Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Meals on AIP

Just thought I'd share the simplicity of my meals on the Autoimmune Protocol. You can't get a lot easier than this. You can make complicated recipes if you like, and I will do that on occasion, but there is a simple rhythm to my meals these days: protein, produce, fat. I pictured some of these meals in a previous post, including breakfasts like homemade breakfast sausage patties with acorn squash and apricots, or steamed butternut squash and apples topped with cinnamon, coconut milk, and toasted coconut. I often have *bacon* for breakfast too! That is probably my saving grace on this very restrictive diet: bacon is allowed if it is from pastured pork and has no added sugar or other junk in it. It isn't cheap, but a pound lasts me a long time as I limit myself to 2 pieces of uncured, pastured, sugar-free bacon and don't have it every day. I fry it up and usually enjoy it with some avocado and fruit, such as cantaloupe. So delicious!

bacon AIP autoimmune protocol diet paleo breakfast

I usually have some kind of meat and a vegetable for lunch and dinner. I roast some broccoli, or have a plain salad or a raw carrot with a piece of cold leftover salmon, chicken, pork tenderloin or beef. When I was craving something salty and crispy, I made some parsnip fries for my side dish. I got the idea from here, but only used salt and pepper to season and I baked them for less time. Just slice the parsnips into fries, toss in a bit of arrowroot starch mixed with salt and pepper, then spread them on a cookie sheet and drizzle with a healthy oil (I used avocado oil). Using nonstick foil makes these crispy and they never stick, are easy to flip and there's no pan to wash. I baked them at 400 degrees for 12 minutes, then flipped and cooked for 5 more minutes. Really good!

AIP autoimmune protocol, crispy parsnip fries recipe

Last night I was making spaghetti and meatballs for the family. This has been a staple for years; they get whole grain pasta and I get spaghetti squash, and both are topped with marinara sauce and meatballs. However, I can't have tomatoes on AIP, and the meatball recipe we used had ingredients I need to avoid. So instead, I went without sauce. I drizzled my spaghetti squash with a bit of olive oil and seasoned it with salt and pepper. Then I topped it with sauteed mushrooms and homemade Italian sausage. Wow, is this sausage good! Here is the recipe: Nightshade-free Italian Sausage. It's very simple to make. Just mix a pound of plain ground (pastured, if possible) pork with the following:

1 tsp each: basil, oregano, parsley (all dried)
1/2 tsp each: garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, sea salt, black pepper

Mix that all together and then crumble it into a hot skillet. Cook for about 12 minutes, until browned.

Excellent!

AIP Italian sausage over spaghetti squash, autoimmune paleo protocol recipes

I had the leftovers today for lunch. Loved this!

Tonight the kids are having tacos and I will have a taco salad. The only changes from my usual taco salad are: no cheese, no dressing, no salsa, no tomatoes, and a taco meat seasoning that is AIP-friendly: onion, garlic, oregano, cilantro, salt, and pepper.

I'm enjoying my food and eat when I am hungry. I do look forward to adding things back in, but I can handle this diet for another couple of weeks. I also bought The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook for more recipes and ideas. Will post how they turn out later!

If you want to learn more about AIP and autoimmune disease, here's an interesting read: Paleo Living Magazine. It's an easy to read summary of the basics.

Off to bike!


Monday, July 28, 2014

My Weight, and the Whole 30 compared to the Autoimmune Protocol Diet (Shades of Paleo)

I haven't talked much about my weight since I came back from my hiatus. Rather than obsessing about weight, I've been trying *very* hard to stay focused on sticking to the autoimmune diet/elimination plan 100%, which isn't as easy as it sounds, at least at first. I remember a couple years ago when the "in" thing was for bloggers to do the Whole 30... remember that? I guess it is still kind of popular, as it is a type of strict Paleo, and seems to help people get off their junk. So many readers suggested that I do a Whole 30 and while I sort of considered it once or twice, my primary thought was "no way... are you kidding me??" because it seemed so restrictive. However, now that I am about 2 weeks into AIP, I think the Whole 30 seems a lot easier!

What's the same:

On both Whole 30 and AIP, you can eat lots of meat and vegetables, some fruit, and healthy fats. You also must avoid refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, thickeners, MSG, alcohol, beans, soy, lentils and legumes of any kind including peanuts, grains, corn, and dairy.

What's different:

Allowed on Whole 30 but not allowed on AIP:
Eggs, nuts, tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, clarified butter, ghee, peas, coffee, and lots of spices derived from peppers or seeds such as paprika, cayenne, chili powder, nutmeg, etc.

Allowed on AIP but not on Whole 30:
Small amounts of real maple syrup and honey.

Also, AIP has a list of foods they recommend adding, such as organ meats and fermented foods.

Another difference is that on the Whole 30, we're advised: "Do not try to re-create baked goods,  junk foods, or treats with “approved” ingredients." However, there are whole websites devoted to recreating such things on AIP. You can have cookies, ice cream, candy, breads, or anything else you can concoct with only AIP-legal ingredients.

I've done that... made a cookie or ice cream here and there, although truly they are so bland and so far from the real versions they are generally not worth the effort. Better to have a peach or something. And I'd gladly trade my AIP honey and faked cookies for the Whole 30's tomatoes, eggs, nuts, and coffee!

Anyway, I'm doing this specific diet as recommended by my doctor to figure out any food sensitivities I may have. I'm about halfway through, and still 100%.

Well, I did start out talking about my weight but got sidetracked by wanting to explore these things, but let me just state the facts.

January 1, 2014: 230 pounds
Lowest weight reached between January and May: 226 pounds
May 5, when I went on hiatus: 232 pounds
Highest weight between May and July: 242 pounds
Weight today: 237 pounds

Since starting AIP and Synthroid I've been losing a pound a week (without counting calories) and hope that continues.

I am not happy that I am 5 pounds higher than when I 'left' in May and 7 pounds higher than I was on January 1, but I am glad I seem to have found an answer, and am hopeful that if the trend continues I will be back in the two-teens by year's end and 164 pounds by the end of next year. That sounds pretty good to me.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Confession

I have a confession to make.

Today I went to a fair. You know how fairs are, right? You remember how I used to eat, with the fried stuff and corn dogs and ice cream and Coke and elephant ears? If you don't remember, here's a post: Fairtime Again. I linked to my old 2007 and 2008 fair-eating posts in that post... and reading them all makes me incredibly sad. Sad that I am here again, sad that I was in such a bad state at one point, sad that I got better and worked through it and succeeded in changing myself so much... but mostly sad that I am fat again, and creeping towards that "got to eat it all" mindset again. But I digress.

I went to a fair today, not the local one that happens in August, but a smaller one that had many food booths. It was full of people eating ice cream in waffle cones, of the smell of french fries and onion rings and hot dogs, of people drinking sodas. I smelled that food, I wanted that food. I wanted that food so bad it is scary. I did not eat any of that food. Instead, I sent my daughter to buy some bottled water for us, and we had our lunch at home. But I sat on the grass with my water and I watched a slim mom walking by with her husband and kids, all of them with sodas in their hands, and I got jealous. I did not feel happy and proud of myself for being "off soda" for a long time now, or for having a daughter who doesn't LIKE soda and given a choice of beverage CHOSE a bottle of water today. No. I was jealous of all those people walking past or sitting on benches with hot dogs and cheese steak sandwiches, with fries and ice cream. A lot of them were slim and some were obese but they all looked like they were so enjoying their food and for a minute I was just mad that I couldn't be like that anymore. That I gave that up to be healthier... to be thinner. And even madder that I gave those things up and I am FAT and UNHEALTHY.

I started counting days in my head to when I will be done with AIP and whether it will be before the local fair. I imagined going to the fair and eating just the way I described in those blog posts I wrote above. I imagined sitting alone under a food tent shoving fried stuff in my face, all dipped in Ranch, my only worry being whether I would have room on my stomach for a funnel cake and an ice cream cone later. I imagined it, and wanted it, and part of the reason why was because I am not even remotely thin anymore. I am fat again. And I did not get fat this time on Twinkies and pizza rolls and bowls of cookie dough and pans of brownies. No. I got fat again on SO MUCH LESS food, and so much less junk. I got fat again eating a third of the calories I gained weight on the first time. I must have had a steam engine metabolism back then, regularly eating 3500-5000 calories a day and staying around 270-280. Now? My stomach cannot hold nearly the volume of food as it did back then, and as my metabolic testing says, I have to stay around 1500 to maintain!

And all of this upset me... even though my logical mind knows there are far more serious and important things to be upset about than not getting to have an onion ring right now...I still had those emotions and still felt angry. And the main reason I did not just go buy myself an ice cream cone and some fries? Because I'd already told the kids I have to do AIP. I told them how important it is for my health. I explained why I would not be taking them out to eat, and I posted a list of allowed and prohibited foods on our fridge. They have been incredibly supportive. I just could not, COULD NOT break down and eat an ice cream cone in front of them. Can you imagine their faces? Their shock? Them telling me please not to eat those things? Oh, I could imagine it. So I had my bottle of water and plotted to have all those foods again, somehow, someday. Because I am fat again anyway, and may as well enjoy it.

I came home and was craving all those things terribly. I ate some olives, and I mashed some plantains and cooked them in coconut oil with cinnamon. Later, I froze some coconut milk and blended it with canned pumpkin, cinnamon, and a tablespoon of maple syrup and had myself a scoop of AIP-friendly "ice cream."

Was it wrong, somehow, to recreate those foods I wanted in an elementary way? To pretend just a bit that I was eating an elephant ear and some ice cream (if you tried these AIP foods you'd realize what a stretch this is and how much imagination one needs to pretend such a thing) or to feel better because I 'indulged' (without going off AIP)? I don't think it's wrong, but maybe it is self sabotaging in a way, I'm not sure. Is it being inventive, or giving in to cravings?

I know I can't indulge fully like I used to at the fair. I physically can't eat that much, I don't really want to eat that much, and eating gluten or diving headfirst into all the restricted AIP foods at once would negate this whole elimination diet process. I have to add things back in, one at a time. Slowly. Although, you know, on days like today I just want to say 'screw it' and eat whatever I want. Since I am fat anyways.

I have been losing a pound a week on AIP, but weight loss was not the primary goal here. The goal is to stay OFF the foods that I may be sensitive to for a long enough period of time for my body to feel better, and then add them in slowly to find out which foods 'bother' me. I have done that so far. I hope I will be continue to be able to do that. Some days I just feel like slipping back into the food coma I used to live in. But today, I didn't slip.

Tonight I will sleep well, and tomorrow will be a good day.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

AIP Travelling

Today I was on the road most of the day. I left after 11 am and got home around 8 pm. The past few times I've done this, I have just stopped along the way for food: first, an iced decaf Americano with sugar free chocolate syrup and cream. Then lunch might be a chef salad with turkey, ham, egg, cheese, and Ranch dressing on the side. In the afternoon I'd have a pack of almonds and another Americano to tide me over for dinner, which would be the usual lower-carb meat and veggies (baked chicken and broccoli, or steak and mixed steamed veggies). Being on AIP, a lot of the things I used to enjoy on trips are off limits: coffee of any kind, not to mention the cream and sugar free syrup; hard boiled eggs; dressings of almost any kind found in restaurants; most lunch meats; cheese; butter, oil, and many spices meats are cooked in. So I packed.

I brewed myself some plain green tea, iced it, and put it in my water bottle.
I baked this chicken (with less honey) the night before (I used boneless, skinless thighs) and brought along a cold piece.
I brought a bag of plantain chips, which are AIP approved only if they contain no preservatives and are roasted in either coconut oil or palm olein, like Inka Chips or Turbana Chips (plain, not flavored).
I brought an apple.
I made these Banana Bread Macaroons and brought two of them. They are really wonderful... the flavor of banana bread, the texture of a macaroon. Each one is one tablespoon... small, but filling and satisfying.
I could have brought carrot stick but thought this would be enough.
I was wrong!

About 6:30 I'd already eaten all of my food and was legitimately hungry again! I stopped at a diner on the way home. I talked to the waitress and told her I was on a very limited diet and explained the gluten, dairy, etc. She recommended a hamburger with no bun since they were made from scratch and she could have him make one without seasoning. So I had a plain green salad with carrots and cukes, topped with a plain burger patty, pickles, and red onion. Good enough.

Nothing I can eat is OMG so super delicious that I want to binge on it. I am learning to appreciate the basic flavors of food without a lot of WOW factor. I think when I am able to add back some of the restricted foods, I will so appreciate the flavors of, say, a basic tomato sauce (if I can tolerate tomatoes!)

Also, I wanted to note that I am sleeping better than I have in YEARS. I don't know if it is the diet or the Synthroid, but every night I am asleep before 11 and up at 7 or 8. I still wake up one or two times in the night (bathroom breaks) but fall right back asleep. For years I have been waking up 3, 4, 5 or more times in the night and unable to fall back asleep for an hour or two... resulting in my getting only 4 hours, maybe 5 hours of broken-up sleep per night. Now I am getting a good 8 hours a night. This is really the best quality sleep I can remember having in so, so long! I am very thankful and feeling better for it.

Here's hoping things keep getting better!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Tough Day on AIP

Today was a tough day on the Autoimmune Protocol. Funny how yesterday was my best day yet... I had energy, was happy, and felt 'normal' for the first time in ages. Yesterday I biked 25 minutes, lifted weights for 35 minutes, swam for an hour straight, and walked a mile and a half, and I still felt great. I slept very well last night but today was not like yesterday. I had a headache, felt blah and tired, and had brain fog. I have been 100% on AIP all week, including today, but I really struggled this afternoon. At one point I felt like I HAD TO HAVE some coffee or some chocolate. I was rationalizing it in my head. Just one off day won't hurt... I could have the coffee with no cream. I could get extra dark chocolate. I could go through a fast food drive through and get 2 sausage egg cheese biscuits... then I snapped out of it, got myself an iced green tea, and went home. I made myself some grassfed beef meatballs (with salt, green onion, garlic, and cilantro added) and roasted broccolini and told myself how fortunate I am to have such good healthy food to eat. I made it through a tough day and am *so* glad I did not give in to my cravings.

I am keeping a food journal so I can keep an eye on how various foods may be affecting me. This will be even more important when I start reintroducing things in a month or two. For now, my daily intake is basically a lot of produce and meat with a side of avocado and coconut milk or coconut butter. In the fridge right now:

cauliflower
broccoli
onion
apricots
peaches
apples
lemons
limes
Romaine
kale
celery
carrots
cantaloupe
raspberries
mushrooms
cucumbers

Plenty to choose from, and tomorrow I need to roast some chicken so I have that to grab when hungry.

Tomorrow will be a better day!

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