When I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroid (an autoimmune disorder) back in July, the endocrinologist put me on Synthroid and recommended some changes to my diet. I started taking the new prescription and eating according to the Autoimmune Protocol at the same time. Within a month of making these two changes, my health and well being were dramatically improved! I listed some of the benefits in this post, including:
better sleep quality/less night waking
easy weight loss
severe plantar fasciitis of two YEARS finally was gone!
better skin, less breakouts, and the disappearance of red, rashy skin on my face
better mood, clearer thinking
Frankly the weight loss amazed me. I'd put weight loss on the back burner and made health my primary goal; I wanted to follow the AIP diet correctly and needed to focus on eating the right foods, without worrying about calorie counting or measuring. When I started dropping pounds I was really excited and surprised! I started AIP in mid-July weighing 242 pounds. Immediately after beginning Synthroid + AIP, I started losing weight every single week. I dropped one, two, even three pounds each week and by September 1 I had lost 16 pounds and weighed 226. I wrote about my weight loss progress in this post. What made this so amazing to me is that in the prior two and a half years the most I was able to lose in one month was 3 pounds. And it took so much less effort to lose on AIP than it did when I was calorie counting, and going to the gym a lot more.
I have often wondered whether all of these health improvements were a result of the new medication, or the dietary changes. At the time I just figured it was probably a combination of both, and I was just so happy with how much better I felt that it didn't matter too much which treatment helped what. It wasn't until I had been off of AIP for several months that I was able to see which symptoms returned and which didn't.
So now that I am still taking the Synthroid, but not eating an AIP food plan, which of the symptoms have returned and which have stayed gone? Well, the plantar fasciitis has stayed gone... but everything else has returned. What this tells me is:
Benefits of AIP: better sleep, more energy, weight loss, better skin, better mood, clearer thinking
Benefits of Synthroid: healed my plantar fasciitis when nothing else would. (I am pretty sure there are other Synthroid benefits for my thyroid, but perhaps I cannot feel these benefits fully while eating an inflammatory, standard American diet).
I am a lot heavier now than I was when the plantar fasciitis started, and I was about 40 pounds lighter during some of the time I had plantar fasciitis, so while I am sure weight contributes in some cases, it is not the main issue with mine. I remember reading a study at one point that suggested that people with low thyroid hormones can have trouble with tendons that won't heal; I do believe my thyroid issues were the reason the plantar fasciitis and tendinitis would not heal for two years until I started Synthroid. Then it almost magically disappeared.
So now the problem is, all those other symptoms came back, and I feel pretty crappy just like I did before I started AIP, and when I go back and read my blog posts for the two months I was eating on that protocol, I am jealous of myself. I want that! I want back the energy, the happiness, the feeling great. I want back the ability to eat when I want to, as much as I feel like eating, without having to measure or count calories as long as I ate from the AIP template, and lose weight. I want back the energy and desire to exercise, and ability to see pounds drop off every week without dieting and with just moderate, easy exercise. I felt so good and I want it back.
AIP is hard in some ways. It felt awful for the first five days, and there were sacrifices along the way. I had to give up a lot of my favorite foods (cheese was a tough one!) and couldn't easily find anything tasty to eat at restaurants or potlucks. I had to adjust my attitude about what I "deserved" to eat, or even what I "wanted" to eat: no more habitual coffeehouse stops, no sampling lots of goodies at parties. I stopped eating out almost completely because a plain salad with a plain chicken breast is just not worth it. But I learned to make delicious AIP meals and snacks at home and never felt deprived with what I was cooking.
I have put off going back on AIP for months, because I didn't want to stop eating out at new restaurants, or having a nice warm mug of cinnamon milk at bedtime, or eating pasta once in awhile. I didn't want to have to bring my own food to every potluck or other communal meal so I would have something to eat. I didn't want to drink tea with coconut milk instead of coffee with cream. And I didn't want to say no to Cheetos "in moderation" or "just one rice krispy treat" or a small square of lasagna. Hey, I will tell you flat out, I do not want to give up garlic bread or candy. I don't! I obviously really like that stuff! I have loads of it plastered all over my body in the form of fat rolls. But you know, I don't want to stay unhappy and unhealthy and keep "trying" but watching my weight creep up a pound every week. I don't want to give up being able to move freely and feel good about my body and being healthy. And I know that nothing, no other diet or eating plan has given me as many benefits as AIP has. Yes, it started out as an elimination diet... and that is what it is. But for me it is also sort of a holy grail of eating, because I felt so amazing on it and watched pounds drop off without even really working at it. I know this is the way my body wants me to eat.
The problem for me now is simply getting motivated or committed enough to start AIP again and stick with it. I do NOT want to start-stop-start-stop it. It is harder every time. I've been kind of waiting until I feel like I can succeed at sticking with it through those first five rough days and then on into the future without going off and screwing up. I need a better plan for what to eat when I am sick (because that is when I went off AIP: when I was sick for weeks). But my goal remains to gather myself and suck it up and do it. The question is just... when?
Will I stay on AIP forever? Not technically. After a couple of months I will start reintroductions again, adding foods back in the recommended order. Will I stay on an AIP framework with those reintroduced foods added? Yes, I really hope to. I think this is the way I want to eat for the rest of my life. And if I feel as good and get as amazing results as I did before, I think I will actually want to.
Food on the Brain
7 hours ago