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Searching for a Quick Fix
When autoimmune disease strikes and turns our lives upside down, we search hard for a “fix.” We want our lives back, and we want them back now! The problem is that autoimmune healing is a marathon, not a sprint. And sometimes our impatience actually interferes with our ability to heal. Here are a few ways this can happen:
Giving Up on the AIP Too Soon
While some people are lucky and see fast results on the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), others start seeing improvements after a few months of being 100% committed, and those improvements are slow and steady rather than a miracle cure. It’s a mistake to think that if you don’t see immediate success, you never will. Remember, even if you were recently diagnosed, it takes years for the autoimmune process to develop in the body before it flares to a level that is diagnosable. It makes sense that it also takes time to calm the immune system down and slowly reverse that process. So, be sure to give yourself that time.
The AIP has two phases — the elimination phase, and the reintroduction phase. Some people find the elimination phase challenging, so they white-knuckle their way through the minimum 30 days and jump to reintroductions. The reintroduction process is a science experiment. It’s how you learn to communicate with your body, and if you don’t do it correctly, you learn nothing and you’re back to square one. Some people start reintros before they’ve seen any improvement in their symptoms, so they have no baseline for testing food reactions. Others simply reintroduce foods too fast, and they’re unable to tell which foods are fine for their body and which are problematic. It takes many months to do this process correctly, but it’s worth the effort! I’ve written a guide to help.
When we are diagnosed with autoimmune disease, our first wish is for a cure. We want to go back to the way we felt before. Unfortunately, once autoimmunity is triggered in our bodies, it stays triggered. A cure isn’t possible. Don’t panic! Reversing autoimmune disease is possible. That is the act of making diet and lifestyle choices that tone down inflammation and nourish our bodies at a cellular level. By doing that, we start to reduce pain, regain energy, reclaim abilities we thought were lost forever, and enjoy our lives again! On your own healing journey, look for progress, not perfection.
Sometimes we choose a multi-layered healing protocol, and frankly, it’s got too many layers. You add in diet, therapy, drugs and numerous supplements all at once, and one of two things happen.
- You feel better (which is wonderful) but you have no idea what’s working vs. not, and you end up spending lots of money long-term on things you don’t need.
- You feel worse, and it’s impossible to know what part of your plan is the problem.
N=1 is the art of self-experimentation, and controlling variables is essential. You want to implement 1 or 2 interventions at a time, and pay attention to see if they benefit or harm your body, before adding more. Doctor-prescribed medication plus diet is a good place to start. See how far that gets you first. Then, if you want to try adding other therapies or supplements, (or reducing your medication) make just one change at a time. Pay close attention, and only continue those that help and immediately stop the ones that harm you.
Working With Impatience
I think it’s human nature to be impatient. It’s not necessarily a gift that some people have and you lack. Instead, it’s a skill that we all can improve with practice. There are also tools to help. First, keep a symptom journal. We tend to notice what’s wrong more than we notice what’s right, especially when progress is slow. By keeping a symptom journal, we remember where we started and can celebrate how far we’ve come. Then, practice stress management. Did you know that stress can cause autoimmune flares just as much as poor dietary choices? Stress and negativity increase inflammation. Relaxation and positivity decrease it. Here are some tools for your patience toolbox. Reach for them every day: mindfulness, meditation, EFT, HeartMath, yoga, laughter, coloring books, sunbathing, forest bathing, walking, gentle exercise, developing optimism, deep breathing, earthing, and any other activity that brings you peace and joy.