Ankylosing Spondylitis Uncategorized

Eat Good, Feel Good.

Three months ago I made the decision to change my diet to try and ease the new A.S pain I was experiencing. My wrists and elbows were being effected, and the pain wasn’t being touched by my biologic medication. I was super gung-ho about it and was ready to just jump in 100%. I bought all sorts of Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) compliant foods, and now I’m here to update you all and let you know how it’s been going πŸ™‚

It took me about 2 days to realize that a cold turkey transition to AIP was NOT going to work. I was feeling anxious and upset that I wouldn’t be able to eat foods I love anymore. I wasn’t able to focus on the potential benefits for my body, because I was so consumed by the negative turn my relationship with food had just taken. Eating and cooking went from being something I enjoyed to a daily chore. I wasn’t enjoying my meals, I was eating out of obligation so I got enough calories and didn’t faint from hunger.

Re-writing this I laugh at myself for having such a negative response after only trying it for a few days. At the time it was honestly more emotionally draining than I ever anticipated. After a few mental break-downs I realized I needed to take a step back and start slow. I couldn’t go from my normal diet to 100% AIP overnight.

It’s also worth noting: I never have been an unhealthy eater…but I LOVE my carbs, cheeses, and cookies; all things that may be triggering an inflammatory response. I think it was harder to make a diet change when, by normal standards, I was already a pretty good eater.

I realized that the point of changing my diet was to help my body feel better. Unfortunately that isn’t worth much if it’s a constant mental struggle. So I re-evaluated and re-started my big food transition…but much more slowly.

At this point I’m at about 75% AIP meals on a good week, and 60% on a regular week. I have almost completely cut out dairy (I haven’t given up the creamer in my coffee and occasional other cheat…also I obviously haven’t given up coffee…), and have hugely cut back on grains. Sweet potatoes and cauliflower rice have become my best friends.

I struggle to stay on track when I have events or outings to go to, and my body lets me know when I’ve fallen off the wagon. This past weekend we went to a wedding and I was eating (and drinking) whatever I wanted to, and my joints have been screaming at me for two days as a result.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be 100% AIP. If that’s something you can do, I applaud you- but the mental struggle of being so limited and the feeling of missing foods I love makes it too hard for me at this point. I think the biggest revelation that I’ve had during this journey is that that’s ok. I’m trying to do what will make me feel good- physically and mentally. If I eat a cookie I don’t need to kill myself over it, or just give up on AIP eating. I can eat the cookie and just get back on track after. Change is hard, but reminding myself that my body will feel so much better for it has helped me get to the 60-75% AIP that I’m at today.

I’m finding a balance to prioritize my mental and physical health, and even without going to 100% AIP I feel like I am succeeding. I’m figuring out the specific foods that trigger either an inflammatory or GI response for me. Slowly but surely I’m figuring out a diet that works for me and helps me feel my best, and I really think that’s the whole point, isn’t it?

What I’ve learned about food:

Rather than looking at the AIP food guide as law, I have taken it as a clean starting point. The more I stick to it, the cleaner I’m eating and the better I feel- but it’s also a menu for me to learn from and modify. I’ve learned that my body can tolerate nuts, so I’ve added them back into my diet. I’ve also learned that I absolutely cannot tolerate hard cheeses, rice, or white bread, so I have totally eliminated them. Knowing that a food has a definite negative impact on my body makes it SIGNIFICANTLY easier to totally cut out, so experimenting has been so important and beneficial for me.

I’ve learned that I can eat Ezekiel, sprouted, or multigrain bread once in awhile without a negative impact, so I let myself do it. If I have a super clean week of eating and want some toast with natural/organic peanut butter and bananas for breakfast one day, I’ll eat it.

The internet is full of recipes to try and tips for AIP eating. It’s also full of people who have transitioned their diets and make it look easy. I’m here to say that that’s not the case for everyone- and that’s really ok! Start slow, work hard, and do what works best for you πŸ™‚

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