When I first began this blog, I was pretty much relying on self-diagnoses. Then one day, I woke up and barely had use of my hands.
I resigned from my full-time job in October, 2013, my last day being December 31st. I needed to get healthy. I was missing almost a full week of work per month and getting worse, rather than better. I assumed I was just getting “glutened” more often than I realized. I started a version of The Autoimmune Protocol from Practical Paleo and noticed a big improvement in how I was feeling, so I started adding certain foods back in. My body seemed to turn against me. I think I slept the entire month of January. In February, I realized I had to take action or I was probably going to continue getting worse – or die. I began seeing a Functional Medicine doctor, and came up with a plan to get my life back. We’re still working, but I’m happy to say that there has been so much improvement.
After lots of testing, it was concluded that am dealing with an autoimmune condition. I haven’t taken the test to figure out exactly which one(s), mostly because I would rather spend the money on healing. The tests determined that I have a very bad immune response to the following foods and should completely avoid them, for the rest of my life:
- Grains of all kinds, including rice (I actually respond worse to gluten-free grains!)
- Soy (my worst offender)
- Eggs (I think this one hurts the most…. 😦 )
Yes, that is a long and tricky list. It has definitely been an adjustment for me (and my family), but also an somewhat of an encouragement to keep pushing. I’m so thankful I’m a creative and self-proclaimed-gifted cook, or else I would be out of luck.
Most of the recipes, with the exception of earlier recipes, will be AIP-friendly since that is how I eat and live. Thankfully, I can have coffee still, so it will absolutely be part of this blog 🙂
In 2010, I got pretty sick and stayed that way for a very long time. I’m talking the losing my hair, 20lbs underweight, can’t digest any food kind of sick. My face was covered with acne for the first time in my life and I just generally felt AWFUL. At first, I attributed all of this to stress because some pretty significant changes had occurred in my life and that just made sense. After a while, the stress level decreased, but my symptoms did not.
I always thought I knew what a healthy diet was – whole grains, low-fat dairy, “natural” sweeteners, lean meats, etc. You know, all the conventional “health” foods. A good friend at work suggested that I might have a food intolerance, so I of course eliminated what I thought was the obvious – dairy, specifically lactose. I mean, my grandmother was lactose intolerant, so that just had to be it. I did that for a couple of weeks and in that time visited my doctor. I guess I felt a little better, but not completely. My doc suggested I get some probiotics and aloe vera juice, and that I probably had good ol’ IBS. So I got those things, and I guess they helped. I still couldn’t focus, was not being productive at work or home, and was SO tired all the time. Constant brain fog. It sucked. It all just sucked.
As I researched more about food intolerance, I kept coming across that pesky little word – gluten. No. No, that can’t be it. I don’t do well without grains. I eat all whole grains. I always have. That can’t be it. But… I tried it. For one week, I eliminated gluten from my diet, and almost immediately noticed a difference. Uh oh.
And then it began. On Thanksgiving in 2011, I was comparing my digestive issues with a family friend at our annual ginormous-family-dinner, and she said,
“Have you ever heard of the Paleo diet?”
No dairy, no grains, no processed food, no legumes, no anything that would cause digestive distress – it sounded perfect. So in normal Abbey-fashion, I instantly began researching the heck out of it, and what I found fascinated me. The next day, I started and have not looked back. (Well, let’s be honest… every so often I cave and go for nachos (and ALWAYS regret it))… but I feel my absolute best when I’m putting the right foods in my body. Real foods, whole foods. Some of my friends say I’m weird because my digestive system just hasn’t evolved to digest grains. Well you know what, I’m completely happy in my weirdness. And I’ve never felt better.
All the while, I’m designing, creating, and transforming. Constantly. Whether it be a space or a meal or raising my child. That process amazes me. I’ve been involved in several “full gut renovations” as a Kitchen & Bath Designer, and this is the story of my own “full gut renovation” as a Paleo enthusiast and food lover.