AIP • Fine Tuning Your Eating Plan

Are You Listening to Your Body?

a-eggs-1Over the past six months of following the AIP way of eating I’ve figured out a lot about my body and what foods are good and what foods are bad.  It’s been an adventure and a challenge.  The longer I follow the protocol the more fine tuning I’m doing.

After 90 days of strict AIP I decided to try to re-introduce some foods.  I started with eggs.  After eating eggs two days in a row I was in incredible pain. In the afternoon of the second day my arms started to ache, I could feel the pain start to spread up my arms and into my shoulders.  My right arm was nearly immobilized – I had to use my left hand to move it.  I was shocked that I would have such a powerful reaction.  That night, after finally falling asleep, I was awakened by new pain, now in my legs.  It was the same deep aching that I’d had in my arms. The next day the pain went away, and I haven’t had it again.  It left as quickly as it came on, but the time in-between was terrible!  Needless to say I haven’t eaten eggs again.

The second reaction was from scrimp.  I bought some lovely, fresh shrimp from the market and came home and cooked it with some garlic and lemon, then served it over spiralized zucchini noodles.  It was very yummy.  However, within an hour I started itching.  It took me a while to make the connection between the shrimp and the itching.  By bedtime I was itching so badly I could hardly stand it.  I took a shower and put lotion all over my body, but nothing helped.  That is when I realize it was a reaction.  As a matter of fact, it is a common reaction if you have histamine issues with shell fish.

Recently, I had a very scary reaction that I later learned was from histamines too. My face suddenly turned bright red, scarlet actually – in just a matter of minutes my body was aching all over and my stomach was turned upside down.  I had diarrhea like I’d never had before. My throat started to get thick and it felt like it was closing up.  It came on me so quickly that it was hard to believe.  I ended up in urgent care.  It was a histamine reaction to a variety of foods I’d eaten – sushi, Mahi-Mahi, sausage, and some kombucha I’d brewed. All high histamine foods.  I’d never heard of it before, but I learned some very important information about my body. (This is a rare problem, estimated to only effect 1% of the population.  Lucky me!)

Getting clean and then re-introducing foods is a tricky matter, especially if you are also learning how to listen to your bodies signals.  That’s what I’ve been doing.  Learning to determine if the headache I’m having is connected to something I’ve eaten, and if so, what? It seems the cleaner I’ve become the more I’ve been able to notice my reactions.

Sarah Ballantyne, from The Paleo Mom blog and author of The Paleo Appraoch: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body is my go-to resource.  Here’s something she wrote about figuring out if you are having a reaction to food when you try re-introduction.  This helped me a lot.

From The Paleo Mom . . .

What should you look for to determine if you can continue to consume this food? Even one of the following symptoms is enough to stop eating that food.  You can always try again later in case the symptom was a coincidence.  Also, even if you cannot tolerate that food now, as your body continues to heal, you may be able to in a couple of months.  Symptoms to watch for:

  • Any symptoms of your disease returning or worsening
  • Any gastrointestinal symptoms:  tummy ache, changes in bowel habits, heartburn, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, undigested/partially digested food particles in stool
  • Reduced energy or fatigue
  • Strong food cravings: sugar cravings, fat cravings, pica (mineral cravings)
  • Trouble sleeping: either falling asleep or staying asleep or just not feeling as rested in the morning
  • Headaches or dizziness
  • Aches and pains: muscle, join, or tendon/ligament
  • Changes in your skin: rashes, acne, dry skin, little pink bumps or spots; dry hair or nails
  • Mood issues:  feeling low or depressed, having a lower ability to handle stressful situations, increased anxiety

 Click here to read the entire post.

a-body-whisperListening to your body and paying attention to its signals is key to the process of re-introducing foods.  I think this is the most important part of the process.  It is figuring out what foods work and what foods cause inflammation or reaction. Learning to discern the subtle and not so subtle reactions and how you feel overall is critical. Ultimately there is no test to take, or scan that will determine which foods are good and which are bad for you.  It’s a matter of trial and error and experimenting. The goal is to find the most nutritious foods that heal your body and give you the most vitality.

Living the AIP life is an adventure!  There are times when I want to chuck it all because it seems too hard.  But then I remember how I used to feel, and I’m not ready to go back there!  So I keep moving forward – learning, experimenting and fine tuning. Getting to know my body and understanding how it reacts to food, stress, over use, emotions, and many other factors is an ongoing process.

Are you connecting with your body?  What have you learned?  Share your story, we’d love to hear it!

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