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Gut healing protocols and elimination diets like the autoimmune protocol, GAPS, candida and even the Whole 30 are hard. They’re hard mentally, emotionally, socially, financially, and even physically. But being through them myself, I can say one-hundred-percent that they’re worth it… hard, but worth it. Even harder than eliminating foods can be the mystery of actually reintroducing them. Not just what to reintroduce and when, but how to get over the anxiety, how to keep the food in your diet and not develop another intolerance again, and more. This is a huge topic within the realm of gut healing, which is why I wanted to delve deeper into my own experience with this and how to reintroduce foods on a gut healing protocol.
My Experience Reintroducing Foods After Gut Healing Protocols
I remember my first appointment with my chiropractor who diagnosed me with leaky gut, so vividly. More than being completely over the fact that everything I ate made me sick, I was scared that I was just a total hypochondriac that she’d turn me away. That was anything but true. I found out that I had 40+ food intolerances from an IgG test. In retrospect, the test was definitely under counting and I don’t entirely recommend them. I had never heard on AIP or intense elimination diets at the time, so it was a necessary jolt to realize that I needed to do it, but the test never showed reactivity to corn, dairy, or other foods that I know I have a reaction to, so they’re heavily debated. Regardless, I was going to have to go on an elimination diet similar to AIP. Though having Hashimoto’s disease was a huge struggle, it quickly became apparent that healing my gut was going to be a huge battle.
The thought of getting rid of bread, pasta, potatoes, tomatoes, and more made me sick to me stomach and I was immediately expectant to reintroduce these foods. I’d count down the weeks, and the days until I could finally start to add these foods back in. That is, until I had my first bad reaction.
Having a bad reaction to a food that seemed fine before is your body telling you that it wasn’t fine… that it’s inflammatory and you shouldn’t be eating it.
There’s a lot of confusion about bad reactions around foods that you seemed fine with previously. Take gluten for example… maybe you ate bread daily and didn’t experience a reaction directly after eating bread.. you were just generally fatigued all of the time. Then you cut it out for 60 days, try to add it back in and have a horrible reaction… what happened? Previously, your immune system was so up-regulated to gluten that you didn’t even experience intense reactions because you were always having systemic inflammation. Now that you’ve calmed the inflammation on a daily basis, the reactions are far more noticeable.
My first experience with this reintroducing a food that I thought was fine but caused a reaction, set off this massive amount of anxiety and confusion around reintroducing foods. What was safe? What wasn’t?
After many mis-steps, I’ve successfully reintroduced….
- Egg yolks
- Occasional raw goat cheese
- White rice (and sometimes brown)
- Decaf coffee
- Coconut (there was a time where I couldn’t eat it)
But I’ve massively failed at reintroducing…
- Egg whites (I get physically ill with a cold when I eat egg whites)
- Beans & legumes
- Most tree nuts (I have an IgE allergy to most tree nuts)
- Corn (I basically turn into a zombie for days)
- Cow dairy
- Blackberries & pineapple (one of my weird allergies)
I’m still reintroducing things and my diet is always changing. I’m in a period of eating more low starch and will have to go through a process of reintroducing starch down the line all over again. It’s taken years to learn how to do it well, but that’s what I want to share with you today how I’ve been able to reintroduce things well.
How To Reintroduce Foods On a Gut Healing Protocol
1.Take the gut healing part of the process seriously
So many protocols just eliminate foods and don’t focus on healing. Though removing the food will lessen inflammation, it will never treat the root cause.
I’ve done it before, and I guarantee you’ll be in for a load of frustration if you just remove foods and don’t focus on really repairing the gut. You’re much more likely to be unsuccessful with reintroductions and just be back at square one having to keep removing over and over again. This is a very easy cycle to get stuck in and most folks that I know who have chronic issues and stay here for years.
Here’s what I recommend for taking gut healing seriously…
- Focus on healing foods and practices as outlined in my book, The 30 Day Gut Healing Diet Plan & Guide
- Work with a practitioner to get to the root cause of why your gut is damaged in the first place (parasites, dysbiosis, toxicity, etc.)
- Pursue functional stool analysis, blood testing, heavy metal testing and more to get to the root cause
- Really focus on healing your digestion! Relaxing before meals, chewing, taking proper enzymes etc.
I say often that in today’s super toxic world, gut healing is a constant effort. We can’t ever really act like our work is 100% done. It will never be done for me, and even when it gets better, we have to keep up with maintaining our gut health.
2. Reintroduce the least inflammatory foods first
When I went on my first gut healing protocol, I cut out all nightshades. At the time, I didn’t even know the connection between autoimmunity and nightshades, I only knew that tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, and goji peppers it came up on my test.
Clueless of what these were or how to reintroduce, my first reintroduction was mashed potatoes. Like, a lot of mashed potatoes. Needless to say, I felt like crap the next day. Pounding migraine, fatigue, joint pain, stomach aches. It was bad.
Little did I know, this was one of the most inflammatory foods I could reintroduce. When reintroducing foods, start with the least inflammatory first, and work your way up from there.
If you’re looking for a good resource for reintroductions on AIP, I really like the e-book from Phoenix Helix, Reintroducing Foods On The Paleo Autoimmune Protocol. She has tons of instructions, recipes, and guides for what to reintroduce and when!
3. Take note of reactions and be careful of what foods are in the same family.
After my mashed potato mishap when I was 20, I still had no idea what I was doing. I was incredibly anxious about my first reintroduction and went for something that seemed benign… paprika. My mom is off the boat Hungarian and I figured that maybe, just maybe, I would be fine because paprika was in my genes. I put literally 1/2 tsp of paprika in a huge soup with at least 6 cups of broth. Even that much was enough to elicit a terrible reaction. I was aching, sweating, and fatigued for 72 hours, and even more confused.
What I didn’t know at the time was that paprika and potatoes are in the same family. So often, people are reacting to an entire family of foods rather than just one singular food. Foods can be categorized in tons of different families like nightshades, legumes, starches, fodmaps, crucifers, citrus, stone fruits, etc. The list goes on!
Let’s say you react to lemons and also have some issues with oranges in the past. These are both citrus, and it would be best to delay an orange reintroduction.
Look deeper into what food you react to and figure out what family/category it’s in and be cautious with that whole family during your reintroduction period.
4. Rotate your reintroductions (and your food in general)
One of the biggest mistakes that I see people make with food is they eat the same things every day, and all year round. In nature, we would never do this. Even before modern grocery stores (which have only been around for a century or so BTW) and we started shipping in things from all around the world, we weren’t able to eat mangoes in Idaho in the middle of December. They weren’t local, they weren’t in season, and it just wasn’t accessible. Now, we have everything at our finger tips and eat it whenever we want. Not only is this unnatural, it’s what can cause food intolerances by having these foods in excess.
The guideline is generally a four day rotation, and that’s what’s outlined in my e-book, The 30 Day Gut Healing Diet Plan & Guide. If you eat something on Monday, don’t eat it again until Friday. This is exactly what you should be doing with reintroduced foods. If you reintroduce potatoes, go easy on them. Don’t eat them daily, and be sure that you rotate all of your foods to avoid overdoing it and causing a reaction.
You don’t have to be 100%, but be mindful of not eating the same foods every day regardless of reintroductions.
5. Use your mindset in your favor
I know how anxiety inducing it is to reintroduce foods. I know how anxious chronic illness makes you in general… both as a symptom of the illness itself and of living with the illness in general.
However, our mindset is such a powerful tool in healing. We need to be in a relaxed state to even stimulate the hormones of digestion. Where as, if we’re anxious and keyed up about a reintroduction, we’re much more likely to have bad digestion and a poor reaction.
I know it’s hard, I know you’ve probably been burned in the past, but limiting anxiety round reintroducing foods is key to doing it successfully. I’ve had personal experiences where I’ve been able to tolerate different foods differently depending on how my current stress was around the food. Take a deep breath, think good thoughts, and trust that this reintroduction will work!
6. Use pulse testing to gauge potential reactions
I learned about Coca’s Pulse Testing for food sensitivities through the NTA, and I really love sharing it with my own clients and doing it on myself. Essentially, pulse testing taps into our bodies innate intelligence as to whether or not we can tolerate a food by testing how much our pulse speeds up when the food is in our mouth.
Here’s how you pulse test for food intolerance…
- Sit, relax, breath. Take a moment to calm down before you eat.
- Take your pulse for a full 60 seconds and write it down.
- Take a piece of food (one ingredient/food at a time) and chew and salivate it for about 20 seconds. Don’t swallow the food.
- With the food still in your mouth, record your pulse. If your pulse speeds up by 6 beats or more, you’re having a reaction to that food.
- Remove the food from your mouth if you reacted, and drink some water.
- Relax and repeat the process!
That’s all there is to it!
I’m not going to say that this is 100% accurate, because in my experience, no food intolerance test is. However, it is a great way to gauge your bodies reaction in the moment to a food.
All in all, All food is different… no apple is created equal. Our bodies and tolerances are always changing. I know how stressful it is to reintroduce foods, but I hope these tools help make the process a bit easier!
What are your tips for reintroducing foods? Leave your ideas in the comments to share with others! 🙂
If you’ve been in this holistic health world for any amount of time, you know by now that our gut health is incredibly important to the overall health of our body. It affects our immunity, our weight, our mood, and just about everything else in between. When I was first diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid disease, Hashimoto’s, I had no idea how much my gut health played a role, but it did. Developing a leaky gut or increased intestinal permeability is one of the triggers that turns on autoimmunity, and also one of the keys for lowering inflammation. In this holistic healing and AIP world, we know it’s important to heal our gut.
You may have asked yourself why your gut still isn’t healed… I know I have before. You drink the broth, take the supplements, but still have issues. Maybe it’s bloating, maybe it’s acne, or maybe you just know intrinsically that something is still off with your gut. You are so not alone.
Gut health is complicated! We over simplify it, but it’s hard. It’s hard to understand, hard to address, and hard to resolve. If you’ve ever done all of the work for months, but still find yourself having gut issues, here are 5 reason why your gut still isn’t healed.
1.You Have Low Stomach Acid or Enzymes
The great stomach acid debate… long story short, stomach acid is not bad for you. We need acid and digestive enzymes to break down our food, and when our stomach acid is too too low or we don’t have enough enzymes, our food goes undigested. Our intestinal lining is super thin! Think of eating a steak that isn’t being broken down by acid or enzymes and having that pass through your stomach. Of course it’s going to damage it and stop it from being healed!
How do you know your stomach acid is too low?
- Acid reflux or heart burn
- Bleaching after you eat
- Not hungry in the morning
- Stomach pains after eating
- Still feeling hungry after you just ate
Low stomach acid is incredibly common. Most people who I see in my own practice have terribly low stomach acid. We need to break down our food in order to absorb nutrients and heal our gut!
What do you do?
- Eat in a relaxed state
- Chew, chew, chew your food 30-40 times per bite
- Supplement with HCL or enzymes
- Drink diluted apple cider vinegar before meals
2. You’re Not Digesting Fats
Now that we’re slowly pulling ourselves out of the low-fat everything phase of society and higher fat diets are starting to become more normalized, we face a new problem of not digesting fats. So, how does this happen?
Your gallbladder is in charge of releasing bile into the small intestines which breaks down fats. Our bile is made up of the fat that we eat, and it’s very easily damaged. So let’s say you went through a period of eating low fat, or poor quality fats. Poor quality fats can be anything from canola oil, to margarine, to non-pastured chicken or eggs, or just a meal out. It all effects our bile and our ability to digest fat. So, when our bile becomes lesser quality, our gallbladder isn’t working as hard because we’re eating too low fat, or it’s just stressed out from stress we put on our liver, it’s performance suffers.
If we don’t have the right quality bile and it’s not properly released, fat rancidifies in our stomach. Want to talk about what will damage your gut? Rancid fats for sure.
How do you know you’re not digesting fats?
- Nausea when eating fats (yes, even good fats)
- Pain under your right rib
- Shiny stool that floats
- Green stool
Personally, this one is huge for me. It’s my belief and what I’ve found in my own studies that gallbladder issues can be hereditary as well, and it’s a big issue in my family. It’s said in Chinese medicine that we hold a lot of fear in our gallbladder, and that is a big word for me! I still struggle with this today, and am constantly mindful of it.
What do you do?
- Make sure your stomach acid is sufficient. Your bile won’t be triggered if your stomach PH is too low.
- Take a bile salt or bile support supplement
- Eat high quality fats in moderation
- Don’t be afraid to be higher carb in the form of vegetables while healing
- Eat bitter greens and beets
- Castor oil packs! (my fav… y’all know I’m crunchy)
- Work with a doctor or naturopath
If we’re talking healing food, this Pomegranate Beet Salad is a great healing food for fat digestion! It has both beets and bitter greens, and a healthy homemade olive oil based dressing.
3. You Have An Underlying Infection, Overgrowth, Or Imbalance
Parasites, co-infections, and bacterial overgrowth are very, very real. You don’t have to travel to a third world country and pull a fish out of a river and eat it raw, bear style, to have a parasite. You can just as easily get one from some poorly handled or cooked food, and the same for infections and gut bacteria imbalances.
What kind of infection, overgrowth, or balance may you have?
- A Parasite
- Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth
- Candida Overgrowth
- Epstein Bar Virus
- Other pathogenic bacteria
How do you know you have one?
- Persistant bloating
- Intolerance to vegetables
- Reoccurring diarrhea
- Elevated WBC count
This is a short list as every parasite, overgrowth or infection comes with it’s own set of symptoms. One for me was that I had an enzyme called beta-glucaronidase that was super elevated on my labs as a result of a stomach bacteria imbalance. Maybe for you it’s SIBO, candida, EBV, or a parasite. The best thing you can do is work with a professional to help you address it!
What do you do?
- Work with a professional.. this is number one here!
- Run labs like stool tests and breathe tests. Stool tests are bleh, but are super effective.
4. You’re Not Focusing on Nutrient Density
Cutting out inflammatory foods that damage the gut is step one, for sure. However, just cutting out gluten doesn’t heal anything. You need to focus more on what you are eating rather than what you’re not eating.
How do you know you’re not getting enough nutrients?
- Feeling hungry after meals
- Not feeling satisfied
- Tons of cravings
What do you eat?
- Bone broth
- Fermented foods
- Organic vegetables
- Fruits in moderation
- Pastured meats
- Wild caught fish
- Healthy fats like coconut, avocado, and other high quality animal fats
For a veggie based recipe full of nutrient dense Omega 3’s and other healthy fats, check out these AIP Salmon Patties!
5. You’re Too Stressed
Mental and emotional stress can be just as stressful on the body as the sugar and gluten from a donut! The stress hormone, cortisol can inhibit our gut lining from being healed, and being in a stressed state can also interfere with stomach acid production.
Stress levels can be hard to measure so it’s not always as easy as just picking out the symptoms. You can’t get your blood drawn and see a stress marker, and what you perceive not stressful one day may be entirely more stressful the next. In short… it’s hard.
What do you do?
- Form a support system and seek out social connection. Check out the AIP support groups in your area!
- Be honest about the stress in your life and address it
- Look for low hanging fruit to eliminate stress
- Take time for yourself every single week
- Form a hobby that helps to de-stress and practice it regularly… yoga, reading, evening walks
- Pray and be grateful regardless of hard times! Being grateful for your circumstances is one of the best things you can do for your health.
So, this is probably all stressful in general, right? I know because I’ve been there!
That’s why I created the 30 Day Gut Healing Diet Plan & Guide as a framework to start a lower stress gut healing journey! And what I’m really excited to announce is that there’s a brand new feature for the 30 Day Gut Healing Guide… a free challenge and gut healing support group!
Starting March 6th 2017, I’m going to be kicking off the first round of the free 30 Day Gut Healing Challenge!
If you’re anything like me, you’re no stranger to stomach troubles. Ever feel food-baby level bloated after a big dinner? Sleepy after lunch time? Mystery stomach aches and pains that don’t seem to be tied to any one specific food? You are so not alone.
Even migraines, inability to lose weight, acne, dandruff, depression, autoimmunity… it all begins with gut health.
Our gut health is crucial to our health as a whole.. especially with autoimmunity!
In the words of Hippocrates, “All disease begins in the gut.” 80-90% of our immune system is located in our digestive system, and the nutrients that keep us healthy are absorbed through our stomach. Autoimmunity like Hashimoto’s, and other chronic illnesses stem from problems in the gut.
My own journey with Hashimoto’s never truly improved until I improved my gut health! Improving my gut health has taken me to the point of having no thyroid antibodies, a normal TSH, and it takes my clients from low energy and stomach cramps to feeling alive again.
Whether you’re a fan of resolutions or not, tackling your gut health is an amazing goal to make for the new year to turn around your health.
Here are 5 Ways to Improve Your Gut Health that you can start right now!
1. Chew your food thoroughly and eat in a relaxed state.
When it comes to meal times, it’s hard to just chill. We’re trying to rush out the door at breakfast, lunch is often eaten at a desk, and dinners sometimes eaten in the car between extracurricular activities. Though out society has made it the norm to rush through meal times, we must eat in a relaxed state and take time to chew every bite multiple times to improve our gut health.
For the hormones of digestion to be activated to keep us from having those uncomfortable poor digestion symptoms like bloating, gas, or fatigue after meals, we must be in a relaxed state. These hormones are not secreted if we’re stressed, or if we don’t chew.
The next time you sit down for a meal, take the “Chill Out & Eat Challenge“! Here’s how you play…
- Sit at an actual table… not a desk, not a car, not a couch.
- Turn off the TV and place the electronics away from the table.
- Look at your food, smell your food, and take a quick moment for a prayer, blessing, or just to be grateful.
- Chew each bite at least 30 times.
- Reserve drinking for before or after the meal.
That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Let me know how you do, and I know you’ll begin to notice changes in your digestion!
2. Eat healthy fats at every meal!
Vegetable oils like canola oil, soybean oil, and margarine are anything but natural and are highly inflammatory to our system. These fats are so unnatural, that they impair our digestion of fat in itself.
Our liver and gallbladder work together to digest fats by moving bile to digest the fats. When we eat poor quality fats, or no fats at all, our bile becomes sticky, stagnant, and our digestion and gut health is harmed as a whole. Undigested fats are a huge factor in developing leaky gut as it damages our intestinal lining, and for causing bloating and nausea after meals. Sound familiar? I woke up nauseated every day for months a teen and poor quality fats were to blame.
Ditch the vegetable oils and eat healthy fat at every single meal to build healthy bile and keep it moving. This will help keep your gallbladder and liver that much healthier, and keep you from nasty nausea and bloating!
Be mindful to include coconut oil, grass-fed butter or ghee, high quality animal fat, avocado, soaked nuts (if tolerated), wild caught fish and olive oil! Yum!
3. Improve your gut flora with probiotics and fermented foods.
Science is just scratching the surface on all there is to know about our gut flora. We each have billions of microbes living inside our gut that keep it in balance and protect us from disease and leaky gut. Unfortunately, poor quality food, antibiotics, and birth control can permanently damage our gut flora, leaving our gut health in the balance.
I get a lot of questions about probiotics as a nutritional therapy practitioner, and yes. You should be getting some type of probiotic support. One of my favorite books from Weston A. Price, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, tells us that all indigenous cultures had some type of fermented food that they ate! It’s traditional, and vital for our gut health.
I start all of my clients on some sort of fermented food. Whether it be sauerkraut, kimchi, or my favorite,easy beet kvass, we need to be having some sort of fermented food to feed our gut flora.For bringing in the big guns, I recommend probiotic supplements as well. The first probiotic I always recommend to my clients is Prescript-Assist which is a natural, soil based probiotic. It doesn’t work for everyone as it’s quite strong and we all have different needs, it’s one that I use myself and trust.
4. Don’t forget the pre-biotics!
Now that you’ve established the gut bugs, you’ve got to feed them!
Our gut bacteria need prebiotic fibers to thrive. That means you can take all of the probiotics you want, but if you don’t eat the right diet, you’re not going to give them a good home.
Some sources of pre-biotic fiber includes…
- Bananas and plantains
5. Supplement with digestive support wisely.
We all could use a helping hand every now and then. To this day, I still take digestive support and it’s the first supplement I recommend to my own clients!
So, what do I recommend? First, I always recommend working with your own doctor or practitioner to find what works best for you in your situation!
However, I also recommend asking your own provider about a digestive enzyme (consider taking a fat digesting enzyme, and carb digesting, as these are very different) and stomach acid support. Yes, stomach acid is good for you in the right amounts, and necessary to stopping reflux and bloating! HCL tablets, and digestive bitters are all great options to explore.
6. Batch cook healthy meals at home.
Restaurants and meals out can be public enemy number one for poor health in general. Restaurant meals are full of vegetable oil, flavorings, coloring, and tons of other poor quality ingredients that harm our gut health.
I hear from people all the time of how they were 90% of the way with a healthy lifestyle, but failed to plan, ate an unhealthy meal at a restaurant and regret it. We’re all busy and have a million valid excuses for not having time to cook, but making time and doing it smart is crucial to maintaining a healthy gut.
Batch cooking meals at home every week is an excellent strategy for staying on track, and avoiding meals out! Start small by just making a big soup, chicken, or pot roast over the weekend with some vegetable sides, and before you know it, it becomes routine to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday making meals ahead of time!
photo by MyDallasObsession.
I have a free guide available for download on batch cooking when you sign up in the box below, and a whole blog post about how to prep meals AIP for the week!
7. Address bad gut health days with bone broth, collagen and apple cider vinegar!
There’s a good reason that chicken soup is considered the perfect sick day food. Traditional chicken soup is made with healing, nutrient dense bone
broth! Bone broth is filled with collagen, amino acids, and gelatin that soothe and heal the gut lining. It’s also packed with nutrients and minerals that
are needed for the body to heal like calcium.
I love bone broth, and suggest having it a few times a week, or even daily if possible if you’re really targeting your gut health. I also recommend always having a few cups frozen in the freezer! Try out my recipe for perfect gut healing bone broth, or beef stew.
If you’re not feeling broth or don’t have any on hand, reach for grass-fed collagen! It’s rich in many of the same healing properties are bone broth and can be used in soups, smoothies, teas, or just in your water. It’s tasteless and dissolves perfectly.
If you have a sore throat and are looking for something cooling, try out my gut healing acai bowl which is packed with antioxidants and collagen!
For apple cider vinegar, dilute about 1 tbsp in a glass of water to tame an upset stomach. This is always a great way to stimulate stomach acid before a meal.
8. Try a healing castor oil pack once a week, or when you’re in a bind and need targeted support.
Though they may be old school and messy, they really, truly work. Castor oil was used by the ancient Egyptians as a powerful healing oil, and when used topically, it helps increase blood flow and detoxification.
What you do is soak flannel cloth in castor oil, then you adhere it to your skin, wrap it in plastic wrap, and apply a heating pad for one hour. Just lay back and let it work! You’ll start to hear and feel things moving around, and they’ve even been known to pop ovarian cysts and do some serious gallbladder work.
If your stomach is cramping, apply it over your stomach. If you’re nauseated, drank a bit too much alcohol, or ate an especially greasy meal, place it over your liver/gallbadder area which is located right around and under your right ribcage. I’ve used a castor oil pack numerous times over my liver/gallbladder in the past to tame nausea and it’s always helped for targeted support.
9. Stress less.
Well, now that you’ve got less cooking on your plate, stress is a breeze now, huh? 😉 Not that easy.
Stress is catabolic to our body, digestion, and gut health. Ever hear the phrase “butterflies in your stomach”? Stress literally harms every part of our body. It upsets our stomach, it depletes our body of vital nutrients needed to create hormones for digestion, and it keeps us from getting in a parasympathetic state for digestion. It’s crucial to find ways to stress less to improve our health as a whole.
Limiting stress isn’t easy, but it’s vital for better health. I tell my clients to target the one piece of low hanging fruit in their life and start there. Maybe that’s starting a car pool to get a break from driving the kids, paying a maid once a month to deep clean the house, or even just making 10 minutes a morning to doing something you actually want to do. Whatever it is, it’s not wasted effort!
10. Eat healing, nutrient dense, gut loving foods every day!
It’s sexy and far more popular to talk about cutting out food like gluten, grains, and dairy to improve your gut health. Though they’re valid in many situations, what you include in your diet is just as important as what you cut out!
Every single day, make an effort to eat something that’s healthy, nourishing and that your gut loves!
Your gut loves foods like fermented food, healing bone broth, wild caught fish, organ meats, and vegetables! Find the things that your gut loves the most, as we’re all different, but make sure you’re getting it daily.
Putting it all together…
Feeling like you’re ready to tackle your gut health to take your autoimmune health, skin health, and health as a whole to the next level? Right on
As I said before, focusing on my gut health has transformed my Hashimoto’s, my health, and really, my life. It took me from a life of fatigue, mood swings, and stomach pains, to a full and passionate life.
It’s not easy, and it requires support, and a big initial jump to get you started. That’s why I created the 30 Day Gut Healing Diet Plan & Guide!
This guide is filled with over 70 pages of gut healing recipes, shopping lists, meal prep guides, 30 days of meal plans with pictures of each and every day, and more information on how you can heal your gut!
Get you copy of the guide, here.
This post contains affiliate links. Learn what that means, here.
I’ve had the urge for quite some time now to share more about my actual day to day life on my blog. How I really live with Hashimoto’s and heal, and how my job as a nutritional therapist is, and the like. But, to be perfectly honest, I’m not that exciting on a day to day basis. So, I compromised and have decided to start sharing my healing favorites every month!
My Healing Favorites series is going to be a monthly installment of what products I’m loving, what recipes I’m eating, what other influencers I’m watching, and more tips and tricks for what I actually do to support my ongoing healing lifestyle.
I constantly stress that healing from autoimmune disease and chronic gut issues has been a lifestyle for me. It may have started with a 30 day commitment, but it’s evolved into so much more than that to make sure that I never get back to a place of being unwell again. So, I hope that these monthly healing favorites will inspire you to keep trying new things to support your healing!
So, here’s some of what I’ve been loving for healing in the month of October…
Favorite Healing Foods
This month, I’ve been trying to cut back on the sugar-y treats like dark chocolate and have opted for more homemade fruit based treats. That’s where Great Lakes Gelatin has come in. Great lakes gelatin from grass-fed cows is an amazing source of gut healing gelatin! I used it to make my Pumpkin Turmeric Gummies and have also made some mixed berry lemon gummies with it… yum!
Recipe for these gummies pictures to come, and photo by @mydallasobsession.
Also, I have a new favorite EPIC bar… Venison! Oh my gosh. It’s not totally AIP as it’s pretty pepper-y, but it’s delicious! During my short trip to Colorado earlier this month, I stocked up on EPIC bars for hiking and took a chance on the Venison, and fell in love instantly. There’s zero added sugar, and it’s the perfect convenience grab n’ go type food.
I’m also loving pomegranates recently! They’re right at the peak of their season right now, and the seeds are perfect for adding to salads or to the top of warm vegetable pureed soups.
Favorite Healing Drinks
Of course, my favorite healing drink is always going to be bone broth. But this month, I’ve really gotten into matcha!
Matcha is a whole green tea leaf and is a potent antioxidant. It is caffeinated, but it provides a steady and balanced caffeine boost rather than a spike and crash like coffee. I’m super sensitive to caffeine in coffee, and I can have matcha just fine in moderation.
You can make matcha into a latte with coconut or almond milk, use it in cooking, or drink it as a straight tea. I’ve been loving matcha lattes with homemade date sweetened almond milk. Swoon.
I got this particular matcha latte from Local Press + Brew here in Dallas. If you haven’t been, I highly, highly suggest it!
Favorite Healing Reads
This is huge in healing reads as The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook officially released!!
Mickey and Angie sent me a copy a few weeks ago, and I’ve been dying over this book. It’s a must have for anyone who just got diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, or even seasoned folks like myself.
The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook has healing recipes, lifestyle guides, and tons of information on living well with autoimmune disease by finding your own path to living well with autoimmune disease. It’s not about following one cookie cutter approach, but personalizing your diet, your exercise, your social interaction, and so forth. This book totally opened my eyes to so many gaps in my own healing lifestyle, and I’m so grateful to be able to have it and have something so amazing to refer my nutritional therapy clients to!
Favorite Healing Influencers
I’m just as obsessed with finding new influencers on Instagram as the next gal for inspiration, ideas, and just for fun. This month I’ve been loving @NourishingLolaAndSage . She’s a primal Queen and mother of two gorgeous little girls, and feeds her girls 100% real food. Liver, bone broth, vegetables, egg yolks, you name it. Not a single Goldfish cracker, sugary cereal bowl, or juice box. I’m not a mom (yet) but seriously… #momgoals.
Favorite Healing Downtime
One of my favorite ways to have some downtime recently is defusing some peppermint oil! I’m a recovered candle addict…. I loved the smell, how it made me feel, and how it makes everything all nice and seasonal. However, I hate how candles are endocrine disruptors. So peppermint oil has been one of my favorite natural ways to have a relaxing, nostalgic scent in my office while I’m working.
Speaking of which, I’m teaming up with Jewl Hinton on Instagram for a giveaway of three essential oils, peppermint being one of them! Find out more details here on how to enter until November 4th!
I was also incredibly blessed to spend three gorgeous days with my Husband in Estes Park, Colorado. We haven’t taken any time off together in a year, so it was over due.
We flew into Denver and spent our first day in Boulder (which I loved), and then drove up to the mountains where we went hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park which was a dream.
Yup, Dream Lake was casual. The hike up the mountain to this lake was listed as easy, but was pretty challenging in the cold with the elevation. Seriously, Dallas is FLAT y’all. I am not used to climbing mountains. But clearly, it was worth it.
We also did all of the touristy things like walking around the town, sitting by the fire in our cabin, and even getting a massage. It was just the healing retreat I needed before entering into a super busy holiday season. I even got to wear cold weather clothes!
Yeah, totally not pulling out that leather jacket yet in Dallas.
Needless to say, October was an amazing month filled with lots of favorites and smiles. I hope this round up helped inspire you!
What were your October healing favorites?
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I was super #blessed to spend a long weekend with my cute, blonde Husband in Estes Park, Colorado this past week. We’re huge Colorado enthusiast, lovers of hiking, and orange leaf junkies and we just don’t get any of that in Texas. And with super cheap flights from Dallas to Denver and a willing kitty grandma to watch Stinky the cat, why the heck not, right? Vacation is the best. Time off from work, quality time with loved ones, and of course… food. Vacation is just non-stop eating out, eating treats, and just eating in general.
Traveling is one of the hardest things to cope with when on a restrictive diet, along with social pressures, social situations, and your own expectations for how food should be… so how do you do it? How do you cope with feeling left out?
It’s not easy to get over the feeling of being left out and like you’re missing out on something on a restrictive diet. The FOMO (fear of missing out) is real, and I’ve sat in many a restaurant with just a glass of water in front of me. My journey will be different than yours, but I can assure you that it took me a long time to get the point where I didn’t care that I wasn’t having wedding cake. It’s hard, and it takes time and commitment.
First, how do restrictive healing diets actually help if they just stress us out?
Restrictive healing diets like gut healing protocols, Paleo and the Autoimmune Protocol, which I’ve used to help heal my Hashimoto’s exist to do just that.. heal. Our health, vitality and very existence depends on a series of reactions in our that are supported by the nutrient that we consume in our food. When we’re deficient in these nutrients, we can be more susceptible to disease. Supporting our body with these nutrient again can help you to heal.
But let’s be real… it’s not all flowers and healing. It’s hard work, it takes time, and it can be stressful. We often feel left out, and sad that we’re missing out on our old way of eating.
Hidden behind the fear of missing out is the truth that you’re doing the right thing for your health. Here are a few things to remember, and ways to remedy how you may be feeling…
Remember: The modern way of eating in most restaurants is unnatural anyway
It’s easy to go out to a restaurant and watch everyone else chow down on sweet potato fries and burgers and feel jealous, left out and hurt. On my Colorado trip with my husband and I watched tons on tourists wandering the streets of Estes Park with slices of pizza in hand and chowing down on ice cream, and the thought crossed my mind… “why can I just walk into any restaurant and eat what I want if anyone else can?”
To be fair, getting together at parties and dining out together is not a modern thing. People have celebrated and dined together for centuries as a totally healthy, and even necessary part of socializing. However, it wasn’t always this way…
The modern grocery store, and chain restaurants have only been operating for around 100 years. We didn’t always meet up for half off apps and frappucinos are chains and eat sweet potato fries fried in canola oil. These modern ways of eating are unnatural, and unhealthy.
It’s so easy to sit at a table filled with happy people enjoying their restaurant food, or be at a party fueled by alcohol and delivery pizza and feel left out. However, I urge you to feel happy that you’re not engaging in the unnatural way of eating, and to encourage others around you to enjoy real food too.
Remedy: Offer to host home cooked meals & bring along your own food when needed.
My favorite way to remedy feeling left out at social events and restaurants is to invite people over to my own home and serve meals there. I never feel pressured to order pizza… I make real food that’s always Paleo friendly and likely AIP, and you know what? People don’t notice, don’t care, and they always really like it. It’s better than whatever they have out.
So, how do you do it without breaking the bank?
- Rely on cheaper real foods like big salads, or economical roasts.
- Ask your guests to bring a side. That way, you’ll at least be in charge of the main.
- Ask your guests to pitch in dollars to pay for the meal. If people can ask to pitch in for pizza and beer, you can ask to pitch in for real food.
When you don’t have the option to host, bring your food along! Lunch boxes and ice packs are my hero.
I remember sitting on an international flight on my honeymoon and seeing sad, jealous faces of fellow passengers as they ate their mystery food and I had fresh veggies and homemade protein.
Remember that you don’t need the fake food
The common misconception is that if people don’t have a chronic condition, they can get away with eating junk. We convince ourselves that we need junk food to stay sane, to treat ourselves, and to be happy. But, guess what…?
You don’t need junk food to be happy.
Not even the christmas cookies, not the birthday cake, and nor the celebratory beer. We survived thousands of years without fake food, and you just don’t need it to be happy regardless of what restrictive diet you’re on.
Remedy: Prepare, prepare, prepare food that you love
Fake food still happens even though we don’t need it. Ice cream and pizza will still be at parties, and you’ll still have to deal with Halloween in a few weeks.
Just as I recommended bringing food along, I recommend preparing food that feels like a treat t o you and that you love. I spent way too much time thinking AIP was just too restrictive to manage and enjoy until I gave myself permission to love my food, and come up with amazing alternatives like my coconut collagen bites and parsnip fries. I also love to bring along travel friendly fruits like apples and bananas, delicious herbal teas or mineral water to have a drink in my hand when everyone else does, and EPIC bars to get some more protein in.
Like I said, people will be jealous.
Remember: In social situations, stop trying to please everybody else and blend in.
People can be annoying. Myself included, but really. People get nosey and want you to follow the crowd. They see the good choices you’re making and often judge you for it, when really it’s a reflection on their own poor choices and insecurities.
Whatever the reason may be for others judgment, this healing diet isn’t about them, this is about you. It’s your own personal choice and to blunt… it’s none of their business if they’re just going to be judgmental.
Remedy: Be confident and short in your explanations to others.
When explaining your diet to others, I loved the advice from Mickey and Angie from autoimmune-paleo.com on the Paleo Women Podcast… “don’t be weird”. If you get flaky and sheepish about your choices, others will be weirded out by it to.
Be confident, firm, and short. A simple, “I have a chronic illness and am managing it with a specific diet” suffices. If you don’t want to get into details, don’t. You can easily end the conversation right there.
Remember: You’re doing this to heal.
Even after all of this advice, you still may have a rough night or two at a party where you just really want a cupcake. However, I urge you to remember that you’re doing this to heal. You’re doing it for you, for your body, for your health, for you family and loved ones so you can be the best version of you for them, and for your health during the rest of your life.
You’re doing this for something so much bigger than pouting over a lost cupcake, or feeling weird at a party. This is your life.
Remedy: Give yourself permission to love the process.
When I first went gluten free, I hated it and I was decided on hating it. I decided that I was going to complain as much as possible and cheat as much as I could. I never gave myself permission to be okay with being different and taking a different path.
Give yourself permission to love yourself enough to let go of creature comforts, and to love the process regardless of social pressures, and you’ll be that much healthier for it.
I’m coming up on my eight year anniversary of first showing major symptoms of Hashimoto’s, which is what eventually launched me into a gut healing journey that lasted years. Though I’m less than a decade in to diagnosed autoimmune disease, my gut health problems lasted a lifetime. From chronic ear infections, to mystery hives, to the tendency to binge after meals as a result of being undernourished, I had every symptom of hidden gut problems my whole life. And really, most people that I talk to about it shares some of my story and symptoms and has gut problems that they’re either addressed or are still oblivious to. It’s incredibly common to have gut issues and go on a gut healing journey.
My journey was littered with mistakes, and took way longer than it should’ve, but I eventually experienced a certain level of healing where I could enjoy everyday foods, and see a huge reduction in my symptoms. I’ve seen tons of doctors, drowned myself in bone broth, and even became a nutritional therapist myself… and it was all worth it.
Though I’ve healed immensely, that doesn’t mean the gut healing journey is over.
Regardless of the level of healing that we reach, it’s important to maintain our gut health. The work isn’t done at some arbitrary time when we can suddenly tolerate egg yolks again, nor is it done when we just get sick of it.
Living with good gut health in mind is a lifestyle that’s crucial for those of us with autoimmune disease… but really, everyone can benefit from it. So, how do you do it?
1.Keep up the gut healing foods and nutrient density.
You guys know how I big puffy heart bone broth. Bone broth is one of the paramount foods for gut healing, but there are also others. I talk about five more foods to support gut health in this post, but to recap… eat for nutrient density.
We all too often can eat to stay full or energized, but this means little in the long run. Eat the foods that literally nourish your cells and build up your body and your health.
Even if you don’t follow a Wahl’s Protocol, there’s so much to be learned from it! Dr. Terry Wahl’s healed from MS with eating a wide variety of nutrient dense foods and up to 9 cups of vegetables a day. Leafy greens, colorful veggies, and sulfur rich vegetables as well as wild caught fish, organ meats and healthy fats are the base of this protocol, and we could all benefit from these principles!
2. Remember that you don’t need the junky food… enjoy healthy treats.
One of my biggest pet peeves that society forces us to believe is that we need junk food every now and then to stay sane. Healthy diets are all fine and good, but everyone needs a sleeve of double stuffed oreo’s of we’ll lose it. That mentality is exactly what creates the feeling for a need for splurges and nutrient void food that are completely unnecessary.
Our ancestors lived for thousands of years without Starbucks or fast food and they were literally fine. Junky food is not necessary for life, and it did me in for years on my gut healing journey. I would tell myself that I just needed the french fries or the burrito. However, it would set my gut health back weeks and force me into a cravings spiral that just continued to grow. That is, until I was honest with myself that I didn’t need the fake food to be happy.
That’s not to say that we shouldn’t treat ourselves! I firmly believe that we can treat ourselves without eating something from a package. So what are some ideas for treating ourselves without junky food?
Real food treats exist as well! I love indulging in fresh seasonal fruit like figs, peaches, cherries, and grapes. I also love me some, homemade chocolate collagen bites, and seasonal goodness like hot “chocolate” and starchy comfort food like parsnip fries… the list goes on!
Not to mention that non-food treats like spa trips, movies, and quality time with family and friends are always way underrated as well.
3. Keep working with a trusted expert a few times a year.
Even when we’ve experienced a certain level of healing, that doesn’t mean that we have to give up on checking in with a nutritionist, functional medicine doctor, or even a therapist.
Even though I’m a nutritional therapist myself, I still have my own practitioner that I see to help keep up with any health changes I have and make sure that my maintenance protocols are appropriate. You don’t have to have a flare to need a change in protocol and working with a doctor, or expert is the best way to do it. I try to be careful to never treat myself 100% and trust outside opinions.
Of course, can learn a lot from each other on podcasts, blogs, and in books. These resources are priceless, and incredibly helpful. I’ve benefited so much from the advice, recipes and ideas I’ve gotten from likeminded folks online. However, it’s not as personalized as working with a professional.
4. Feed friendly gut bacteria.
There are so many things that we don’t fully understand about gut bacteria as science is just scratching the surface on it. However, what we do know is that our gut bacteria is an incredibly important factor in our gut health.
Though it’s incredibly individualized, the most solid advice that I can give to a general audience is to eat fermented foods on a daily basis, and find a good quality probiotic to rotate.
Probiotic foods can be store-bought in the refrigerated section like sauerkraut, or the ever so popular gut shot drinks. I also recommend branching out into trying your own like my ginger beet kvass which is great for digestion!
5. Say goodbye to unnecessary stress & eat in a relaxed state.
The stress that we put on ourselves can be just as harmful to our health as that fast food.
Stress greatly effects healthy digestion which is the key to a healthy gut. We have to be in a relaxed state to digest, and we have to digest properly to have a healthy gut. If we’re chronically stressed and eating on the run, or eating in front of a TV that’s stressing us out, we deal with poor digestion as a result.
I lead a corporate wellness program where I challenged participants (myself included) to focus on sitting down, chewing 30-40 times and eating in a relaxed state to properly digest. Needless to say, that sounds ridiculous, but all of the work that we do on eating a good diet can be wasted if we’re stressed out and not digesting.
Life stress in general is also a huge factor in our health. It harms our hormone balance, and overall mental health and immunity. I ask my nutritional therapy clients to think of at least one thing that they have in their life that’s stressing them out that they don’t actually need to be doing. We all have the initial thought that there’s nothing… it’s all necessary. However, be honest with yourself… is that book club that you go to worth it? What about that side gig? Is it worth all of the extra effort and stress that it adds to your day?
I also ask my clients to find any time possible during the week to just take time to themselves. For some that may be a full day, some a half day, some only 10-15 minutes, but it’s something. Any time spent de-stressing is time well spent!
6. Enjoy life.
On the same breath of avoiding stressors when possible… have fun and be happy! I’m not going to say that being a happy person improves your microflora by 79% or anything weird like that… but I will tell you that it just makes you a healthier human being.
Being chronically ill and having to tip toe around life events with food allergies is hard and I know it. However, when we mentally get past those things and don’t let it get in the way of our happiness, something awesome happens… we get to live our lives and enjoy them.
One of my favorite things to remind myself in in Proverbs 17:22, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Embracing happiness is good medicine!
All in all, remember that gut health is a life long practice! Not a 30 day protocol, and not something to be taken for granted!
Love your gut, love yourself, friends <3