Moderation doesn’t work when your immune system is bonker balls

We all grew up hearing “everything in moderation” which to me meant the world and all its food are your oyster just don’t reload your plate.  I think this message is fine if not a little ineffective (hello startling national health statistics) but if I took it to heart I wouldn’t be where I am today, remission.

You see the biggest step I’ve taken in my healing was finding out my food sensitivities and eliminating them from my diet. This meant I took out gluten/wheat, eggs, soy, corn, and dairy from my diet for an entire month and then one-at-a-time slowly added each ingredient back in to find out how my body responded. Turns out my body does not do well with dairy, eggs, and gluten aka a breakfast taco.

After the required mourning period, I got real about keeping those things out of my diet. Cooking at home is the best thing I can do because I know what is going in my food but when I go out to eat I have to be that person. You know the person we vilify in pop culture that makes the server swear on his mother’s grave that the food they are contemplating ordering hasn’t even so much as looked at gluten, eggs, or dairy? Yeah, now I get to be that person. At first, I always gave this fast mumbling excuse about my autoimmune diseases which just made things way WAY more awkward. But now I’ve been on this bandwagon so long I can’t be bothered to make anyone else comfortable because the stakes are just too high for me.

When I eat gluten my chest tightens up, my joints ache, and my anxiety increases often followed by depression. When I eat dairy I end up with a bunch of mucous and a migraine. When I eat eggs I look about 4 months pregnant and am not a fun to ride in a car with, if ya know what I mean.  These symptoms suck but they are really just the tip of the iceberg.

These sensitivities are an indication that I have leaky gut which means proteins from these foods leave my digestive track and leak into my body and my body responds-rightly so- by engaging my inflammatory response. One bagel could have by immune system going bonker balls for months.  There is just no room for moderation here.

Diet isn’t the only thing I have to watch, stress and toxins are important too, but if I’m not diligent with what I put into my body I suffer and suffer and suffer. This isn’t easy. It isn’t easy to schlep all the food I can eat across the state every holiday. It’s not easy watching everyone else eat at functions while my stomach growls. It’s not easy having to be on my guard around food all the time. But in the end, my quality of life is worth it.  Being in remission is worth it. And there is nothing moderate about that.

Having Lupus doesn’t mean the world gets less crazy. How to deal

Self-Care Checklist for when the world has lost its mind

Warning: I’m going to talk about current events. If you are in a phase of your journey where you have more than enough on your plate with just waking up every day and have no desire to know whats going on in the world, stop reading here. You do your journey and don’t feel guilty for a minute. With a disease like Lupus, we all do the best we can. There are plenty of great blog post you can read on this site that will help you on your journey that don’t deal with the news.

Now for the rest of us: This weekend was an especially brutal one. The events in Charlottesville are deplorable and heartbreaking. Like you, I am angry and sad. After holding vigil by my phone all Saturday, I was in a pretty horrible place. I woke up feeling ill for the first time in a long time and, frankly, a little depressed.

Maybe this describes you this past weekend or maybe it’s some other horrible thing happening out there that takes you down. Whatever it is, I want to remind all of us (myself included) how to manage our reaction to the craziness of the world so we can protect our health. This is vital because we aren’t just women with chronic diseases, we are a citizen of the world and what happens in it affects us deeply. But, unfortunately, the world didn’t stop being crazy when we got our diagnosis, and worry and stress tend to exacerbate our symptoms.

These are the things I reminded myself that help me take care of myself while being a citizen of this world.

  1. Care and worry aren’t the same things.  I give myself permission to care about the world and the people in it, but my worry doesn’t help anything. My worry doesn’t stop bombs, or change hearts, or rewrite history. My worry only hurts me; it compromises my physical and mental well-being. When I figured this out, I started saying this mantra when I find myself being consumed by worry over issues I can’t control: “I can care deeply, but this situation doesn’t need my worry.
  2. Act on your convictions. If you struggle to get out of bed every day you might be inclined to skip this step, but please don’t.  When I say act on your convictions, it could mean go volunteer or go to a meeting to talk about the big issues and brainstorm solutions, or it could just mean pray or meditate. Smile at a stranger. Tell someone in your life how amazing you think they are.  Action doesn’t have to be a big grand gesture, it just means to strike back against the ugly with love. Remember to direct that love as much inwardly as you do outwardly.
  3. Use your energy wisely. I woke up on Sunday feeling horrible because I spent my energy on worrying over Saturday.  When you have dealt with or are dealing with fatigue (like the exhausted in your bones kind), you realize that energy is kind of like money. You don’t always have it. If you don’t spend it wisely, you can end up hurting. Spend your energy wisely, preferably on things that will increase your energy and help you heal.
  4. Get yourself to your community. A big part of taking care of yourself is finding and being apart of a community of uplifting people who support you and are worthy of your open heart. Maybe that means your local lupus support group and/or your church. Maybe it means an online community of people who share your love for knitting or Jane the Virgin. Thanks to the internet, community can be cultivated anywhere, it just takes action on your part to find it and show up.

The world is a broken place filled with broken people but it’s also a beautiful place filled with loving and caring people. Take care of yourself, your heart, and your mind.

XOXO,

Carrie

Yes you can be social even with a “weird” diet and bonus recipe

 

Maria from sound of music saying "Look at all the food I can't eat"

Some of my healing from autoimmune disease can be directly attributed to the food I eat and the food I don’t. A few years back, an elimination diet revealed I have a sensitivity to gluten, dairy, and eggs. While I wasn’t surprised about the gluten or the dairy I was so sad to see eggs go. I live in the land of breakfast tacos for cryin’ out loud! On top of all that I make it a point to avoid processed food and sugar.

So from a standard American diet point of view, I am pretty limited in what I can eat.

While my diet is health supportive (and delicious) it tends to be different from most people’s. Because of that I stopped inviting people over for meals as much or accepting dinner invitations. I didn’t want to impose my restrictions on others and I think I felt a little self-conscious about serving people my “weird” diet.

But ya know what, that’s no way to live. I love my friends and I love to eat with them and cook for them. And bonus: participating in the community keeps us health. So I started accepting dinner invites, although it took me awhile to stop apologizing profusely for all my dietary restrictions (maybe I’m not completely there),  and I started having people over again. Last night, in fact, my dear friend (and soon to be podcast co-host!!!) and her awesome kiddo came over for a cookout.

Here is the weird meal I made.

Grilled Tempeh* and Veggie Fajitas with Guacamole

  • Servings: 8
  • Print

Ingredients

grilled sweet potatoes, portabella mushrooms, red onion, bell peppers, and tempeh on a wooden cutting board with a white bowl of lime wedges. Tempeh

  1. One to two packages of tempeh (I really like Lightlife’s flax tempeh). You can easily replace this with any meat of your choice.
  2. 8oz of vegetable broth
  3.  One TBS of fajita seasoning or 1tsp cumin, 1 tsp chili powder, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp of coriander.

Veggies

  1.  Sweet potato peeled and cut into 1/2 inch planks.
  2. Two bell peppers cut into big wedges.
  3.  Two or more portabella mushrooms washed with stems removed
  4. Half of a red onion (keep intact)

Guacamole

  1. Two ripe avocados
  2. Three to five garlic cloves minced
  3. The juice of one and a half limes
  4.  Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Place the tempeh ingredients in a cast iron skillet on the stove over medium heat. Simmer the tempeh for up to 20 minutes, flipping as you go. Make sure to add a bit of broth if the pan starts to dry out. You could do this step a day in advance and let it marinade in the refrigerator.
  2. Coat the vegetables, onion, and mushrooms with either coconut oil (which is constantly melted in my house this time of year) or olive oil.  Toss with the fajita seasoning, about 1 TBS.
  3. Heat the grill to medium heat.
  4. Cut the tempeh in half, making two squares. Brush with oil on either side.
  5. Place everything on the grill starting with the tempeh. The tempeh goes on the top rack and I placed the bell pepper and sweet potato in a veggie basket like this Grillux Stainless Steel Vegetable Grill Basket (affiliate link). The mushrooms and onions (cut side down) go directly on the grill.
  6. Grill everything for about 15 minutes flipping everything but the onion in the halfway through.
  7. Make the guacamole by mixing all the ingredients together. This will make a really large batch, which is a beautiful thing.
  8. Once cooked, slice up the tempeh, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and onion into long stripes.
  9. Pull out lettuce leaves, chard leaves, or a tortilla of your choice and make the best fajita ever!

We had so much fun eating and hanging out. My weird diet didn’t feel so weird and made me realize I was the only one making it weird. The adults had fun, the kids had fun, and just because I don’t dine on sugar and dairy didn’t mean the kids had to reframe. kids eating ice cream on a picnic table. A note on soy. Most soy we consume in the US is really not great for us. This soy is the by-products of GMO seeds from subsidized farming that is put into all our processed food or shaped into fake meats, soy dog anyone?  While this type of soy is not great for our health, fermented soy, like tempeh, has beneficial probiotics and has lots of vitamin K2.  While you don’t want to eat any soy all day every day, I believe fermented soy can be a part of a whole foods diet that supports our health. Check out what Dr. Hyman has to say about it here.  Or course, just like I am with eggs, you may not be able to tolerate soy and thats cool too. Stay tuned for more on elmination diets.

Lupus Awareness Month: My Life with Lupus

This month is Lupus Awareness month which, as the Lupus foundation of America puts it, is meant to “increase public understanding of this cruel and mysterious disease that ravages different part of the body.”  It’s a noble cause, but it will always come up short when trying to explain what it means to live with the disease.  Even those of us with a Lupus diagnosis can’t have a complete grasp of what the disease means for someone else because it’s as individual as it is cruel. However different our experiences with the disease are, I imagine we all share that invisible line –the line that separates our lives before the diagnosis and our new life after we discover what has been wreaking havoc. For me, that line was formed after what felt like

For me, that line was formed after what felt like millionth visit to a specialist when I was told that it was Lupus. This was the reason my body was attacking itself. This was the reason I was sick all the time. This was the reason I slept for hours on the weekend and felt like I was walking through a fog. My world quickly became about finding the right drugs, many prescriptions of prednisone, supplements that caused flairs, and a general disdain for all “magic bullets” that everyone felt so compelled to share with me. Plaquinel caused unbelievable itching, but low-dose naltrexone worked despite the month or two of super weird dreams. Things were manageable.

But I knew I needed to do more. Having just worked with my health coach on thyroid disease, I had learned that food was medicine, that health was far more than just food and exercise, and that a solution was out there. I just had to honor my intuition and find it.

Today I’m in remission, but I would be lying if I said that Lupus didn’t still play a major role in my life. It is, in many ways, my main motivator. It keeps me listening to my body and eating and living in a way that supports my health.  It’s also the reason I do what I do — why I gave up a career I worked so hard for to become a practitioner in the little know field of health coaching.

While I shy away from completely calling this diagnosis a blessing, I do know that it has molded my life into something I would have never imagined. And for that, I’m pretty grateful.

I would love to hear your story. Let me know what that line was like for you in the comments below.

Deficiency du jour: Vitamin D

vitamin d

 

Everyone you know, including yourself, has probably been tested for and found lacking when it comes to vitamin D. So what gives? Turns out most of us — about 50% to 70% of children and adults — are deficient in this key nutrient. While we don’t really know why that is, it seems likely that it has something to do with sitting inside all day and not eating the right types of foods. Whatever the cause, vitamin D deficiency is a real problem as it can contribute to. . .

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Asthma in kids
  • Osteoporosis in adults
  • Rickets in kids
  • Certain cancers, like colorectal, breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancers.
  • etc., etc., etc.

I don’t know about you, but that list and all those “et ceteras” are a bit scary. But there is good news! Most doctors are hip to the importance of having the correct levels of vitamin D and will work with you to ensure that you have them. Also, changing your diet to add vitamin D-rich foods like salmon and eggs yokes, working on your gut health to help your body absorb the nutrient, spending a little bit of time in the sun without sunscreen*, and taking a good vitamin D supplement will help set you right.

Of course, I am not a doctor, so pop over here or here to find out what doctors have to say about vitamin D deficiency and how to address it.

In the mean time go outside and start absorbing some D!

*Skin cancer is still a thing so we need to balance the need for vitamin D via sun exposure with protecting our biggest organ, our skin. You can do this with taking into account your age, skin tone, and health, and using your knowledge and intuition to determine how much time you should spend in the sun without sunscreen. For  example, as a light-skinned woman in my late thirties with autoimmune disease, I get out roughly 10 to 15 minutes every day in the morning sun without sunscreen.