I wanted to share something very personal today. I am sharing because I rely on this blog to communicate prayer requests. I also like the cathartic value of transparency. For the past few months I have been really struggling with my health. I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis back in 2017. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the joints. I had been able to mostly control my symptoms by following a gluten and sugar free diet. However, the trip back to America was really tough on me (darn you American food, fist shake), and I have not been able to get my symptoms back under control. For me, Rheumatoid Arthritis looks like constant joint pain in my hands and feet and bone numbing exhaustion. Instead of taking my body’s cues to back off and rest, I decided that the best thing would be to push harder. I started fervently training for the half-marathon I was planning to run in March. This was a genius move, because what my poor joints really needed was the consistent pounding that comes from marathon training. By the end of January, I was frequently crying from pain, and struggling daily to get out of bed. I knew it was time for a change. I even knew what the change needed to be… I just did not want to do it.
Do you have a thing that has been hanging out in the back of your brain, just haunting you with its presence? Maybe it is a goal or habit you need to break, or forgiveness you need to seek. For me, the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) Diet was one of those ghostly brain lurkers. I have known for at least a year that I needed to do it, but I just did not want to take the plunge. In theory, with so much research to back it up, the AIP diet is a method of putting autoimmune disease like my RA into remission. This diet removes all the food that could possibly trigger an autoimmune response and replaces it with nutrient dense, gut healing foods. You are only supposed to eat the completely restricted diet for a relatively short time and then start the process of reintroducing foods to see if your body reacts negatively. There is so much research to back up the diet and so so many testimonials of people who went from various stages of illness to health. But. It. Is. Just. So. HARD!!! To follow the AIP diet you cut out the following: Sugar (duh), gluten (duh), dairy, coffee (Why?!?!), all grains, all beans, all night shades (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers…cue the crying), eggs, seeds and nuts.
The reason I decided to finally suck it up and do the work happened when I played with my daughters in the pool (it is still summer here), and got out and could barely use my hands. It was one of those moments of clarity, where enough is enough and I was out of excuses.
Like most decisions in my life, I decided to start AIP on Saturday, and started officially on Monday. I began with a four-day bone broth fast and have been following the AIP diet like a boss since January 28th. On this, the beginning of my third week, I can say that I have been feeling significantly better. I held on to coffee until today. But without sugar and milk, it was not as hard to give up. So far I have had a few pain free days, and have significantly more energy and brain clarity. I also quit the ridiculous (for me) marathon training, and went back to my roots with weight lifting and yoga. I am already stronger physically, as well as mentally and emotionally. I feel empowered by taking control of my disease. I feel strong by breaking the emotional bonds that food had over me. This, I realize, is a process that comes complete with a lot of grief and vulnerability. I feel strong because my girls and husband are going to reap the benefits of healthy mother and wife. I feel strong because I am committed to my work in Tanzania and with family-based care, and I cannot do that well when I struggle getting out of bed.
I questioned making this the topic of my blog post. I hope most of you come here to read about our family and ministry, but I doubt you were expecting a diet post. The reason I chose to go ahead and share this was primarily that I would love your prayers during this process. I plan to spend the next three months on the most restricted level of AIP before I even think about reintroduction certain foods. I also wanted to share because I am believing that there will be a follow up post where I share with you the great results I have achieved, and that would be difficult without laying the groundwork. If anyone would like more info about the AutoImmune Protocol, please email me. I have been a woman obsessed with all things AIP, and I could, at least, point you in the right direction to get started.
I would love to hear how you are tackling those brain lurkers in 2019. Are you doing anything that has been haunting you for a while?