My Autoimmune Paleo Diet - The Beginning

I've been a sickly kid on and off throughout my whole life.  Before I got my tonsils out at age 6, my hair was super thin, I was stick thin, and the weeks before I got my tonsils out, I looked seriously ill because of my throat closing up every time that I ate.  After my tonsils were out though, I became a ravenous, incredibly hungry child who often felt full with food but rarely fully satisfied.
From age 6 till now, I have been a grazer.  I need meals and snacks all day long to feel stable.  My emotions are completely and utterly reliant on whether I feel like I got enough food.  I feel weak and tired and grumpy if I don't eat every 3 hours.  And in recent years, my allergies of all kinds have gone haywire.  I grew up with an allergy to horses and cats, dust, and general pollen and crap in the air.  I have insanely sensitive skin, so much that as a baby I would get bag rashes from the little metal buttons on my clothes.  And from age 12-24, I battled with acne on and off.  I went on every single medication under the earth to try and handle my acne, including 6 months on Acutane.  As an adult, the only thing that has helped with acne was and is birth control in pill form.  Let's get super real, my period has been so wacky irregular my entire life since my first one at the age of 14 on the day of junior high graduation.  Lame!  I want to fix that.

And then I turned 25 two years ago and so many things got so much worse.  I suddenly developed an oral allergy to all pitted fruits.  That means anytime I eat a peach, a plum, an avocado, my lips start itching, my mouth starts itching and becomes inflamed, my gums really heart and can become all cut up with little abrasions from eat the fruit, and in rare cases, my throat can start to swell.  A year later, I then developed a crappy reaction to gluten.  I got tested for Celiac but I don't have it, thank goodness.  But I do have a bit of a gluten intolerance.  Anytime I eat gluten or wheat, my stomach aches and sometimes has shooting pain, along with good ol' gas and major bloating, and boy do I get grumpy and sad feeling.  All these issues are still majorly prevalent in my life.

Now, since I turned 27 in June, even more problems have arose.  First up, my joints have begun to have issues.  My toes have always cracked a lot but now they are starting to really ache and in the last few months I've had some crazy insane cramps in my toes where one or two toes will go haywire and I can feel the ligaments in my foot pulling the toe in a super weird angle.  It hurts and looks freakish when it happens, usually for 20 mins at a time.  My fingers have started aching on and off a LOT.  My hips ache a lot even after just a light jog for a mile.  My joints are just not having it.
A super sad allergy that is developing as of the last 2 months is that I am having allergies after I pet dogs!  NOoooooooo... I love dogs so much!  And on top of that, my stomach has been having major major problems over the last few weeks.  The bloating and stomach pains after eating are back, even while I'm not eating the stuff I'm allergic to.  I've started to need to take naps in the afternoons at my studio because I've been getting waves of stomach pains or sudden exhaustion.  And in addition to the stomach pains, my tolerance of temperature change has only worsened since I was younger.  I always have had major swings in my body's reaction to heat and cold.  One second I feel like I'm boiling hot and the next I'm trembling cold.  But lately it's felt even more dramatic.  I often find myself trembling cold in the afternoons in my studio and the only way I can warm myself up and balance out my body temp is to take a little nap, wrapped up in a thick blanket...in the middle of summer.

Guys, this crap is NO GOOD!

And do you know what most of this ish is related to?  Autoimmune issues.  My family has a long history of autoimmune disorders, from my grandfather and my aunt having Multiple Sclerosis, to the pathetic fact that my grandma, my dad, and I all have major lung problems when we are in air conditioned rooms for more than a 2-3 hours.  We can get bronchitis from air conditioning as easy as it is to go shopping.  Embarrassingly, Elizabeth,  Chelsey & Julie got to witness what happens to me if I sleep in an air conditioned room.  My body went so out of wack while I as the TxSC and I could feel bronchitis coming on.  I had to rest for most of my trip to Austin and missed a large proportion of the speakers because I was in air conditioning too much, I was getting sick!  Ugh.
My dad, and my aunt who has MS, have a gene related to Reiter's Syndrome.  They've both also had Reiter's Syndrome itself.  How it works is that if you have a bowel infection, it starts attacking your joints, which for my dad left him paralyzed from the waist down for a year in his mid-twenties.  He amazingly taught himself to walk again too.

Can I possibly express anymore how messed up autoimmune diseases can be on your body?  Maybe, but let's move on.

I found out through my friend Jess that our sweet friend Devyn had become a Nutritional Therapist in recent years and Devyn had been able to majorly help Jess with stomach issues she had been having.  So today I hopped on my first skype session with Devyn to get down and dirty about my weakling body and it's current 5,000 issues.  Pretty much all of the problems I have been having and the new things that are now beginning can most likely be attributed to my stomach and digestion being out of wack.  And fingers crossed, if I start on a major elimination diet, we can work to rebuild all of the things my stomach and digestion need to start functioning properly again.  I didn't realize that your gastrointestinal tract is a major part of your immune system.  Hello duh, that should make sense since your nutrients should be coming from your stomach.
Well, today begins my 30 day journey of eliminating lots of things from my diet and working towards eating more food like the goodies outlined in the Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook by Mickey Trescott.  Well, actually tomorrow is the starting day because today before I met with Devyn I already ate 3 major things I can't eat anymore:  Corn, Eggs, and Peanuts.  Woops.  And I'm feeling crappy because of it.

Here are the main things I have to eliminate from my diet this month:
  • Gluten 
  • Corn 
  • Soy 
  • Dairy 
  • Eggs 
  • Nuts 
  • Peanuts 
  • Alcohol 
  • Refined sweeteners 
  • Grains 
I need to be walking everyday, but I can't put a lot of pressure on my body right now so I can recover from all the crap it's been going through lately.  And I need to drink at least 72 ounces of water a day which is determined by my height.  I'll definitely be posting more about my experience and my continuing results.  Hopefully it will all only be good!  I honestly care very little about how much I weigh, but I do have a lot of concern for how my body is functioning.  When it comes to weight, I just want to be in the healthy range for my height.  And the moment I am 5'9" and weigh 153 lbs.  Well, that is the most I have ever weighed and for me, I've felt my healthiest and most balanced around 140.  So eh, if I do lose some weight from this experience, cool.  But what I mostly care about is ridding myself of the millions of allergies, aches and pains, and grumpiness and bubbles up when my stomach is unhappy.  Are you ready body?  Let's kick your own ass!


Irene @ Away from Tenerife said...

I have been reading quite a lot about the paleo diet recently and I was also thinking of giving it a try for a month as a detox and maybe to lose some weight, but I have been hesitant lately. I didn't know it could help with autoimmune issues. I have a couple of allergies as well, but not that severe (I just sneeze all the time and my eyes cry non-stop, which can be pretty annoying).
Good luck with your paleo journey, hopefully you'll feel better in no time!

RuthLoiacano said...

I am so excited you are embarking on a Paleo journey! I've been Paleo for almost a year now and it has changed my life in tremendous ways! Not just the instant weight loss (15lbs in less than 2 weeks) but the bloating, better sleep, more energy, increased mood, no headaches, no body aches and pains...Brilliant! I have TMJ and Fibro and well, I feel like I don't have either anymore...I now know they were definitely triggered by diet.

I believe that following a Paleo diet (or some version of it) is right for everyone! Our contemporary food is crap! And that's what it does to us, makes us feel like crap! Not to mention creating dis-ease.

Good luck Moorea! I KNOW this will help! Keep us posted!

Ffion said...

Oh Moorea, I feel for you so much...

I've suffered from allergies and asthma from a very early age. It's been brought reasonably under control by de-sensitizing as a child and a lot of excercise in my teenage years which have basically eliminated my asthma problems, unless I start dusting or handling cats. Then I get into trouble. I'm also allergic to a myriad of things and believe a large part of it is due to diet. (Fasting makes my symptoms clear up, but I can't fast all the time... ) I recently read "Clean Gut" and am hoping to at some stage try out the elimination diet outlined in the book.

You sound like you're suffering a lot worse than me :( I really hope this diet helps you and I'm really looking forward to seeing how it goes for you!

Jenna Marie said...

How great! I don't know how the Autoimmune Paleo Diet approaches healing the gut, but it sounds similar to the GAPS diet, which I've been on for almost a year (and, coincidentally, my Nutritional Therapist recommended). It's so exciting and empowering to approach healing yourself of allergies - and totally worth it. At this point with my healing journey, I'm able to eat dairy (if only in the form of cheese) for the first time in my life with no reaction. It's incredible! Detox and the initial elimination are hell. But after a few weeks of slaving through your diet, it becomes so normal. I cannot believe the change that has happened in my body - especially with stability in my emotions. I'm so excited for your healing!

orchidgrey said...

Moorea, I'm excited to hear about your paleo journey! We did a similar elimination diet for 30 days back in Feb/March and it's amazing to see the change in how your body functions. Since then I've been mostly paleo (save for that trip to Austin/San Fran in which I ate everything in sight, and paid for it by feeling awful), and I've experienced better quality sleep, fewer aches and pains related to my arthritis, and so much less bloating (I know you wanted to hear all about this, right?). Anyways, all this to say: boo yeah paleo!

orchidgrey said...

oh, ALSO- I've been digging your outfit posts lately! I know your comments were sort of out of whack, so let me just say it here that I'm absolutely loving all of your looks!

Becca Lee said...

Good luck! I hope this works for you! I can't eat gluten, and I developed an oral allergy to apples and pears a few years ago. I can't imagine not being able to eat any pitted fruits. Yikes. Hang in there!

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Nicole @ Dutchie Love said...

Moorea, this is such an exciting journey! I am currently in the re-introduction phase of the elimination diet, which I started in July due to fairly regular upset stomach and indigestion, as well as chronic nose stuffiness (which I later learned was due to dairy and banana). I can tell you that it's a pretty challenging journey (to put it politely), but it is SO worth it in the end! I discovered that my body is really sensitive to gluten, dairy, corn and oranges, and after having cut them out and re-introduced most of the other elements I finally feel like I'm in control of my body and general feelings of well being. Knowing exactly what you're putting into your body creates such a feeling of power and pride when the results are positive and you know your body is getting the nourishment it needs. The phrase "you are what you eat" rings so true!

Some tips would be to make sure you have a great support system in place. Being social becomes a lot harder when eating and drinking out at an establishment with friends isn't an option. You don't really realize how many social functions revolve around food until your diet becomes restricted. Having close friends or family members that understand the reasons behind your choice is really reassuring and encouraging.

Pack a lot of snacks to bring with you everywhere! I discovered dates were an amazing source of natural sweetness, and nuts are a great way to keep hunger at bay between meals.

A great cookbook full of Elimination diet recipes is Gwyneth Paltrow's "It's All Good". I discovered a chickpea and cauliflower mixture with mustard sauce that became a favourite throughout the elimination diet. A great blog to try is http://ohsheglows.com/ - Angela has a variety of amazing recipes to try!

I wish you luck on this journey to health. Be proud of yourself!

I've been blogging about the process also if you're interested :)

phistyle said...

ARE UNO AND PEPPER GIVING YOU AN ALLERGIC REACTION? Why did you tell me! No more bring your dog to work!

phistyle said...

i meant, why *DIDN'T* you tell me. LOL.

Megan Eckman said...

I wish you the best of luck! I realized I had a slight gluten intolerance (on top of my hypothyroidism - yay) just this last year and it's been easier than I thought thanks to the fact that my boyfriend loves to bake bread. So for me, as long as it's rye or whole wheat, I'm good. The cookies have changed a bit when I bake as they're now white wheat instead of normal 'flour'. But oh goodness I know what you mean about the bloating and the gas. I used to go about belching like a sailor and telling my boyfriend he had to still love me. Haha. I know you can figure it all out! You're one tough cookie.

Kate said...

I am starting an 8 week paleo challenge on Monday so I am right there with you! I'm also the same height and weight with the same healthy weight comfort zone. I have done this before and once you get used to it, you do feel immensely better. Luck to you!

Kat said...

I started eating Paleo a few months ago and it works! You will feel so much better. Hang in there during the rough parts of figuring out what you CAN eat. Best wishes and health....

Ariel Worosz said...

I have never commented on here but this post was really close to home for me! I can relate to almost all of your health issues except I have NO idea why they have been happening. I have had so many tests done I've also come to the conclusion I should change my eating habits but also check for any autoimmune disorders (this kind of scares me..). The allergies (I had to give my cats away because after literally growing up with them suddenly over night I was SO allergic I ended up in the ER with my throat closing. It did and still does break my heart), the stomach issues, the acne! (Girl, that was ROUGH growing up with and I always thought adulthood would make it go away, boy was I wrong!). The hardest part is definitely the affect I feel it all has on my experiences in life. So often I feel too sick to go out and have to cancel plans or don't enjoy activities like others because I feel so sick the whole time. I was diagnosed with depression because of all of it and this year has been one of the hardest EVER. I really hope you start to feel better, I'm looking forward to following along with your journey. Best of luck to you. XO