In October of 2013 I was very, very ill. I had experienced nagging health issues for much of the previous year, but in the fall of 2013 my condition deteriorated very suddenly and I was unable to perform even basic tasks. After reading through my one-and-half page list of symptoms, my doctor ordered a lab test to check my thyroid function. The results were shocking: my TSH registered 205 and my free T4 was virtually undetectable at <0.30.
I began taking thyroid medication to treat my extreme hypothyroidism, but my improvement was slow. I requested a test for thyroid antibodies, which my doctor was reluctant to order. However, the results were astronomically high, confirming a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s autoimmune disease.
I switched doctors in early 2014. My new doctor was concerned about my sky high thyroid antibodies. She raised my thyroid dose, but by May 2014 I was so sick that I had to request medical leave from my job. I was desperate, and I decided to make a radical change: adopt the autoimmune paleo diet.
The autoimmune paleo diet, also referred to as the autoimmune protocol or AIP, is a restricted version of the paleo diet. Allowed foods include vegetables and fruits (but no nightshades), meats, and roots. No grains, nuts, seeds, beans, or dairy products are to be consumed. This is a nourishing diet that removes potential sources of inflammation and helps the body to heal. I bought Mickey Trescott’s book, The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook, and dove in.
At first I found it challenging to adhere to a diet that was so much more restrictive than what I was used to. Over time, however, it became easy. When I returned to work I was concerned about feeding myself while attending multi-day trainings and workshops, but I soon realized that it was easy enough to make big batches of food at home and bring everything along in an ice chest.
More concerning was the idea of feeding myself out in the woods. As I slowly regained my health I was able to begin hiking again, building up from short, easy day hikes to short, easy backpacking trips. And with the help of a dehydrator, I’ve been able to create healthy, great tasting AIP meals and snacks that are far better than the foods I used to eat while backpacking.
I have followed the autoimmune paleo diet for 11 months now and I have greatly benefited from this diet. When I’ve attempted to reintroduce foods that are not included in the protocol I’ve experienced symptom flares. The healing process is very, very slow, and diet is only once piece of the process, but I believe that it is an important piece.
When I was diagnosed with Lyme disease I researched diet and lifestyle recommendations and was pleased to find that Lyme literate doctors were recommending a diet free of grains and processed foods – a diet nearly identical to the autoimmune paleo approach that I was already following.
The Internet is an amazing tool. I have found an abundance of delicious AIP recipes in the blogs of others who are following this diet. On this blog I will share some of my own recipes, with a focus on meals suitable for hiking and backpacking.
In the meantime, here are links to a few of my favorite recipes:
Paleo Sweet Potato Muffins by Tessa the Domestic Diva. These are fantastic with blueberries!
Morning Glory Cookies by the Paleo Partridge. I use sweet potato in place of plantain. Dehydrated, these cookies make great backpacking snacks!
Spinach and Sweet Potato Gnocchi from Predominately Paleo.
Prosciutto Meatloaf Muffins with Fig Jam by Alaena at Grazed and Enthused.
Grain-free California Rolls by Alaena at Grazed and Enthused. These are great with prawns!