AIP Stories of Recovery: Jan’s Recovery from Celiac Disease

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AIP Stories of Recovery is a success story series about regular people from the Autoimmune Protocol community who are changing their lives using the protocol. Each month a new person is featured and readers have the opportunity to discover all the different health challenges that are being overcome by folks just like themselves on the same path. At Autoimmune Paleo we hope you’ll be inspired by, empathize with, and learn from these stories. If you are interested in sharing your story, please let us know by filling out our interest form.

Despite being diagnosed with Celiac disease at age four, it wasn’t until adulthood that Jan understood what full-on autoimmune healing meant. Over a period of years, Jan’s health slowly began to deteriorate and as a new mother, it wasn’t just her own needs she had to attend to but her growing family’s. Six weeks on the GAPS diet made a miraculous difference and sparked a new approach to wellness that will last the rest of her life. 

What health issues are you dealing with, when did they begin, and how long did it take to get a diagnosis?

I have been Celiac all my life (diagnosed at four years old), and honestly thought that it was no big deal. I lived well, and had no complexes about having to eat differently… I was very active and productive, etc.

It wasn’t until I was living overseas and began having babies that my health slowly began to deteriorate, and I came to know what “active” autoimmune disease feels like. Since then, I continue to claw my way back to health, and have retrained in nutritional therapy and the culinary arts so as to be able to share these important lifestyle lessons with others.

Describe what the lowest point on your health journey was like.

I would wake up every day exhausted, dreading the moment that my two young children would wake up and need me to be there for them. At the same time, I was seriously worried that I had cancer (or some other terminal illness) and that I wouldn’t be able to be there to see my children grow up… which inevitably threw me into deep sadness.

What challenges influenced you to look for a solution? Basically, what was the tipping point?

I finally motivated myself to figure things out because it made me too angry to imagine that I was just slipping quietly into death from some scary illness without even digging into figuring out what was wrong.

When you found a protocol to help you heal, what was it and what was your first indication that it was working?

I started with the GAPS diet, which was nothing short of revolutionary. In just under two weeks, I witnessed a daily change in my body as the swelling and puffiness and inflammation waned, and the fog in my mind slowly lifted. From there, I moved into the Paleo diet… and the Autoimmune Protocol. I also completed a 6-month candida diet, which was very restrictive and intense.

What resources have you used on your healing journey so far and how did you find them?

Autoimmune Wellness! (Thank you so much for all you do!) Dr Ballantyne’s website; Eileen Laird’s podcasts; readings on the Seignalet diet; Chris Kresser’s podcasts/books/et.c; Rob Wolf’s podcast; Wise Traditions resources; various websites for recipes; various books; and on and on and on. Whatever I can get my hands on, at this point.

Did your doctors suggest any treatments that you rejected and if so, why did you choose to try other methods?

I was living in places where seeing a doctor was not always an easy thing… and where the kind of medical care that was available was less than “modern”. As such, I felt obligated to take my health into my own hands fairly early on in my journey… and to check back in with functional medical doctors whenever I was back home through Canada.

It can seem like our lives are consumed by a chronic illness, but there is so much beyond those struggles. What brings you true joy right now?

I am full of hope about the future. I am in the midst of completing the last step of the training that I felt was necessary to embark on a new career. In three more months, I will relocate for the final time to France where I intend to set up a teaching kitchen, Nutritional Therapy practice, and (over the long term) a café or “hub” for families interested in nutrition and well-being. My goal in the medium-term is to build a network of like-minded people in France, and to begin to provide the resources (in French) that are so sorely lacking.

Read more about Jan’s journey and learn about her nutritional therapy practice on her website.

Would you like to share your Story of Recovery? Let us know by filling out our interest form.

About Alaena Haber

Alaena Haber is the recipe creator and blabber, err… blogger, behind Grazed and Enthused, an Autoimmune Protocol diet and lifestyle blog. Alaena initially began blogging in 2014 to re-spark her passion for cooking while on the elimination phase of the Autoimmune Protocol, which she uses to address Hashimoto’s and leaky gut symptoms. Enthused by her rapid health progression, she decided it was time to help others by devoting more (okay, all) of her spare time to the autoimmune community. Alaena has three requirements for her recipes: they must be creative, accessible, and make others excited about nutritional healing. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram where she shares both tiny and victorious moments in her healing journey.

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