Tag Archives: autoimmune protocol reintroduction

Paleo AIP Reintroduction Part: Eggs | Redux Redux’ed

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January of last year I did 30 days strict of the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol. In the subsequent six months I spent a lot of time reintroducing foods to figure out what had been causing several nasty skin problems, but in particular an inexplicable skin rash.

After those six months, it was fairly evident that I had a big problem with nightshades and eggs. Nightshades give me boils, but eggs were behind the skin rash. When I first reintroduced them, I felt sick, and a few days later I had new patches of rash. I waited a good five months before trying again. The reaction this time was even worse and I dealt with a very large rash on my leg for several months.

I didn’t touch eggs again after that. Not whole, not the whites, not the yolks, not cooked or baked or glazed.

At least, not until about six weeks ago.

I had just been told by the doctor that I had PCOS. I had just started metformin. I was super bummed about food because honestly, low carb without eggs is pretty hard. Every recipe I looked at had eggs. And I found myself craving them hardcore at the exclusion of meats and vegetables.

So I caved and I had one. Just one. And it tasted amazing, but I knew I was going to pay for it within a few days. But I waited a few days and nothing happened, then I waited a few more and had another egg. Still nothing.

It’s now been six weeks and I’ve eaten an egg or two more days than not. Every morning I check my body all over for the telltale bright pink flare of a new rash and I find nothing. The original rash is now nothing but the biopsy scar.

I can hardly believe it. But I guess it makes sense? This came on suddenly, after all, and the AIP says some allergies can go away if you give them enough time. It’s even possible that something else was interacting with the eggs to make me allergic to them and, given enough time, that allergy has healed.

Either way, being able to eat eggs again has made sticking to low carb so much easier. I can actually eat out. I can eat at friends’ places. When we go to Switzerland in a few weeks (three?!) I’ll be able to find something filling and nutritious to eat.

Nightshades, though, are still a definite no. In my excitement with eggs, I tried tomatoes and nightshade spices and both gave me horrible boils. I’m still healing from them and they’ve been a painful reminder to Stay the Fuck Away.

But eggs! Omg eggs! It gives me hope yet that someday I’ll be able to eat tomatoes again.

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Paleo Autoimmune Protocol Reintroduction | Duck Eggs

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After the sadness that was confirming my sensitivity to regular ol’ chicken eggs, I remembered some snippets of info I had run across during my extensive reading on the AIP that some people, while intolerant of chicken eggs, can, in fact, tolerate the eggs of other fowl beasts. Chicken eggs, for some odd reason, have allergens that are specific to only them, whereas the rest of the feathery kingdom are fine & dandy. Water fowl, specifically, are thought to be the least problematic.

I actually tried out guinea hen eggs about a month ago with no ill effect, but the guy who sold them to us has since disappeared entirely from the farmer’s market. That’s all right, ’cause they are kinda small and expensive, to be honest. Then one fine Sunday we were picking up our meat share when I spotted a “duck eggs $5/doz” sign. Considering in the past I’d only ever seen duck eggs going for $5 a half dozen, this was a steal. So we grabbed them. And I tried them.

I had the first egg two weeks ago now and, as far as I can tell, I haven’t developed any new rashes. I didn’t do as careful an inventory beforehand as I should have, so I’m not 100% sure, but there have been no big, glaring, obvious changes like there were with chicken eggs. I’ve only been having one or two, three times a week (vs the 3/day I’d been doing with chicken eggs), and I’m going to keep it at that rate for another week or two and keep checking for rashes.

My preliminary conclusion, though, is that they’re okay. They bake well and make a delicious breakfast, so double plus. Considering my history of reintroductions, though, I’m going to remain cautious with this. The inexplicable skin rash is so, so sensitive, so if it doesn’t continue on its healing path as it has been doing these past few months, I’ll stop eating duck eggs.

But! I definitely think once the rash is completely gone, duck eggs will be on the menu. Maybe not quite a staple like eggs became, but an occasional breakfast treat.

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Paleo Autoimmune Protocol Reintroduction | Tomatoes

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I’ve finally started the process of sussing out exactly which, if any, nightshades I might tolerate. Since we have a super abundant tomato plant in our garden, it seemed most reasonable to start with tomatoes. Not only could I add a few fresh tomatoes to my salads, but I could smother a gf pizza with homemade tomato sauce and enjoy.

First, these are fresh, local, organic, etc etc tomatoes, so if I’m going to have an issue with them, I’m going to have an issue with all tomatoes. That’s always a good place to start.

Second, I have steered clear of all nightshades the last few weeks and the boils I get had completely cleared up. For this experiment, I continued to steer clear of all other nightshades, including that sneaky, pesky paprika. I could go on at length about how much I have come to loathe paprika, or at least the way it pops up in the most random of places, but I’ll leave that for another day.

So, the test. The Sunday before last I made a pizza at home using all our own ingredients to limit a potential sneak attack by paprika (*shakes fist*). On Monday and Tuesday I included at least one whole, sliced tomato in my lunch salad. Then I sat back and waited.

In the past with nightshades, I’ve noticed a reaction about a week later, usually in the form of painful boils in uncomfortable places. So I thought I would have a whole week to wait before anything showed up.

Not so. By Thursday of that same week – four days from the first tomato – I already had a nasty little boil. Thankfully, just the one, but it has made biking to work uncomfortable, even almost a full week later. I think it decided to erupt on top of a nerve, which certainly hasn’t helped.

So, that’s fairly definitive. I haven’t had any boils for going on almost two months (that was the last time I had all the nightshades), but within a week of eating tomatoes I get one. I think I might still duplicate this experiment with tomatoes, just to be abso-fucking-lutely certain – but I’m already fairly convinced that in addition to having a sensitivity to eggs, I am also sensitive to tomatoes.

But! On the positive side, three servings of tomatoes only resulted in one kinda painful boil, instead of, say, the full on eruption and agony I have had in the past. So although I will mostly steer clear of tomatoes, at least I know what to expect if I slip up or indulge. It still sucks because I fucking love salsa and pizza and tacos, but I can survive.

Next on my list – probably this weekend, if this boil is completely gone by then – will be paprika, because seriously. You can’t even find hot dogs that don’t have paprika. Mustard! Has! Paprika! And don’t get me started on the number of pre-made foods that simply list “spices.” If I ever find them, I will punch – in the face – whoever allowed producers to get away without listing all those damn spices on the ingredients.

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Paleo Autoimmune Protocol Reintroduction | Eggs Redux

I haven’t been blogging much about the autoimmune protocol partially because there’s not much left to report on and partially because my current diet is more normal paleo than AIP. That is, minus nightshades and eggs.

Before last week, the last time I’d had eggs was February. At the time, I tried just the yolks from our own chickens’ eggs, carefully rinsing each one and saving the whites for Lady. I had them plain for breakfast and tried them baked in a coconut cake. Each time they left me with indigestion, like I’d swallowed a brick instead of eggs. Within the week, my inexplicable skin rash had spread. It was a no go. But I held out hope.

One portion of the AIP protocol is to try, try again. Sometimes a food that caused a reaction after the initial 30-day phase will lessen in its severity months or years down the line. You just keep it out and eat a nutrient-dense diet and hope. So I knew I’d be trying eggs again.

I’d originally planned to wait until the rash went away entirely. Last week was supposed to be another jab at nightshades – specifically tomatoes. But I looked at all those eggs on our counter and I stared into the fridge at my dearth of breakfast options and said fuck it. I was going to try eggs again.

This time, however, would be different. This time I knew that the yolk alone could be problematic, so I wouldn’t bother separating out the whites. This time I would try to keep it as simple as possible and just have one egg. Just one. For three days. Three eggs total! That couldn’t hurt. Right?

At first: no. With the whole egg – and just one egg – I didn’t feel like I’d swallowed a brick. I felt fine, actually. No reaction at all. I began to get my hopes up.

You can already tell where this is going, can’t you?

And then. And then. A week later I was shaving my legs and I noticed a raised red dot. I ran my finger across it, felt the telltale roughness. On my shoulder when I removed my shirt the next day: another. The rashes on my wrist and torso were fading, but here were new inexplicable rashes. The first new ones in months.

Dismay. Disbelief.

Then frustration. Annoyance. Outright anger.

Finally, acceptance.

I am allergic to eggs, even soy-free, grain-free, corn-free, organic backyard chicken eggs. I could try duck eggs – might, someday – but right now they’re too expensive and difficult to find here.

I’ll try again in another six months, but I’m not really holding out hope.

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Paleo Autoimmune Protocol | The Next Step

I’ve reintroduced seeds, dairy, nuts, eggs, chocolate, coffee, alcohol, corn, rice, sorghum, and nightshades. Eggs, chocolate, and nightshades are still on my shit list, but everything else has been fine. My diet only resembles the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol in spirit now – I still focus on nutrient density, I drink broth daily, try to get in my organs weekly, and avoid (almost) everything processed. I still aim to get 8+ hours of sleep a night and move a lot during the day. I’m working on meditation and have been writing in my journal most mornings since January. But I’m eating dairy, nuts, and seeds semi-regularly.

I feel like I’ve reached an equilibrium. I know for certain now what doesn’t cause a problem for me, and I have a pretty keen idea about what does. The problem lies in that with the remaining few items on my shit list, I’m not completely confident about what’s doing what. Eggs appear to be behind my inexplicable skin rash, but I’m waiting until it’s completely cleared before trying them again. Chocolate appears to make me irritable and depressed, but since that comes a day or two later, it’s difficult to pinpoint for sure. And nightshades (even spices) appear to be behind my HS boils, but again, since those don’t pop up for a few days – and up to a week – later, there’s still room for denial.

With chocolate and nightshades, I’m in a holding pattern. I’m not yet willing to say I’ll never eat them again, but I am carefully introducing them and avoiding them in cycles, seeing if I can eke out exactly what dose equals what response and if any small amount is safe, ever. I might have gotten impatient two weeks ago and had a big ol’ salad from Chipotle which was rife with nightshades, only to acquire a few small and relatively painless boils a week later. They haven’t developed beyond that, so I’m starting to wonder if I might tolerate nightshades somewhat in small and infrequent amounts.

Basically, I know what is most likely to cause me problems and I’m pushing at the edges of my reactions. This will probably go on for a few months as I test amounts and well as individual things. It will be tedious, I’m sure, but I want to know exactly what I can get away with. Nightshades and chocolate aren’t exactly the easiest things to avoid in social situations, especially since the nightshade category covers so many things – it’s easy to forget one or two when asking about ingredients, as well as easy for them to forget one or two when telling you. Especially when it comes to paprika.

Meanwhile, I’m playing around a bit with macronutrient ratios, inspired by Petra’s own experimentation with the Wahl’s Protocol Plus. While I am extremely intrigued with the idea of eating a ton more fat, while eating less in general and thereby saving money on groceries, I’m not keen on messing with my diet too much while also in the middle of TTC. Big diet changes = big hormonal changes, which would make an already unpredictable cycle even worse. So I’ll just have to save trying that protocol out for later or a longer TTC break.

But I am playing with eating more fat in general and slowly decreasing some of my carbs and protein. Not anything extreme, just subbing out one snack for another here and shifting my macros so that most of my carbs are at night. Right now I have a few meatballs and a boatload of greens for breakfast, coupled with a mug of chicken broth and a piece of coconut fudge. The fudge has replaced the cup (or two) of fruit I have in the morning, as well as any additional snacks like nuts or plantain chips. Lunch is usually protein with a lot of vegetables and a small amount of carbs and fat. Dinner is more often than not light, and mostly protein and carbs. My biggest carb load is definitely at the end of the day, although I try to have some after my workout on lifting days.

I’ve been doing this for the past two weeks and so far like this set-up. All the fat and protein in the morning keeps me full from breakfast (7:30am) until lunch (1pm, sometimes 2pm now). I don’t need to snack if I eat enough for breakfast, which is amazing because I’d had trouble breaking my mid-morning snack habit during previous Whole30’s and the AIP. Lunch keeps me churning until I get home, and then I’m usually only a little hungry – not ravenous and cranky like I used to be.

Energy-wise, I still need to do some tweaking. My mornings are great, but I hit a low about an hour after lunch every day. It could just be my natural circadian rhythm, but if I can decrease the amount I’m yawning at my desk, that would be awesome.

I might have to shuttle all my carbs to the end of the day – except for workouts. That will require some more planning, and maybe some more coconut fudge. Also as I begin incorporating commuting by bike into my weekly schedule, I’ll have to figure out the best way to add more calories. More fat? More carbs? I don’t know, but I’ll play with both.

I do know that low carb lifestyles don’t work as well for women as they do for men, so carbs will remain a beloved part of my diet. I’m just mostly playing with timing at this point.

Timing with nightshades, timing with carbs, timing with everything.

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Paleo Autoimmune Protocol Reintroduction | Corn (Tortilla)

I know last reintro post I said I was going to do tomatoes next, but that had been passed on my wrong assumption that our garden tomatoes were already ripe. Alas, they are green as can be, while our zucchini are already monsters. You can check out those crazy huge zucchini over at my wife’s blog.

Instead I decided to try corn, since I’ve been wanting to stop with the cabbage leaf tacos and have some real tacos for once. Well, real minus the nightshade everything. So not truly real, but I can pretend. Right?

I made sure the ingredients were mostly simple and clean and – most importantly – that the corn had been treated with lime, a process called nixtamalization. This makes the corn way more nutritious and things like B3, calcium, and protein more bioavailable by severely reducing the phytic acid, an antinutrient that blocks the absorption of more beneficial nutrients. It also reduces mycotoxin, which is a nasty byproduct of mold that shows up in all sorts of grains and legumes in small, but still potentially irritating, quantities.

Basically, if I’m going to be able to eat corn, then nixtamalized corn will be the most likely candidate.

So I felt pretty confident grabbing a corn tortilla and loading it up with chunks of meatballs and a wee bit of brie. I ate it, then was still hungry and ate another. Surely corn was going to be fine for me. I used to eat tons of corn tortillas back in the day.

Not so much.

Within thirty minutes, I felt like I’d eaten a brick. Within an hour, I was severely sick to my stomach, so much that I wished I didn’t have such an iron stomach and could actually throw up. We had to walk to the farmer’s market at that point to pick up our meat CSA and meet a friend, and every bit of the way was just awful. It didn’t clear up until early afternoon, and even then I didn’t have much of an appetite.

It was as bad, if not worse, than when I had the egg yolks. I’m more than a bit surprised by how bad my reaction was, because I was convinced it would be an easy peasy reintroduction. Well, that’s what I get for not being careful. I was going to be incredibly slow and careful with the tomatoes, but I should have remembered to do the same here. You’d think I would have learned my lesson by now about unexpected reactions what with yolks & chocolate. Alas, sometimes I am not smart.

So no corn, at least for now. I’ll be curious to see if it effects my skin problems over the rest of the week. If it doesn’t, then I may occasionally allow myself small bits of corn, knowing that I won’t feel well for a little while afterwards. But if it does, then it goes on my strict avoidance list.

In the meantime, I’ll be watching our tomatoes and willing them to ripen.

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Paleo Autoimmune Protocol Reintroduction | Chocolate & Coffee (Redux)

The last time I tried chocolate, I got depressed, my skin became itchy, my rashes flared, and my gut got super unhappy. I wanted to blame everything but the chocolate, but considering it was the only new thing in my diet and life, it was difficult to remain in denial. So I put chocolate on the back burner to try again another day.

That day came (almost) two weeks ago, right before we TTC’ed for a second time. I thought it was an appropriate time to try again and for this second reintroduction, I heeded your warnings and stuck to just one bar of Alter Eco chocolate over the weekend. For a few days I felt fine. Then the whole confusion with my body and the second period – but maybe not a period? – thing blew up and I hit depression, hard. I had my first mild panic attack in years and then everything became hopeless and bleak. It was awful.

When my depression finally broke, the thought crossed my mind that I should mark it down as a possible cycle symptom. This reminded me of the last time I’d gotten that depressed, and I remembered the last time I’d had chocolate.

The click of evidence lining up was as loud as a gunshot.

I googled chocolate and depression, because it seemed counterintuitive that the two could be linked in anything but an inverse relationship. Lo and behold, a lot of people reported having the same thing happen to them. Although it felt good to confirm that this was a real thing, I also felt , well, sad.

Considering the other circumstances at the time, I’m not yet ready to definitively say that chocolate makes me depressed, but it’s looking more than probable. I will give chocolate one last chance in another month and if it happens again, then, well, I’ll know for absolute certain.

I can at least feel better that during the chocolate reintroduction, my rashes and gut stayed happy.

As for coffee, I began reintroducing that in small quantities again three weeks ago. My HS has not flared since, even after having a nice big cup of joe around my brother’s wedding. I think I can squarely place the blame on the nightshade spices which I had reintroduced the week before. I have been scrupulously avoiding those, and neither rash nor HS has gotten worse since. Phew.

In fact, the inexplicable skin rash is still fading. Just slowly. On a week to week basis, I can see a difference. I just need to stop staring at it every day.

So with coffee, I have added all dairy, seed spices, and nuts to my AIP diet. I’m taking the plunge with tomatoes next week, although I have to admit I’m a little nervous. Since we’re not in the middle of a TTC cycle, and our tomato plants are ripening, I figure this is the best time to try. I’m not sure how wise this decision is considering nightshade spices were iffy, but I am ready to try and I don’t know when I’ll be mentally ready again.

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