big pot of soup that I can reheat anytime of day for a quick nourishing meal. I was introduced to Mel’s Golden Cauliflower soup when I found this very fun blog mybigfatgrainfreelife.com. It turns out we use the same functional medicine doctor too!

So, to simplify, if you want to do some batch cooking, but keep it semi-light, I’d recommend:

  • slow-roasting some meat in your crockpot with AIP-safe spices
  • making jello, plantain crackers, or other desired AIP “snack” food
  • making soup you can reheat at any time for a quick, nourishing meal

What’s not been working

This past week, for the first time since I’ve been on the protocol, I’ve had some serious intestinal distress. Usually, eating paleo means I have less tummy troubles, but something has thrown me for a loop this week. I can’t figure out yet if it’s a particular food I’m eating over and over again (but I will start documenting more intently), or if it’s a change in the supplements I’m taking as I added two new supplements in, or if it’s some other factor I haven’t narrowed in on. My fear? That I have SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and I need to go on a low-fodmaps diet. Not sure what that is? Read here to get a better idea. Do I have any proof to substantiate this fear? Not necessarily, except for my recent experiences with avocado. Oh, well. To quote Kelly Clarkson, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Stronger, just me, myself and No Avocado.

And what I need to work on

I’m pretty awful at going to bed early There’s much room for improvement for me in the sleep department. I made a goal to get in bed by 11 this past week and mostly met it except for the last couple of nights. Ideally, I’d be in bed by 10 and falling asleep by 10:30. In order for my body to really take advantage of the changes I’ve made, I need to give it ample opportunity to rest and recuperate! I’ve read so much about how great changes can be made in diet and lifestyle but if you’re not getting sleep, a lot can be undone. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

I also need to be better about incorporating organ meat into my diet. Confession! I’m six weeks in and haven’t consumed a single bite of liver. Or kidney, or heart. Let’s be honest, I don’t even have the latter two, but I do have plenty of frozen chicken liver in my freezer, and it’s supposed to be a godsend for missing minerals and vitamins and all that good stuff.

So, those are my goals for this week. Figure out what’s upsetting me’ ol’ tummy, and get in bed earlier, and finally, going primally inspired and semi-thawing some chicken liver and cutting it up into tiny pieces I can throw back like a pill and get all my vitamins A-Z on.

Where are you on the AIP? What’s been working for you, or conversely, what hasn’t? What are you goals for the next week?

BTW, looking for AIP inspiration? Check out my Autoimmune Protocol board here on Pinterest for recipes and good blogs. And follow me on Instagram @ NaturallyInProgress 🙂

Does everyone with family history of autoimmunity need to do the AIP?

A question I’ve had since I’ve begun the autoimmune protocol (AIP) and I have an autoimmune disease is, should my children do it as well? Sarah Ballantyne, aka The Paleo Mom, and author of The Paleo Approach and The Paleo Approach cookbook, shared on the Balanced Bites podcast episode #72 that while you can do the autoimmune protocol for preventative reasons, you don’t necessarily have to.

Paleo Diet Basics || image from rubiesandradishes.com

I came to this scene by being introduced to and following several Weston A. Price/real food blogs. A few years ago, when the GAPS diet was making its waves through the real food community, it seemed like everyone was doing GAPS! GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome, and quite similar to the Autoimmune Protocol, it helps deal with leaky gut/intestinal permeability and helps reverse many diseases, including autoimmune diseases.  In fact, I was going to start GAPS if I hadn’t come across a functional medicine doctor who advised me to do AIP instead. However, one thing that I appreciated from a strong voice in the GAPS community was that of Cara’s, from Health, Home & Happiness. I recall her saying more than once that before you jump into GAPS, try a few other things first. Add more fermented foods into your diet. Take a probiotic. Try removing grains or dairy. She was cautious to encourage everyone to do GAPS, because everyone’s needs vary, and some guts probably need more or less help than others. That reasonable approach is very much in line with what Sarah Ballantyne had to say as well.

She shared that if you have a history of autoimmunity in your family, remember that genetic susceptibility is only one third of the picture. Diet and lifestyle account for another third, and environmental triggers are the other third.

Ballantyne says the paleo diet is a good foundation to be preventative for any autoimmune disease. This makes sense as the paleo diet has a focus on nutrient dense foods and removes processed foods and all the other stuff our body doesn’t know with what to do!

The reality is though, that gluten may never be your friend if you have autoimmune history. 😐 This may be a hard pill to swallow, even for me, as I’m wont to enjoy a slice of sprouted toast with some butter. However, if it keeps me in a healing place, then it’s worth it. Question for any AIPers: have you ever been able to reintroduce gluten-containing grains?

The other crazy thing to me is eggs! Eggs are a powerhouse of nutrition and one of the most wonderful foods, but even eggs have anti-nutrients as I was reminded by the Paleo Parents. As they can cause inflammation, this is one reason why they are removed during the strictest phase of AIP. However, you may find you’re able to tolerate pastured egg yolks upon reintroduction, and Ballantyne says it’s okay to rotate those through your diet (but they may not be a daily staple). At this point, I think I can live with that, as I’ve found some suitable breakfast substitutes.

The other foods in the AIP that are initially avoided are nightshades and nuts and seeds. Ballantyne states that these foods on the paleo diet are actually some of the less nutrient-dense. For example, nuts and seeds can have a high omega 6 ratio, which can increase inflammation. So, if you take them out, you’re reducing your inflammation levels. Also, tomatoes aren’t as nutrient-dense as I thought maybe they were, so, there’s not much of a nutritional loss there (although I will probably miss salsa for quite some time).

Again, if you have autoimmunity in your family, but you haven’t seen symptoms for yourself yet, first of all, yay!, and secondly, just keep on with your paleo template, and monitor yourself for symptoms. What are the symptoms? Good question–we’ll cover that in the next post!

Do other members in your family follow the autoimmune protocol with you? If not, how do they eat?

What *IS* the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP)? And what brought me here

What is the Autoimmune Protocol || naturallyinprogress.wordpress.com

The Paleo Approach explains pretty much all you need to know and more about the AIP! Written by Sarah Ballantyne, aka ThePaleoMom.com

I have to admit to you, lonely reader, I never did a proper job of explaining to you what the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) really is. There are loads of talented and eloquent bloggers who have successfully shared what the AIP is and how it works, that it’d be much simpler to just refer to their sites, but alas, for the poor folk who can’t click on a hyperlink, I shall detail it for you here!

The AIP is a temporary healing diet that rids the body of excess inflammation by removing foods, toxins and any other triggers that might be putting the body into an inflamed, stressed state. The protocol is especially beneficial for those with autoimmune diseases, like Crohn’s, Celiac, Multiple Sclerosis, Graves, IBS, Lupus, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Rheumatoid Arthritis, or in my case, Linear Scleroderma (also called Linear Morphea). What? Yes, I probably have one of the most unheard of autoimmune diseases but that doesn’t make it any less ugly!

Autoimmune conditions, in my words, are when the signals in your body get mixed up, and your body starts sending messages to begin attacking itself. For some people, it attacks their nerves, digestive system, their brain, a gland, or what have you. In my case, it attacks my skin with extra collagen and can attack connective tissue as well. I was first diagnosed and treated by a dermatologist almost 9 years ago! Once I realized autoimmunity means your entire body is at risk, I realized just seeing a dermatologist and getting topical creams wasn’t going to cut it. I had this realization about 5 years ago, and while there was no turning back, there was a lot of sitting on my hands until I (wo)manned up to take on the challenge of holistically dealing with my AI issues, with a few starts and stops along the way. Baby steps for the win.

So, the autoimmune protocol removes these inflammatory foods, some forever (based on the paleo template), and some temporarily:

  • grains
  • legumes
  • refined sugars
  • refined oils
  • processed food
  • processed sweeteners and alternative sweeteners like Xylitol & Stevia

These are a temporary removal, which means at some point these can be re-introduced to see how your body tolerates them:

  • nightshades and nightshade spices
  • seeds and seed-based spices
  • fruit-based spices
  • nuts
  • dairy
  • eggs
  • coffee, cocoa
  • alcohol

This begs the question, what can I eat?

The answer is food, lots of nourishing, yummy food!

What is the Autoimmune Protocol? || naturallyinprogress.wordpress.com

AIP BBQ pulled pork, warm arugula salad (by http://www.everydaypaleo.com, and sweet potato fries

The following is from AIP lifestyle, a wonderful resource with lots of inspiration for those on a healing journey!

  • Vegetables (except nightshades)
  • Fruits (limit to 15-20 grams fructose/day)
  • Coconut products including coconut oil, manna, creamed coconut, coconut aminos, canned coconut milk (with no additives like guar gum and carageen or bpa lined cans) shredded coconut (this list does not include coconut sugar and nectar)
  • Fats: olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, lard, bacon fat, cultured ghee (certified to be free of casein and lactose)
  • Fermented Foods (coconut yogurt, kombucha, water and coconut kefir, fermented vegetables)
  • Bone Broth
  • Grass Fed Meats, Poultry and Seafood
  • Non-Seed Herbal Teas
  • Green Tea
  • Vinegars: Apple Cider Vinegar, Coconut vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic (that has no added sugar)
  • Sweeteners: occasional and sparse use of honey and maple syrup (1 tsp/day)
  • Herbs: all fresh and non-seed herbs are allowed (basil tarragon, thyme, mint, oregano, rosemary, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, savory, edible flowers)  (Source: http://aiplifestyle.com/what-is-autoimmune-protocol-diet/)

What is the autoimmune paleo protocol? || naturallyinprogress.wordpress.com

peaches & {coconut} cream

The truth is, since I started AIP, I’ve actually hardly been hungry. Initially, I think I was so concerned I’d be hungry that I might’ve overconsumed and sometimes felt too full, but now I realize that was not necessary. I always make sure to pack snacks with me as well to avoid such a situation. Each meal is paired with just enough fat, protein, and carbs, that unless I’m just *too busy*, I’m often happily nourished, and that’s a very good thing for my health, sanity, my blood sugar, and my husband & my kids!

Have you ever done a temporary healing diet like GAPS, SCD, Wahl’s, or the AIP? If so, how did you fare on it? What improved? What worsened? I’d love to hear your experiences and where you are now with your healing.

Nearly 4 weeks in and what have I learned?

week 4 on AIP || naturallyinprogress.wordpress.com

A weekend dinner on the AIP – friendly for the whole family!

By end of day tomorrow, I will be 4 weeks into the Autoimmune Protocol and so thankful to have reached this halfway point of the most restrictive part of my protocol.  My practitioner has me doing the full AIP for 8 weeks and then we will see how I am doing and if my body is ready to reintroduce some foods.  While I have my fingers crossed that some foods will be able to come back into my life (eggs, I’m looking at you–at least the egg yolks), I’m realistic in knowing that some foods are probably what got me into this situation to begin with, and the fact that I am feeling much better with a cleaned up diet means that something I was previously eating was likely causing inflammation. 😦 Life goes on.

However, now that I know, I know, and I can do better in the future with regard to avoiding those foods and making sure what really fuels my body is on my plate.

I haven’t been keeping a daily log, like I wish I would have, but in general, a day of eating looks like this for me:


Smoothie mixed with pumpkin, banana, spices (cinnamon, cloves, ginger), 1/2 can coconut milk (Natural Value brand), + supplements mixed in

Leftover meat + veggies or leftover soup


homemade jello by Phoenix Helix and/or plantain crackers by The Paleo Mom


Leftovers like soup, or grilled meat + sauteed veggies, or a salad with leafy greens, bacon, canned salmon, avocado, green olives


applesauce (I live with two small children; it’s always around!) or an all-natural fruit leather

homemade jello by Phoenix Helix and/or plantain crackers by The Paleo Mom

leftover morning smoothie


Roasted or grilled meat

Roasted veggie sides or mashed cauliflower

Sweet potato fries like e’eryday

After-dinner snack

Fried plantains in bacon fat + coconut cream on top by Meatified

Plantain pudding by Meatified

I’m managing to stay full throughout the day as long as I snack a bit in between meals. If I start to feel low or a blood-sugar dip, something for which I need to be mindful with reactive hypoglycemia, I have found a few slurps of my morning smoothie or a few jiggles of jello gets me back on track.week 4 on AIP||naturallyinprogress.wordpress.com

Since my last post i was able to make both things I was hoping to make: Paleo Mom’s plantain crackers and the Primitive Homemaker’s Bacon Kale Pizza, and let me tell you, they did not disappoint!

I have since become semi-obsessed with plantains and am so inquisitive about all the various things you can do with them. They seem to be able to play a role in nearly all meals: fried plantains, plantain crust, mashed plantains to make a type of mashed potatoes, plantain chips, plantain crackers, plantain pudding or ice cream!? I mean, who knew that this food could go both savory and sweet?

What’s been your life-saver or favorite thing on the autoimmune protocol? How are your symptoms?