We set out on our journey to heal, and we swear we are going to be perfect and do everything right. We are never going to slip up or make any diet mistakes again. This is it. And bammo we go to a party, and everything unravels. Guess what? Nobody’s perfect. Not even me. I set out with this blog and my alternatives group to help people learn about healthy practices that can aid with AI disease and chronic illness. It may seem like it with all the knowledge I have, but I am not perfect at this. I must be doing something right in this imperfection though, because I am not taking prescription meds (not that there is anything wrong with that) and functioning quite well. So I decided to write this blog post, not to help people cheat on their diets, but because we are human beings. We make mistakes. We are living in this world full of temptation, and just because we have an AI disease, doesn’t mean we should be punished for it.
So, first let’s get through this disclaimer, and then on to the nitty gritty. If you are starting a healing diet, such as AIP or GAPs, etc., there is an introductory period of eliminations then reintroductions. This really needs to be done precisely to get the full benefits of the process. Soooo, if you are in this phase do not cheat. Now that that’s out of the way. . .
When I say I don’t eat something, it’s a general rule. So I don’t eat wheat, ever? Well, I actually do. Once a week (OK sometimes I miss a week here and there) I take communion at church. But it’s blessed, so I’ll take my chances on that. And maybe it’s a little homeopathy going on too. Other than that, wheat is totally off limits for me. So I don’t do dairy accept for cheese. Well, once in a while I eat ice cream, and at the holidays I always whip up some of the classics, cheesy potatoes and creamy mushroom green beans GF style. I keep this to the holidays though. If I ate like this every day, uggh. I don’t eat sugar, peppers and tomatoes, or nuts and legumes. But once in a while I do. It’s few and far between, but if it feels right, I might eat a couple nuts or something, etc. I have removed all these foods completely and added them back in and found my triggers. Some are worse than others, and I have found I can tolerate just a little here and there of some things. And I have decided that’s OK. On a day to day basis this has become routine and instinctual for me. But things get tricky around the holidays, on vacations, or going out with friends (not that this happens much with a 3 and 6 year old, LOL). So here are some things I’ve learned to help me through. I hope they are helpful for you too.
One of the most important things I’ve learned along the way is if you are going to cheat, just pick one thing. If you are at a party or out to dinner, and there is a bunch of stuff tempting you, sugar, dairy, bread, alcohol, etc. Pick ONE. Just ONE. If I am at a party, I usually pick alcohol, but that’s just me. It’s a weird rule, but it seems to have worked for me throughout my life. Only break one rule at a time. I find I can recover from a onesie, but if I go all out and add in a bunch of sugar, full lactose dairy, AND alcohol (sounding a lot like Christmas time here) it’s much more difficult to recover. It’s hard during the holidays to just pick one, but the rest of the year this is my golden rule.
So, you’ve gone and done it. You drank some alcohol. Well, it happens. I usually have some protein and some fermented veggies before bed. I might even drink some fermented veggie brine. I make beet kvass from time to time. If I have that in the fridge I have 3-4 ounces before bed. I drink lots of water. Maybe have some dandelion root tea the next day. And lots of gut healing bone broth. I usually have a cup a day, but I might have 2 if I have indulged. This usually keeps me from having any type of flare, but if I end up a little achy I will take an Epsom salt bath and spray magnesium oil on the sore spots.
I really work hard not to indulge in carbs, particularly refined sugar. I allow a little honey or molasses in my drinks every day, and don’t seem to have ill effects from it. But even then, I pair them with cinnamon. It’s not the fix all, but adding cinnamon works for me for small carb indulgences. If I have completely lost it and overindulged, I usually run through the same steps as I would if I drank alcohol.
I have concluded that my problem with dairy is lactose. I know some people have a problem with the casein protein in dairy, but in small amounts this doesn’t seem to be a problem for me. So if I decide to do dairy, beyond very low lactose cheese, I take a lactase enzyme. I don’t like taking supplements if I really don’t need to, but once in a while, I need my ice cream. I’ll just say this happens about once a month and leave it at that. LOL. There are also enzymes out there for gluten and casein if you do a little research. I am pretty sure at this point I have an actual wheat allergy, and my problem isn’t necessarily gluten, so I am not brave enough to try it, but just throwing it out there.
If you are feeling like you have lost your way and are indulging often, you need to take a step back. Maybe all the way back. For me it’s something very close to AIP plus FODMAPs. I have found my main food triggers and the not so big ones too (which I allow from time to time), but if you’re feeling off, even within your successful reintroductions, it’s good to go back to the basic healing diet that got you feeling better in the first place. If you haven’t gone too far off track it shouldn’t take long to get feeling better. Like hitting the reset button.
So here’s the deal. I have gone back to the SAD diet fully a few times on this journey only to have my health blasted. This is one thing that I will never do again. There may be some cheats here and there, but I do my very best to keep it to a minimum. I stay within my general rules and guidelines a great majority of the time. If I slip up I use the fixes above, and, it seems to be working for me. It is really important to remove guilt from this whole thing. Guilt will only hold you back and weigh you down. Forgive yourself and move on. We are human beings, and nobody’s perfect.
Autoimmune Arthritis Alternatives is a Facebook group where people share information on alternative approaches to chronic illness and AI disease: https://www.facebook.com/groups/652011531583848/
Autoimmune Moms is a Facebook group for moms with chronic illness or AI disease to talk about the joys and struggles of motherhood: https://www.facebook.com/groups/326665557491001/
The author of this blog, Valeri Trombley is a mom, artist and mad scientist. Not a doctor. Use this info at your own risk. It is always best to consult with a doctor before trying new things with your health, especially if you are taking prescribed medication.