Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Raw Truth about Living AIP

The Raw Truth about Living AIP

There's no recipe today. Today is just one heartfelt and personal post about living AIP. There's the long version and the short version. I think you should read both, but then again it's my blog so of course my opinion is biased. This post is raw and real and fairly emotional. You've been warned.

The Long Truth
Living with autoimmune disease is like trying to walk a tightrope with a rabid monkey on your back. Gotta find my balance again.     —Tangie P.
A Facebook friend shared this as her status this afternoon. I held it together for all of two and a half minutes while I said bye after visiting a friend and walked to the car. As soon as I slid behind the wheel and slammed the door shut, I promptly burst into tears. Because it is so true.

I started the Autoimmune Protocol almost a year ago. I fought the actual necessity of it for months before caving and admitting it needed to be done (read about that story here). I've been on some variation of AIP almost consecutively for the last 11½ months, and let me just be real here: it has been the most overwhelming roller coaster ride of my life.

Some improvements I saw immediately—weight loss, better digestive health, less bloating, clearer skin, more pain-free days than not, better moods overall. Other symptoms took longer to clear. And then the reality: some of them never cleared altogether. They were well-controlled enough without meds so I figured that I was good to go for reintroductions, and the symptoms would eventually just get better with time.

The fact of the matter is: they aren't. Some have even started regressing towards their previously inflamed state. So as I was leaving my friends' house, nauseous with aching knees and feeling restless and agitated and ill at ease for no apparent reason, I happened to glance at my phone and saw the status. And it just hit home. HARD.

I battle everyday to live my life with asthma, allergies, endometriosis, scalp and nail psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and mood and anxiety disorders. And I'm trying to do that by living the AIP lifestyle. And I feel exactly like my friend—I can't find balance.

I'll be forthright and honest. I will admit that I'm not eating strictly AIP (if you follow my Instagram, you already know). Like not even a healthy modified AIP. I make poor choices with bad oils, natural flavors, dairy, and cross contamination issues weekly—sometimes more than once a week. I consume too much alcohol much too regularly. I bite off way more than I can chew, and I'm constantly stressed because of it. I feel like I'm living life in fast forward one moment and so down and out and behind on everything the next. I have no focus and live in a brain fog for days only to be clear-minded and rife with motivation the next day. There's no consistency from one day to the next. I work too many jobs, but every time I try to cut back, I end up with more on my plate. It's hard to say no because "no" doesn't pay the bills. I'm in a constant search for socialization, and it's hard to say no to invites because saying "no" doesn't chase away the loneliness of being single and living by myself.

And because I can't say no, I'm tired. I'm tired of not getting enough sleep at night, but mostly I'm tired of that fact that my autoimmune condition requires so much sleep for my body to feel normal. I'm tired of the lack of convenience and of reading labels on everything I pick up to put in my mouth. I'm tired of asking about ingredients and recipes when dining out or visiting with family and friends. I'm tired of craving pizzas and cheeseburgers, chips and salsa, my mouth watering for a taste that will be a fleeting second of joy in exchange for hours and days of pain and discomfort later. I'm tired of hearing "Just have one. One can't hurt you." I'm tired of turning down drinks at the bar because I shouldn't drink at all and definitely never risk beer, vodka, or whiskey. I'm tired of being embarrassed to go on first dates because I don't want to have to order my food in front of him. I'm tired of explaining my diet, my food choices, of justifying myself. I'm tired of listening to the jokes and snide comments about eating gluten-free from strangers, friends, and family alike. I'm tired of hearing "Well, what can you eat?!"I'm tired of being asked "Is that on your diet?" I'm tired of being told, "OMG, I could never eat that way!"

Guess what. I hope you never have to. It's one of the hardest things I've ever struggled with. Because I just want to feel normal. I want to be an average 26 year old. I want to run from work to the beach without wondering if there's anything I can eat at the party that won't make me sick, if I should really drink that tequila and club soda with the girls. I want to be able to kiss that cute guy giving me the eyes without wondering if he's been drinking gluten-filled beer or eating spicy nachos (and not because it's that his breath might stink). I want to hang out with friends and coworkers and not care what restaurant they choose for dinner. I want to be able to only have to cook on the nights I want to instead of spending hours on meal prep each week only to realize on Wednesdays that I either prepared way too much or way too little.

I want balance. And I don't know how to find it.

Just to be clear, I'm not writing this because I'm against AIP. And I'm not giving up. I'm writing this because it needs to be said and it needs to be shared. I've had a bad day, maybe even a couple of bad weeks. But I've also had some great moments and some touching triumphs. I have met a wonderful group of AIP bloggers who are beyond supportive and full of knowledge that they are willing to share. I have met a wonderful web community of like-minded individuals who have reached out to each other to create a wonderful virtual network of support and education amongst themselves. I have heard from many of my readers how much I have helped or motivated them through their tough days.

Because, yes. There are lots of those. The tough days. And there are more to come. But I also would not be as accomplished or happy or motivated as I am on my good days if I had not dared to try. I would not be able to taste foods as clearly as I do now, savoring every nuance of flavor and texture with every bite, celebrating in what I can create and enjoy. I wouldn't be as knowledgeable on the necessity of food and proper nutrition to replace medicine and work towards healing myself. I would not be the same me at all. And good days or bad, I don't want to give up on her.

So that's the long truth.

The Short Truth?
It's hard.
But I'm not a quitter.

6 comments:

  1. Wow, Kat, what a fantastic post - and it comes at just the right time for me too, as I've been feeling exactly the same the last few days. Good on you for sharing this - often all we see is the 'good' side to AIP - the results, the weight loss, the lovely photos of recipes... there are 'bad' days too and the social side of it is really hard. My heart really sinks when we go out to eat as a family or I'm invited to a restaurant with friends because I know I'm going to have to make some sort of compromise somewhere and you always get that 'go on, treat yourself - just once won't hurt you'. Except it always does. And I get so frustrated that some people think we're doing it to be awkward or fashionable or whatever - I wish we could all eat whatever we wanted and stay healthy, but it's just not the way it was meant to be, I suppose! Thank you for sharing this and for your honesty and I'm so glad you're not giving up. I'm sure your post will be such a relief to so many people.

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  2. Great and inspiring post! My heart goes out to you. I struggle but nothing like what you seem to be going through, though I'm also over twice your age. Back when I was diagnosed in 1996 there was no community that I knew of and literally no one knew anything beyond gluten and dairy free. I have learned that I can't indulge even just once. I stick to AIP though there are those occasional slips when you're not told exactly what's in something. It was my joy and delight to eat at a paleo restaurant last weekend and the lady who waited on us was AIP and told me what she ordered. You're right I really dislike going to regular restaurants because it usually comes down to a naked salad or plain burger. I can't imagine going through this at 26, but then I probably should have and didn't have a clue. God bless you on your journey.

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  3. This resonated with me on every level. I think it will with so many, regardless of how far they are on their healing path in life. I commend you for putting it all out there, unfiltered. Here's to a new day tomorrow!

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing this awesome post! Sometimes I think I am the only one who struggles with AIP and falls off the wagon regularly. Glad to hear, from someone who understands, it really is as hard as it seems!

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  5. Such a good post! I just started AIP a couple weeks ago. I had 2 pieces of pizza this week. Its basically the devil. And I paid for it today. The peer pressure comments are spot on though! Keep going! I know i have a long road ahead of me.

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  6. Hi Kat, I just found your blog and this post really hits home. Thank you so much for sharing it. Reading blogs and cookbooks and other autoimmune books and such, while helpful, don't address the daily struggles. I struggle with all of the same issues that you struggle with and I'm 47. I've been on and off the wagon with some version of this diet for the last 7 or 8 years. (It started out with the Candida diet back then. There were no AIP paleo resources.) It's at least comforting to read that I'm not alone in my struggles. And I'm so glad you're not giving up. I'm not either!! Thank you again, dear Kat.

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