autoimmune diseaseHello!  I’m Jen, a stay-home diva and author of the blog my BIG FAT grain free life. I began a grain-free journey several years ago on behalf of my daughter suffering from inflammatory bowel disease. In a desperate attempt to heal her intestines by reducing inflammation and repairing leaky gut, we decided to cut out grains, refined sugar, casein and soy.  We had already gone the gluten free route, but it just wasn’t enough to bring the healing she needed.  We followed the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (a/k/a SCD) very carefully and were thrilled as she began to improve. Instead of staying up in the night with intestinal pain and the gory details that accompany it, she began sleeping through the night. She finally started gaining weight, her fatigue disappeared, and the struggles with learning that she had for years turned into focused determination and excelling in her classes.

Having spent time and energy on my daughter’s healing, my own health started to demand attention. Just when I thought food restriction couldn’t get any worse, my doctor diagnosed me with casein and wheat allergies, leaky gut, autoimmune reactivity (you have to lose 80% of organ function to be classified in the disease phase), and a few viruses that were at unbelievably high levels in my body. Sounds fun, huh?

I’ve described myself as a “full-blooded Italian recovering from a genetic carb addiction.” YET, my doctor required me to go on an eating plan called the Autoimmune Protocol, or AIP, which removes potential allergens (and thus autoimmune triggers) such as grains, legumes, eggs, dairy, nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and spices derived from them), NSAIDS, coffee, nuts and seeds (including seed-based spices).  This meme pretty much sums up my thoughts at the time.

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After sobbing, crying, whining about losing my Italian heritage and fearing I’d never eat a good meatball drenched in my mom’s meat sauce again, I decided to dive into AIP full force. I blogged more than 30 days of AIP – including everything I ate, musings, humorous videos, and recipes I developed along the way.

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Carolina Style BBQ Pork

After about 100 days or so, my doc basically broke the news that staying on AIP (with successful reintroductions if able) would be best for me. If you’d like to read more about my reaction to this and the intense whining that followed, please read “AIP – The Final Frontier”. The post includes my recipe for Carolina Style BBQ Pork, so there’s your perk for putting up with the whining.

On this side of it all, I can honestly say that I’m thankful.  Food restriction is difficult, but keeping autoimmune triggers at bay is totally worth it.  I wouldn’t go back – I couldn’t go back after all of the progress I’ve made. I’m so thankful for the encouraging Paleo and AIP community. There are so many wonderful cookbooks, blogs and podcasts out there with helpful information explaining the whys behind these dietary changes.  They also help keep the momentum going and keep my mind in the game via encouragement and support.

I’m also thankful for Paleo on the Go and the service they offer in providing meals that fit the Paleo, Strict 30, Sugar Detox and AIP lifestyle.  With delicious meals and even nutrient dense bone broth, they make dietary restrictions not seem so utterly restrictive. You can read my reviews of POTG and two of their AIP entrees on my blog.

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Rhonda, St. Petersburg, FL