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In this post: How to Treat Autoimmune Disease.If you missed my last post, be sure to go back and read it since I explain what Autoimmune disease actually is in that post. If you’ve been confused about what autoimmune disease is, how people get it, or how to avoid it, you’re going to want to read that post.
The Unknowns of Autoimmune Disease
When you are struggling with an autoimmune disease, it can be a very scary time.
Some of the symptoms of autoimmune disease can be terrifying. It can feel like everything is going wrong at once.
You might think you’ll never feel like yourself again.
Added to the symptoms is the fact that not all doctors agree on how to treat autoimmune disease. Maybe your doctor is pushing drugs but you want to take a more natural path to healing.
This can add stress to your life that makes your symptoms even worse.
I’m here to offer encouragement to you though because it is entirely possible to choose one route or the other or to combine them as you see fit.
There is not one right way to treat your symptoms and heal your body.
The 3 Ways to Treat Autoimmune Disease
There are 3 main ways that autoimmune disease is treated. These are –
- Diet and Lifestyle Choices
And remember what I said, you can use one method or a combination of all 3. Depending on your situation, you may be forced to use a combination. This isn't necessarily a bad thing.
For example, I have to take thyroid medication because my disease ate so much of my thyroid that I'll never be able to produce the amount of hormones that a healthy thyroid would produce.
If you have to use medication or even have to have surgery, that is not a failure on your part.
It is completely normal to have to take medication or even need surgery if your symptoms demand it. Don’t feel guilty or like a failure if you need these helps.
Medication May Not Be Forever
Just because you take medication doesn't mean you have to stay on it long-term.
Sometimes, medication can help you get over the hump of being in so much pain that you can’t even begin to address lifestyle and diet.
It can help you begin to feel better so that you can add the diet and lifestyle component when you feel ready.
On the other hand, if your symptoms aren’t that bad, maybe you might want to try the natural approach for a while and see if you can make enough progress that way so as to avoid conventional medicine.
It’s all dependent on your symptoms, the level of pain you’re in, and what you want to do.
Conventional Medication Has Limits
One thing to remember is that medication can be used to treat pain or to replace hormones but if the autoimmune disease is still attacking your body, the medication won’t be able to keep up with the disease.
So, while I had been on thyroid medication for 8 years, for much of that time, my disease was still attacking my thyroid. This meant that the medication wasn’t keeping up with the level of destruction of my thyroid.
If you use conventional medication, you may also need to stop the disease progression in order for the medication to do its job.
Lifestyle and diet changes work to quell the disease’s progression in your body so that the medication can replace the hormones you are lacking.
What If My Doctor Won’t Listen to Me?
We all know that sometimes our doctors aren’t interested in hearing about our latest natural treatment ideas. It can be frustrating, for sure.
You may find that your doctor doesn’t think that diet and lifestyle changes will work to help you.
If that’s the case, you have a couple of choices:
- Fire your doctor.
- Share studies or other information you find and ask him/her to have an open mind about it.
If you do your homework and you go into your appointments armed with knowledge, you might be pleasantly surprised at your doctor’s response.
In all of this, you truly have to become your own advocate.
You have to be the one doing the research; you have to be the one studying your options; you have to be the one figuring out what you can eat and how much you should exercise.
Don’t expect your doctor, no matter how open they are to natural methods, to be able to provide you with the exact methods that are right for you.
Let’s recap –
- Surgery and medication are not failures and can be a necessary piece of the puzzle to get your healing started.
- Use whatever pieces of the puzzle you need in order to begin to make progress.
My Own Autoimmune Disease Journey – My Current Symptoms
As far as my symptoms go, I am definitely seeing progress via using the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol (AIP Diet). However, I fully expect to remain in the more restrictive phase of the AIP diet for 6 weeks instead of 30 days.
I know that it takes me a bit longer to get to the point where it’s a good idea to start reintroducing foods and I don’t want to rush it.
So, when I talk about my symptoms, I’m not quite halfway through the protocol at this point but my symptoms are beginning to go away. Yay!
- Tiredness/Sore Throat – almost completely gone. I don’t feel fantastic but I’m not needing a nap every afternoon anymore either. I have steady energy throughout the entire day even if that’s not high energy.
- Dry Skin and Eyes – completely gone.
- Aches and Pains – the soreness on my hands and all over is mostly gone. I was having some annoying pain at the base of my thumb, especially when I was driving but that’s much better. Back pain is significantly better as well.
- Brain Fog – the brain fog isn’t completely gone. 6 weeks seems to be the point when the brain fog and inability to articulate things really clears up.
- Monthly Cycle – I try to keep my period at 28 days. This month it came at 26 days which isn’t ideal but I think it was a direct reflection on my diet last month when I had some corn and dairy.
- Gas and Bloating – this isn’t completely gone but is significantly reduced.
I’m pretty happy with where I am for being 18 days in.
I did see a bigger difference when I was doing the Whole 30 at this point (I did a Whole30 for 30 days prior to starting this AIP effort, so I'm talking about 18 days into the Whole30 from kind of Paleo-ish), but that is a bigger change all at once so my body reacts much more quickly.
If you start the AIP diet without doing a Whole 30 first, you will likely see much bigger and more noticeable changes on AIP.
What I Ate VLOG for Days 16-18
In this vlog, I share with you what I ate on days 16-18 on the AIP diet to give you a peek into the kinds of food I eat and the recipes I use.
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Day 16 –
Breakfast – Comforting Breakfast Casserole (Recipe from The Healing Kitchen cookbook.)
Lunch – Roasted chicken and leftover scalloped potatoes over a bed of mixed greens. I threw on olives, blueberries, strawberries, and some Ozuke Citrus and Ginger sauerkraut. (Chicken seasoned with this blend. Scalloped potatoes recipe from The Healing Kitchen cookbook.)
Snack – AIP English muffin smeared with Tigernut butter, topped with sliced banana and carob chips.
Dinner – Mashed cauliflower with Beef Stroganoff. (Recipe for Stroganoff from Jennifer Robbin’s Paleo Instant Pot cookbook.) This recipe calls for black pepper, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce. I made the Worcestershire sauce from The Healing Kitchen cookbook and left out the ketchup and pepper while it cooked. When it was done, I put my part into a separate container and added the other 2 things to my family’s portion.
Day 17 –
Breakfast – Comforting Breakfast Casserole again.
Lunch – Leftover scalloped potatoes, leftover mashed cauliflower and beef stroganoff, leftover chicken, blueberries, and mixed greens.
Dinner – Spiced Chicken Meatballs from The Healing Kitchen cookbook. Add link I made one of our favorite salads to go along with the meatballs; a kale and sweet potato salad from Deliciously Ella (it's in this cookbook). The recipe calls for sundried tomatoes and pine nuts, which I again left off of the original and added them to my family’s portions later.
Day 18 –
Breakfast – Comforting Breakfast Casserole again
Lunch – Leftover chicken and kale salad
Dinner – Empanadas (from the Latin American Paleo cookbook) with parsnips and sweet potato fries for me and regular white potato fries for my family.
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