Articles

Here you can browse all of the articles I’ve written over the years, starting with the most recent ones. If you’d prefer to browse by topic, just use the menu above. And if you’re an audio learner, be sure to check out the Phoenix Helix Podcast, with over 200 episodes!

31 Days of Holiday Self-Care

Some people love the holiday season; others approach it with a sense of dread. Either way, it tends to be a busy time with extra stress, obligations, food temptations, and travel. This can be a recipe for an autoimmune flare, but it doesn’t have to be! I’ve made a list of one simple thing to do each day throughout the month of December. At the bottom of the post, there’s a printable PDF that you can post on your fridge. Happy Holidays!

Eileen sitting at her kitchen table

How My Diet Has Evolved Over 10 Years With Rheumatoid Arthritis

10 years is a long time! Are you curious where I started and what my diet looks like today? In this blog post, I share my whole journey, including how I ate before getting RA, the diets I tried immediately afterward, the diets that minimized my symptoms the most, and the food freedom I enjoy now. Our bodies change over time, and our diets are meant to change too.

watercolor painting of a girl in silhouette looking up at a colorful night sky

A Day With No Complaints

Can you go a day without complaining? When I first heard of this challenge, I thought to myself: “Oooh! That sounds really hard!” Yet I don’t see myself as a negative person. I have a daily gratitude practice, and it was born from my darkest days with rheumatoid arthritis. When pain seemed to be my whole world, I needed to find a way to still see beauty. That gratitude practice saved me. But that doesn’t mean I have a perfect mindset. I definitely complain. I think most people do. Complaining feels good in the moment, but research shows it increases stress and harms health long-term. So, how can we break the habit? In this article, I share how.

Gentle Detoxifying Baths

More than 80,000 new chemicals have been released since the industrial revolution 150 years ago, and most have never been fully tested for their effects on our health. We are asking our bodies to detoxify far more than they were designed to handle. Yet that doesn’t mean we should start doing aggressive detox cleanses that leave us feeling like we have the flu. It’s easy to overwhelm our detoxification systems when we try to speed them up and push them too hard. In this article, I share simple, effective, detoxifying baths that also make you feel good at the same time. Win-win!

Woman lying in bed with hands over face, clock says 3:41am

Advanced Sleep Troubleshooting for Autoimmune Disease

Autoimmune disease often causes insomnia, and then poor sleep increases autoimmune flares, creating a vicious cycle. In this article, I tackle some of the biggest sleep challenges: pain, anxiety, restless legs syndrome, snoring, hormones, blood sugar imbalances, new parenthood, and more. I also review sleep trackers, sleep supplements, and a special form of therapy that’s more effective than sleeping pills in resolving insomnia.

jacqueline smiling with her head tilted, wearing a blue top

Jacqueline’s Healing Story (Uveitis, Alopecia, Psoriasis)

Jacqueline’s autoimmune journey began with unexplained abdominal pains as a child, and ended with three autoimmune diagnoses as an adult. When she first developed uveitis, no one told her it was autoimmune. She only discovered that later as she developed two more autoimmune conditions: alopecia and psoriasis. Conventional medical treatment was helpful for the uveitis but had minimal impact on her other diagnoses. A friend finally told her about the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), and it was a life-changing discovery. Not only was she able to reverse her autoimmune symptoms and is medication-free today, she also overcame chronic insomnia. Her family also did the AIP alongside her, and their health improved as well.

101 Ways to Treat Yourself That Have Nothing to Do with Food

Most often, if you say the word “treat” people immediately think of sweets. It’s how we reward ourselves for our achievements, and it’s how we soothe ourselves when life is hard. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional sweet treat. They’re delicious! However, if sweets are the only way we treat ourselves, the excess sugar can increase inflammation and even kick off an autoimmune flare. So, I’ve come up with 101 alternate ways to treat ourselves. Thanks to the mind-body connection, these treats can actually decrease inflammation while simultaneously bringing more joy to our lives. That’s my kind of to-do list! I even included a PDF you can print and put on your fridge, for ongoing inspiration!

Illustration of letter D in a sunny field

Vitamin D and Autoimmune Disease

Vitamin D is essential to immune system regulation, which is why it’s a commonly recommended supplement for people with autoimmune disease. Can we get all the vitamin D we need from sunshine? What about food? If we need a supplement, how do we choose a high-quality one? What’s the optimal level of vitamin D in our bodies? I dive into the research to answer these questions and more.

List of Paleo-Friendly Restaurants Worldwide

Do you remember how it felt to relax in a restaurant? No fear of getting “glutened”? Lots of delicious menu items to choose from, each one packed with flavor? After countless hours searching the internet and double-checking menus, I offer you this list of paleo-friendly restaurants! From Texas to Malaysia, people are operating restaurants based on the belief that food is medicine. If you’re lucky, one of these restaurants is near you. If not, get ready to plan some fun trips!

Barclay Stockett smiling and standing in front of rainbow siding

Barclay’s Healing Story (Ulcerative Colitis)

Are you a fan of American Ninja Warrior? Did you know that Barclay (aka Sparkly Ninja) is an autoimmune warrior as well? She shares her story in this interview. Trauma has a powerful impact on autoimmunity. It increases the likelihood of developing autoimmune disease and can increase disease severity as well. Barclay knows this first-hand. Prior to her diagnosis, she was living a full and active life as a professional athlete. Then in 2019, her mother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Three months later, Barclay started experiencing symptoms herself. It took over a year to get her official diagnosis, and it took two years to get her symptoms under control. Success came through a combination of medication, the support of her fiancée, belief in herself, and personal experimentation to discover what her body needed beyond medicine. Now in 2022, she’s competing in American Ninja Warrior again.

daisy with raindrops on its petals

5 Tips for Cutting Through Overwhelm in the Face of World Tragedies

If you feel overwhelmed in the face of suffering, you aren’t weak, you’re human. If you also have autoimmune disease, you have a body that’s more sensitive to stress which means autoimmune flares might arise alongside. If you have a history of trauma (which is common for people with autoimmune disease), world traumas might feel especially intense, layered on top of your own experiences. So, overwhelm is natural, but it doesn’t have to be permanent. Here’s a step-by-side guide to feeling grounded, replenished, and able to support yourself and others again.

drawing of woman cradling a heart

Affirmations vs. Iffirmations

Research shows that affirmations can help people cope with life’s challenges, an important skill when living with chronic illness. They boost problem-solving in stressful situations, and they lead to better health choices as well. There is a risk with affirmations, however. Sometimes they backfire. In that circumstance, your brain disagrees so strongly with the affirmation that it strengthens your negative thoughts instead. Has that happened to you? If yes, you’re not alone. In this article, I share tips for quieting your inner critic. I also teach my favorite technique for overcoming the mind’s resistance to affirmations – Iffirmations!

plugin air freshener with green liquid inside

Do Air Fresheners Pollute the Air?

If you’re someone who unplugs air fresheners anytime you see them, this article will resonate with you. If you’re someone who loves air fresheners and didn’t realize they might be harming your health, this article may surprise you. “Fragrance” isn’t a single ingredient. It’s a chemical formula that can contain up to 100 different chemicals. Many of them are harmful to health, and there is no regulation of this industry. In fact, since fragrance is considered a “trade secret”, the chemicals aren’t listed on the ingredient labels. In this article, I dive deeply into the science and share tips for naturally freshening indoor air instead.

sunset over a low mountain range with lakes and trees in the foreground

10 Benefits of the Mind-Body Connection for People with Autoimmune Disease

It’s not surprising that the mind-body connection can reduce stress, but what about pain, fatigue, brain fog, and other symptoms of autoimmune disease? Can it reduce those too? The answer is yes! That’s because stress has a huge impact on autoimmune disease, increasing inflammation and flare activity. When we harness the mind-body connection for our health, we have the potential to soothe our inflamed bodies and calm our overactive immune system. In this blog post, I share 10 science-backed benefits across a wide variety of autoimmune diagnoses. I also feature different mind-body techniques. Meditation is wonderful, but it’s not the only way to tap the mind-body connection.

book: healing mindset for autoimmune disease

My New Book: Healing Mindset!

This is the project I’ve been working on for the past few years, and I’m so excited to share it with you! What is a healing mindset? Simply put, it’s the practice of harnessing the anti-inflammatory power of our minds to support autoimmune health. It’s realizing that some thoughts and behaviors ramp up inflammation and others tone it down. This book is a roadmap to doing less of the former and more of the latter. Inside, you’ll find over 90 mind-body techniques written specifically for people with autoimmune disease. It also includes beginner tips, advanced troubleshooting, and testimonials by fellow autoimmune warriors who have felt the power of the mind-body connection in their own lives (including me)!

Footprints of a Woman and a Dog on Sand

Can Pets Support Autoimmune Health?

I asked this question of my fellow autoimmune warriors, and their answer was a resounding yes! In this post, I share beautiful photos of people with their pets, alongside their testimonials. I also dive into the research and share what science says about the potential health benefits. In balance, I also honor that there are times when pets aren’t the right choice and I share those circumstances, too.

Ann smiling in her kitchen wearing a kansas jayhawks shirt - a favorite sports team

Ann’s Healing Story (CREST: Limited Scleroderma)

After 23 years of living with scleroderma, Ann has experienced both lows and highs. She’s become an expert on her condition, because she had to be. Many doctors didn’t offer the care she needed because scleroderma is a rare condition that very few doctors truly understand. Now, she has a great healthcare team, and she is at the center. She’s also become more empowered over the years with her daily life choices. She actively supports her health through diet, meditation, exercise, sleep, and other forms of self-care. As she puts it: “I have the capability to overcome a lot of what happens to me, and I am in control of my autoimmune journey.”

10 Nutrient-Dense Fruit and Vegetable Scraps We Should Be Eating Instead of Throwing Away | Phoenix Helix

10 Nutrient-Dense Fruit and Vegetable Scraps We Should Be Eating Instead of Throwing Away

A key component of a healing diet is nutrient-density and diversity. In the paleo AIP community, the list of foods to avoid often gets the most attention. But simultaneously, we need to expand the list of nourishing foods that we eat. One great way to do that is to look at the produce in our kitchens and see which edible parts we’re throwing away. Often, they are the most nutritious!

Can the Mind-Body Connection Improve Food Tolerance?

Did you know that digestion starts in the brain? When we don’t pay attention to our meals and instead multi-task at mealtime, or eat under stress, our digestion becomes suppressed. This can lead to uncomfortable gastroinstestinal symptoms and also increase food intolerance. In this article, I share simple ways to harness the mind-body connection to not only digest your meals better, but enjoy them more too!

Navigating a Flare-Free Holiday Season

Once upon a time winter was a peaceful season, a time of communal rest and renewal. Modern life has changed that dramatically. It’s now the busiest time of the year with the pressure to do too much, spend too much, and push our bodies to their limits. That’s not a recipe for autoimmune health, so let’s make a pact to do it differently. In this blog post, I share my best tips for stress management, boosting your body for health, navigating holiday gatherings, Paleo AIP gift ideas, and delicious AIP recipes for Christmas cookies and holiday treats. Here’s to a healthy holiday season!

3 Ways to Move Your Lymph

Lymph is essential to our body’s ability to detoxify, reduce inflammation, and fight infection. Supporting the lymphatic system can benefit anyone’s health, but it’s especially important for those of us with autoimmune disease. Chronic inflammation puts an extra burden on this system and can even damage it long-term, reducing its efficiency. In a prior career, I was a lymph drainage therapist for 15 years. Most of my clients were people with chronic illness. As someone with rheumatoid arthritis myself, it’s one of my favorite self-care techniques.

Lauren’s Healing Story (Autoimmune Encephalitis)

What happens when diet and lifestyle changes don’t lead to the improvements you seek, and the doctors aren’t providing solutions that work either? It may seem strange that I’m highlighting a story where the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol wasn’t the answer, but sometimes that happens. Lauren Mabry didn’t give up. Autoimmune encephalitis is a rare autoimmune condition that’s only recently been discovered. That was a huge barrier to an accurate diagnosis. She went to multiple doctors and tried both conventional and functional medicine approaches. While she would experience short-term improvements, her symptoms always returned and eventually escalated to the point that nothing helped. She continued to advocate for her health until she got the right diagnosis, and eventually the right treatment (having to fight her insurance company to receive it). She’s a role model of persistence and self-advocacy and shares her story with us today.

10 Answers to the Question: Why Do You Eat That Way?

The Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) has the potential to make a big difference in your health, which is why so many people with autoimmune disease try this healing diet. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy, and one of the challenges is how other people respond. Friends, family, coworkers, even strangers are likely to notice you’re suddenly eating differently than everyone around you. You turn down the birthday cake at the office or family birthday party. You show up with your own food to a holiday dinner. You ask the waiter extra questions when eating in a restaurant. You serve food in your own home that’s delicious but doesn’t come from a box. Healthy eating stands out, because we live in a world where unhealthy eating is the norm. It’s natural for people to have questions, and it’s helpful to have some quick answers ready. Here are ten answers for a wide variety of situations.

Elise’s Healing Story (Alopecia & Eczema)

Elise Chan has suffered from alopecia, eczema, and osteoarthritis. For a long time, she attributed it to stress, and stress does influence her symptoms. But when she had a chance to research further, she realized diet might be a root cause as well. She turned to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol and got dramatic results.

Lindsey’s Healing Story (Pernicious Anemia, ITP, Hashimoto’s)

When you have one autoimmune disease, you’re more likely to develop another, and that has been Lindsey Parsons’ experience. She got three diagnoses within one year: Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), and pernicious anemia. She was lucky to get diagnosed early before symptoms became severe. When conventional doctors offered little in the way of treatment and suggested a “wait and see” approach, she took her health into her own hands. Diet and lifestyle changes reduced her thyroid antibodies from 103 to 15, and her other symptoms improved as well.

Turmeric and Autoimmune Disease

Turmeric tops the list of medicinal foods for good reason. It’s anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, immune-modulating, promotes gut health, and protects all our major organs. There are also studies that show it can reduce autoimmune disease activity and help us achieve and maintain remission. Yet nothing in life is easy, and turmeric comes with a challenge: it’s hard for our bodies to absorb. That’s why supplements use special techniques to increase the bioavailability. Can we also boost the health benefits in the recipes we cook at home? When it comes to supplements, which ones are the best? I answer these questions and more.

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