Living Outside the Beehive (Guest Post by Sherilyn Schwartz)


I’m taking a break from blogging this summer as I focus on my move, but in the meantime I have some great guest posts on various topics lined up from the autoimmune community. This post is by Sherilyn Schwartz, who blogs at MomLadyOR.

Often times after you start an elimination provocation diet of any kind, it seems you become intolerant to foods you’ve always eaten and never had a problem with. For instance, I’ve eaten tomatoes in all forms my entire life; seemingly without issue. Then, out of the blue, after removing gluten, dairy, and eggs, my entire neck and jawline broke out in cyst like acne from tomatoes! Nah, it can’t be… so I let the cysts heal (took a couple months too, there were nearly 100 of them and they were bad) and tried again. Nope, tomatoes are no longer my friend.

So why is it that I have always eaten raw tomatoes, ketchup, tomato based sauces, V-8 juice, etc without problem and now just a tablespoon of ketchup would create such a reaction?

My theory is I’ve lived inside a beehive for many years. As my gut became leaky and I started to have internal reactions to foods, my body was still operating properly and fending off the beestings. But, as things progressed and got worse, I was use to being inside the beehive and being stung many, many times all day long.

Once I removed gluten, dairy, and eggs, then I had stepped outside the beehive and I could start feeling the stings from other foods; like tomatoes. The stricter I became with the diet, the more I was able to start listening and even hearing what my body was trying to tell me. Tomatoes cause cysts, potatoes cause mild asthma, rice caused my upper back to hurt, cow dairy cause acne around my mouth, eggs cause me to turn into a witch! Of course those are just my reactions. Each human body is uniquely different and therefore everyone can have different reactions even to the same foods.

Before, with my body full of toxins and foods I couldn’t receive proper nutrition from, I thought I was just as healthy as the next guy.  I mean, after all, I was in my mid-40s and yes, I was overweight, had hypothyroidism, Raynaud’s, psoriasis, various aches and pains, irregular cycles, low energy, lack of libido and the list goes on but those are things everyone deals with, especially as we age; and let’s face it, I wasn’t getting any younger and was rapidly approaching the 50 mark.

But NO!! What we’re taught is WRONG!! We don’t have to feel like crap just because we’re getting older. Over the last four years, I tweaked my diet until I landed near AIP. Guess what?! I’ve lost weight without trying (yes, I still need to lose more, but I believe now my body will get there when it’s ready), put my Raynaud’s in remission, improved my thyroid function so I’ve reduced my medicine, said so long to aches and pains I had for over 30 years, I now have very regular periods, a lot more energy, and the list of improvements goes on and on also.

Stepping outside the beehive has been a fantastic learning lesson for me.  At one point, my list of “OK” foods was a lot shorter than the list of “NO” foods and I was really worried I’d never-ever be able to eat them again.  But, I was able to reintroduce a number of foods including many nuts and seeds, eggs (only non-corn/soy feed), and goat dairy.  I was even able to eat rice noodles last week without issues; although, I admit, I’m afraid to try them too often as I have no idea what’s happening on the inside.

Personally, I’m thankful for the beehive. I had to learn this in my own way and time.  Had someone told me 30 years ago I couldn’t have all the processed foods, bread, Pepsi, cookies, candies, and fast foods, I know I wouldn’t have been compliant.  I needed the protection of the beehive so I wouldn’t feel the stings until I was ready to learn.  Now I love my new normal way of eating. After all, I have learned to love my body by supporting its nutritional needs and protecting it from the beehive.  I feel better at 50 than I did in my late 20s. My only regret is it took me so long to learn this lesson; but as the saying goes better late than never.  I hope you too can embrace your beehive.

About Sherilyn Schwartz

After severe adverse reactions to a fluoroquinolone antibiotic, Sherilyn started researching how to heal her body. Over time, Sherilyn found Paleo and the Autoimmune Protocol. She’s been able to put most of her adverse reactions in remission along with a number of autoimmune disorders. Through this research, Sherilyn has become passionate about health and teaching her sons how to live a healthier, cleaner life than what she was taught. Sherilyn is just venturing into the blogging world at MomLadyOR’s Journey to document her journey and hopefully inspire others along the way. Sherilyn lives with her husband, Todd, their 15- and 12-year-old sons, and two dogs.


  • Lori says

    It is comforting to hear that someone else had a cystic acne reaction to tomatoes! I haven’t heard of any other AIP/Cystic Acne stories. After abstaining from tomatoes since January, when I went cold turkey AIP (but didn’t know what AIP was, I found paleo after I started my journey on the elimination diet), I was given tomatoes when traveling in June. THE WORST BREAKOUT in my life since High School (I’m 33)! I didn’t want to leave my room and I was in another country for professional reasons and had to look like a teenager in front of my peers! It was so embarrassing. AIP in Europe is so much harder than it is at home.

    I’m from Pittsburgh and Heinz Ketchup is pretty much a birthright, so it’s sad to see that my acne, that even accutaine didn’t cure 10 years ago, is mostly from tomatoes, chocolate, and eggs. I wish that the cysts healed faster, as they also take months to heal, but usually scar. I still have some going from the tomato flare and a few from egg yolk reintroductions last week, but those aren’t as bad.

    I’ve been hypothyroid since the 9th grade (18 years ago), with migraines since the 1st grade, so I’m guessing that it is going to take quite a while for my gut to heal. I think tomatoes are off of the table forever (along with pistachios, cashews, mangos, and sunflower seeds, which give me immediate migraines). After 2 weeks of bad reintroduction attempts, I’m not going to try any others for 6 months to a year. Thank you for sharing your story, it helps to know that I’m not alone in how my body reacts.

    • Sherilyn says

      Oh Lori! I’m so sorry and can so relate!! I think I was hypo about age 5 but wasn’t diagnosed until after my son was born at 35. I’ve been on this path for a few years now and am scared to death to try tomatoes! In fact, I think I must have gotten a hold of some (or nightshades anyone) as part of a dressing or something recently as I have 5 new small cysts on my neck… And, it does take such a long time. I heard once it will take at least one month of healing for every year you’ve been sick. So, I figure I have at least 45 months before I’ll be willing to try tomatoes or other nightshades. Together, sharing our stories, we will have the strength to heal. Hang in there!

    • Michelle says

      Lori, I’ve been playing around with eliminating tomatoes this summer, and I think they’re the culprit for both cystic acne and eczema for me. Like you said, it’s comforting to know that others have noticed the same connection.

  • Jason says

    I’ve been on the AIP diet since February of this year. The diet worked wonders for my bloating, diarrhea, body aches, and respiratory allergies. Last week I re-introduced eggs for breakfast and I felt tired and lethargic for the rest of the day. I couldn’t squat down and stand up without having to catch my breath and feeling like I had to faint. I also tried re-introducing nuts, and the diarrhea returned. I’m thankful for the AIP diet, because I know what my body can and cannot tolerate anymore. With inspiration from the cookbook, I have made my own recipes and dishes. It feels to good to feel good again.

    • Sherilyn says

      Isn’t it amazing to learn how your body reacts to things! Glad you’re feeling better.

  • […] over at is busy moving, so I wrote a guest post for her; Living Outside the Beehive.  It’s about my experience learning to listen to my […]

  • I love the beehive analogy! And it’s inspiring how far you’ve come.

  • Musawa says

    Hello Mickey,
    I have autoimmune disorder, and I have no problem with gluten based upon gluten sensitivity blood tests.
    is it possible for me to eat gluten free wheat flour and rice or it will effect my health?
    second question, if I did allergen test for any certain food and the result was negative, can I eat it without any problems?

    • Sherilyn says

      Hi Musawa, hopefully Mickey will see this after she finishes her move and give you a scientific answer. But, my layman’s answer is “not necessarily”. I did a 95 food panel blood test and was allergic to casein, moderate to egg white and had no reaction to gluten or any other foods at all. Going through an elimination/provocation proved to me I AM highly intolerant (allergic, whatever you want to call it) to gluten, nightshades, all grains, legumes, etc. For me, the food panel gave me a starting place and the will power I personally needed to stick with a new way of eating. I started feeling better, but I could tell something was still awry. It wasn’t until I found AIP that I started loosing weight, was able to lower my thyroid meds, my hair started growing back, I lost my mustache, my eyebrows started growing back, etc, etc.

      With that being said, every person is an individual being, and we all react differently to each of these issues. I would highly recommend trying AIP or even just an elimination/provocation so you can start to listen to your own body.

  • Jessica says

    Sherilyn I think what you said in the intro of your blog is deeply profound. It wasn’t until I stopped eating gluten, dairy and then finally removing all grains, beans and white potatoes that I realized tomatoes are no good for me. I used to get acid reflux if I ate spagetti sauce and didn’t go to the bathroom so well but allot of food made me feel like that so I didn’t pay it too much attention. It wasn’t until I eliminated all grains, beans, dairy and white potatoes that I now have had some psoriasis patches. I broke down and ate some potato chips the other day and had painful back spasms. I ate some chicken wings with nightshades included in the seasoning and my skin started itching all over. I’m about to start AIP so that I can get to the bottom of this. So grateful for this protocal as I believe I am celiac and now have psoriasis. Can’t even be bothered with clueless doctors right now.

    • Sherilyn says

      Thanks Jessica. It is amazing how we can’t really hear the clues our bodies are trying to give us. Yes, there are a lot of clueless doctors out there. All the more reason we have to listen to our own bodies and do what feels right for us. I’m glad you’ve been able to start identifying some of your triggers. I wish you the best on AIP, and with psoriasis, don’t forget about things you put ON your body like shampoo, make-up, lotion, etc. My psoriasis really flares if I use a non-gluten free lotion.

  • Cynthia says

    Thanks a lot for your testimonial!! I love the “eggs cause me to turn into a witch!” I was like Omg this is like me I’m not crazy eggs makes me crazy haha! I’m really happy that you now feel better! I’m still intolerant to fodmap, gluten, eggs, dairy, etc. I can only eat carrots as a vegetable with meat or salmon. So this is my meal since almost 3 months for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I’m not complaining at all. But thanks again for your refreshing testimonial 😉

    • Sherilyn says

      Thanks Cynthia! I thought I was crazy when I first realized eggs made me crazy! Hang in there. It does get easier with time. It’s great to know we’re not alone. 🙂

  • Monika says

    Hello, I’m new in here(sorry form my english, it is my second language). Its been a year since my Reynold syndrome appeared. After that I start to feel pain of all my tendons. my finger joints become bigger, and my wrist joint deformed. My face is rashed..I Constantly feel tired, sick I always have temperature (37.1-37.4). Doctors found antibodies of Lupus and scleroderma, but after spending long time in hospital they didin’t approved neither lupus neither scleroderma.. All my limph nodes are enlarged, so they cut one of them off to check if I don’t have some bad blood diseases. But it’s negative. So I started to wonder about my eating habits, and here I’m 😀 At this moment I’m just learning about AIP, but also i did experiments with gluten diet. I remove gluten for one week, and after that I ate lot of cakes, and I had instant 3 days migrena. I did same thing 2 more times, and every time I had headaches i guess I have to remove gluten for ever. Also I did food test. I can’t eat tomatoes :(, corns, molluscs and peanuts ..also I’m removing dairy (at this moment not 100 percent, but I will in near future). and I hope It will help! The worst thing at this moment is Reynoulds syndrom, Is there any chance that it can disapear after AIP?

    • Mickey says

      Hi Monika,
      I am sorry to hear of your struggles! From what I know, raynauds is usually secondary to an autoimmune disease, like Lupus or Scleroderma. When it is primary (meaning another autoimmune disease is not diagnosed), it may not be from an autoimmune cause. I do know people who have had good luck with AIP when their raynauds is secondary to another autoimmune disease, but not when it is their only issue.

      I think trying AIP would be a good idea in your case, but be sure to ask your doctor to make sure it sounds right for you. If you can’t go full AIP straight away, starting with gluten and dairy and then taking baby steps can help. I’m hoping for success for you Monika!


    • Sherilyn says

      Hi Monika! My Raynaud’s has not flared over the last 2 years. AIP has been wonderful for me. Personally, I believe once we have an autoimmune disorder, we always have it, but we can put it in remission. So, hopefully, with proper nutrition and lifestyle, we can maintain a healthy life and if we have the rare reoccuring symptoms, we’ll know something has gone awry and need to tweak things a little. Good luck with your diet changes. I hope you find them helpful!! 🙂

      • Monika says

        Your Reynould’s does not appear even in cold conditions?

        My Doctors said that if I have autoimmune disease so it is not active, because they don’t find no changes in my bodies or joints. Thank you for support 🙂 good luck !

        • Sherilyn says

          Hi Monika! Nope, we even had -12 degree weather this winter and I did not have one episode of my Raynaud’s. I even walk 1/4 mile from my car to the office and had no reactions at all. I was truly amazed. That’s great your AI’s are not active! I think that’s really the only thing we can strive for; remission. Good luck to you too!! 🙂

  • Nadine says

    Thank-you for this Sherilyn. I thought I was going crazy but your living outside the beehive analogy is perfect! The same thing happened to me – severe allergic reaction, ongoing autoimmune symptoms, AIP diet, and then a sudden allergy to tomatoes. The truth is that tomatoes, and other nightshades, gave me hives as a kid but I thought I outgrew it. I guess I didn’t. Thank-you!
    ps my medical doctor has diagnosed me with “something metabolic… not worth chasing down”. This AIP/Paleo diet has changed my life. I’m 50 now and feeling the best I have in my whole life.

  • This is just wonderful. Thanks for sharing your experience and your perspective. I SERIOUSLY (at a healthy weight, and in all great health from the outside), have been eating Oreos and milk (or ice cream) every night after the kids go to bed… for years. When the day’s falling apart, I take serious consolation at the promise of quiet and Oreos in a few hours. Going AIP due to chronic migraines, alopecia areata, and an very, very expansive family history of autoimmune disease is quite the change for me. But I can already see the slight turning in my perspective on food as nourishment for my body.

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