I shared recently how I’ve been on the Autoimmune Protocol Diet (AIP) for the last month, and why I am continuing it. I am so blessed by all of the emails and comments from you all. I loved hearing from those of you “in the trenches” like me as we try to untangle our health issues, and also from those of you who have successfully overcome your health problems using dietary help.
It reminded me how many people struggle with ill-health. Not the occasional cold, but the chronic issues that affect your everyday. That can be hard – very hard at times. It can be even more frustrating when you are trying so hard to eat well and still deal with a variety of health issues.
Sometimes the fact that you eat so well, but still aren’t completely healthy is used against you. “Look at so-and-so! They eat the healthiest of everyone, but they still deal with x, y, and z.” I know for a fact that there are many people (including food bloggers, and health coaches) that can keep their struggles hidden, because of this type of reaction.
And I think that’s sad.
I know for myself that I became interested in eating well because of my health issues, and the improvement I saw when eating well. It doesn’t mean that I’ve solved all of my issues, but rather that they have helped me improve (at times, dramatically). But if you are eating really well, and you still aren’t well, what are you to do?
Obviously, I know the feeling. Because I know so many of you are in that position, I wanted to share what has been helpful to me so far in this journey. I hope that my story gives a little help to you as well!
I’d love to hear from you in the comment section as well! Are you in this position currently, or were you able to solve in the past?
Consult with Doctor/Naturopath
I’m all for gaining as much knowledge as I can, and doing a lot of things DIY. But there are some things that need a doctor’s care. I’ve tried to work with holistically minded ones and have greatly benefited from the experience. First, they helped run blood panels and other testing to make sure we weren’t dealing with anything more serious (diabetes, cancer, etc.). Getting thorough blood testing was what helped me discover for the first time that I had very low iron stores, and that the majority of my symptoms could be linked to it.
This doesn’t mean that my experience has been perfect. And it doesn’t mean that I found a great doctor right away, but the effort I took to consult with them has been worth the trouble in many ways.
(Now, if we could only solve the issue of health insurances and how expensive it can be to get proper preventative health care, I’d really be happy!)
Is your healthy diet the right one for you?
It is possible that the version of a healthy diet that you are on, simply isn’t the right diet for you. If you are sensitive to dairy, for example, going on a version of the Weston A. Price diet that is dairy-rich may not be the best choice for you. That’s what I found to be true for me. For some, the GAPS diet didn’t give enough carbohydrates to thrive long-term. We all know that there are broad sweeping dietary guidelines that people choose to follow (vegan, vegetarian, paleo, etc.), but also know that there are many variations within those guidelines as well. This leads me to my next point of consideration.
Consider a healing diet that fits your needs
For me, I was able to see the most dramatic difference when I cut out foods that were chronically aggravating my digestion and causing inflammation. I know that if I keep certain foods out of my diet, I always fare better. This simple step has made all of the difference in the world, for many. Some find out what foods bother them by allergy testing, or food intolerance testing (a topic full of controversy), others by food journaling, or by food elimination diets (one of the food elimination diets it the AIP diet, by the way).
Once again, personally, what I have found is that a lower-carb (but not too low), vegetable-rich and protein filled diet seems to be a sweet spot for me. Being on the AIP diet right now means just slight variations on what I’ve tried before in the past.
If on a healing diet, are you following the protocol correctly?
I think it is also important to note that sometimes we don’t always give a healing protocol a chance because we don’t follow it correctly. For example, I got through the holiday season on the AIP diet mostly just trying to stay within the “dos and don’ts” of the diet, but I knew that wasn’t the whole picture. To fully see if the diet will work for me, I need also to make sure I am eating enough seafood, and getting all of those vegetables in, for example. Those details can make a big difference in your success with them.
Look at your life holistically
Making good dietary steps is just one step towards a healing lifestyle. Stress and sleep both play a giant role in your overall health. As does exercise, and emotional health. Diet can affect all of those other aspects and vice versa. Everything is connected, and we can’t just look at one aspect of our lives and expect everything to be okay when we don’t have healthy habits elsewhere.
For me, working on getting better sleep (hard with children, I know), getting more active, and working on stress levels are all part of my goals just as much as my AIP diet. (Related: Why Sleep is so Important, and the Mattress that Helped me Get it, and 11 research-driven ways to get better sleep).
Root Causes Matter
I know that if I don’t solve the why behind my iron issues, that I will continue to have to take more drastic measures to improve my health (in my case, that means iron transfusions). I could eat as much protein and vegetables as I possibly could, and still feel horrible if my iron issues aren’t corrected. Often undiagnosed health issues are what is at root for health issues. I know people who have gone a decade or more suffering ill health and being dismissed by their doctors, only to find out that they were celiac or had Lymes disease. (Related: To the Suffering Undiagnosed, I Know You aren’t Crazy).
Sometimes further testing, and help from qualified health professional will (finally!) offer you help in a long journey, and when that happens, it is wonderful, for it gives clarity and real help.
What about you? I’d love to hear about where you are at, and your healing stories too! What made the difference for you?