Do you have a relative with an autoimmune disease, or have you had a stressful incident recently and lack of sleep? (By the way, stress can be something like a surgery to moving, starting a new job, relationship or family stress, etc). If this could be you, keep reading.
In the year since having my twins via c-section, a surgery to repair my hernia and abs from twin pregnancy, moving across the country, and other little stressors, a few hours of sleep or interrupted sleep and surviving on endless cups of tea and coffee became the norm. Though if you follow my blog, you know I don't touch gluten or dairy, I was getting used to stomach aches, terrible eczema on my elbows, bad wrist pain and mental fogginess; the same issues that plagued me when I lived in Annapolis years ago, before I began my testing to see what I'm allergic to. Anyway, surely things had been out of whack due to um, creating and birthing twins, but I was feeling distraught that a year later, I still wasn't sleeping a full night through, unless I took melatonin or Unisom. Though my mom has Addison's Disease, my aunt has MS, and my grandmother had Rhumetoid Arthritis (all autoimmune diseases) and several doctors had mentioned I had the symptoms of Hashimoto's, I never took it seriously because I felt fine. Not great, but fine.
Lab work and blood tests later, I was both further stressed and relieved to be diagnosed with Hashimoto's Disease and Leaky Gut. I'm not going to go into a breakdown of the symptoms or definitions as there are endless resources out there, but they are autoimmune conditions that can be treated with a careful diet, stress reducing techniques that are quite yummy (baths with magnesium-rich Epsom salt! Naps! Meditation and Yoga!), healing the gut and healing infections. For me, changing my diet to support autoimmune health, stress-reduction and gut health are my keys. Read the life-changing book The Autoimmune Solution by Dr. Amy Meyers for details on autoimmune conditions, and clear step by step techniques to heal your gut. (I cannot recommend it enough, and no, I have no affiliation with her or the book. It is a great resource; she explains things clearly and puts everything in a doable 30-day protocol to heal the body. I'm on day 5 and already feel pretty good; the simple food changes alone have made a dramatic impact. Like bone broth. GASP! I know, keep reading.
So yes. It's basically a limited paleo diet: lots of veggies, meats and fish and limited fruit (2-3 servings a day). For me this is lots of salmon, sweet potato, spinach and greens, leeks, avocado, carrots, zucchini, plantains, apples, coconut and yup, organic chicken and homemade bone broth. I'm also taking fish-based collagen (I'm not ready for beef yet. I love this one since it taste like nothing and dissolves easily) and a ton of supplements.
I am super squeamish about meat as I have been a vegan or vegetarian for years and years. (As a child I was forced to watch chickens beheaded at a friend's farm then made to pluck said headless chickens after they ran around with their heads off. Yup, they do that). I bought organic free-range chicken, put on rubber gloves to prepare it, and I was surprised to learn it wasn't as traumatic as I thought it would be! I still prefer fish, but the collagen and gelatin and super important for gut health. (Hey, if coffee and wine and lots of fruit and oatmeal was the cure, that would fabulous, but alas, it is not).
The Autoimmune Solution has easy doable meat recipes and veggie dishes that are easy to follow, but of course, I have to make my own treats that follow the protocol but don't taste like meh. Gone are my gluten-free oats and rice-chocolate chips. Hopefully I can reintroduce them later, but for now, reducing inflammation in my body is key. And with yummy creations like these, I'm confident I'll get there. And if any of my issues sound familiar to you, it's worth checking out. Your body, digestion, energy levels and skin will thank you!
Date Coconut Bites
Yields 12 little cookies
1/4 cup dates (about 4 medjool)
1/4 cup dried mulberries
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (I like these as they are lower in calories/fat)
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1-2 tablespoons water, as needed
sprinkle sea salt
In a food processor, mix the dates, mulberries, cinnamon and coconut. While mixing, pour in the coconut oil and a bit of water at a time until mixture holds together. Roll into balls and chill.
Plantain Butternut Waffles
Serves 2 or 1 giant
3/4 cup pureed cooked butternut squash
1 green plantain
1/4 cup arrowroot starch
1 cup green banana flour
2 tablespoons coconut flour
2 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
dash sea salt
optional: stevia to taste
Puree all ingredients. A ripe plantain can be used instead, but either way puree it well until smooth! Cook on a waffle iron greased with coconut oil until done. If batter is too runny, add another 1-2 tablespoons coconut flour.