As I've mentioned in previous posts, I've always had minor skin issues, but things really spiraled out of control about 2.5 years ago (at a time when I had not used steroids in years!). I was not a "regular" steroid user until these unexplained (and terrible) rashes starting appearing in my adulthood. For this reason, I am not satisfied that I will heal completely from stopping steroids alone. For me, it's just Step 1 in a process. As I've been undergoing TSW, I have been in a constant search for more information about how to heal my skin issues and also heal all of the other damage that the steroids did to my body (besides the skin). I believe that I am finally starting my journey down the correct path to healing my body completely!
To preface, I had previously started experimenting with the GAPS diet, but found myself having horrible reactions to leftover broth/soup, so I abandoned ship. I know now that my reactions were histame-related (more information on this below). Although the GAPS diet did not work for me, specifically, I still believe that it could be an excellent approach for healing for others.
Instead, I am embarking into:
The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body, by Sarah Ballantyne, PhD (her website: The Paleo Mom)
For those who know me, they know that I've eaten a mostly Paleo diet for over 3.5 years now (by mostly I mean 90-95%). My diet has been fairly clean for a long time now, so parts of this approach are nothing new to me. However there is A LOT of information that I a.) did not know, b.) now understand the importance of incorporating for my own specific healing process! On the whole, her approach is a bit more strict than "normal" Paleo, but for good reason!
Here's the rundown:
Besides the normal NO grains, NO legumes, NO dairy, the diet also excludes:
- coffee (of all the foods I am avoiding this is actually the saddest part for me)
Now that I'm not medicating myself (with steroids and only using antihistamines when absolutely necessary), I am also learning that I have a very severe histamine intolerance. (Interestingly, The Paleo Approach also has a section about histamine intolerance outlined in the book!) The great thing about not medicating yourself with drugs is that you can actually listen to your body and what it's telling you about the foods you eat.
Therefore, I am also excluding the following foods (which are allowed on the normal Autoimmune Protocol, but should be avoided if you have histamine intolerance):
Fermented anything (meats, sauerkraut, etc)
Leftover meat (histamine levels rise A LOT once a meat is cooked/leftover)
Certain Fish (there's a whole list of types of fish to avoid due to histamine content)
Christopher made this list for me as a guide (it's hanging on our fridge).....
Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the list of "Foods to Avoid", I am feeling empowered by the "Foods to Eat" list! It's limiting, sure, but there are a lot of delicious foods that I am allowed to eat so I'm focusing on those!
So far, I'm almost a week into this diet. I had a few mess-ups during the first 2 days (both histamine-related) so I got off to a pretty rocky start. Hopefully I've gotten the mistakes out of my system so I can proceed with the healing. Within the next few days, I'm going to try to post my day-to-day diet on here to start creating a log of my food intake.
To wrap things up, it feels really good to take your health into your own hands. Everyone undergoing TSW probably understands this at least in part (we're all going against the advice of our doctors to try to heal ourselves, aren't we?!). For me, gaining my health back does not simply boil down to "stop steroids," I believe it's going to take more than that (especially if I want to avoid having to visit ANY doctors' offices for a long, long while). I never understood the desire for "true health" fully before--even when I was eating Paleo prior to my skin condition! Health has so much more meaning for me now than simply "being skinny." And now, it's even taking on more meaning than "clear skin." I want to take care of my body and not abuse it in anyway; I want to help my body function at it's highest levels. For me, it's taken a debilitating circumstance to knock me upside the head so I can learn about real health.