Two months ago I wrote how we had started experimenting with changing our diet. The diet we had chosen to try out were the AIP diet. Essentially the AIP is a paleo diet ex. nightshades, seeds, nuts and eggs. The reason for choosing this was that going paleo helped me a great deal, but it made my eczema flare – so I knew that something I was eating more than usual was problematic for me. My primary suspects were nuts and eggs, but I really wanted to have this process be as quick as possible, so I wasn’t willing to try one thing at a time and wait and see it out. Also – I am allergic to potatoes – or at least I am allergic to raw potatoes sometimes… so much so that an allergy Doctor once told me that I probably shouldn’t eat potatoes at all because you cannot be sure that they are completely boiled through and I definitely shouldn’t cut or peel them. I am allergic to nuts, and I didn’t mind trying to cut out the seeds for a while. Eggs were a definite suspect, because I have eaten A LOT on the paleo diet – and thinking about it, it probably isn’t healthy to eat the same breakfast every day – even if eggs are a “superfood”.
So during the first month on AIP I discovered that I would react to sugar – any sugar. Have and apple or a date and I would start sneezing like mad. Drink home made Horchata (tigernut milk), which supposedly should be primarily non-digestable starch, and my eczema on my legs would flare, same thing with sweet potatoes. I cut out more and more carbs, and I felt better and better. I started waking up refreshed at 5-6 o’clock in the morning, like I also did last time I started paleo. I didn’t crash at 5 o’clock but could go on until 9:30 PM, where my body would send a clear signal that “now it is time to go to bed”.
It is a big challenge to keep this diet on a full term basis – because I really cannot eat out – not with friends nor at restaurants. I can technically eat at a restaurant – but the food I get is usually quite boring – esp. since Spanish restaurants all serve the same boring salads and most of the greens they serve in there come from a glass with citric acid, and/ sugar etc. So I will often end up eating a piece of grilled fish (fine) with iceberg lettuce and a few onions … not very interesting. If I am lucky they have fresh beets and carrots in the salad…
Along the way on this diet my appetite decreased significantly and I talked to my therapist about trying a fast, for a whole lot of health benefits including lowering insulin levels. At the same time my dentist recommended that my husband did a 3 day fast prior to a tooth extraction, and I was supposed to do the same when I have my wisdom teeth extracted, so I thought I would try the fast with him. So I did the three day fast, and when he finished after his tooth extraction, I continued another 2 days and felt even greater – the very last little bit of eczema disappeared, I was complimented for my skin, I lost weight (I’ll get back to that later in this post), and strangely enough I even felt that my left “lazy” eye was less lazy… (it is a really strange feeling, and really hard to explain since I am functionally blind on that eye). I will definitely try that again.
Along the way I heard about the Wahl’s protocol, and started looking into that. I kind of bothered me that there seemed to be a split in the paleo community – on one hand were the keto people who seemed to be almost promoting and Atkins diet, many of them with very little vegetable, and on the other were people who kept saying that carbs are important, but they need to come from fruit and sweet potatoes. Now I really do think that we need to eat A LOT of veggies, just as firmly as I believe that healthy animal products are good for us, but my body was telling me that the carbs were not good for me – at least for now… So I needed to come up with something else. Enter Terry Wahl’s MD, science based, healed her own Multiple Sclerosis – not a whole lot of non-scientific BS there. I bought her book, and I am now trying to follow her Paleo Plus, which is a keto diet, but with a minimum of 6 cups of veggies and berries a day – 2 cups of leafy greens, 2 cups of sulphurous veggies, 2 cups of strong color veggies/berries (max 1 cup).
3 weeks ago it was my son’s birthday – and my husband looked at me and told me that we were not going to be those kinds of parents who would not allow sugar and wheat for their child’s birthday party, which I accepted – none of them are celiac or diabetics after all. And my son looked at me and asked me to please have a piece of his birthday cake, and I did. I was coming down with a cold of the day of the party and was pretty ill the next day – there was plenty of leftovers, and the thought of cooking something that was good for me was too much… I didn’t munch on cake though, but some bread and falafel and humus, and a few days later we left for England for 10 days. By the time we left for England I was noticing a little bit of a flare on one finger – but so very little I could almost ignore it.
So since July 2nd I have been off diet untill july 17th – 15 days. I did eat a very healthy diet in England by most accounts – kale/mushroom stir-fry for breakfast with a little bacon and an egg and salad for lunch most days (we would shop in either M&S or Pret-a-Manger for lunch), and then out for dinner most nights. I had one pizza in the beginning of our holiday, which sent my hart razing (though not as much as it would have prior to my fast), and at the end I allowed myself an English muffin and the last night a Tiramisu – again hart razing not pleasant feeling, don’t really want to do that again anytime soon. Even before the muffin and Tiramisu my eczema on my hand was flaring – ie. not carb or wheat related (except if it was the pizza?), my guess is eggs and cheese. The muffin and Tiramisu made the eczema flare on my legs, but it was gone the next day. By the time we got home the skin was peeling off of one finger – it was completely inflamed and the scabs and skinless patches had reappeared… I was also tired tired tired (but that could be all the traveling and site seeing). My joints were feeling swollen and stiff (I had a hard time closing my hands for all the water retention in them).
I have been following the Wahl’s protocol for a week now (combined with the AIP except I drink coffee and have a little bell pepper in my salad), and I still have a little eczema on my hands, but the inflammation is visibly less, the skinless patches are gone and the scabs too (so it is mainly just red). I am considering cutting back on the coffee – just for this week and the bell pepper, just because I know that I will heal completely if I am 100% AIP. My fatigue has not gone away completely – I wake up at 7 and I feel tired in the afternoon (but my son has also been sick and I have slept poorly the last week because of that), I still fell “weird” around my lazy eye… so I am not 100%. I am not retaining water in my hands anymore. One thing that I noticed is my waist circumference: During my fast I lost 5 cm around my waist. When I came back for England, those 5 cm had ALL come back – which has been one of my problems: I had to be completely orthorectic with my diet, because cheating just a little would send me right back where I started. I know that dieticians will tell you that you cannot gain 5 kg from eating one piece of cake – but that has happened to me many many times. Yes mostly water, but fact is it would take me weeks to get those 5 kg of water off again. But this week on the Wahl’s protocol, the 5 cm that I gained in England, has all come off! My guess is that the weight fluctuations are due to inflammation in my tissue, and water retention from that – ie. not fat, but not good either. It seems that I am now able to rid myself of that water retention in less than a week.
The funny thing is that I was doubting wether the whole eczema healing was just because I had used some new creams – I have made a coconut/beeswax cream and a moringa-oil/beeswax cream that my son and I use and we really like. But we brought both of those creams to England and still my skin flared. My son’s skin did not flare – actually it continued to heal while we were in England – which makes me think that what he is reacting to is something completely different than me (well – he didn’t have cheese and eggs, since he is IgE allergic to both…).
I will definitely continue this way of eating for the next long time, I will try to reintroduce foods once I am completely symptom free, but I will also have to figure out what to do in social situations. Currently I bring my own food, and let the kids eat what ever is served, and with the extra energy I have that is not really a big problem. But I do feel inhibited when I am out and I would like to be able to go to a restaurant and enjoy it with my family. I want to find a good balance there.