Sunday, June 30, 2013

Paleo On Steroids: The Auto-Immune Protocol Diet Helps Me Manage My MS

Turkey, Kale, Spinach, and Onion Meat Pucks 
with Garlic, Thyme, Rosemary, and Salt
Wild Alaskan Salmon sauteed in Olive Oil over Kale 
and Broccolini with Dill and Green Onion
I’ve been following the Auto-Immune Protocol (AIP) by lately, and I can tell the food choices are helping.  I’ve been less bloated, my throat isn’t sore all the time, and I’ve had less numbness.  This is the first year I haven’t had an exacerbation in the spring even though my life has been more stressful.  I know yoga plays a major role in keeping my head straight, and I think diet is tipping my health to a better level. 

Pork with Rosemary, Thyme, Olive Oil and Broccolini
I’ve taken to calling AIP “Paleo on Steroids” because there are a lot of foods that are Paleo that aren’t allowed on the AIP including eggs, nuts, seeds, nightshades and alcohol. When I’m asked what I can eat, I answer fish, meat, fruits and veggies. And water.

There was a day when I wouldn’t have thought I could give up cheese and crackers, ice cream, bread, or pasta.  Over the years, I tried lots of diets (vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free) but I never felt any better.  After seeing a naturopath doctor and getting a food sensitivity test, I found that a lot of the substitutes I made weren’t right for my body.  And they were foods that are good for others – soy, almonds, and cranberries among others.  The test also confirmed dairy, gluten, and yeast aren’t doing me any favors. The proof foods were affecting me came when I deleted them from my diet and my constantly sore throat of four years subsided.

Trying to find anything premade without yeast, soy, dairy, gluten, nuts, seeds, or eggs and that leaves out my own food sensitivities is nearly impossible.  Fortunately I love to cook and had already incorporated a lot of habits that were easy to modify.  I make green smoothies every morning and split it into thirds to have with each meal.  I bring my lunch to work so I’m not scrambling to find something during the lunch hour.  When I cook, I make extra servings so I can have them for lunch the next day.

Melon and Pomegranate Seeds
Under the AIP, I started making meat pucks as I like to call them.  If I want to be fancy, they’re individual meat loaves or muffins.  I cook a couple dozen at a time and keep them in the fridge.  A bonus is my husband loves having something prepared to eat ready in the fridge. 

Raspberry Coconut Sorbet
Canned coconut milk with frozen raspberries blended
The hardest items for me to avoid?  Coffee and chocolate.  Family visited last week, and I relaxed my food choices and drank lots of coffee and more alcohol than none.  I drank my coffee with coconut milk which is better for me, but I’m kidding myself when I rationalize it.  I definitely feel better when I avoid coffee, but I love it and will use any excuse to have it.

Fortunately, I’ve found easy to make treats that satisfy me. Dried fruit (figs, mango, pineapple slices, pears and peaches) with large shredded coconut is a go-to snack, turkey or salmon jerky are great when I’m hiking, and cut up veggies help keep me from snacking on too much dried fruit. I know dried fruit is just like sugar in my system, but I’ll tackle one habit at a time! 

Stacie’s Banana Pudding
One banana mashed, raisins, coconut and cinnamon mixed 

and heated in the microwave for 30 seconds.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Keep Doing What You're Doing: Coping With MS Through Constant Learning and Adaptation

What do you do when you want to feel better?  Ask your doctor?  Search the web? Read a book? Ask friends? For me the answer is Yes, and more.  Gorge on information, assess it, and incorporate what makes sense for me.

In 2008 I learned I had Multiple Sclerosis, and this information threw my reality for a loop.  I thought I was super healthy, and suddenly doctors were consistent in their diagnosis of MS.  I knew nothing of MS.  My first question was, "Are you sure?"  They were positive it was.  The second was, "Is it fatal?" Thankfully the answer is no.

I sought out and soaked up any and all information I could find on MS hoping to learn what to expect, how to prepare, and how to slow the disease as much as possible.  Imagine my combination of frustration and pride when I would go to the neurologist and his advice was, "Keep doing what you're doing."

Yes, I was doing well, but I wanted more.  I wanted to feel better. I wanted to understand my body and be able to recognize what helped and hurt it.  It was like I had a new piece of equipment and no owner's manual. There's plenty of information out there, but none compiled and complete for me to trust, use and apply to me.  Due to the unpredictable nature of MS and the different symptoms each person experiences, it's not possible to have one universal guidebook that will help everyone.  I just wanted a simple set of guidelines that I can follow and know I'll stay healthy, cognizant and mobile.

I'd still love to have someone else hand over a bound copy of my personal health instructions, but I'd place the odds at less than winning the Power Ball jackpot. I've taken to creating my own. It's a way to capture what I am doing to optimize my health, what measures help me when I have pitfalls, and what I would like to do to improve my health.  So far it's a haphazard go-to guide to remind me what's worked in the past, what is a possible solution, and what keeps me going. It works wonderfully when I remember to look at it.