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“Real supermen don't leap over buildings in a single bound… they take small, determined steps consistently over time.”
If you look at these healing diets, you may automatically say to yourself, “There's no way I can do that.” I assure you that I thought the same thing. I had to completely change my relationship with food to implement these recommendations, developing new recipes and new habits in the kitchen. How did I do it? Let's just say that pain is a strong motivator, and if you have an autoimmune disease, you know pain in a way that very few people experience. If these diets can lessen or eliminate your pain, aren't they worth a try?
Here are Some Steps to Ease Yourself In:
- Read the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and start applying its principles. It's a big book, and I can't list them all, but some of the most important ones are: (1) Remove processed foods from your diet. (2) Soak or sprout your grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. (3) Increase the amount of healthy fat in your diet: raw pastured butter, olive oil, coconut oil, and fats from organic, grass-fed meats. (4) Add fermented foods to your diet. These principles are a great way for anyone to maintain health and prevent illness. Unfortunately, people with autoimmune disease are past the point of prevention, and we usually need to follow one of the diets mentioned below, in order, in order to heal. The principles mentioned in Nourishing Traditions form the foundations of these diets, however, which is why it's the perfect first step.
- Give up refined sugar and wheat. For some lucky individuals, this is enough. Why do I say lucky? Because the market is full of gluten-free alternatives, restaurants offer gluten-free menus, and raw honey can satisfy your sweet tooth needs. Most people, however, need to go a step or two further.
- Follow the least restricted level of one of the healing diets for 1-6 months. For example, follow the Paleo Diet, but don't yet try the Autoimmune Protocol. Or follow the Full GAPS Diet, but not yet the Introduction GAPS Diet. Or follow the phased approach to the Wahls Diet, to ease yourself in. Why do I recommend this? Because the general diets are already going to be a major change to the way you eat, and it's wise to give yourself time to adjust to the basics. Also, you will notice healing on these versions of the diet – either a reduction in your symptoms, or again, some lucky people go into remission altogether.
- The final step is personalizing the diet specifically for you. Follow the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol for 1-12 months, and then reintroduce these restricted foods back into your diet, one at a time, to see if they cause a flare. If yes, you know to avoid them. If no, you know they're safe for you to eat. This is the step that gets many people free of the last lingering inflammation they are experiencing.
- Look at the lifestyle section of this website and support your healing efforts with meditation, gentle exercise, detoxification, supplements, functional medicine, etc. Don't wait to do this as a final step. These practices can support and enhance your healing from day one.
- Visit this blog often. I'll be posting detailed information on healing diets and nutrition, recipes and menu plans, and more success stories. If you subscribe by email, you'll never miss an article.
You Are Stronger Than You Know
If you are living with an autoimmune disease, you have already been forced to be stronger than you ever thought you could be. Trust me, you are strong enough to make these changes, and here's a secret: once you've been on a healing diet for a while, you stop craving the old, unhealthy foods. As you heal your body, you are also rewiring your brain, removing the addictive loops and replacing them with a feeling of balance, satiety and nourishment. And make no mistake, you can eat delicious food every day on these diets; they're different from the way you're used to eating, but in time, you won't feel deprived at all. Just take it one step at a time.