Working my way back to AIP. Again.

It’s been well over a month since I finished my antis and I have a few flares on my unmentionables. They are at the front, so don’t rub when I walk and I’ve actually learnt to accept them. I realised that just because I am having a flare, it does not have to mean I am a failure or that it is game over. It is just part of my life and if it pops up in an area that doesn’t cause me too much grief, I’m happy with that!

I really am trying to be good. I had been writing a food diary religiously and I do plan to get back to my nutritionist doctor. I have ordered more Bactivit and more Permeaprotect and have been taking it all as advised, along with cod liver oil. Do these things work? Who knows?! 

Going back to AIP eating is a tough call. The best part is that eating mostly paleo/AIP for the past two years means that jumping back in the saddle is not too scary, although I can’t say I’m 100% back on board just yet. However, I rarely eat processed foods, so that’s no biggy. I never drink any sodas or fruit juice, so nothing to miss there. I have cut out wine for the past two weeks – I didn’t even drink when we went to visit some vineyards. It doesn’t take as much effort to say no anymore and I guess coming to terms with the longevity of the disease has stopped me being so emotional about having to be denied certain foods. That’s not to say I’ve got it cracked, but it’s just that if I look at where I was a year ago, it really has gotten easier and easier.

We currently have a freezer full of bones, carrot peels/ends and celery just waiting for my stockpile of stock to run low. We have a slow cooker ready to make the stock if it does get low. We have pork belly curing in the fridge ready to make the next batch of bacon. We have a bag full of measured out ground spiced pork sausage for breakfast. I have sliced onions and frozen them in weeks worth of portions, ready to use and peeled and halved all the garlic I need for the week. I have peeled and topped and tailed carrots in a tupperware in the fridge – easy for a snack or to use in my recipes.

We do all of these things as a family, which takes a lot of the effort out of them and even if I am in the kitchen prepping food, Mr B will be helping by entertaining Baby B or sorting out another meal and Ty will be folding washing or unloading the dishwasher. There is definitely about having a complete group effort that takes the pressure off and makes the whole thing much easier.

I am still battling with a bit of a sugar dragon. Tonight I caved and as I have a whole bag of beautifully ripe avocados, I indulged myself and made an avocado chocolate dessert using 100% unsweetened cocoa powder, organic honey, coconut oil and of course avocados all thrown in a blender and whipped up into chocolatey heaven. No reactions yet and even though it was a little avocadoey, I really could see how avocados can be used as a creamy substitute in puddings. I reckon if there had been another stronger flavour in there (mint perhaps?), I really would not have tasted the avocado at all. In any case, it was delicious and filling and not forgetting that if I was eating like any normal person, I would’ve just made one of the healthiest chocolate mousses out there!

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Autoimmune and Paleo eating. The family approach.

My oldest daughter, Ty, asked me what it is like to be a parent. I said that it is the best job in the world, but it can also be the worst. I know she understands that statement, even though it sounds harsh. One minute she makes my heart feel like it’s fit to burst with pride and love and the next, I am tearing my hair out trying to deal with a stubborn ‘teenager’, who refuses to do as she’s told. Lately it’s been more of the former and part of it has manifested from her approach to how we eat now. We have become more united and she has shown me strength of character – beautiful independent thoughts exude from her. To explain though, I guess I’ll have to go over a little of how our eating habits have changed in our home.

When I set out to eat a Paleo diet, I spent hours doing my usual research and my mind floated dreams of us all eating pile of vegetables and fruit, good protein; dreams of eliminating bread, pasta and all the ‘bad’ foods from our household. I had no idea how I would implement it, nor how it would pan out. I read about several different approaches to applying ‘the changeover’ at home; from the extreme, who ban everything and take a blanket approach within their household to those who made the changes for themselves and left the family to eat as they were before. There was not a great deal of in between, but maybe people think others don’t want to read about people, who (like me), go through waves of eating styles in their home based on the ethos of eating Paleo and more sustainably.

So I introduced Paleo to the family and let them decide. Mr B backed me and from day on. Our main meals were strictly non-processed and free from grains, rice, white potatoes and pasta. There was no more take-away pizza, no more beautiful mushroom risotto, with white wine and parmesan (Ty’s favourite) and no more spaghetti bolognese. Ty understood the changes and although she was a little reluctant, she soon became a massive fan of vegetable tagine and sweet potato with prawn Thai style soup. I carried on buying her any cereal she liked; I also bought bread, butter, milk and cheese. When Ty started school over here in September, she ate school meals – carb-laden and although sometimes reliably sourced and organic, for the most part just a lot of processed food.

At Christmas, family and friends sent tons of chocolates, sweets and biscuits from the UK – a lovely idea, but not great for a family who were trying to develop a new way of eating. I encouraged home baking, as I always have, and emphasised to Ty how great it was that we could see what ingredients she was putting in her sweets. I gave her constant and well-deserved praise for the beautiful cakes and cookies she made.

When my HS got worse, I decided to take the autoimmune approach and eliminated everything I needed to –  no cheating at all. The family was subjected to more meal changes; no tomatoes, spices, chilli and eggs. Cooking got a whole lot harder and we had to get more creative. There were a lot of roasted vegetables, roasted chicken, pork. More sweet potato chips, stir fry broccoli, onion and a constant struggle to try to get leafy greens into our diet. A trip to Ed’s family went really well – everybody accommodated my changes and even though there was the usual chocolate, milk and pancakes for everyone else, together we had amazing main meals – simple but delicious fish and chicken dishes and organic vegetables. We encouraged Ty to eat how she wanted and explained that being at Nanny’s on holiday was a good time to indulge, if she wanted to – and she did. As the diet continued I found I had a reaction to red meat and so homemade burgers, BBQ steak and ground beef were off the menu. More changes, restrictions and struggles, but we kept looking for more recipes.

One day when I was writing a shopping list, Ty said to me that she didn’t want any more sugary/chocolate breakfast cereal.  She told me that she wished to be healthier and have more protein for breakfast. It helped that the paediatrician in New Orleans had told her that protein was an important part of her breakfast – funny the things kids remember. She said she was going to start eating omelettes instead. She decided that to do this she would shower the night before to allow herself time to cook breakfast. And she did. She cooked mackerel omelettes everyday for a longtime. As she became more confident in using the hob, she took a bigger interest in cooking. She started reading my recipe books and writing lists of ingredients for me to buy. She then started baking alone. From the weighing of ingredients, peeling and cutting fruit to using the oven.

Since then she has cooked apple crumble, cakes, upside-down apple and walnut pie. She made an amazing BBQ sauce from a Paleo cookbook and I often find her with her head in a recipe book, plotting her next bake-off. She tries hard to eat like me. She asks how much protein is in her food. She eats large helpings of salad with her dinner, without even being asked. She still eats sweets if she wants to, but they are never bought by me. My Mum asked if Ty would like some sweets and I suggested she buy Ty some silicone cupcake moulds. Ty loves them!

She’s back on cereal now, but it’s organic muesli, instead of Coco Pops. She has tried soya milk instead of cow’s milk. She talks about how different foods make her feel. She has an awareness of her diet, that last year even I didn’t have.

So this is how we do it in our house. We don’t all eat the same, but there are no special allowances when it comes to our main meals together. We try new foods and recipes often and we encourage baking – even if it is nowhere near Paleo. We cook together and eat together and this is one of the parts of our lives that has made us closer. Ty still drives me insane and is as stubborn as a mule, but she is educated, objective and very considerate. I am proud of my daughter and her approach to eating, even if it is not the same as mine.

Today is Day 2…again. I am back on paleo, stricter than ever and following the autoimmune protocol – or what I know of it at least. I have no excuses left, just pain and more pain. I feel stressed, anxious, broken, but weirdly motivated. I have given up dairy, eggs, potatoes, tomatoes, chilli and all types of peppers, certain other spices and all refined sugars. I have reread Primal Girl’s blog http://www.primalgirl.com/2012/03/10/primalgirl-opens-up-hidradenitis-suppurativa-part-2/ and am determined to see if I am eating anything that triggers it. I know that it has improved in terms of lower inflammation and the spots leaking much quicker than before. This is partly down to my diet, but hey, it could be the homeopathic treatment?? Who knows?

I’m normally quite good at diets. My family would say that’s an understatement and that once I set my mind to something, it’s going to get done! The problem I have is other people’s opinions. I’m fine eating anything Ed or I prepare, but eating at other peoples’ houses is a whole new minefield. Most people will not accept a polite ‘no’ to their offerings. They might say, “Just a little bit won’t hurt” or “you should stop that diet before you get too thin – have some of this”. Even the ‘taste my wares’ guy in the supermarket looks offended when I don’t want to try his delicious je ne sais quoi! Now, I have started saying that I have a skin condition which is affected by food, but this is fairly complicated and may lead to further discussion. I’m sure that when they’re eating, people don’t want a full rundown of the pus and inflammation that comes with HS – especially down in your nether regions. So, I’m learning how to pitch it right. ‘I’ve just eaten’ or “no, but I’d love some more of that salad – did you make it?’ or any other diversionary tactic I can think of!

I am ever hopeful, as I believe you have to be with any kind of long term condition. I will stick to my diet and see how it goes. Failure is not an option!