The Autoimmune Protocol and Gut Healing Diet is a stricter version of the Paleo diet with a focus on incorporating gut healing foods such as fermented foods and bone broth. Basically, the diet eliminates any foods that may cause a person inflammation, then after the 30 days you start reintroducing foods one by one and track your body’s reaction to each food. I decided to try this diet after years of feeling exhausted and not receiving relief from my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis symptoms such as fatigue, bloating, weight gain, and digestive issues. Once I was on medication and my thyroid was stabilized, I continued to have these symptoms. I’ve talked to many endocrinologists about my symptoms and basically each doctor has said most patients with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis don’t ever recover fully from their symptoms. I never thought to question my doctor or look into alternative medicine options, so I learned to live with my symptoms.
During my yoga therapy teacher training I learned a lot about different forms of medicine by reading, talking with people in my program, and experiencing the positive effects of alternative medicine firsthand. During this time, I met many people with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and talked to them about their experiences. I actually ran into a woman who is a holistic nutritionist with Hashimoto’s, and after eliminating grains and dairy from her diet, her symptoms disappeared. I’ve experimented with many different diets for a number of reasons and for sustained periods of time. I’ve been vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, and gluten-free. Still, I couldn’t imagine giving up cheese, pasta, sushi, and pizza!
After talking with this holistic nutritionist, I started thinking about the foods I was eating and how I felt after I ate them. After eating gluten I felt exhausted, I have literally taken a 2 hour nap after eating a sandwich. When I eat dairy I feel bloated and tired. I started recognizing my triggers, however I wasn’t ready to stop eating these foods. In the fall, I went to my endocrinologist for my yearly appointment and wanted to discuss my options to reduce my symptoms. She wasn't receptive to discussing a grain and dairy free diet and said that my levels are normal and there is nothing else either of us can do to relieve my symptoms. I was stuck, I wasn’t motivated enough to make a drastic lifestyle change and my doctor wasn’t supportive or optimistic about my ability to get any relief from my symptoms, so I kept eating grains and dairy. My symptoms progressively got worse and worse. I started feeling really depleted and knew I needed to make a change. After the holidays I decided to go grain and dairy free, but to be realistic about this diet I would allow myself to not worry about keeping my diet when I went out to eat. Some weeks I would eat dairy and grains and other weeks I wouldn’t, but I wasn’t fully committed and it really didn’t help relieve my symptoms.
After doing hours and hours of research, I decided I needed to make a drastic lifestyle change. I started to detox my life of toxins which is a lengthy process and takes a lot of time and dedication (which will be a different blog post!). I decided to fully commit to the 30 day elimination diet in the hopes my symptoms would subside. After much thought and consideration I wanted to optimize my body's ability to heal, which means I needed to incorporate bone broth into my 30 day diet. I haven't eaten meat in 7 years for ethical, personal, and environmental reasons. I really struggled with this decision. I did a lot of research and found bone broth is one of the best foods to heal your body. I wanted to incorporate this food in a way that felt right for me, which meant making bone broth from scratch using the bones of animals from a local farmers market.
Before I started the 30 day diet, I wanted to discuss this diet with an open-minded doctor to get their professional opinion, make sure this diet was healthy for my body, and to get blood tests done. So after a few hours of research (some great resources to look up and read reviews about doctors are healthgrades and zocdoc) I found a new endocrinologist, who seemed promising and made an appointment with her. We discussed her opinion on the 30 day diet, alternative medications, and I got blood tests done. She wasn't thrilled about the diet and doesn't believe there is much that can be done to relieve my symptoms, but she's willing to work with me. We both wanted to track my progress, so I just got more blood tests done today (which is the halfway point) and I will get blood tests done at the end of my diet. I'll keep you updated on my results.
I am a little more than half way through my diet. The first week was a huge adjustment, and I learned the best routine for my schedule. The second week I had my period and I’m always exhausted and hungry during that week, which made the diet even more challenging. During the second week, when I felt really hungry I would eat some nuts. I'm currently in the beginning of my third week and I’m feeling really tired, but not as hungry (it’s also been raining the past few days which doesn’t help my fatigue). The symptoms I've seen the most improvement have been: bloating, digestive issues, and weight gain. However, one of my most notable symptoms, fatigue, isn't always reduced. Some days I feel so energized and other days I take naps after work. Throughout this diet I haven’t been working out, in order to give my body time to heal and rest. I am working hard to follow the diet, but I am listening to my body and making any necessary adjustments.
Below are the guidelines for the 30 Day Autoimmune Protocol and Gut Healing Diet:
Foods You Can Eat:
Most organic vegetables - which include leafy greens, asparagus, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, fennel, squash, winter squash, beets, carrot, celeriac, jicama, onions, parsnip, turnip, radish, sweet potato, plantain, and zucchini.
Wild caught fish
Avocado oil/ avocado
Berries and non-tropical fruits
Fermented foods - sauerkraut, pickles, etc.
Most organic meats
Low-glycemic organic fruits
Coconut oil/ coconut
Non-seed based herbs and spices
Foods You Should Avoid:
Beans and legumes
Nightshades - which include peppers, eggplant, white potatoes, tomatoes, and goji berries
Sugars - including honey and agave
Canned foods, processed foods, coffee
High glycemic index foods
Nuts and seeds
I'll be sure to keep you all updated on my progress! Have you done this diet before? Share your experience or any tips below!