I love making resolutions. And I don’t restrict my resolution-making to just New Year’s. I make resolutions anytime a little extra resolve is required in my life. For example, on August 31, 2011, I resolved to eat a paleo diet for three months. It has now been four months. The difference in my health has been revolutionary and I have already resolved to never eat a gluten containing grain again in my life. But, not all of the health issues that brought me to paleo have fully resolved. I have one lingering condition: lichen planus (also called lichen psoriasis). Lichen planus is related to eczema or psoriasis but the inflammation occurs in the mucosal layer of the skin. Insanely itchy, purple-red, scaly lesions appear typically on wrists and ankles, with some forms also having lesions on the shins (which I have) and the mouth (which I don’t have). There is some evidence that a person suffering from lichen planus can also have interior lesions in the gut mucosa, the long-term effects of which are unknown. This possibility terrifies me. There is no known cause (although anecdotally, many people find relief by going gluten-free) and no known cure (only treatments are steroids and malaria drugs).
Lichen planus is an auto-immune disease that should be able to be addressed with a paleo diet, but perhaps requires a stricter implementation than what I have been doing thus far. The culprit may be some gray area foods that I still include in my diet. Also, after reading a review article on the gut-brain-skin axis (thanks to Chris Kresser’s blog for pointing me to it!), it is clear that I also need to keep working on cortisol levels. So, my New Year’s resolutions for 2012 are aimed at trying to get my lichen planus to resolve. I am going to commit an entire month to the super strict implementation of paleolithic nutrition advised for those with auto-immune conditions (now referred to as the Auto Immune Protocol). So, for the entire month of January, I will consume no caffeine, no alcohol, no chocolate, no grass-fed dairy (I don’t eat much of this as it is, so it should be easy to cut out), no nuts, no seeds and no night-shades. Hardest of all, I will give up eggs (I am still considering leaving eggs in for the month of January and then removing them from my diet if everything else I am doing is insufficient). I will severely limit fruit, starchy vegetables and paleo baked goods to keep my carbohydrate intake very low. I will eat lots and lots of vegetables (thinking of Dr. Wahls’ recommendations for those with multiple sclerosis) and be extra mindful of my omega-3 intake. I will increase my fish oil and probiotic supplementation. I will go to bed at least a half hour earlier. And I will increase my time commitment for low-strain exercise ( yoga, pilates, walking). This is going to be a huge challenge and I am dreading the adjustment period. If this works, I can experiment with adding foods back in. If it doesn’t, I’m not quite sure what I will do. But, I am optimistic. At the very least, this should help me lose those last few pounds! Wish me luck!