No More Wine For Me… I’m On The Autoimmune Protocol (Guest Post by Mikaela Morgan)

 

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 Mikaela Morgan, a sufferer of Crohn’s disease. You can find her blog at Slightly Lost Girl

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“Man, I wish I had gotten more drunk last night”

-Said no one, ever

Hi everyone! I am Mikaela, the author of the blog Slightly Lost Girl. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in April of 2011 and as usual, my doctors never mentioned that what I ate had anything to do with my illness. After a year and a half of following my doctor’s orders I found myself in the hospital facing the removal of my entire large intestine. I decided to take things into my own hands and began to research alternative therapy for autoimmune disease (AKA consult doctor google). Lo and behold I found many people who had “cured” themselves from Crohn’s disease using diet alone! I dove head first into the paleo autoimmune approach and have been dedicated to healing myself with food ever since. However, my recovery hasn’t been without serious roadblocks. The medications I took to control my immune system and keep it from attacking me damaged it’s ability to fight against pretty much anything. While I began to implement the autoimmune approach, a common cold quickly became double pneumonia, a UTI that most people would cure with cranberry juice threatened to infect my kidney, and I suffered from chronic sinusitis (very painful) and many other ailments.  I also contracted C. Diff., a bacteria that causes diarrhea and weight loss and can even be fatal in serious cases. The antibiotics that I took for the aforementioned health problems further slowed the recovery of my insides. I am finally feeling better and hope to be medication free within a couple years.

One of the things that took me quite a while to give up when I started the autoimmune protocol was alcohol. I pretended that a glass of white wine didn’t upset my stomach and would sometimes drink vodka at parties. It is easy to find research that shows the benefits of casual drinking and very hard to go to happy hour with your friends and not have a drink.  As time passed and my healing seemed to be at a standstill I began to wonder, why am I still getting so sick all the time? I was eating bone broth incessantly, making sure to eat nutrient rich meals with lots of green, cooked veggies and even eating liver! I began to examine my habits and realized that there were two major problems that I still needed to work on: sleep and alcohol.

Alcohol is known to increase intestinal permeability (“leaky gut”) and this is “bad news bears” for people with autoimmune disease. We already have a genetic predisposition to have a leaky gut… adding ingredients that are known to worsen an already leaky situation is a terrible idea! Even an occasional drink can cause us to lose sleep quality and damage our intestinal lining. I was already working so hard to improve my health and my Sunday night glass of wine was sabotaging it all! I decided to quit the booze 100%.

Do I really miss drinking? Not the actual drinking and getting drunk part, but sitting down after a tiring day with a cocktail and a friend is hard not to miss. I also tend to avoid late night parties with drinkers now that I am sober. Drunk people aren’t very interesting. Lets be real, their jokes aren’t nearly as funny as they think, and it seems they talk louder and louder as if to compensate for the fact that they make less and less sense. This is something that you might not notice if you are taking shots of tequila, but when you are totally sober it is painfully obvious. My husband jokes that I am just like an old lady. But I sure wake up in the morning feeling better than the super party goers. And I don’t ever do stupid stuff because I am drunk (if I do something stupid I have no excuse either…it just happened).

Here are a couple of things that I do to help myself have fun WITHOUT booze:

1) I Make my own special drinks

IMG_8313Doesn’t this look amazing?

My personal favorite cocktail is ice, mineral water, a couple of limes and maple syrup to taste. If I have frozen berries on hand I throw a few in and pretty soon my drink is more appetizing than anyone elses. At one recent party everyone wanted me to make them a drink just like mine…vodka and soda, without vodka coming right up!

2) When I go to a party or bar, I keep a drink in my hand at all times

IMG_8314Does he look like he needs a drink?

Carrying around a bubbly water with lime will keep others from constantly offering you a beer or some wine, or asking you why you aren’t drinking. It seems like people don’t accept the fact that others are choosing not to drink and will sometimes make an issue out of it; this is a way to avoid this kind of situation. Usually if someone wants to make a big deal about the fact that I don’t drink it is because they don’t have a very healthy attitude towards alcohol themselves.

3) I plan activities that don’t involve alcohol.

IMG_7021Hiking: free, fun and good for your health!

As we get older we get in the rut of using eating and drinking as our only social events. I love to go for walks on the beach, and have picnics in the park. There are so many things that we can do that don’t involve drinking! Go paint-balling, hiking, rafting, go-carting, to the arcade, bowling alley, or pool hall….your friends might have a lot of fun, and you won’t have to say no to booze or stay up past your bedtime. Think about it, it is hard to go out to dinner for less than thirty bucks, and if you have more than one drink your tab (not counting the tip) is going to be easily twenty dollars (probably more like 30). Most of the things that I suggested are cheaper than a night on the town and will break up the monotony of going to the same,  happy hour after work every Friday.  You can also save up the money that you would have spent drinking to buy yourself some rollerblades or a bicycle, or in my case the new cowboy hat I have been coveting (baseball caps just don’t protect your entire face, and I don’t want to wear poisonous sunscreen….really, I neeeeeed a Stetson cowboy hat)!

4) I have friends who think like me

They don’t bash me for not drinking and want to experiment with fun new things. I have a new friend who gave me a kombucha scoby, and we get together to make bone broth and sauerkraut. These kinds of friendships make me feel less weird and have more fun experimenting with new things. I’m not saying that you should ditch your longtime friends just because they want to have a gin and tonic and think that raw liver is gross, but it is important to have people around that are thinking about the same things as you are. Humans are social creatures, and we need conversation and laughter to keep us healthy just as much as probiotics. As an added bonus, you will be able to talk about lacto fermented vegetables without getting eye rolls.

I know that some of these things are easier said than done, but remember that all of the changes that we make for our health will be more than worth it when we feel even just slightly better.

Slightly Lost Girl before-and-after

About Mickey Trescott

Mickey Trescott is a cook and one of the bloggers behind Autoimmune Wellness. After recovering from her own struggle with both Celiac and Hashimoto’s disease, adrenal fatigue, and multiple vitamin deficiencies, Mickey started to write about her experience to share with others and help them realize they are not alone in their struggles. She is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner by the Nutritional Therapy Association, and is the author of The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook, a guide and recipe book for the autoimmune protocol, and AIP Batch Cook, a video-based batch cooking program. You also can find her on Instagram.

17 comments

  • Matt says

    Thinking about the company you keep is one of the hardest things to do and one of the hardest things that people have a hard time letting go of, I think. Relationships can be toxic. I too have had friends that I’ve cut out of my life over the years for reasons such as their want to keep with the party lifestyle.

    • Mikaela says

      Thanks for reading Matt! I agree that relationships can be difficult to maintain when making big changes….luckily the friends that are really worth it will stick around no matter what 🙂 It is also really fun to make new friends that support your lifestyle!

  • Sarah says

    I just gave up wine a month ago, because I realized that my gut would never heal otherwise. It was really hard, but I had to acknowledged that I was using it as an emotional crutch. Already I feel more emotionally and hormonally stable. Still working on my psoriasis, but that will take some time. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Mikaela says

      Thanks for reading Sarah! And congrats on the decision to quit the wine…. I know it is hard, but it will definitely be worth it 🙂 I hope that you continue to see improvement in your psoriasis symptoms!

  • Great post! Thank you for addressing this issue in such a fun loving, supportive way–am sure this will help many people. Best wishes to you on your healing journey. 🙂

  • Erica says

    Thanks for sharing! Your story is very encouraging. I am in the same boat you were in. It’s scary to make that lifestyle change but I am excited to start feeling better!

    • Mikaela says

      The best of luck to you Erica! I hope that you are feeling great and that your health is improving 🙂

  • debby says

    I’ve read a few of your posts and I enjoy every one of them. In fact, I’m reading this one while drinking a cosmo (knowing I shouldn’t), and feeling guilty about my amazing red wine collection at home. My UC is under control so it’s easy to feel like it’s okay to drink. But my big problem is that when I drink, my self control goes out the window and I binge – often on non-AIP foods. It’s a real and serious problem so I know I’m going to have to cut it out. You’re doing amazingly and your posts really make so much sense. Keep ’em coming! Debby

    • Mikaela says

      Thanks so much Debby! I know that some people are able to handle a little bit of alcohol, but hadn’t thought about the potential loss of self control that it might cause…. very interesting! Congratulations on the remission, that is awesome!
      I hope that you continue to be able to enjoy an occasional cosmo while remaining in remission! Recognizing that you have to be extra careful when you drink will probably help the situation 🙂 Thanks again for reading 🙂

  • Georgia says

    Hi Mikaela, I’m so sorry you went through all that with your health, you look so young. I have been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and I’ve been taking all sorts of meds for it for about 2 months so far and God knows when I can stop. Truth be told though I started feeling great and super healthy from the moment I started the meds I can’t lie about that. I’ve been feeling energetic and wonderful. What troubles me now is what you mentioned about your immune system being so weak that it couldn’t fight simple ailments like the common cold. This is a great concern of mine and I want to do whatever possible to prevent it. Would you mind telling me what kind of meds you were taking that weakened your immune system so much? Thank you, looking forward to your reply.

    • Danielle says

      I’m curious as well. My family and I are recovering from Mold Illness. It’s been a long road but the autoimmune protocol is a must in the recovery process. My husband inflammation is crazy and has been on Methotrexate and now the last few months his doctor Added and a weekly injection of enbrel. I know these are nasty drugs, but he on the other hand feels fantastic now. I’m so worried about him and his temorary medication bandaid. I tell him he needs to join me on the autoimmune protocol. I’m curious are you off the medications completely? I loved reading your alcohol post made me laugh and feel good. Have a great day!

  • Taura says

    I am very curious about med too … I am being pushed toward autoimmune suppressants ‘to kick start my immune system’ (severe idiopathic neutropenia). I won’t. I am seeking anecdotal experiences in hopes of finding a link to the CAUSE of my neutropenia and long list of weird I go food in tolerances.
    More on the med is possible?

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  • Simon says

    Google “autoimmune sparking wine”. Spot this article. Hmm. Agree. with article. Realise that I need to stop cherry picking articles to find what suits me. Nice work!

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