My Results (so far) with the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol

I’ve been doing the AIP for a good three, almost four months now. I’ve been focusing on stress management, getting lots of sleep, slow intermittent movement, and – the biggy – diet. I’ve been better at times than others at working on the first three parts, but I’ve been fairly consistent with diet and reintroductions the whole time.

The first few weeks were by far the hardest, as I learned how to adjust to the new restrictions. But I’ve since settled into a rhythm and am up to an almost paleo diet again. I started the AIP with a host of skin issues to clear up, but discovered the diet was helpful for some other issues as well. I suspect, however, that eating a diet free of gluten, excess sugar and highly nutrient dense may have had more to do with the latter than the removal of things like eggs and nightshades.

So, what changed exactly? Within the first month my HS had subsided dramatically. Heck, within a few weeks. With reintroductions, I’ve had a few flares and have since realized that it is definitely something I’m eating that causes the outbreaks. What, exactly, I haven’t pinned down yet, but I’m hopeful.

A chronic boil I’ve had for years has also (slowly, steadily) been getting better. This one doesn’t appear to be linked to any specific food, but more to just nutrient quality in general. Further research on my part has brought to light that its root cause might not be autoimmune, but clean eating still helps it heal.

Cycle-wise, my PMS has become nonexistent, my cramps manageable, and my cycles way more regular. I suspect this has more to do – again – with nutrient density and fewer simple carbs than any specific food. But again, we’ll see.

Last but not least, the main and central impetus that drove me to commit to this crazy restrictive diet was the chronic rash that had been slowly consuming my body. The last straw – a patch of rash under my eye – cleared up after a month on the AIP. Other patches have been steadily fading, including a bright red circle that was on my leg. Now I can only tell it’s still there if I run my hand across the area – the skin is still a little rough.

I should have taken more photos for documentation and proof, but, alas, I only thought to take a photo of the initial rash. As you can see below, it’s gotten a lot better:

january-29 april-228

The darker spot is my biopsy scar, which has proven invaluable for me in determining just how much it’s improved. Both photos were taken under the same lighting conditions with the same camera and had the same corrective color balances applied.

Although the rash is better, it still has a time to go before it’s fully healed. I’m hoping it doesn’t take another three months, but I also won’t be surprised. In the meantime, I will keep reintroducing things up to being fully paleo and keep an eye on it. My prime suspect is still eggs, since they still stand out with the most severe reaction so far.

But at least I have some proof that all this no-chocolate, no-Mexican, but lots of offal and bone broth super-strict eating is actually doing some good.

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Filed under AIP, paleo, progress, reintroduction

Super Simple Homemade Beef Jerky

While I was brainstorming ideas for foods wot to bring with us on our flights, I kept coming up with jerky and I kept having to sigh and move onwards. See, the problem with most jerky that I can get around here is that a) they all use soy sauce, b) they all have at least one nightshade spice, and c) if it’s grassfed, it’s about 100x out of our budget. So, like most things for AIP, I decided to see if I could make it myself.

After reading ten+ different recipes, I realized it was actually really easy to do. Basically, you take some meat, cut it really thin, marinate it for a day, then dehydrate it. I wasn’t sure exactly how to slice the meat so thin, but then I came across someone who had used a mandoline. Bingo!

They advised freezing the meat first, but didn’t also include that it helps to let the meat thaw slightly before you try to cut it. I ended up with just teeny slivers at first. But then we let it thaw on the counter for an hour and it worked just fine.

Our marinade was simple – just some salt, red wine vinegar, black pepper, and cumin (not for strict AIP) – but there are tons of more interesting and convoluted marinade recipes out there. After the strips sat in those juices for a good 12 hours, we put the oven on as low as possible and left them overnight.

Because the mandoline still sliced them so thin, they had this amazing melty effect in the mouth. Even with minimal seasoning they were really delicious and perfect for our travels.

Super Simple Homemade Beef Jerky (in the Oven)

1-2lbs lean steak, like flank or eye of round (fattier pieces have to be more thoroughly trimmed)
Sharp knife / mandoline
Salt
Pepper
Red wine vinegar 1/4-1/2 cup
Garlic powder (optional)
Onion powder (optional)
Cumin (optional)
Ginger (optional)

Trim your meat of any fat you can. If you leave the fat on, be aware that your jerky won’t last as long since the fat will eventually go rancid. Once trimmed, stick that meat in the freezer for 2+ hours.

When you remove your meat, test to see how solid it is. If you could win a fight with it, let it thaw for up to an hour. You want it to be pretty solid, but just beginning to be pliable. This will make it easier to slice.

Cut it into 2-3” wide chunks for easier slicing. Keep an eye on the grain – for tougher jerky, you will be slicing with the grain. For meltier jerky, go against. Then, begin to slice. If using the mandoline, use the finger guard – or be ready to grow back a thumb. Also be careful as you throw your slices into a dish for marinating, because the mandoline makes them super thin. This won’t be as much of a problem with a basic knife. Just be sure it’s sharp first.

When your meat is thoroughly sliced, pile it all in one dish or plastic baggy and add your spices and red wine vinegar. Make sure you have at least a 1tbsp of salt in there and a 1/2tbsp pepper, but otherwise season to your heart’s content. Or look up another marinade recipe and go crazy. Just make sure the liquid covers the meat – if it’s in a dish, I usually add a little water to make this happen and better stir around the spices.

Allow to marinate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. Up to 24 is fine.

Now, pick an evening and turn your oven to it’s lowest setting. Ours goes to 170, which worked fine. Be aware that the thicker the cut, the longer this will take. For the mandoline sliced meats, they were perfectly crispy within 8 hours. Spread them out thinly on a pan with parchment paper or one of those super awesome baking mats. Make sure the vent for your oven is uncovered (lets the moisture escape better), then put them in and go to bed.

Wake up to delicious jerky! But be sure to let it cool and finish drying before you pack it away.

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Filed under AIP, helpful tips, paleo, recipe

April Goals & Writing

I have been so tired these last few days. Somehow I managed to sleep eleven hours straight Wednesday night, but I was still exhausted all of Thursday. Today is only a little better – at least I can get some work done while at work, instead of propping my head up and pretending I’m not asleep at my desk. Still fatigued, enough that it’s barely registered that we’ve not only reached the halfway point of April, but full on surpassed it. We are sailing through towards May.

With both the wedding and our first 2WW in April, I didn’t set too many goals because I knew we’d be distracted. What I did set, I thought was reasonable at the time. Keep lifting. Keep on with the PLP(H) program. Eat clean. Get plenty of rest. And finish those damn edits by mid-April.

I kept up with most of those, save for the physical goals during this past week due to the fatigue. But wow, have I fallen short of the mark for my edits. It is now three days past mid-April and I have at least 30+ pages left to edit. My hard deadline was May 1st, because I wanted to get the edits out to my betas asap after that. At the beginning of April, I had thought if I could forge ahead and finish two weeks earlier, then I’d have that extra time to finagle any last pieces wot needed finagling. Which is always the case, because what draft is ever perfect?

Alas, I didn’t edit or write at all while we were out of town and between that and the fatigue, my production and goals have been thoroughly walloped. Now I only have twelve days until my hard deadline. Twelve days and 30+ pages isn’t impossible. It shouldn’t even be that hard. But it’ll require ducking my head, blocking out the rest of the world, and focusing every chance I get.

Which means this weekend, between running a 5k, hiking up Tumamoc, baking hot cross buns, and assembling our food for the week, I have to carve out time to write. It’s funny how I’ve learned to make time for our weekly cook-ups, for thrice weekly lifting sessions, for runs, and for obsessing over TTC, but I still have trouble doing the same thing for writing, which is easily more important to me than all of the above. Why do you think that is?

It’s weirdly difficult to prioritize writing. I need to figure out why, because once I do I feel like I’ll have a better handle on my productivity.

In the meantime, I have some real motivation to finish these edits by May 1st. Not just to satisfy my betas, but also to just be done already. This story has been in my mind and my life off and on for well over a year now and I am itching to move on. I have other things to write, one of which just slammed into me with the force of a semi truck just this morning.

The lure of a new story is strong – everything is so shiny and fresh, and I get to build and listen to a whole new playlist. But first, I must finish this one. It’s like eating your liver before you can have cake, right?

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Paleo Autoimmune Protocol Reintroduction | Dairy

Technically, this week was just going to be cheese, but then I had a moment of weakness and chugged some whole milk, so it turned into dairy.

I started with cheese, though – stinky, pungent, wonderful blue cheese. I had tiny bits on my kale and on my burgers for three days, then I waited like a good AIP reintroduction-thing. Nothing happened – no gastrointestinal distress, no zits, no bloating. Felt absolutely fine. I only managed to wait two days before my milk binge, though, which I have to admit was the same day of my BFN. I might have been feeling a little down and frustrated with everything.

There is definitely a point one reaches, months into this reintroduction process, where you begin questioning the point of everything. I’ve gotten droll a few times, but never as bad as last week. You just get absolutely tired of restriction and wonder if shoving a pie in your face will or will not make all your efforts nil. Then you have milk instead, because the thought of redoing this process makes you physically ill.

I had that moment then, and then a few more times this weekend while we were attending my brother’s wedding in FL. Traveling on the AIP is no fun, even when you can have things like butter and seed spices. Then there was the cake and the pizza and the bagels and the cinnamon toast and the BBQ ribs, all so tantalizingly close and completely out of reach. I knew, logically, that by avoiding all that crud I would feel much better throughout the weekend and when we returned home. But oh, how it tempted.

So how did I survive the weekend away from our own fridge? Well, first I made sure there would be kitchens available, and then I hit up the local grocery store. I grabbed a bag of greens, ground pork, a sweet potato, an onion, some mushrooms, and some smoked salmon. I threw those together in various combinations for four meals while snacking on whatever fruit was available and the occasional sliced cheese.

For the plane, I spent some time the week before brainstorming snack ideas. I was most worried about this portion of the trip because airport food is notoriously… glutentastic. Also damn expensive. After making a long list of foods, we ended up bringing smoked salmon, cucumber slices, avocados, homemade beef jerky (recipe coming soon!), plain sliced roast beef, plantain chips, and dried mango slices. With a big breakfast beforehand, all of this got me through nine hours of driving and flying and layovers.

And the leftovers helped me get through dinner and breakfast the following morning. My only problem was that by the time we got home again on Monday, I was a little tired of the monotony of meat and greens. Since I knew dairy was fine, I might have had frozen yogurt for lunch on Monday. It was worth it.

Now back on the wagon - except not really, since I didn’t fall off it to begin with. Being home with all of our spices and own food is so much more relaxing than being on the road and wondering how/what I was going to eat next. I could not have done it without a few of the reintroductions – I had some cheese and yogurt and butter over the weekend, too. I can’t imagine traveling while still on the full AIP, although I know it’s been done.

Next on the reintroduction list is… I don’t know. I think I might try chocolate again this weekend. I’m a little weary to try nightshades when we will probably be TTCing again in the coming week. I actually don’t have many things left to reintroduce before we get into the non-paleo arena. Oh – I know. I’ll try rice flour this weekend. I want to make some hot cross buns for Easter, after all. :)

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Maybe Baby | DPO 19 and/or CD 6

Wow. Okay. Body, what are you doing?

You know how I mentioned that I thought the autoimmune protocol reintroduction process was going to be a whole lot more obvious and cut & dry than it was?

Yeah, I thought TTC with fresh donor sperm was going to be even more cut and dry. I mean, you’re either pregnant or you’re not, right? There’s two weeks and either you test and it’s positive or you get your period.

Except it’s really: or you test and it’s positive and a week later you get your period. Or you test and it’s negative and your period just keeps not coming so you test again and again and again until you start feeling nauseous and then it’s positive.

Or in my case: you test and it’s negative then you get your period but you don’t because it’s never been that light before and you google implantation bleeding and convince yourself that’s what it is but then for a few moments it starts to resemble your usual only to go back to that weird lightness and you google some more and you avoid drinking too much over the weekend because wtf is going on and then you decide you’ll just wait for all of this to clear up but then a week later you test again and it’s still negative but was that your period, was it really? And all the while you’re trying to make plans for your next attempt.

Wow. Really not nearly as cut and dry as I had expected.

Also, a question to my fellow TTCing lesbians: has the process been affecting your partner’s hormones as well? Because I thought I’d read somewhere about that but now I can’t find it, but my Lady, who used to set her watch by her cycle, is suddenly very irregular. Either I’m messing her up somehow, or this is a very weird coincidence.

In conclusion, I’m still not 100% sure I’m not pregnant – maybe closer to 97.8% – but we’re going to move ahead like I’m not. Gotta get back to trusting my body, I guess.

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Maybe Baby | 14 DPO & I Have No Bloody Clue Anymore

Okay guys, I really want to move on from this cycle, but my body is not letting me. I thought I started this morning, after two days of spotting, but instead it just turned into more spotting.

The internet tells me it could still be implantation spotting, even 14 days past. The internet also tells me it’s normal for said spotting to look like a very light period. But, the internet says that it’s normal to have a very light period after a TTC cycle. So. What.

Do I just not know yet? Should I maybe not drink gallons of wine tonight? Should I play it safe?

What are you doing, body?

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Filed under BFN, gaybies, TTC, two week wait

Maybe Baby | DPO 14 & BFN

I thought the two week wait was in the bag when we made it to seven, then ten days. But the last few days have been the absolute longest and hardest. I would’ve put money on not being pregnant a week ago, but not a few days ago. Part of that was getting a new thermometer – I tried the old one well after I’d waken up and been out and about, and it still registered the same temp, so I thought we might as well try a new one. I kept the new and old therms and took my temp for a few mornings and – lo and behold – the old one kept giving me the same number, but the new one gave me something else that made more sense.

So at least my temp hasn’t actually gone completely batshit throughout all this. That’s comforting.

Yesterday and the day before were really hard. I was done guessing. I just wanted to know. I resisted the urge to test early, even though I was having dreams about peeing on a stick. Testing early carried a higher chance of a false negative, and I knew if there was any chance I would test again anyway.

Then I started spotting DPO 12, but not the sort I normally get. I do spot a few days before my period, but I managed to convince myself that this had to be implantation spotting. When it continued on DPO13 and became much more like my usual, I was sad. Still, somehow, I held out hope.

But this morning: nope. I peed on a stick and made tea while I waited, to give the stick more than enough time, but it was a BFN. As if to really rub it in, my period started for real not too long after.

Wow, talk about TMI. Is that why all infertility talk is couched in acronyms? I just can’t stand the term Aunt Flo, so I’m not going to use it. Sorry (not sorry).

In the end, I am much more disappointed than I expected. Even knowing that it’s for the best, what with our December plans, even knowing it was a first try, even knowing the initial process could have been done a lot smoother and in a more ideal situation. We have years and years yet to try, the benefit of starting young, and even for fertile hetero couples actively TTCing, it can take up to six months and frequently does. And this way we can still visit family for the holidays. But…

But.

I think we all secretly harbor a hope that we’ll be the exception. That our tubes are special, our bodies especially fertile, and that we could conceive during a hurricane, upside down in a pool. Having that hope shattered is humbling, especially if you tried to be rational about the whole thing and still couldn’t shake that hope. It is also depressing, because so much as you tried to get it through your thick skull that this could end up taking a very long time, it’s only then that it finally slides past knowing to knowing.

This morning I will let myself mourn. I’ll drink my tea and listen to the birds and let go of what could have been. Try to accept what is, even if that means forcibly shoving away every “but wait maybe-!” thought.

Tonight, however, we will celebrate. With wine. And cheese. This is the start of a new cycle, after all, and a new opportunity. Mostly to drive ourselves crazy.

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Filed under BFN, gaybies, TTC, two week wait