Monday, December 9, 2013

No eggs? No problem!

People ask if I miss eggs on the Paleo autoimmune protocol (no eggs, no nuts, no nightshades - in addition to the usual Paleo plan of no grains, no legumes). The truth is, when I have a warm breakfast bowl like this, the answer is definitely not. This is broccoli, cauliflower, grass-fed beef and spinach all sauteed in coconut oil. I'm not sure how it looks, but it is completely delicious! Makes my old egg breakfasts look (and taste) pretty ho-hum.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dreaming of frozen dinners...

I was having one of those days. You know what I mean, especially if you've been paleo for any length of time and have an autoimmune disease. For you - for me - paleo isn't just an 80/20 thing. We have to stick with it 99 percent of the time to maintain a good quality of life. Most of the time that's awesome. I'm thrilled beyond measure to have found something that works. Most of the time.

But sometimes it doesn't, or doesn't seem to, and because of the weather or the moon or the stars or who knows what, sometimes no matter how diligent you - I - am with this way of eating, our autoimmune diseases make themselves known. And that sucks.

After nearly three years on regular paleo, I've been on the autoimmune protocol version (AIP) for almost two months now. Fifty-six days, but who's counting. And it hasn't been the miracle cure for some of my lingering symptoms I'd hoped it would be. I've had a ton of days when I've felt great, but there've been more than a few when I've hurt. And hurting with rheumatoid arthritis is scary because you start thinking of the joint damage that might be taking place and worry that maybe you'll always feel this way and ... Well, it sucks.

Leading me to today. The absolute last thing I wanted to do today was cook. All I've done for the past 56 days is cook. Three meals a day: no cheating, no eggs, no nightshades, no prepared foods. And nary a miracle in sight.

What sounded good today was something easy, like a Lean Cuisine. The kind I used to buy by the dozen. Or when I got into "healthier" foods, an Amy's frozen meal. Just something I wouldn't have to do any chopping or boiling or baking for. Besides, some of them, let's admit it, were delicious.

What isn't helping is the looming holiday. We're eating out this year and I know that the place we're going uses wheat for some stupid reason when they brine their turkey. So I'll have salmon, which is delicious, but I'm damned mad already about the pumpkin pie. Or the lack of it. Last year I ordered a piece and just left the crust. It's always been my favorite part of the dinner and last year the delicious custard hit the spot. This year, strict AIP-er that I am, I can't do that because of the eggs. It's really pissing me off.

Fortunately, the one smart move I made all day was to start the crockpot first thing this morning. A round steak, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, the works. By the time I got into my huge funk this afternoon, even grumpy me couldn't ignore the awesome smell coming from the kitchen.

OK, if you insist, I'll have a bowl, I grumbled to myself.

Guess who made an incredibly delicious stew today? Feeling much better after a big bowl, I steamed some cauliflower and broccoli and somehow grabbed them off the water at the perfect moment. Not too soft, not too crisp. And that bag of yams I just bought, how about slicing one and roasting it in the oven?

Is that not a perfect meal? Am I not incredibly lucky to be able to afford such bounty? I know millions of people around the planet would love a dinner like that. The thought makes me incredibly grateful and humble. And I know this meal is the type that will heal my gut and nourish my joints and soft tissues and keep me on the path of healing from this disease.

I feel well-fed and more to the point, well nourished. And that's what keeps me eating this way. This kind of food, real food, feeds hidden hungers. I need to remember this for next time.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Zounds! Chicken Zoodles!

So, this may be the most delicious soup ever. And I have to humbly bow to The Meanest Momma for this wonderful recipe that is completely paleo-rific. You can find the whole recipe at that link, but here's the secret: the zoodles are zucchini "noodles," made by clever use of a julienne tool. I made my own stock from the chicken bones, natch, and it feels and tastes like soup that could really do a body good.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

It's a mystery to me...

I've finally learned. Even though logically it seems no flour or other grains would be used in, say, grilling halibut cheeks or roasting a turkey, by now I know enough to ask. And sure enough. At our lovely upscale restaurant, the handsome server returned from the kitchen with dour news: the Thanksgiving turkey had been SOAKED in a brine containing flour.

Really? And why was that, exactly?

It turned out fine, of course. The salmon entree was beyond exquisite and I'm guessing the asparagus had a cube of butter per spear, so I was more than well-fed. But it still makes me wonder. How ubiquitous exactly is wheat? Even in preparations where it's clearly not needed?

Well, we know the answer to that, don't we? Anyone who's ever tried to go gluten-free knows the answer to that! And could that, possibly, have anything to do with our current health problems? I wonder.

Besides, I happen to know for a FACT, you don't need flour for roasting your turkey. It would be just fine without it. Good thing I didn't ask about sugar!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

When 'cheating' becomes a way of life

So, I'm one of those people who, once we find something that works - like the way Paleo has kicked the ass of my rheumatoid arthritis symptoms - we stick with it.

Until, that is, we don't.

I am so ridiculously all or nothing that I could honestly say during the first seven or so months of switching to Paleo earlier this year that I had absolutely no desire to cheat. My improvement was so quick and so dramatic, my memory of sore hands and other joints so fresh, why would I cheat? Pizza? Chips? Absolutely not worth it, in my book. I felt great and wanted to continue to feel great. Those things were dead to me.

In fact, the whole concept of "cheating" irritated me. Who exactly are we cheating, I would muse to friends and family. Only ourselves. This works for me. I'm sticking with it.

Until, as I mentioned, I didn't. It started, as I've posted elsewhere, with a bout of food poisoning. I'm thinking I picked it up in San Francisco, while noshing at numerous odd bars with my daughter, but haven't been able to get confirmation. In fact, when I asked her if she'd suffered any ill effects, she said no, but pointed out that she wasn't the one eating chicken on a stick.

Yes, I did. Chicken on a very long, sharp, somewhat unwieldy stick. It was good. Especially with the sauvignon blanc. Probably not worth the weeks of not feeling right that followed, however.

And once you don't feel quite right, other things slip. I dallied with white rice. Nah. OK, how about commercially prepared applesauce and vats of almond butter? Good, but ... Not. Quite. Enough.

OK, how about ... chocolate? By this point, I had tested chocolate only once since February and found it didn't work well with my other paleo foods. I couldn't stick with just one high-cocoa content square, for one thing, and eating more just didn't make me feel that great.

In my not feeling quite right frame of mind, however, I had a thought: maybe Much Much More would do the trick, huh? Like entire bars of sea salt and almond chocolate. Or how about these awesome little natural food mounds bars I found with unsweetened coconut and uber dark chocolate? Sweet potato chips with who knows what additives? Chocolate coconut ice cream with tons of sugar? Yum, yum, and yum again.

By now I was so out of whack I couldn't tell what wasn't sitting well. I still never ventured into beans and grains, truly no desire to go there, but I started finding myself frequently driving to my favorite coffee place and ordering my old favorite cafe au lait. With Splenda.

And then I noticed something very strange: my hands began hurting. After the better part of a year of not hurting. It hurt to turn the handle of the door to my garage. Shifting gears hurt my thumb. Carrying things was harder, exercising was harder, just sitting and meditating with several joints throbbing was harder.

What had/have I done?

Well, to throw some compassion on the situation, I was/am human. And like most humans, I decided to venture beyond the bounds of the predictable. I feel good eating this one way, will I still feel good if I eat this other way? How about if I just dabble? How about if I dive face-first into a vat of sugar??

So, I got my answer. Big time. And a really sore thumb joint.

Tonight, dinner will be garlic-lemon halibut and steamed broccoli. Dessert will be a perfect honeycrisp apple. My remaining chocolate stash will be placed on the table in the break room at work tomorrow at 8 a.m. By 8:15 it will be gone.

It's great to be back on the paleo train. This lesson, at least, is learned.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Paleo: a chill pill?

One of the things I love best about the paleo/primal community is how smart so many of the proponents and bloggers are. These are people who put serious science behind what they do and what they choose to eat, and they generously drag those of us with high school Bio II backgrounds along with them.

One of my favorites is Dr. Emily Deans, who blogs at Psychology Today and her own site, Evolutionary Psychiatry.

I'm not going to pretend I understand the Folate Cycle, which is the topic of her latest post. However I probably should, because - like many people with an autoimmune disease - I'm taking an anti-inflammatory med that requires me to supplement with folic acid. I have learned from Dr. Deans that folic acid and folate aren't the same, but beyond that... I just remember to eat my leafy greens!

In that recent post on the folate cycle, Dr. Deans included this amazing text: "... And in the papers, there are some interesting suggestions (that the stress hormones deplete the B vitamins, thus raising homocysteine, that homocysteine is directly neurotoxic, causing anger. That homocysteine is associated with higher levels of pro-oxidants and represents an inflammatory state, also neurotoxic."

The implications from just those two sentences are mind-blowing.

Rheumatoid arthritis has run rampant in my family for at least three generations. My grandmother had one of the worst cases you will ever see. If you think I can look at what happened to her, and my mother, and my own right arm - part of which is now titanium where this nasty disease ate away my ulna - without a certain, subterranean terror, you would be wrong.

But do I also know the damaging effects of that terror on my body? You'd better believe it. And I also know that terror, and other stress emotions, destroy B complex vitamins. Even Adelle Davis back in the '60s preached of the need for extra helpings of those vitamins when stressed. Her remedy was brewer's yeast, to be sure, but the idea was still the same.

So back I come to the paleo diet. There are two reasons I've stayed on it without any deviation (besides the bar of dark chocolate with sea salt and almonds currently on my counter, and which I'm certain any self-respecting paleolithic dweller would heartily embrace) for more than 7 months now: the almost instant lessening of swelling and joint soreness in my left hand, and the clear sense of well-being I have when I eat this way.

This diet lessens my physical and subsequent emotional stress. I've no doubt about that.

Whichever pathway it takes to do that - whether through the bacteria populating my gut with a higher protein/lower carb diet, or through the kind of chemical interactions of which Dr. Deans speaks, or something else entirely - it really doesn't matter. It just works.

And if it keeps me in a more even state of mind, absent the terrors that come with sudden unpredictable swelling and joint pain, and that mellower state of mind improves my general health as well? That's a cycle I can totally appreciate.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

IBS redux

It's so easy to write and rave about paleo when everything's going peachy. But what's bedeviling me lately is, what do I say - to friends and family and in this very blog - now that I've been feeling funky for a month or so?

Not awful funky, just... Let me put it this way. As someone who's had IBS off and on for years, the resolution of that problem instantly a day or two after starting paleo was a huge reason to stick with it. A miracle, really.

The way I explained it to people was to say that my "digestion" was sooooo much better. And so it went for more than six months. Me and my gut, finally BFFs.

Well, for some reason, suddenly my digestion is soooo not better. And it sucks.

Fortunately, Melissa at Hunt, Gather, Love, (, has broken this ground already. She often discusses IBS issues and has written about how non-paleo foods like white rice seem to help people still - or suddenly - symptomatic. I bought a bag of basmati tonight. We'll see if it works for me, too.

Still, the whole thing is such a mystery. How could all the very same foods that have worked so well since Feb. 1 suddenly have turned against me?

Fortunately, now I'm far enough into this way of eating that I have many more reasons to stick with paleo than just IBS relief: great blood pressure, continued relief from RA pain, steady energy.

I love eating protein and veggies, it's simple and logical and works in many ways for me. I have to believe my gut will come back around, too.