Gift specifically giving may not be the reason for the holidays, but let’s face it… it’s fun. Wrapping presents, picking out the perfect gift for someone that you love, and seeing their reaction when you give it to them! The only thing that makes it more fun is food… as always.
Edible gifts are the perfect stocking stuffer, host gift, office gift or last minute gift to give that hard to shop for person. What I love about giving edible gifts that are also AIP & Paleo is that I can taste test, and happily cook them in my kitchen without worrying about cross contaminating my own kitchen and cookware.
These AIP recipes from some of my favorite bloggers make the perfect edible holiday gifts!
AIP Snowball Cookies from Grazed and Enthused
AIP Snowflake Cookies from Unbound Wellness
Apricot N’Oatmeal Cookies from Healing Family Eats
Blackberry Jam Thumbprint Cookies from Don’t Eat the Spatula
Crispy Cinnamon Thin Cookies by A Squirrel in the Kitchen
Maple Bacon Snowballs from Adventures in Partaking
Paleo Ginger Snaps from Gutsy By Nature
Pumpkin Spice Dehydrator Cookies from The Paleo Mom
Sugar(less) Cutout Cookies from Don’t Eat the Spatula
Sweet Potato, Coconut and Vanilla Cookies from Healing Family Eats
The Healthy Gingerbread House from He Won’t Know It’s Paleo (a wonderful gift to have prepared and let kiddos in the family decorate!)
img. via He Won’t Know It’s Paleo.
Candies & Gummies
Apple Cinnamon Gummy Candy from Phoenix Helix
Paleo Peppermint Bark from Unbound Wellness
Turkish Delight Gummies from Eat Heal Thrive
Mint Chocolate Swirl Fudge by Eat Heal Thrive
Paleo “Chocolate” Carob Fudge by A Squirrel in the Kitchen
Sea Salt Carob Fudge by Eat Heal Thrive
Bars, Pies and Cakes
Raspberry and Vanilla Squares by Comfort Bites
img via Healing Family Eats
Raw Coconut, Orange and Date Bars with Pink Himalayan Salt from Healing Family Eats
Raw Tea Cake with Salted Chai Caramel Topping by Comfort Bites
Very Merry AIP Christmas Mince Pies from Joanna Frankham
Others (Bites, Marshmallows, and Granola!)
Bacon Rosemary Salt by Adventures in Partaking
Cinnamon Crispy Date bites from Lichen Loving Paleo
“Chocolate” Collagen Protein Bites from Unbound Wellness
“I Can’t Believe It’s AIP” Christmas Mince by Joanna Frankham
Lemon Herb Shortbread by Eat Heal Thrive
Peppermint Marshmallows by Enjoying this Journey
Vanilla Cinnamon Breakfast Granola from A Squirrel in the Kitchen
I hope that these ideas are helpful! Have a very Happy Holiday <3
Thank you Douglas Laboratories for sponsoring this post. I was selected for this opportunity by Douglas Laboratories and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
Growing up as an American girl in a society that puts so much weight on physical appearance, and body size, I was equally as obsessed. I saw poor choices that I would make in my health as a teen as effecting my appearance, and nothing more. Healthy food would make me look good, unhealthy food would make me look bad… and that’s all that mattered, right? Even now in my mid/late twenties I take my health seriously so I feel good now... and that’s all that matters, right?
In reality, our present health and habits clearly have an effect on our present state, but it plays an equally as important role on our health in the future.
Though we may see health just as looking good or feeling good when we’re younger, we need to take our healthy aging seriously regardless of our age.
Why does healthy aging matter at any age?
Regardless of what age we are, the choices that we make now effect how our health looks tomorrow.
Anything from what we put on our skin, to how much we stress ourselves out all plays a part in how healthy, capable, and able bodied we’ll be in the coming years.
Health is not just a present concern regardless of your age.
When I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease in my teens and multiple food allergies in my 20’s, I was struck with the harsh reality that the health choices I made when I was younger, had played a part in bringing to me where I ended up. In my childhood and early teens, I ate an incredibly nutrient void diet that harmed my gut health and over used antibiotics and NSAID’s. This harmed my gut health as well as weakened my immune system.
Of course, genetics play a huge role in our health and in my development of autoimmune disease, but my poor diet and lifestyle certainly didn’t help.
When do we start to see the effects of poor health choices?
It’s said that it can take up to seven years to start seeing the effects of deep mineral deficiencies, and the tipping point for imbalances like adrenal dysfunction and hormone imbalance can come randomly. It’s not always obvious that you’re leading yourself down a path that’s harmful until you’re already deep into it.
I hope my story makes you realize that you don’t have to be in your sixties to start seeing poor healthy aging consequences. I first faced the reality of my poor choices at 17 and am still living with the effects years later.
Though those with autoimmune disease, and other chronic illness, may be more genetically predisposed to developing these illnesses, the choices that we make at any point in our life can have a powerful impact of how greatly the symptoms effect us.
How To Live with Healthy Aging in Mind at Any Age
1. Eat real food.
This should be a give in, but it can more complicated than that.
When it comes to health food, there so much noise and conflicting information. With marketing for processed foods masquerading as healthy foods, and a million different opinions on the internet about what is and isn’t healthy, actually making healthy choices can be difficult.
However, my simple advice is to always go as close to the source as possible, and stay close to home. What does that mean?
- Swap pasture raised and grass-fed meats for organic
- If you eat dairy, swap organic for grass-fed and even raw when possible
- Rather than buying all fruits and vegetables at the grocery store, find a farmers market or Co-op
- Don’t fear natural fats like animal fat, egg yolks, coconut oil and grass-fed butter or ghee
- Cook at home as often as possible and only lean on convenience foods in the rarest of occasions
- Follow a healing protocol like paleo, or autoimmune paleo when the time calls for it
2. Move your body daily.
The human body was made to move and be active. And before we all became chained to desks and cars, we did just that… we moved daily.
As a fellow desk jockey, I get it… it’s hard to find time to exercise. I can barely find time to post on Instagram daily (#firstworldproblems 😜) so I know what you’re thinking… “With a full-time job, kids, everything else, how am I supposed to find 15 minutes to drive to the gym, an hour to workout, and another 15-20 minutes to clean up and get back home and then make a super health “eat real food” dinner?!”
Well first, I feel you. Second, it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Moving your body daily can be anything that fits in your schedule. Though I had an hour a day to workout at a gym 4-5 times a week in college, I’ve had to shift my routine to whatever I can fit in.
Here are some of my favorite ways to move daily…
- Taking 30 minutes during lunch to take a walk
- Turning on a tabata or yoga YouTube video to get in 10-20 minutes of movemenet
- An hour long walk after work with family/spouse that also doubles as quality family time
- Homework out plans like 30 day guides, videos, etc.
- Switching weekly outings to a hike rather than a restaurant visit (my husband I do this and we love it!)
3. Recognize that stress is incredibly harmful to your health.
Even in retrospect, it’s pretty ridiculous how stressful your teen and college years are. Between holding down a job, going to class, studying, doing extracurriculars, and trying to have social life, those years were incredibly stressful to me. Even elementary and middle school can be equally as stressful.
Though we have this weird expectation that we can handle all of this stress when we’re younger, I beg to differ.
Chronic cortisol as a result of stress at any age output leads to serious longterm hormonal imbalance that can result in weight gain, hair loss, menstrual changes, and even infertility.
We all handle stress differently and all have our limits. However, I urge you to be mindful that stress is more than just inconvenient at the time… it has long term effects on our health.
For my clients who are dealing with particularly stressful lives like work and school, or family struggles, I ask them to consider that following…
- “What’s the one thing in your life that’s causing extra stress that you can actually change? For example, having your partner help with the dishes, saying “no” to a commitment, etc.”
- “Where is one hour a week, or a few minutes a day that you can just take to yourself? What would you do with that time? Read? Exercise? Meditate? Pray? Just sit alone and do nothing?”
No amount of de-stressing is too little… take what you can and embrace it.
4. Be mindful about your hair, skin and nails.
I may only be in my mid-twenties, but I’m already starting to see the negative effects of me not taking care of my skin and nails when I was younger. I often kick myself for not taking better care of acne scaring earlier. However, that doesn’t mean that I should have used harsh chemicals in my teens, or that I’m going to use
So, how do you treat your skin, hair and nails right and be mindful about their health?
- Say “no” to nail polish as often as you can. It’s unnatural and super damaging to your nails!
- Dye your hair wisely. Do your research and only dye if you really feel necessary.
- Always wash off your makeup with a natural makeup remover! I opt for a 50/50 mix of vanilla coconut oil and coconut sugar that doubles as an exfoliator and a makeup remover! You could literally eat this stuff. (pictured below!)
- Use natural products free of dyes and coloring like tallow balm (also pictured below).
- Supplement wisely when appropriate and okayed by your doctor.
Even with eating a real food diet, it’s not always feasible to get every needed nutrient from food alone. With depleted soil quality and more, I’m still not in perfect health. Not only is my skin showing signs of me being a lazy teenager, but my nail health is always the first thing to go. I’ve struggled with weak nails on and off my entire life even with eating all of the vegetables and drinking all of the broth.
One of the things that I’ve done in the past to help give me an extra boost is supplementing with a biotin, zinc, and other minerals like Ultra HSN from Douglas Laboratories. I’ve had tons of success with adding biotin to my beauty routine in the past an can’t wait to start incorporating it more again! Always talk to a doctor to make sure it’s right for you, because I’m not a doctor 🙂
So, the moral to the story is this… don’t wait to tackle healthy lifestyle routines that influence healthy aging! You can do it at 16, 30, 60… anything. We’re always aging, and every day is an opportunity to make a positive impact on your life in the future!
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
I’ll let you know when the cookbook launches!
Enjoy your free goodies from me 🙂
I’ve had incredibly hard time keeping this secret for the last several months, but the secret is finally out. The Paleo AIP Instant Pot E-book is coming October 1st!
The Instant Pot has seriously revolutionized the way that I cook and meal prep, making paleo staples like spaghetti squash in 10 minutes and bone broth in under 2 hours. It’s fast, it’s easy and what I love most is that it’s a pressure cooker that is totally safe to use!
The Paleo AIP Instant Pot Cookbook has over 140 recipes created by 37 of my own favorite AIP bloggers, as well as myself and range from everything from sweet to savory. The photography is gorgeous, and the recipes are amazing!
One of the recipes that I chose to tackle was one of my own cold weather favorites… AIP Instant Pot Chili!
If you’re AIP you know how hard it can be to find nightshade free substitutes for meals like chili… and how long it can take to cook roots like beets and sweet potatoes. That’s why the instant pot was the perfect method for this AIP chili!
Find my AIP chili, Thanksgiving style gravy, and so much more in the cookbook!
The cookbook will be available to buy on October 1st.
Sign up below to be reminded!
P.S. if you’re already on my email list, I’ll remind you 🙂
Would it surprise you if I told you that I grew up struggling with body image? Probably not. And that’s incredibly sad. The number of young girls, women, and yes, men too, that struggle with negative body image is staggering. We all feel the pressure to be look a certain way, and we all feel like we’re not good enough if we don’t look that way. Those of us with chronic autoimmune disease, that can often affect our appearance face this issue of negative body image… including myself.
A negative body image can be incredibly wearing both emotionally and physically, which is why healing my own negative body image was so crucial for healing my own Hashimoto’s and for healing autoimmune disease in general. So, how do you do it?
My Own Negative Body Image Story
To tell you the truth, my negative body image began way before I was ever diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. I was never a healthy kid growing up. I was never the “thinnest”, the most athletic, or the most stylish. I was frequently ill and little did I know, it was only foreshadowing for more illness to come as I got older. I’d compare myself to the other kids who were thin and healthy and desperately wanted to be like them. Why couldn’t I? Was I just doomed to be self conscious forever?
By the time I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease at 17, I had already been through over a decade of hating my body… how it looked, how I felt in it, how it made me feel. This diagnosis of Hashimoto’s disease meant that I would have a chronic disease for the rest of my life that affected my appearance, mood and energy.
As my weight became unstable and digestive issues worsened, I began restricting calories and over exercising which only ever resulted in more hatred towards my body. I would obsess over how my appearance changed one day to the other, constantly turning to the side in front of mirrors to see if my tummy was protruding a millimeter more than it was yesterday. It became so maddening, that I eventually resorted to turning the lights off in front of every mirror. Something had to change. Not only did I have to heal my body, but I had to heal my heart.
It took time, dedication, and understanding my situation to heal my body image and start loving my body, but doing all of those things allowed my body to heal. As with any long standing issue with ones habits and mindset understanding it was the first step…
So, how can autoimmune disease create negative body image?
Autoimmune disease can present symptoms that alter physical appearance such as:
- Weight Gain
- Weight Loss
- Skin issues (pigmentation, hives, etc.)
- Hair thinning or hair loss
- Inflammation of joints
In a body conscious world, changes or differences in our physical appearance can negatively affect our body image.
However, how we see our bodies doesn’t have to be all physical appearance. Rather, how we perceive our bodies can be influenced by how well they function. Autoimmune disease often results in some sort of impaired function. Whether it be fatigue, joint pain, headaches, mood shifts, or more, we can so often view our bodies as bad or to be working against us which also contributes to how we view our body in general.
What are the affects of negative body image on autoimmune disease?
Though the physical manifestation of symptoms may indeed be physical, body image is all mental. It’s our negative self-talk when we put on a top that we see as unflattering. It’s the voice in the back of our head saying that our hair looks terrible. It’s the compulsive urge to restrict food an overexercise to shed the unwanted weight. Sound familiar? Me too. And it’s made my autoimmune disease worse when I was this hard on myself. In the words of Buddah himself, “We become what we think”. Our thoughts and perception of ourselves have a powerful impact on how we feel on a daily basis, and how our autoimmune disease progresses.
If we perceive our situation as a bad and our body as bad, that becomes our reality. With autoimmune disease being caused by our body attack itself, the last thing we need is our mind to be attacking itself.
Beyond perception, having a negative body image is physically stressful to the body. When I would cry and get worked up about how I looked due to weight gain in college, I was influencing a chronic stress response which caused high cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that is woven in with the intricate web of our other hormones. If we’re over producing cortisol, our hormones become out of balance, which harms our ability to heal.
Having a negative body image does nothing than exasperate an already unideal situation of autoimmune disease. So what do we do?
How to Heal and have a Positive Body Image with Autoimmune Disease.
1. Focus on your health not your appearance.
Society leads us to believe that our appearance is directly connected to our health. Society got it wrong. When we ditch the idea that we have to look a certain way, or weigh a certain amount to be healthy, we do our bodies an incredible favor and make huge strides in our body image healing.
Becoming bound to believing that heal is behind a door that is represented by a certain body is wrong and harmful. Focus on your health as a whole. That means mental, physical and emotional health.… how much energy do you have? How much did you laugh today? How stressed do you feel? Are you moving your body in a way that you love? Are you enjoying real food that you love? Your health is so much more than your physical appearance.
2. Nourish your body with whole foods that you love.
A negative body image is often coupled with a strained relationship with food (much more on that later). My own negative body image was married to a bowl of special K cereal with low-fat milk. Food was calories to me, and my negative body image controlled that.
Loving your body is synonymous with treating it well and doing things that enable it to feel better. Special K did not make me feel good nor did calorie restriction. When we nourish our bodies with real food, we give both our body and our mind what it needs to help us feel our best.
But really, why does what we eat matter for our mental health?
- We are made-up of millions of cells that are made up of the cholesterol that we consume. Eat fat!
- Our hormones that influence our mood are made from the proteins that we choose. Eat humanely raised, wild caught, and local!
- Energy and vitality is fueled by rich vitamins and glucose found in fruits and vegetables. Eat your greens, reds, purples, blues, and anything that was grown on this Earth!
Now, a nourishing diet is different to everyone. Just because I love bone broth in the morning doesn’t mean that you will. My best advice as a nutritional therapy practitioner is to eat what your body wants that is properly raised, properly prepared, properly portioned, and eaten with gratitude.
3. Meditate, pray, and journal.
Practicing mindfulness is a game changer in both healing autoimmune disease and having a positive body image. When we really get down the core of hating our bodies and becoming honest with ourselves, we can more easily uncover the truth that our body is not our enemy. However, that realization takes time, self reflection, and hard conversations with yourself that are often best had with journaling, or observed through prayer and meditation.
Journaling isn’t only a a therapeutic way to get out your thoughts, but it can be a great way to reflect. As an avid journal-er (is that a thing?) I love going back to my old journals and seeing how far I’ve come. In the past and the present, it’s helped me to just be honest with myself and express all of my opinions, feelings, and pain associated with how I see my body which is incredibly therapeutic. \
Though restorative yoga has helped me getting closer to mastering mediation, prayer just can’t be replaced for me. Bringing my problems and concerns to God not only help with perspective, but with overall healing.
4. Practice self-care and positive self-talk.
That nagging voice always telling you everything that’s holding you back from loving yourself. So much of negative body image can be incredibly internalized and often fueled by negative self talk and poor self-care. Think sleepless nights followed by a constant mental soundtrack telling yourself that you look tired and gross. Been there, done that.
Turning that negative self talk and lack of self care around allows you to start taking control of how you see your body and how you feel in it. Luckily practicing self-care and positive self-talk is one of the most indulgent and enjoyable parts of this process. Where can you start?
- Tell yourself that you love yourself… that you’re worthy of love, and that you’re worthy healing.
- Enjoy hobbies that you love and may have recently neglected.
- Take that “me time” that you’ve been depriving yourself of.
- Practice simple indulgences like hot baths, long walks, and a pedicure or two.
Basically… treat yo’ self, and be kind to yo’ self.
5. Focus on more than the exterior.
In my post talking about my weight gain with Hashimoto’s, I say that we need to stop measuring people’s character by their outward appearance. This not only goes for how you see others, but how you see yourself.
You are so much more than your body, and so much more than what your disease may have done to it. You are God’s creation with a personality, a favorite song, a special talent, a beloved hobby, a past, a future, and so much more. You are at least a thousand things other than just your body, and just your disease.
Autoimmune disease is never an ideal situation, I get it. Changes in your body and health can be damaging, and changing your mindset takes time. This process didn’t happen to me over night and it likely won’t for you. However, remember that the process is worth it, and the journey to loving your body is so much richer than a life of hating it.
At 17 years old, I suddenly became very sick. I had an irregular heartbeat, was incredibly fatigued, I was having panic attacks, and I had even suffered several fainting spells. Doctors had no good answers and I joined a very large population of people who were sick and didn’t have answers. As my condition worsened, and I saw specialist after specialist, I finally got my answer with a Hashimoto’s disease diagnosis. Though I was given the same prescription of “pills and suck it up” with a lifelong outlook, I eventually learned the power of reversing my hashimoto’s with diet and lifestyle changes.
Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune thyroid disease where you immune system essentially gets confused and begins attacking your thyroid as if it were a foreign invader. Your thyroid hormones control your metabolism and contribute to the delicate balance of all of your hormones, so when your body begins attacking your thyroid, things go south. The side effects vary from weight issues, to fatigue, to brain fog… the lists goes on and on.
Treatment for Hashimoto’s includes supplementing thyroid hormone, and in some cases, just removing your thyroid. Not only do neither of these treatments treat the root cause of the condition, but they’re simply unnatural and can be more damaging than helpful. I suffered side effects from drugs like synthroid for way, way too long before I started treating my hashimoto’s naturally with diet and lifestyle.
There’s a lot of buzz about Hashimoto’s and gluten, healing your gut, and AIP diets. It’s generally well known now that you can indeed treat Hashimoto’s naturally with a “Hashimoto’s diet”. But, how? Is it really as simple as just cutting out gluten? Or is there more to it?
1. First, I recognize that there is more than just diet and address lifestyle factors. (refer to this post)
First, I have to be honest with you and tell you that even though diet is a huge driver of reversing my Hashimoto’s, it’s not all of there is to it. I could have very easily told you that you need to cut out gluten first and leave this question for last to put a nice little PC bow on this blog post. However, that’s simply not the case.
I went years just focusing on diet while keeping stressors in my life such as stressful people, stressful jobs, overly intense exercise, and so forth. I was cleaning up diet, but I was still having flares, anxiety and experiencing unnecessary stress. Diet wasn’t enough to cut out my stressful side job or draining relationships, nor will it ever be.
Though diet is incredibly healing, and necessary for addressing Hashimoto’s disease, it doesn’t stop there. I wrote all about this in my previous blog post, but in summary here are some of the lifestyle factors outside of diet that I addressed beyond diet and why…
- Stress produces a lovely hormone called “cortisol”. Cortisol is an emergency hormone that our body takes very, very seriously. The precursor hormone for cortisol is called “pregnenolone”. This is also the precursor hormone for estrogen, testosterone, and others that also play into the delicate balance of thyroid hormone. If you system is overloaded with cortisol, pregnenolone essentially gets diverted away from other hormones and only produces cortisol seeing as its an emergency hormone. This is called the “pregnenolone steal”, and it severely throws off the balance of our hormones which only hurts thyroid function and quality of life further. I know what you’re thinking… “But I can’t quit my super stressful job that has me working 80 hour weeks!”. If it’s effecting your quality of life that much that you’re constantly stressed, it’s time to think deeper into that one.
- Relationships and support system.
- Not having adequate support, or worse, having people who outright disapprove of what you’re doing is draining and stressful. Coming to a resolution of compromise with those around you and finding the right support is so important.
- Diet and exercise can often go hand in hand conventionally, but overly intense exercise is stressful and anything but healing. I quit crossfit, and adopted a routine of yoga, light weight lifting, and walking.
- One of the most under appreciated healing tools is sleep. You can be doing everything else right but if you’re sleeping 4 hours a night, your healing will be slowed, no question.
- Attitude and outlook.
- Having a positive outlook on life, your diet, and your Hashimoto’s disease is life changing. Having a bad attitude and doing
2. I healed my adrenal fatigue.
Also playing intro stress, adrenal fatigue is caused by chronic output of cortisol. Before you go into trying to heal your body with diet, you have to address healing your adrenals as well.
Our adrenals are two glands that are about too inches above your belly button that respond to stress. These glands are only meant to be used in emergency situations, but unfortunately, we zap our adrenals with everything from disregulated blood sugar, to stress from driving. Wearing out our adrenals that results in adrenal fatigue not only kills our energy, but it throws off the delicate balance of our hormones.
I’ll be writing another blog post specifically about healing adrenal fatigue, but I’ll tell your right now that number one is stress reduction! When I had a flare back this fall, I focused 90% of my energy of taking care of my adrenals by cutting back on my commitments, breaking up with intense exercise, and embracing stress reduction techniques. The result? Total control of the flare and a reversal in my antibody levels.
3.I eat a quality, nutrient dense diet rather than just “gluten free”.
This literally took years and years to perfect. I went entirely too long believing that as long as I was avoiding gluten, my diet was fine. My diet consisted of rice chex with low-fat milk, oatmeal, egg white omelets made with pam spray, the occasional vegetable in the form of carrot sticks, and gluten free pizza. I wasn’t eating gluten, but I also wasn’t nourishing my body and allowing it to heal with the right foods.
The food that we eat is fuel for our very cells and vital for healing our cells. Fats are necessary for our cell membranes, proteins for our hormones, and carbohydrates for our energy. Can you imagine the kind of cell membranes we’re building with pam spray and egg whites? Poor quality nutrition does not enable healing and managing a disease like Hashimoto’s.
Even when it comes to real foods like eggs (which may or may not work for many with Hashimoto’s) factory farmed eggs can have a ratio of omega 3, an anti-inflammatory fat, to omega 6, a pro-inflammatory fat, as unbalanced as 1:16 according to Nourishing Traditions! Where as, pastured eggs are a perfect 1:1 ratio and promote normal inflammation healing process within the body. The same goes for conventional beef, conventional packaged bacon, and even seemingly safe products like “organic” chicken. Animals are much like people in the sense that they need real food to be healthy. When we still feed “organic” chicken, “organic” soy and corn, it’s still not part of their natural diet. Animals need to eat a natural diet in order to be a healthy food source.
So, what do you need to look for as far as food quality goes?
- Pastured rather than free-range, or cage-free eggs or chicken
- Grass-fed beef, bison, and wild game
- Wild-caught fish
- Organic and non-GMO vegetables and fruits (see this list for exceptions)
- Sustainable coconut oil and palm oil
- Local when possible
Avoid buzzwords like “natural”, and “gluten free” as it bears little meaning in the long run.
I know what you’re thinking… cost. Though it may sound expensive, you can easily cut food costs on real food by joining a local co-op, participating in meat shares, and finding local providers through your local Weston A Price chapter.
4. I worked on healing my gut.
“Disease begins in the gut”, and that’s especially true for autoimmune disease. It’s said that increased intestinal permeability, or leaky gut, it part of the root cause of all autoimmunity. Our guts become damaged from a myriad of things such as…
- Poor digestion
- Imbalance of gut bacteria
- Overuse of prescription drugs or NSAIDS
- Poor diet
I was first diagnosed with leaky gut when I was 20 after having severe distress and fatigue after eating literally everything. It took years and disciple for me to start healing my gut, and my two biggest healers are the following too points…
5. I added in fermented foods, bone broth, and other healing foods to heal and rebalance my gut.
Avoiding things like gluten and processed foods is certainly part of a healing diet. However, we so often make the misconception that these healing, elimination diets like AIP and Paleo are all about removing, when in reality, they’re just as much about adding.
Adding in fermented foods will help to rebalance your gut bacteria which is crucial for the continued health of your gut. It’s said that one jar of sauerkraut is equal to 8 bottles of probiotics! Enjoy foods like sauerkraut, beet kvass, and other fermented veggies.
Bone broth is another great, healing food for a damaged gut. When made properly and from grass-fed/pastured ingredients, bone broth is rich in collagen which is healing to the stomach lining, and full of broken down amino acids that are easy to digest. Proteins are the building blocks of hormones which all comes back to thyroid function, so getting good quality proteins and really assimilating them is huge for a Hashimoto’s diet.
6. I healed my digestion process, and fat absorption.
Even when I started working on healing my gut, and adding more fat into my diet I was still suffering stomach pains and painful gallbladder attacks. What gives? I though I was gut healing. Let me be clear… gut healing is not always healing your digestion.
An ever-missing link to gut healing, healing your digestion is crucial. In my studies to become a nutritional therapy practitioner, I’ve come to understand that “You are what you digest”. Cutting out and adding in foods is important, but if we’re not digesting them properly, we’re still harming our guts.
So how does proper digestion actually work? Digestion is a north to south process, which can mean that if you’re having a problem further south, like increased intestinal permeability in your small intestines, or “leaky gut” it may very well be caused by dysfunction further north. Digestion is a long process that works sequentially so when one piece is missing, it disrupts the whole process.
If food is not properly digested and absorbed, we will never heal our the damage done to our gut, nor will we actually heal our body after the damage done to it by our immune system. We need food as fuel and nutrition to support our health at a cellular level… especially fats which are very commonly malabsored. If we’re not digesting our food, we’re not healing.
How do you start to improve digestion?
- Slow down when you eat.
- Chew, chew, chew your food.
- Supplement with stomach acid supplements like HCL and bitters. This was a huge game changer for me. Work with a practitioner to get to your own sweet spot here.
- Add foods like beet kvass for better fat digestion.
7. There is no one perfect diet, but there is a general template that I followed.
There is no one, perfect, miracle diet for Hashimoto’s disease. We’re all individuals and our bodies and disease are all different. Having Hashimoto’s disease does not magically unite hundreds of thousands of people by designating this perfect diet that magically works for everyone. We have individual needs, sensitivities, allergies, and intolerances.
However, there are tendencies that help create a general “template” that can help guide you, and help you build your own perfect plan. A great resource to refer to is the autoimmune protocol. A way of healing ones body that I moderately adopted back when I was 20, and evolved from there.
Here is the general template that can help guide you, while recognizing that it’s not 100% solid for everyone…
I can’t stress enough that this is a template. It’s not a definitive plan for everyone with Hashimoto’s ever.
For example, I have a weird reaction to spinach, and blackberries. They just don’t agree with me. There’s nothing in any guidebook anywhere that says these two foods are bad for Hashimoto’s in general, they’re just not good for me personally. A lot of these foods on this template may not work for you, and that’s okay!
Use this template as just that… a template and guidelines on where you can start and then tweak for your own purposes.
I highly recommend checking out pulse testing to zero in on how to customize your diet further.
8. I cook at home as much as possible.
I get it, processed gluten-free convenience foods are just that… convenient. A gluten free convenience food, and gluten free menu items at a restaurant are fast and easy, and just what we need that sometimes. However, when these convenience foods and “safe” restaurant options become staples, it’s time to take a step back. Though these may be acceptable treats for some, they’re neither healing nor nourishing to the body.
Cooking at home is not only the more traditional way to eat, but it ensures better control over your food quality and ingredients. Even seemingly safe convenience foods carry risk of poor quality oils, cross contamination, and less than ideal macronutrient ratios. Having more control and ownership over your food will set you up for success.
It’s not to say that I don’t enjoy sashimi and an epic bar at the park every now and then, but I’ve learned to love cooking at home and have lots of recipes here of what I eat weekly as well as meal prep tips.
9 . I worked to control my blood sugar.
I never wanted to admit that I had a blood sugar problem. I though that blood sugar was only a concern for those with diabetes and had nothing to do with my thyroid or hormones. Quite incorrect… we need to know and facts and recognize that controlling our blood sugar is crucial for diet with Hashimoto’s.
Remember all of that talk about cortisol and how it throws off our hormones? Well, stress isn’t the only factor for chronic cortisol output. Sugar is another factor. In normal blood sugar regulation, we wouldn’t have to rely on cortisol. There really isn’t pure, processed sugar in nature that we’d fine in sodas, cakes, and breads, so our bodies didn’t evolve with the need to lower blood sugar. However, when we’re drinking coffee with sugar, and eating sugary cereal or sweetened oatmeal, and having soda and having sugary food after sugary food, we’re spiking our blood sugar beyond what our body can handle. We’re over loading our liver and pancreas who are responsible for processing all of this glucose and we’re putting ourselves on a blood sugar roller coaster that’s stressing out our bodies and forcing cortisol production to deal with the stress.
Every get hangry? How about that 3PM feeling? You’re looking at blood sugar swings, subsequent cortisol output, and an eventual imbalance in hormones that only worsens Hashimoto’s symptoms and management.
So, how can you lower, and control blood sugar?
- I started out by ditching the coffee… its a huge contributor to spiking blood sugar as well blood sugar as well.
- Cut out the artificial sweeteners (I’m looking at you, stevia and diet soda). They still spike your blood sugar.
- Eat natural sugars in moderation.
- Pair carbohydrates that may spike your blood sugar with fat to slow absorption.
- Eat fat! Go to an avocado when you’re hungry rather than a smoothie. Which leads me into my next point…
- Enjoy treats within moderation.
Don’t worry, I still live a little. However, rather than diving head first into a candy jar at work, I opt for fruit, or a low sugar AIP treat.
10. I tried break my obsession and not stress around food.
It’s easy to get sucked into the details and become obsessed when it comes to as restricted diet. It’s stressful to be constantly meal planning, shopping, sourcing good quality food, and cooking. In the beginning, the stress really bogged me down. Head my warning, that this stress can be just as bad as eating a poor quality diet. Stress is harmful to our bodies and throws off our hormones as well.
At the beginning, it is inherently stressful, but it only lasts until it becomes habit. I powered through the stressful point and tried to quiet that voice in my head as much as possible until it became routine. I wrote another post about How to Deal With Stress on a Healing Diet that has action steps on how to combat this.
11. I changed my diet for the right reasons.
We can so easily identify anything diet related with things like weight loss, that we lose sight of why we started. I’ve wrote about weight gain before, and it’s tempting to just want to restrict calories and change your diet to lose weight. I’ve been there… and it never lasted. I hated that way I ate because the reason behind it was out of hating by body.
With Hashimoto’s, and with any autoimmune disease, and really anyone, we should be eating a good diet because we care about our bodies not because we want to be thin, not because we want to look a certain way, and not because everyone else is doing it…
So, long story short… Hashimoto’s is manageable and a healthy lifestyle is achievable! I’m not going to say it’s easy, and it definitely doesn’t happen overnight, but it is so, so worth it.
More questions? Please feel free to contact me!
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. None of the content on my blog is not to be substituted for medical advice, or treatment. These are my personal experiences.