Hi! My name is Stephanie. I am 26 years old and I live in Madison, Wisconsin. I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 17 and Hashimoto’s at 23. My doctors’ also suspect Celiac disease, but since testing involves eating gluten we decided it wasn’t worth testing for since I would never eat gluten again.
Before starting AIP, I was giving myself a weekly shot of an immunosuppressant starting at age 19. It took me half an hour every week to talk myself into wanting to inject myself with methotrexate. I hated feeling like I had no control over my health and that I was subjecting myself to possibly getting cancer, but I felt like I needed it because it allowed me to function with less pain and feel more “normal”.
At my worst, just about a year and a half ago, I had to use crutches to get around because I had developed RA in one of the toe joints on my foot along with my knee and couldn’t walk without wanting to cry. On top of dealing with the pain, I was struggling with feeling extremely fatigued and having lots of digestive issues. This was the last straw for me. I was sick of feeling helpless and decided I didn’t want to feel like this the rest of my life and began researching natural treatments for autoimmune diseases and dietary changes to see what other options were out there. That’s when I came across The Paleo Mom, Mickey Trescott’s website autoimmune-paleo.com, and Eileen Laird’s website phoenixhelix.com. I read everything I could get my hands on and became very excited in reading their success stories. I decided January 1st of 2014 I was going to start the Autoimmune Protocol cold turkey.
I am not going to tell you that sticking with AIP is easy all the time because it is not, but it is definitely worthwhile. The first three months were by far the hardest for me to stick with it, but that is also when I started seeing results. My pain levels dropped dramatically and I wasn’t tired all the time and finally had energy again. By 6 months, my pain levels had dropped even more and most days I wasn’t even in pain. After a year being on AIP, I feel like me again. It is so wonderful to not feel like an 80 year old arthritic woman in the morning and feel like you are being held back because of your disease. I didn’t miss the way I used to eat, there are so many wonderful blogs with recipes out there that if I do have a craving for something I can make it AIP. However, I do still occasionally have minor flares, but they are manageable without needing any pain relief medications and it is usually after I eat something my body doesn’t approve of or when I haven’t gotten enough sleep or am going through a stressful time in my life. I have found that these flares usually resolve themselves in two weeks and I have found that acupuncture really helps to lessen the symptoms.
It has helped my healing journey to have people who supported me like my family and my husband who kept me on track even when I was ready to give in to a bite of chocolate. I found it particularly difficult to always have to prepare food even when I was exhausted and just wanted to relax. I find it very helpful to plan out my meals for the week to ensure we have enough veggies and a variety of meat in the house. I also love leftovers and my crock pot is an amazing time saver! Both are real time savers for your busy evenings. Incorporating organ meat, probiotics (kombucha and prescript assist), homemade bone broth, getting enough sleep, and stress management have been instrumental in my healing journey. I try to have organ meat 3-4 times per week. I drink kombucha and take a probiotic daily and try to drink at least one pint of bone broth per day. I try to get at least 8 hours of sleep per night preferably more and try to find time to relax every night.
AIP has been a life changing experience for me. I no longer need to take my immunosuppressant. I have been off of it for a year, but continue to take the thyroid replacement hormone as my body cannot produce enough on its own. I have gone from being in severe pain 24/7 and physically and mentally exhausted all the time to having the energy to do whatever I want pain free… 95% of the time. My husband and I took our honeymoon in the UK in early October and we walked everywhere! We even hiked Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, Scotland! It was amazing! This is something I never would have dreamed about before AIP because just walking around the grocery store was enough to make me want to cry. I highly suggest if you are thinking about starting AIP for your autoimmune diseases to give it a try. It may seem like a lot of work, but once you get the hang of AIP it really becomes more of a lifestyle and you appreciate the preparation that goes into your food as it is helping to heal your body.