Seven weeks have passed since I started the chemo-drug Methotrexate. Sadly, my dose has increased, which seems to be normal -a fact they didn’t share with me at first. Once a week, I meet the Nightingales, that’s what I call them. A form of endearment, a tribute to Florence Nightingale and all the others who followed in her footsteps, and take care of us when we need them the most.
Every week they take five vials of my blood. I hardly feel it, when they professionally insert the needle. They are wonderful, knowing to be monitored by a cautious doctor on a weekly basis has given my mind the ease it needed so badly.
What can I do to help them -and ultimately myself- I wondered and decided to go on a brutal elimination diet. The AIP (Autoimmune Protocol) right from the start didn’t sound right, yet I followed it to the T for four weeks. A lady who also has autoimmune disorders joined me and so we suffered together for a while.
I read up on it -all sounded so promising, so wonderful. (Too good to be true?)
AIP -one of these Kato/Paleo spin-offs. Eating like a caveman (cavewoman). Carbs are the enemy, protein is your friend.
Remove the following from your diet:
- Grains (Gluten) – Legumes -Dairy – Refined and processed sugars and oils –Eggs (especially the whites) – Nuts (including nut butter, flours, and oils) -Seeds (including seed oil, cocoa, coffee, and seed-based spices) – Nightshades (potatoes [sweet potatoes are fine] – tomatoes, eggplants, sweet and hot peppers, cayenne, red pepper, tomatillos, goji berries etc. and spices derived from peppers, including paprika) – Potential Gluten Cross-Reactive Foods – Alcohol -Non-nutritive sweeteners (yes, all of them, even stevia and monk fruit) -Emulsifiers, thickeners, and other food additives.
- To sum it up. Take the fun out of eating, the thrill out of cooking.
I stayed hungry for four weeks, not starving but always left with a feeling of emptiness. I needed more food. I saw (and felt) some results, even the scale when down (but too fast and too unhealthy) but overall the form of eating wasn’t what I had hoped for. I ate healthy fish and organic meat with every meal, which is the opposite of how I was brought up. In my opinion, I ate too much protein. I had energy, but not for long. I hardly made it to 1,200 calories a day, which is not enough if you work hard.
“Protein is the enemy if you have an autoimmune disorder,” my body whispered. I ignored it.
It didn’t feel right, yet I continued.
Pre-cooking seemed to be the key to success and so I prepared meals for a few days, and a few hours later our fridge was full of food containers. Nappa cabbage with mushrooms, bok choy with onions and garlic, homemade breakfast sausage patties, and chopped-up fruits, and vegetables were waiting for me. A large baked salmon filet had been divided into portions. I was prepared!
I fell asleep hungry and woke up the same way. Before the AIP my last thought (and the first) was my husband, now it was food. (I am so glad he mostly ignores my blog.) One day I ate cold salmon and Nappa cabbage for breakfast, standing in my kitchen, right out of the container. Still in my Pj’s, hair a mess, I went downstairs, let our dog out, and opened the fridge. I was starving, or though it felt. I am so glad nobody was watching me when I gulped my ‘breakfast’ down. I felt miserable like someone had taken my happiness away.
My weekly blood test is necessary to make sure my liver and kidney are ‘fine’ with the chemotherapy drug. Within three weeks of eating AIP, my once great lab results were all over the place. My liver and kidney were fine, the rest? Not so much. My inflammation markers were higher than they had been without the drugs. My sodium levels, once in the normal range, were now sky-high, and so was my iron. The following week it got worse.
Overall, I felt better but not good enough.
There was still pain and morning stiffness, aches I wanted to get rid of. The overall well-being I had hoped for (the miracle I long for) did not happen.
A doctor in India asked me to get off the protein, and a Rheumatologist in Hamburg German said the same. A lady in Italy, a holistic healer I was fortunate to meet years ago, went a step further.
“Give me two weeks,” she asked.
She wanted me to quiet down my life for fourteen days, and so I did. No TV, not much distraction, only 1/2 internet a day -including blogging and customer connections. (Yes, I know, I have been absent, perhaps have even been missed.)
“Eat plant-based & no oils!” That’s what she wanted me to do, which sounded highly unappealing. (Go shoot me now.)
“No oils????” I almost screamed and she laughed.
“Two weeks! Deal?” she asked.
I cursed, but knew she meant well and so I agreed. (Sigh, when will I learn to say “No”).
She recommended a cookbook, which I ordered. I have bought so many cookbooks and health books, all with the hope to get the answers to ALL MY QUESTIONS, one more surely wouldn’t break the bank.
I agreed to two weeks of a vegan lifestyle and promised to live oil-free, which I thought would be impossible. Back to juicing and smoothies. Out with the organic meat, bye-bye fish, hello fruits and vegetables. Hello, gluten-free oats and quinoa. I have missed you!
I don’t know Ashley Madden, and I don’t get a commission or a gold star for posting her cookbook. Yet she should get a lifetime achievement award from people like me. This lady is a genius. She put the fun in a lifestyle that sounded boring, she put the taste into meals I thought would be tasteless.
For the last two weeks, I have eaten wonderful meals. My husband, who can eat what he wants (but not as much as he wants) told me to stop cooking two different meals. “I love what you eat,” and so my life became easier. I cook vegan oil-free dishes and a piece of meat for him. Voila! “Dinner is ready, hon.”
I tried so many wonderful recipes and best of all, the hunger went away.
Then the miracle happened.
After ten days I was pain-free, and my next blood results on Friday came back normal. My inflammation markers are finally lower, my kidney and liver still doing fine, and the rest of my numbers are back in the normal range.
I can’t help but smile. How lucky am I that I have all these choices?
How fortunate am I to speak all these languages to get updates from all over the world, everybody eager to help me. Strangers are truly interested in my well-being. Could I be more blessed?
Also, isn’t it perfect timing? With grocery prices off the charts -I am of the meat. I am waiving to Raising Canes and KFC whenever I drive by. My former guilty pleasures are no longer desired.
Brilliant dinner ideas, colorful salads, wholesome breakfast alternatives, and guilt-free sweets. Life is good!
And I am keeping my hair! Still, no dramatic side effects. Yeah, Baby!
And in case you read down to here. Think about it, cavemen didn’t have oils or fats to cook. Their cooking techniques were very different from ours. I think the Australian aborigines and some African tribes use these procedures to this day.
Not using oils or fats when I prepare my meals has been the puzzle piece I had been waiting for.
I will be adding slowly food back into my diet but will stay off the meat and off the oils for another 90 days.