How Long Is This Going to Take?! Finding Patience with the AIP

May 24, 2012 in Categories: , by

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I’ve heard the stories too.  People who find paleo, cheat three times a week, eat buckets of eggs and nuts, and still manage to instantly lose weight, get super fit, and stop suffering from all of their ailments.  Yes, those stories are true.  But, they should come with one of those “Results Not Typical” labels.  Don’t go running for the hills:  a paleo diet will help you achieve and sustain a healthy weight and will successfully address a huge variety of health issues.  And people with autoimmune disease should see dramatic improvements in their condition by following the Autoimmune Protocol.  So, what’s not typical?  Two things:  the instant part (obviously, none of us expect this to actually be instant, but many of us still have unrealistic expectations for how long this will take) and the tons of eggs and nuts part (at least when it comes to autoimmune disease).

The paleo diet can feel very restrictive and isolating at times.  If you are unlucky enough to need to follow the Autoimmune Protocol, the feeling of deprivation can be overwhelming.  It’s no wonder that many of us feel impatient with the Autoimmune Protocol and wonder “just how [expletive deleted] long is this going to take?!”.  While some people do experience instant improvement in their symptoms (and some super luck individuals see improvement with out-of-the-box paleo), for others, it can take a while.  And when it takes a while, we lose patience and optimism.  It can be hard to remain dedicated to a restrictive diet if you don’t feel that it is working. 

So how long does it take?  There is no one-size-fits-all answer.  It depends on how leaky your gut is, how inflamed your body is, exactly what types of antibodies your body is producing and what cells in your body they are attacking.  Just like your genetics will predispose you to developing autoimmunity if you have a leaky gut, they also dictate how easy it is for your body to stop producing those antibodies and heal your gut.  Interestingly, this doesn’t necessarily mean that those people with more severe autoimmune diseases will take longer to see improvement.  It’s actually quite hard to predict who will see dramatic, rapid improvement and who will have a long drawn-out recovery.

Your gut needs to heal and this takes time.  If you are lucky enough not to have SmallIntestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), this may only take about 6 months.  Many people with autoimmune disease do have SIBO however, and healing for these people can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years.  Many people with autoimmune disease and SIBO also have gut-brain connection issues (this is especially true for those with skin conditions).  The inflammation in your brain can take 2 months to 2 years to subside, depending on how well you are sleeping and managing stress, and this directly impacts how quickly your gut will heal.  The general inflammation in your body needs to subside.  This will generally follow the healing of your gut.  Your body also needs to stop producing auto-antibodies.  Once your gut has healed, it takes about 6 months to stop producing those antibodies, although for many people the amount of antibodies being produced will decrease while the gut is healing.  Your body needs to heal itself, repair damaged tissues and restore hormone balance.  Depending on the tissues involved, this can take an additional 6 months, again partially overlapping with the other aspects of recovery. Putting this together, some people will need to follow the Autoimmune Protocol for upwards of 3 years before seeing full recovery, although noticeable improvement should be seen within about 3 months.  I’ll also throw out the caveat that, while I believe that all autoimmune diseases can be improved with this protocol, there is the possibility that some diseases operate through mechanisms independent of diet.  And of course, depending on the progression of your disease, there may be permanent damage to tissues in your body meaning that you may see improvement but not full recovery.  And any exposure to gut irritating food will set you back.  Will you ever be able to add eggs, nuts and nightshades back into your diet?  Maybe.  Some people will be able to and some will not.  Once your autoimmune disease is in full remission, try adding back one food at a time and see how you feel.

If you have been following the Autoimmune Protocol for 3 months and have not seen improvement, there are also a couple of other factors to consider when evaluating how well this is working for you.  Are you really following the protocol and not allowing yourself cheats?  Are you getting enough sleep and managing your stress?  Are you spending enough time outside in the sun in addition to taking a Vitamin D3 supplement?  Are you dealing with competing goals?  It is very difficult for the body to heal in a hypocaloric state, meaning that losing weight and recovering from autoimmune disease are not always compatible.  It is very important to provide the building blocks your body needs to heal by eating enough food.  You don’t need to be gaining weight, but losing weight may be difficult until your body has healed.  Another key factor is food sensitivities.  It is possible that you have developed an immune reaction (typically IgG or IgA antibodies) against foods that you are currently eating.  These would be foods that don’t normally cause gut irritation, but, because you have developed a sensitivity to them, they stop your body from healing.  You may be able to figure out which food or foods you are sensitive to by eliminating your suspects for a week or two and see if it makes a difference.  You can also find a physician, naturopathic doctor or chiropractor who will order an IgG (and maybe also IgA) food sensitivity test (I’m sorry to report that these are not cheap.  Expect to pay in the neighborhood of $400 just for the IgG test).  Once these foods are also eliminated from your diet, you should start to see improvement.  The good news is that you should be able to add these foods back into your diet as early as 6 months from now (although I think the safest timeline is to reintroduce these foods after your autoimmune disease is in full remission).

Is there anything you can do to speed up the healing process?  Some people find that acupuncture or dry needle therapy can help.  I have no personal experience with this, but if you are feeling frustrated and you have explored all other avenues, this might be a good next step for you to consider.  Most importantly, don’t give up.  Autoimmune disease is caused by a combination of genetic susceptibility and diet and lifestyle factors.  You can’t control your genetics (except maybe your epigenetics, but that’s a topic for a future post), but you can control your diet and lifestyle.  The trick is finding the individual factors that are most important for your body and be patient while you search for answers.  I’m hoping that, by giving you a realistic timeframe for how long healing may take, you will be able to find patience with this process.  Remember that you are not alone and you are free to use my Facebook Page as a support group if needed.

 

Comments

I love you. You write the best blog posts ever! This is exactly what the autoimmune protocol community needs. Thank you so much! This was a spectacular post.

Thank you both for your lovely comments! It’s always reassuring to know that I’m on the right track and writing posts that are relevant to my followers (since I mostly write about issues that seem pertinent to me personally).

Thanks so much for this post. I’m dealing with this right now. I have Celiac Disease and the healing has been slow. This will help keep me on the right track. And the part about the food sensitivities was right on for my situation. I just recently cut out two more foods and have noticed a lot of improvement.

It’s really a blessing in disguise that my daughter is allergic to eggs & nightshades (in addition to others)…while more challenging, it really keeps me accountable in the area of diet as I try to reign in her over-active immune system :) Thanks for the post – as usual, your knowledge of science expressed in plain English is super helpful & encouraging!

You mention that acupuncture helps some. I have started to use NAET with our family which includes acupuncture for me. It took me two years to get over my reluctance to do so as there is only a single case study in PubMed supporting its use. However, it has helped immensely. I am able to eat eggs again! My daughter had been vomiting after almost every meal and now she is not!

I think I might cry. For the first time in what feels like my whole life (about 20 year journey) I feel like I’ve finally found what could help me regain health and life. I had come a long way through trial and error in eating this way on my own, without acutally having name for it. Then someone asked if I was “Paleo”. So I looked it up and was stunned at what I found! I quickly discovered I needed the auto immune protocol, and found more foods I suspected that were giving me problems. It will take some huge effort to eliminate more troublesome foods, to be “perfect” so to speak, but I want health more than anything….any tomato that’s for sure. So I’ve been searching for a group of people on Paelo AND the auto immune protocol in order to find recipes and more information. It’s shocking actually there isn’t more out there. So..here it begins anew with more knowledge. I’m hoping to say goodbye to IBS, Ankylosing Spondilitis…and a host of other annoying stuff. Thank you Sarah for sharing your story, your education, and your recipes. I have a lot of reading to do! Perhaps one day soon I can share that I’m symptom free and can finally live out some dreams that are on hold. :) I’ll also quickly mention for others, I’ve been dry needling for a few years now and found it to be very helpful for pain. Perhaps with this new knowledge it will bring me even further into healing when complemented with dry needling. I’ve been blabbering on and on to my practioner about Paleo for a couple weeks now. I hope I have very good news in about 3-6 months on my progress. Happy to be hear amongst others who share this journey!!

There is a very active facebook group called Hashimoto 411 that is geared toward thyroid issues, however most of the information on eating an Paleo AIP diet is there and is supported https://www.facebook.com/groups/hashimotos411/ . Have you read Practical Paleo – there is a section in her book that plans out 30 days of paleo autoimmune meals. There is quite a bit of information available about Autoimmune from a Paleo perspective.

I recently starting eating Paleo; I’m about 3 weeks into it, after doing lots of experimentation and elimination diets in order to determine what I was eating that was causing my newborn (now 3 months old) to have eczema, skin rashes, cradle cap, a gurgling tummy followed by out-of-character fussiness, explosive poop (for lack of a better term), lots of mucus in his stool, and occasionally some green stool… all signs of allergies, or leaky gut. It peaked when the eczema behind his ears (but I didn’t realize it was eczema until this happened) got infected and was VERY smelly… I was so put off by it that I started researching online, realized it was eczema, and realized that eczema = allergy/autoimmune, and that all of his other symptoms listed above do as well. That’s when I started a full-scale elimination diet. After about three or four days of cutting out everything under the sun (way more than Paleo or even AIP restrictions), not only was he feeling much better, but I felt AWESOME! But, at some point, I started missing my old foods… and I started re-introducing things. As I began re-introducing, I wasn’t as deliberate as I should have been to really zero in on all of his (or mine) exact sensitivities, but I got a pretty good idea that most grains, legumes, and dairy were a no-go… with some suspicions about eggs and nuts. So I happened on Paleo eating before I even knew there was a Paleo movement… but by doing research online, I found Mark Sisson’s website first, then all of the Paleo ones. I started doing more research and wondering if I should be doing the AIP, because baby is still having some symptoms (though others are gone) like mucus in stool, explosive poops, fussiness after I eat things like eggs, nuts, etc… but I had gotten so excited about eating Paleo and all of the beautiful things I could cook out of all of these beautiful Paleo cookbooks that, though I’ve been trying to follow AIP as much as possible, I have cheated frequently with otherwise-Paleo foods (and commercial coconut milk ice cream a time or two) instead of non-Paleo foods because I fear losing compliance altogether. But the compounding factor is that this involves my baby, and not just me… though there’s plenty of suspicion that many of my own issues may be autoimmune in nature (I’ve been overweight since adolescence, save a brief – and damaging – bout with Weight Watchers when I lost 71 pounds and basically starved my body by eating primarily highly-processed low-calorie food); I struggle with severe menstrual irregularity, and suspect borderline hypothyroidism. But I am just finding it so difficult to get myself into full-scale AIP…even my olives with pimentos would have to go! haha. Should I just be patient, or does it seem like I really just need to go all in? Does cheating with even one single item like the pimentos in my favorite olives (I know it’s odd, but one of the hardest AIP items for me to ditch) throw the whole thing off?

hi – it sounds like celiac. Test your antibodies for the thyroid to ensure that you don’t have Hashimoto’s (the autoimmune thyroid disease). read “breaking the vicious cycle” – great book which outlines how to cure celiac in newborns and young children, as well as adults! good luck!

Hang in there SheenaB. It sounds like you are focussing in on the offending foods and doing right by your little one. Reframing the whole eating thing has helped me tremendously. I too started eating paleo with way too many eggs and nuts and developed skin rashes. It took me two years to concede that I needed to eliminate those and try the AIP Paleo. I no longer “cheat” but sometimes I make a conscious choice to eat something not on my protocol. The word “cheat” implies I am getting away with something, when actually I am not, and I generally do not feel good after ingesting the offending food. So, I make a “choice” not a “cheat” and I live with it, or decide it was not a good choice for me and I don’t repeat it. BTW, have you tried kalamata olives? No pimiento there! :)

(continue from above) … The other issue is that there have been a couple of days when I felt terrible and noticed a decline in breast milk supply, as well as baby noticing that there was less (and being not happy about it!) and after reflecting realizing it was because I’d lost enthusiasm with eating, hadn’t been eating enough, and had had virtually no carbs (due to budget, we had very few fruits & veggies on hand)… which brings me to another question. What is your experience with breastfeeding? Do BF mamas need more carbs than most Paleo eaters? Or should gluconeogenesis cover breast milk, too? I am significantly overweight, in fact, obese, and I read in another post of yours that those who are significantly overweight might need to consume a few more carbs until their body gets more adept at gluconeogenesis… how does that play in with BF also? I am really excited about this lifestyle change, not just for the benefit of my little one, but also for myself and hopefully eventually, my older son and husband… but I’m getting discouraged and lack-luster at times, though I’ve tried to be sensible about any “cheating” because my baby is involved and I know instinctively that I can’t be as flexible about it as those you mentioned who get amazing results with out-of-the-box Paleo… considering all the issues I (we) have going on. Sorry for the long post… all of these thoughts have been stewing and building for a few weeks! Thanks for reading, and for the amazing blog and support network you’re getting underway. :-)

Hi Sheena,

So in answer to your first question regarding little slips/cheats, I think it’s highly individual, not just person to person but what you cheat with. I have found that I can not have tomatoes, chili or curry at all (and I suspect all nightshades), but I can handle a little bit of nuts (as long as it isn’t almonds). You have a really good metric in how you feel and the symptoms your baby has, and if you can manage to be a systematic in your approach, you’ll have definitive answers to what you and he can handle and what you can’t. Remember that his symptoms may be delayed a couple of days, so don’t try more than one new food every few days. Some people really can’t handle any cheats (at least at first) and some people can.

As for breast milk supply, you need to eat, drink and sleep. You should be able to lose weight while breastfeeding and without jeopardizing your milk supply as long as you don’t make any drastic changes. Aim to go slow. And I don’t know whether breastfeeding moms need more carbs so much as just a little more food. I certainly wouldn’t recommend trying to go into ketosis while breastfeeding. Human milk is up to 70% carbohydrate and that’s asking alot of your body to be making all the glucose you need to run plus all the sugars for your milk. I think you should be able to lose weight without going too low carb (I wouldn’t drop below 50g per day, at last for now, you can always play with this later once all the food sensitivities are worked out). On the other end of the spectrum, if you feel better with a bit more carbs, I think that’s fine too. But, I don’t think breastfeeding will mean you need tons of carbs (sorry!).

I think you are doing a great thing by trying to improve your health and your family’s! Good luck!

Thanks so much for the reply. I appreciate the tip about trying to be systematic about figuring out what we can/cannot tolerate. I think I am going to aim to do a sort of smaller-scale elimination phase again by doing strict AIP for at least 3 weeks then testing the foods I would like to reincorporate very systematically every four days or so… that way I’m not limiting myself more than necessary (which would decrease my overall compliance), but I’m also not exposing us to something that would cause harm or delay healing. I think I’ve been lax about it because I know I’ve taken the biggest step to eliminate the primary offenders, but at some point I need to embrace these other changes as well, for both of us.

Thanks also for the reminders that breast milk supply isn’t just about eating, but also drinking and sleeping! And in terms of the carbs… between what you’re saying, what I’m reading & understanding, and my instincts, I think I truly just need to always have a good variety of fruits & veggies on hand to choose from. When I do, I eat lots and lots of veggies and just a few fruits (not usually more than two servings a day) and the occasional sweet potato once or twice a week. When I was doing this, I felt great and my milk supply was great, and I was losing weight… so I was probably achieving my best level of carbs just by having access to lots of healthy (fruit & veggie) carbs and letting my instincts drive my choices. But when I failed to stay stocked up on fruits & veggies, I started to feel low-energy, get discouraged, have decreased milk, and more cravings. So I think you’re right, I don’t need tons of carbs, but I do need plenty of healthy carbs in the form of veggies & fruit (and an occasional root/tuber) at all times! And I probably notice a lack of these in a more pronounced way than someone who isn’t manufacturing sugar-based human milk. ;)

Thanks again for the response. I really appreciate the encouragement and support!

Hi Sarah,

First let me say, Thank you. This site has been a real help to me and gives me some hope, and I have to admit hope has run thin for me. I was diagnosed by biopsy with Lichen Planopilaris, and have been on medications with less and less success and more and more side-effects ever since(Minocycline, then Flagyl, then Doxycycline and Plaquienil, came off the Doxycycline and Plaquenil, because of side effects and suffered more drastic loss, while the experimental Actos and Lovenox-which has only really been studied successfully for LP–were added, and now I am back on a lower dose of Plaquenil and am reintroducing Doxycycline at a low dose to try to slow the loss while the Actos and Lovenox have a chance to work). I had as of Feb immediately pulled out wheat and dairy and sugar, and tried doing the anti-inflammatory diets since Feb- pulled out meats and basically only ate low contaminant fatty fish and cruciferous vegs, and a lot of berries, used stevia and lohan, salads, some almonds, brown rice, etc., and in the course of all this 18 lbs fell off of me scarily and unintentionally. I started a combination of GAPS and AIP a month ago (bone broths, digestive enzymes, lacto-fermented vegs, probiotics, no nightshades, etc) strictly, and started working with a nutritionist and homotoxicologist who is very in line with these protocols. I feel no difference, even in the weeks that I have been off of the Doxycyline, accept strangely more gas (burping) and my disease continues to progress aggressively. Did your LP flare even while you were strict? And how impossible will it be for me to heal my gut if Doxycycline is still being used?

My LP-flared before I started paleo last summer. It stayed about the same until I switched to the AIP, then it started to slowly get better. This most recent flare (last 2 months) started when I had some tomatoes. It also happened to be during a very stressful few weeks when I wasn’t getting enough sleep, and because I wasn’t getting enough sleep, I was also eating alot more carbs then I know works for me (mostly fruit).

As for whether or not Dox is going to stop your gut from healing, from what I’ve read it’s one of the most gentle tetracycline analogues and the least likely to disrupt gut flora. If you don’t feel that Dox is helping you, then there’s likely no good reason to be on it. But if you do think it’s making a difference, I would stay on it for now and try and wean off once things are falling into place a little better.

I think that a rigorous GAPS intro/AIP protocol is your best choice. I think that you just need to be patient (sorry, that’s such a horrible answer when you’re dealing with such a terrible illness). Your body will do more healing on the inside before you start to notice healing on the outside (and I’m not sure if hair will grow back, but you should notice the hair loss slowing). It also sounds like you have great support in your nutritionist and homotoxicologist. Skin autoimmune conditions (and I would include hair follicles in this) seem to take the longest to heal with these diet changes. Keep me posted on how you’re doing!

Hi Michelle
I’ve had LPP for around 18 months and am trying to get my doctor to prescribe Lovenox based on the LP study. I wondered if your use of Lovenox had any positive effects on your LPP?
Regards

I have just recently stumbled upon your blog/website and I am so deeply moved by all the hard work you have put into getting this information out there for people like myself. I was going to jump into doing the Whole30 this month until I learned about the AIP. It stopped me dead in my tracks. I have spent the last few days searching and reading everything I can about how I probably should be eating and what exactly is and isn’t okay. The information you have here is completely astounding and THANK YOU for combining what you have learned and taking the time to present your findings in a super accessible way. I have so many health issues and feel so lucky to have found your articles!! I am going to give this way of eating and living a whirl very soon – Bookmarked the site so I can hopefully report back :)

Hey Sarah, my fellow birthday twin :D I just wanted to stop by and update briefly. I am doing a Whole30 AIP right now. Today is day 11. I modified it so that it’s basically just a regular autoimmune regimen … I suppose it’s really only a “whole30″ in the sense that I am doing this for the first time and giving myself a strict 30 days as a test run. I have made bone broths and have been enjoying kombucha more than ever. I have been on Prilosec for chronic heartburn for almost 2 years (although I have suffered with the problem for many years prior). Since I started this way of eating, I decided to quit my Prilosec just as an experiment. So far I have not taken a single dose in 11 days :) Every time I begin to feel any hint of heartburn I just put something acidic in my body and it goes away. One thing I am having a hard time with is figuring out what to do with a lot of ground beef and lamb I bought. I have been making burger patties with them and eating them plain. I’m very much looking forward to January when I have the money to buy some nice roasts and bacon (oh, how I miss it!). I will keep you posted. I wanted to get some videos up on youtube but I am having some issues with that for some reason. I’ll probably dust off my blog and share that way in the future :)

All my best,
Nichele

Hi Sarah,
I have posted to you before, but I am really still struggling. I have RA and just recently found out I also have Epstein Barr virus. I have been following AIP for a couple of months now (although I am drinking coffee and having some wine)I also stopped having cocnut to see if maybe I am having a reaction to that as well. I just read on one of the other AIP blogs(from you) not to be eating string beans. I have been eating them as well as peas, dried peas and sugar snap peas. Should I not? I am not having any nightshade veggies, spices,eggs or nuts. I do eat apples,pears and grapes. Is that bad? I am just so frustrated. My body is hurting. I am swollen, tired and my fingers are just always cold. I just started accupuncture again and it is helping some.. I feel like I am trying so hard and just not getting anywhere. I appreciate your information so much. It is helpful. So any additional advice you have would be very appreciated! Oh I also do eat bananas. I was eating a lot of plaintains from your yummy recipes but cut that out also. I also cut out coconut and coconut oil just in case… I just feel lost.

I’m sorry you are so frustrated. Peas and dried peas are definitely important to cut out (they are not paleo). I usually also recommend no green beans or snap peas for people with autoimmune disease. I think keeping plantains out is a good idea. But, the fruit should be okay as long as you aren’t eating too much at a time. Try to stick to 1 small serving each time you eat. I have a hard time with whole coconut too, but the oil is very good for you, so I would add back in coconut oil. Does your acupuncturist do herbals aswell? some antivirals and liver detox support might be helpful (if you scan the recent Chris Kresser podcasts, he talks about this). Even some extra vitamin C might help with the Epstein Barr. I’m also wondering about your sleep?

I will cut out the peas. I didn’t know they weren’t paleo… I have been eating A LOT of them since I cut out what feels like everything else! Are brussel sprouts ok? I’ve been eating a lot of them also, as well as spaghetti squash and mushrooms.
I don’t get enough sleep usually. I go to sleep around 11:00 and get up between 5:00- 6:00. I do have stress like everybody else, but I really feel like a good portion of my stress is my health and my daily dietary intake. I’m sure you understand just how challenging it is to find what to eat.. especially breakfast! I also eat lots of kale and I make kale chips. I will add back in the coconut oil (i had just ordered from tropical traditions) but I do feel the coconut milk is just too heavy on my digestive system.
I take 5000 mg liquid D, emulsified cod liver oil and not faithfully l-glutamine.
I am not sure if my acupuncturist does herbs? like what? I do also see a holistic chiropractor who sometimes recommends Bioron remedies.
THANK YOU so much for taking the time to answer my post and for ALL your help for ALL of us trying to make it in a very processed food world! :)
I will keep working towards feeling good!

Brussels sprouts’kale, spaghetti squash and mushrooms are all great! Working on sleep will make a huge difference and may help reduce stress too. I know it’s not always easy to give up time for other things (things you have to do, fun things…) for sleep, but if you have more energy during the day because you are feeling so much bette, then it’s worth it! Liver support herbs/minerals arelike milk thistle and molybdenum and selenium. I’m not familiar with the antiviral herbs. I hope this helps!

Dear Sarah,

Infinite thanks for this post. It helped me a lot, as I’ve been discouraged today. I’m in the not-noticing-on-the-outside phase of the AIP. But I have a “gut feeling” that good stuff is happening inside…at least, I trust that it is. The most discouraging thing is that I broke my toe two nights ago. You think you learn a lot of patience after years of chronic illness, but a dinky thing like a broken pinky toe was the last straw. Just one thing too many.

After shaking my fist heavenward at the timing of a broken toe after only seven days on the challenging AIP (and after a day of crying) I am again reconciled to yet one more thing, like a broken toe, in addition to several autoimmune conditions, and am still dedicated to the AIP. I will wait for the toe to heal just as I am waiting for the inflammation and gut to heal. After starting the AIP and vitamin D3 loading (50,000 for 2 weeks) and many additional things that my awesome doctor started me on, I have been feeling a little stronger day by day. I even went on two 3-mile walks this past week (before breaking the toe) after a couple of months of hardly any walking.

Again, Thanks. You are a smart, caring and motivational writer and person.

BTW, if you are interested, the autoimmune-enlightened doctor I see is Dr. Mark Flannery at dr.flannery.com (for any who are looking for a good doctor who is passionate about understanding autoimmune issues and helping people who have them. He Skypes with patients all over the world). He and his wife are both dedicated to eating Paleo (and AIP when needed).

The more I look into auto immune and diet the more I have to cut out. It’s like a snowball effect. LOL! I thought I was doing well 86ing glutens/grains. Then dairy. Then eggs and sugar. Then nightshades. And most recently {and sadly} coffee and dark chocolate. I have noticed small changes, though not with what the area I want to manage the most. And the main reason I changed my diet to begin.

Time to cut out nuts? {almonds are my go-to snack}

Wow, Sarah,
Your site has been blowing my mind. I’ve been so discouraged with my health going to hell in a hand basket. When I read some of your struggles…especially with the lichen planus, I about flipped. I have the oral version of that and as of late it has gotten very bad and very painful.
I’m also a keloid former and have one scar so large (and it keeps growing) it has shocked physicians and dermatologists.
I’ve also done some food journaling and have discovered the nightshades are not my friends. (INSTANT sores if I eat some of them.)
The fibromyalgia has crippled my one leg, the trigger points are so bad. Dry needling was helpful but I can’t keep going back…the trigger points just return. It’s devastating to me because I’ve always been an avid walker/cyclist.
I’m also at my highest weight ever. I lost about 45 pounds about eight years ago and have gained every single one back along with more than a few friends.
My first step has been becoming wheat free about three months ago. I know I need to go on the autoimmune protocol but I need to get my mind around it since from reading on your site, it could take MONTHS. And doggone it! That’s a long time to miss out on a few of my favorite nut snacks.
Anyway. All that to say, I’m a mess. But I hoping I won’t be a mess anymore…in due part to the great information you’ve compiled here all in one place.
Thank you so much. I will look forward to your book’s publication.

It could take months and you might find that you can never successfully reintroduce nuts (and I’m exactly the same with nightshades), but knowing how painful lichen planus can be when it’s in full swing, let me tell you just how wonderful it is to be on the other side. I know it’s hard and it feels like you’re missing out on so many favorites, but it is worth it.

I wish that I felt more comforted right now… The three months to three years part is kind of frustrating. I’m not discouraged by the food choices (and if I had the energy… the challenge of coming up with egg-free, dairy-free, nut/seed-free, nightshade-free recipes would really be exciting for me!) My energy level is so low that I find it difficult to even cook meals right now. And my pain levels make it hard to stand for long periods of time. I just don’t know if I’m going to be able to accomplish all the work needed to feel better – as much as I really want to do it!

I know how hard it is, especially when you’re tired and in pain. Some people do experience dramatic improvement right away (as little as 2-3 days), but I can’t promise that will be you. :( There’s a new AIP cookbook being launched next week which may help (and I’m being very mindful to include simple recipes that make lots of leftovers in my book, although that wont be out until September). My biggest strategy in the kitchen is to cook huge batches of everything and either eat the same meal 4-5 days in a row, or freeze it. Do you have a friend or family member who might enjoy coming to your house to do a big cooking afternoon once a week? Or even once a month? You could sit at the table and chat and chop vegetables and they could do the standing and stirring etc.?

I’m just a reader here, but I know how you feel. I’m starting to notice a big difference these past two weeks. The first month was discouraging because I didn’t notice any difference, but now, the difference is noticeable and I am encouraged. I hope you find a way to stick with AIP, because it’s the first thing in 8 years that is helping me, and I know it has helped others. I think the author here has a good idea of finding a cooking buddy. It’s hard to be on your feet and cook so much. Prayers for you.

Hi Sarah,
It’s Staci again. I’m feeling so defeated and in need of a cheer leading section. I just returned from my doctor, who’s been tracking my weight, and I’ve lost another pound. She’s convinced the AIP is another disordered eating pattern for me and it will have no impact on my Raynauds. She wants me to stop any AIP research, pull back on my restrictions, stop all aerobic activity and see a therapist. I feel like I’m eating healthier than I ever have and exercising significantly less – all without counting a calorie! I was able to experience some weight gain when I first found coconut manna but now know I should limit my consumption of it. I understand losing weight isn’t helping my symptoms. I really want to prove my doctor wrong, especially since there’s nothing she can do for me. It’s so hard not to be discouraged.
Thanks for listening.

This is exactly the situation that I wrote my book for. Hang in there because it will be out in just over 2 months! and should be very helpful to communicate with your doctor. In the meantime, try upping your intake of fats with your meals (maybe take an ox bile supplement to help digest them?), like avocado, olives, coconut oil, lard from pasture-raised pigs, tallow from grass-fed beef or lamb… make sure you have something with carbs (some root veggies or some fruit or both) when you eat the fat to facilitate storage. Get lots and lots of sleep and try eating about 2 hours before bed (if not supper, than an after dinner snack).

THANK YOU SARAH! This is just the encouragement and advice I needed! It’s truly amazing what a powerful tool our diet is – my low BP dropped even lower causing nausea and light headedness. I increased my salt intake and am feeling much better! – What’s more fascinating is that the medical community at large doesn’t view it as such. I’m tired of people looking at me as though I’ve got issues because I’ve chosen to give up processed and other foods that make me sick.

Since my doctor’s appointment I’ve been making a better effort to include starchy carbs but I’m quickly tiring of sweet potatoes. Also, I read on your site to limit starch intake for healing. I’m making sure to include 1-2 servings of fat at meals. It’s becoming so much food that I’m afraid my veggie intake is suffering. Is it bad for the healing process to consume a lot at meals (is it hard on the digestive system)? I saw you advocate spacing meals apart and assume adding snacks isn’t an option. I am currently taking Betaine as suggested by Robb Wolf to aide digestion. Is ox bile easily procured – can I find it at Whole Foods?

What you are doing to help so many of us to get better is remarkable and I cannot thank you enough!

Thank you Staci! After researching for my book, I actually am pulling away from my previous recommendations to avoid starches. This isn’t actually supported in the medical literature (although low FODMAP is for those with GI symptoms). I do like bigger meals spaced farther apart for most people because its better for hormone regulation, but not everyone can do it. And depending on your schedule, your digestion, your stress level, how you used to eat, a snack or two may be absolutely appropriate. The clues to look for if a big meal is not working for you is any kind of digestive discomfort that is worse after a big meal compared to a smaller one (like if you get bloated after a big meal but not a smaller one, or have abdominal pain, or notice undigested food particles in your stool). But, if you can handle the big meals, that’s actually better. Ox bile should be relatively easy to get. I would take a gander at amazon first (I have one in my a-store if you want to start your search there). I don’t know for sure if WF has it, but I think it probably would.

I have written my book as much for the medical community as for the patient, so I’m hoping that the pervasive view that diet has nothing to do with it will start changing soon!

Sarah,
No luck at WF (ours is small) but I will look at the other resources you mentioned.

One last quickie: does lamb offer the same benefits as beef assuming they both are pastured, grassfed? I have a good resource for both and like to change things up.
Thanks again!

Hello Sarah,

I am starting the AIP on Monday, and I’m convinced about everything, food, managing stresss, sleep, but i do intensive exercise 3 o 4 times a week… will this keep me from succeeding?I really need to do that kind of sport..

Hello. I’m really terrible with knowing how to word things so I’m sorry if I’m talking impolitely at all D: I was just curious about if I could get some advice?

I’m a 16 (soon to be 17) year old girl trying to do the AIP but finding it quite hard to do since I’m surrounded by foods I can’t eat since my mum and brother are not doing the protocol (I decided to do this, because it sounded like the best thing that would help me). Don’t worry, we’ve worked out the many foods I can eat and have been doing our best to have me stick to it but I keep wanting to eat the foods I used to eat daily. My main issue is I used to eat chocolate almost daily, and so I’ve been having some major withdrawals from it. I have pretty bad anxiety at times and I was definitely using it as a comfort food before, and it helped, whether or a placebo effect or genuine food effect, but I fear it was also one of the foods that made me sick often with the reactions combined with my anxiety.
The reason I looked into foods and how they could potentially be affecting my health is because I kept getting ill and not being able to handle going to school a lot these past years, either because of major joint pain or random abdominal stabbing pains, constipation and/or opposite issues, generally feeling really ill, brain fuzziness, etc, etc. Doctors kept saying since my anxiety is bad and it gets worse at school it was probably just an effect of my anxiety, which kind of pissed me off to be honest that they could only say it was that, because I still felt sick even on good days and school holidays and I’ve been dealing with being sick one way or the other every day of my life for a long time, as long as I remember really, so for anxiety to be the only issue seemed like a lie to me.

I was willing to accept anxiety probably affected it a bit, maybe adding to severity of my reactions? But I thought it has be something wrong with my diet too, and so for a long time I’ve been researching the best plan to try and work out what’s wrong. I thought AIP sounded like a good plan so I’ve been trying my best to follow it.

I was going really good for four days with some trail and error the previous week, and on the third and fourth days I was feeling amazing. NO PAIN. NONE. WHATTTT. I mean there was still some joint pain I think? but I’m used to that that’s why it’s hard for me to determine what’s getting caused by food and what’s not, since I have some posture issues too. The reason why I freaked out so much over this and felt like it was basically no pain though was because it was SO MUCH BETTER THAN I’M USED TO FEELING ON A DAILY BASIS – No random stabbing pain, very rarely was my stomach upset, my brain was feeling much clearer (I think because I basically had to cut out processed food too, so no soda for me! I was drinking so much water instead, which was actually really awesome and delicious and I love water and water makes me feel great and adjshffdij [keyboard slam] it’s great, no one can tell me otherwise.)

ANYWAYS. Here’s the problem – I had been quite busily scheduled and totally forgot to organise what to do when sleeping over a friends house – If I should bring my own snacks or let them know in advance what I could and couldn’t have (besides what I already tell them in regards to my nut allergies), I had organized none of that.
On the third day of following AIP solidly I had taken two kiwi fruit, a banana, and a can of salmon with me to eat when I got hungry when I visited a friend’s house for the afternoon and that was a good plan and it worked out good although I was getting a little hungrier by the time I had to head back home so I think I’ll add something else to that next time.

Fourth day I slept over a different friend’s house, she happened to be Celiac so I gluten wasn’t a concern while I was there, but I just ate what I was given which of course wasn’t all AIP allowed, and I did feel really ill the next day. What’s terrible is immediately after I had arrived home from my friend’s house I was then going to my Dad’s house for the weekend, why this is terrible is because I hadn’t organized stuff with him yet either. So it was either eat what was in the house or starve, I choose to eat of course, but then I had failed the AIP plan for four days – Thursday to Sunday, and was immediately set back to withdrawal mode and having to start my month count down again, which upset me.

I don’t know how much of me feeling so great on the days I did well was due to finally drinking a lot more water and/or being on a sugar high from the amount of fruit I eat now on a daily basis, but I feel definitely not eating any of the potentially bad foods has really helped and definitely something or another on the foods to avoid list affects me for sure.
I’m worried I’m eating too much fruit though, I’m trying to introduce more veggies but my staple vegetables used to be red capsicum and potatoes which I loved SO much, but were probably one of the major problems. I also haven’t been eating too much carrot, since I was told it has quite a high sugar content and I’d rather have fruit I like instead in that case, since I like that more than carrots. Recently my mum made me ‘Coleslaw’ salad of sorts, the basic cabbage and carrot mix but with some spinach and kale added in. It was meant to be a normal Coleslaw with mayonnaise but I just got my serving before the mayonnaise was added to rest. I really like that salad as I like cabbage and kale but large amounts are overwhelming for my normally sweet tooth, so this salad is perfect because everything is cut up smaller and mixed together and surprisingly not overwhelming to me this way, and it’s so yummy with apple cider vinegar. I’m trying to make it a daily addition with my canned salmon for lunch eat day to try and incorporate more vegetables instead of having fruit all day until dinner.

For the past few days I’ve been back on AIP but I get nightmares often due to my anxiety and lately they’ve been quite frequent and distressing so I haven’t been sleeping well the past few days. It’s currently school holidays for me and so without much schedule to keep track of time I’ve been a bit disoriented in terms of what day is what, at least these past few days as I’ve been woken up in the night, unable to go back to sleep, fallen asleep in the morning, woken up in the afternoon, gone to sleep late, and awful cycle repeat. I’m doing my best to get back on track, but anyways due to the confusion it’s been hard for me to keep track of how AIP is affecting me lately. It’s basically how it was the other few days when I was doing well, I feel pretty good and healthy for the most part, but I’m feeling pretty exhausted and run down too, but I assume that’s due to stress from nightmares and lack of sleep.

Sorry that was so long, hopefully that’s enough to work with? I hope I didn’t write too much, I just wasn’t sure how much to include.

Here are my questions;
How long would you suggest I do the autoimmune protocol if I’m feeling good pretty immediately (at least after three to four days)? Of course if it’s making me feel this good I’m not going to quit it, haha, but I’m missing some of my old foods and wondering when would be a good time to re-introduce them based on my reactions? Is it ok if I start introducing one thing per week? or one to two things per month? Individually of course, like egg, or milk, as opposed to a mixture of things like chocolate or ice-cream.

I think in one of your posts you said that we should wait at least a month, but here you say three, so I’m not sure. Once school starts I may be distracted enough for the amount of foods I can’t have to not bother me as much, as I tend to over eat when I’m bored at home anyways, although being part of a youth culture where chocolate is basically worshipped, and my friend’s and I’s favourite activity to do when going to the city is sample foods, I think that might still bug me, but I’ll wish it doesn’t.

My other question is is there a limit to how much fruit I should eat daily? On AIP my daily fruit intake has usually been 1 – 2 bananas, 1 – 2 kiwi fruit/or/nectarine (I have one or the other, but mainly kiwi fruit), a quarter – a half of a water/honeydew/rockmelon (depending on what was bought, I love all separately) and 1 – 2 cups of grapes. I dislike apples. Is it ok to be eating this? I’ve been using banana and kiwi fruit as a staple fill me up food, and melons and grapes as sweet tooth snacks. I also occasionally have 5-6 pieces of dried mango and about a handful of dried pineapple pieces when watching movies as my cinema and TV show food – Which I’ve been catching up on during the holidays.

Third question, when going to a friend’s house should I just bring what I can eat to there or arrange before hand if I can have a steak and salad of some sort. Meat can be expensive so most homes eat pasta or rice with maybe some chicken. I was thinking maybe to just have sleep overs at my own house when I can so there are no issues, but some friend’s live far away and to visit them I also have to stay over. So I was wondering if maybe I should wait to visit them until I could see if I can re-introduce foods like rice and such??

These are my main questions, of course if you have any other advice in terms of what I talked about before I’d be happy to listen! Sorry this message is soo long. I hope it hasn’t been an inconvenience :( Thank you in advance for all your help ThePaleoMom and to anyone who comments really. I hope I can sort this out.

My usual advice is to wait until you’re feeling great and have the hang of eating this way before reintroducing, ideally at least a month. Then you can reintroduce one thing every 4-7 days. I think it would be good to practice planning for sleep overs and weekends with your Dad. Often chocolate cravings can be from mineral deficiencies, so more time focusing on nutrient dense foods (like eating more seafood and veggies) can really help with that (you can also talk to your doctor about adding a magnesium supplement). The two biggest things that should help the anxiety aspect is more seafood (for the DHA and EPA fatty acids) and lifestyle things like getting more sleep, getting some activity (like going for a walk), and reducing stress as much as you can. You are eating a lot of fruit and it would be good to get used to eating more veggies and less fruit, but it’s okay if that’s something you work on and don’t do immediately (but do that before you start reintroducing). I hope this helps.

Hi Layla, You are doing a wonderful thing for yourself and your health, by making the connection between what you eat and how it makes you feel. It is tempting to think that all you have to do is make a few changes for a few weeks, and then return to your old eating habits. However, if your goal is health and well-being, you will find that you do not want to return to those habits. Instead, think of this as your opportunity to explore a whole new world of food, especially veggies. Try replacing most of your fruit with veggies and starchy veggies (ever had roasted turnips with carrots or Delicata squash cooked in coconut oil?) for a couple of weeks and see if you notice a difference. And if you are really bold, you could try juicing veggies for a jump start in the morning, with all of those wonderful enzymes and vitamins! Good luck! -D

Hello,

I am a 51 year old man who has experienced a variety of concerning symptoms over the past eight years: left temple pressure, tingling on the left side of my back, constipation, right leg weakness, a feeling of neuropathy in my right foot, fatigue, etc.

Numerous doctors have been unable to identify a cause for these symptoms,

I’ve struggled with severe environmental allergies since childhood–as well as oral allergy syndrome. I was recently diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis (these symptoms started when I was a teenager).

I started a gluten free diet two years ago (I tested positive for gluten sensitivity through Enterolab). The Eosinophilic Esophagitis symptoms greatly improved–however, nothing else improved.

This past September, under the direction of a Functional Health Practitioner, I greatly increased my intake of probiotics and eliminated some foods that I had been eating regularly: beans, oils, rice, and cashews. The constipation was eliminated. The other symptoms, however, have not changed.

I have also practiced yoga and meditation over the past year. In addition, I am getting allergy shots to hopefully improve my allergies.

My question is this: is it likely that diet is not the primary cause of these neurological symptoms since the symptoms have not improved over the past six months? Please let me know your thoughts on this…thank you!

If Paleo is not yielding the results you’d like, you may consider troubleshooting (http://www.thepaleomom.com/2013/04/how-do-i-know-when-its-working-a-quick-troubleshooting-guide-to-paleo.html) or trying the autoimmune protocol (http://www.thepaleomom.com/autoimmunity/the-autoimmune-protocol). That said, diet is not a cure-all and some conditions may not see as much benefit as others, but we do believe it can make a significant difference. – Christina, Sarah’s assistant

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