Pre-Whole30 and Feeling Awful

Well I thought I’d post a quick update. I think I am really finding out how different foods affect me. It is about a week before I start Whole30 and I have been trying to cook and/or give away foods to make room for the new foods..I am also trying out new veggies (I have never tried a turnip or beet before!) so I can see what I like and do not. Once I start the Whole30 AIP Paleo program, it will be good to know what I like so then I can just make up daily menus to go off of. Yesterday I made my crock-pot salsa chicken and boy was it yummy! Problem was as soon as I took three to four bites, I could feel my fibromyalgia get worse….it actually set me into a flare. 😦 It had many not so good foods (I will call trigger foods) like nightshade tomatoes and nightshade peppers. Damn you nightshades! Why do you have to taste so good but make me so sick?!?

I also wanted to test if the reaction was just all in my head (I knew it wasn’t), so with the leftover “stock” from the chicken I threw in some chili beans, frozen ground turkey, and frozen ground chicken. Cleaning out the freezer., check! I let the meat and stock simmer on low for ten hours overnight to make a fabulous Mexican Chili for today. So was it yum? Yes, and everyone at my friends daughters birthday party thought so too. Did I eat a few bites? Yep. Did I react to this trigger food? Yep. Le sigh. 😦 But I did not eat a lot so I am decent right now. I have decided to cut out all nightshades from now on just on principle. I know I react so why bother? Once I start the AIP protocol that will be one less worry of mine.

So whats next for me on this journey? Well I am stocking up on certain pantry items and trying different veggies that I have never eaten before. I even drank coconut milk for the first time. I am hoping to start the Whole30 program next Sunday, Sept 28, 2014. Until then I will keep this blog updated on my food adventures. Goodnight wordpress 🙂

Sulfite, A Common Preservative – I’m Sensitive/Allergic, Are You?

I realized I was Sulfite/Sulfate-sensitive or allergic about a year ago. I am not a big drinker so figuring out this allergy took me about 30 years of life. A little over a year ago I was invited out to a winery to meet up with friends and then BAM!, I got an instant headache and my fibromyalgia went into a crazy flare after the wine wore off! This, however annoying, finally gave confirmation to me that I couldn’t drink wine. Well, at least regular wine. Sulfites are added as a preservative to 95% of wines. And apparently sulfites are added to lots of bottled alcoholic drinks, not just wine. Le sigh! Organic wine supposedly only contains natural occurring sulfites, with none added. I haven’t tried a organic version yet to see. That is OK though. I’ve never been a big drinker and since I am going AIP Paleo it doesn’t matter to me anymore. Maybe many months from now I can try an organic wine. Oh and if anyone is curious, Stella Artois makes a hard apple cider (Cidre) that is sulfite free. I had to read every hard cider bottle out there to find that out. Anything Mikes Hard (insert your choice) or Bud Light Margarita, etc, contains sulfites.

Back in October of 2013, I printed out the FDA guide to food and drugs containing sulfites. Remember to ALWAYS read your ingredient list on the products label. Here is that list:

Alcoholic beverages: beer, wine, cocktail mixes, wine coolers; Baked Goods: cookies, crackers, pie crust, pizza crust, flour tortillas; Condiments and Relishes: horseradish, onion and pickle relishes, pickles, olives, salad dressing mixes, wine vinegar; Fish and Shellfish: canned clams, shrimp, frozen lobster, scallops, dried cod; Puddings, Gelatin, and Fillings: fruit fillings, flavored and unflavored gelatin, pectin jelling agents; Grain products and Pasta: cornstarch, modified food starch, spinach pasta, gravies, hominy, breading, batters, noodle/rice mixes; Jams and Jellies; Shredded Coconut; Fruit: canned, bottled or frozen fruit juices, dried fruit, maraschino cherries and glazed fruit; Processed Vegetables: veggie juice, canned veggies, pickled veggies, dried veggies, instant mashed potatoes, frozen potatoes, potato salads; Snack Foods: dried fruit snacks, trail mixes, filled crackers; Soup and Soup Mixes: canned seafood soups, dried soup mixes; Sweet Sauces and Toppings: corn syrup, maple syrup, fruit toppings, pancake syrup; Tea: instant teas, liquid tea concentrates.

That is a lot of products that contain sulfites! Remember to always check your labels like I do. Also look for these names: Potassium Bisulfite, Potassium Metabisulfite, Sodium Metabisulfite, Sodium Sulfite, Sulfur Dioxide (usually in dried fruit), and Sodium Bisulfite. While your looking at the label, don’t forget to look for added nitrates. Good Luck! The food industry has really tried hard to sneak in nasty chemicals to preserve foods. I cannot wait to start my Whole30 AIP Paleo program and kick all this nasty, disease causing crap out the door!

Why Nightshades Are Bad For You

What are Nightshades? You may have heard of the term “deadly nightshade” referring to a plant called belladonna, which was used as a poison in ancient times. Lesser known are the commonly eaten vegetables in the same nightshade family. They aren’t deadly, but they contain enough toxins to cause inflammation in some people, particularly those with leaky gut or autoimmune disease. Often, we don’t realize just how much, until we stop eating them. Here’s the list:
•    Tomatoes (yep!) sad face 😦
•    Tomatillos
•    Potatoes (these also contain sulfites, a big NO NO)
•    Eggplants
•    Peppers (bell peppers, banana peppers, chili peppers, etc.)
•    Pimentos
•    Goji berries
•    Ground cherries
•    Ashwagandha (an ayurvedic herb)
•    Tobacco (thank goodness I quit smoking in 2003)
•    And red pepper seasonings (paprika, chili powder, cayenne, curry, etc.)
•    Read labels: terms like “spices” and “natural flavors” often contain the above seasonings.
•    Similar sounding foods that are NOT nightshades: Sweet Potatoes and Peppercorns <–these are OK

How Are They Harmful? First of all, nightshades aren’t harmful to everyone, but they are harmful to some of us. Why? They contain toxic compounds called alkaloids. In nature, these  protect the plants against insects, by poisoning the insect and dissolving its cell membranes. Unfortunately, alkaloids can have a similar effect in humans, increasing our inflammation, over-activating our immune system, and causing permeability in our intestinal membranes (known as leaky gut.) If someone’s healthy, with low inflammation in their body, a balanced immune system, and a healthy and strong digestive tract, they can often eat nightshade vegetables without a problem. However, if you have health issues, particularly if you have autoimmune disease, nightshades are a common food trigger which can make your symptoms worse…

Some Advice

•    If you’re craving potatoes, replace them with a starchy alternative: sweet potatoes, beets, parsnips, butternut squash. You can cook all of these the same way you cook potatoes: fries, chips, roasted, mashed, and you know what? They have more flavor, too!
•    Although there’s really no substitute for a fresh summer tomato, there IS a substitute for a classic tomato sauce, thanks to Danielle from Against All Grain. Who’d of thunk….beets. Interesting. Gotta try this!

TomatoLess Meat Sauce – Yes!!! 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons bacon fat
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups beets, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 pieces of bacon, chopped
  • 1½ teaspoons sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 1/4 cup chicken stock (or chicken bone broth)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 1½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 pound ground beef or pork (I used grassfed 85/15 beef)

Instructions:

  1. Melt the bacon fat with the olive oil in a sauce pan set over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions and garlic for 3-4 minutes. Add the bacon and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add the carrots, beets, and celery and cook until the vegetables have softened slightly, about 5-6 minutes.
  3. Pour in the stock/bone broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Carefully pour the sauce into a blender and blend on low for 15 seconds, then increase the speed to high and continue to blend until you have a smooth sauce.
  5. *Be careful when blending hot liquids as they have the tendency to splatter. You can also use an immersion blender in the pot.
  6. Return the sauce to the pan. Add the bay leaves, basil, oregano, thyme, and vinegar. Bring to a simmer then crumble the ground meat with your hands and add it to the sauce. Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes, until the meat is fully cooked.
  7. *The thickness of the sauce will depend on what the fat content of your meat is. If it is too thick, add a little more stock towards the end of the cooking process until it has reached your desired thickness. YUM!

•    Nightshade spices usually give food a hot kick. You can still get this sensation through non-nightshade spices: white pepper, black pepper, ginger and horseradish. Usually you’ll need more of these spices than you would of the red peppers. Experiment.
•    Restaurants are tricky. Many sauces and spice blends contain nightshade spices. You have two options: ask your waiter how the food is seasoned (and trust them to tell you the truth). Or order your food unseasoned and bring some spices with you.

Here is a Nightshade-Free Curry recipe, just mix and store in a jar:

  • 2 Tbsp. ground coriander
  • 2 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 4 tsp. turmeric
  • 2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried ginger
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard

The Autoimmune Paleo Approach – Intro

Almost everyone has heard of the Paleo lifestyle movement. Eat like a “cave man”: no processed foods or sugars; only simple, healthy foods such as organic meats, fruits and veggies, etc. Going “paleo” means consuming nothing artificial: no nicotine, caffeine, alcohol. If the caveman couldn’t eat or drink it, you cannot either. You get the idea. After I had weight loss surgery (Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, VSG) back in November 2012, my diet drastically changed and I have been eating mostly dairy, meat, and veggies. Very similar to what we call the Atkins Diet today. That approach has worked. I lost my excess weight and started to feel more healthy. But one day something happened….

Several months after my VSG surgery I started to feel like CRAP! The healthy feeling from losing weight turned into constant pain and fatigue (sometimes severe). Please realize I have always had pain. I thought my pain was normal and shrugged it off as just being fat, working too hard, or stress from various things. But THIS pain was worse than “normal” and coupled with the fatigue, it was unbearable. I finally went to my general doctor (PCP) and she diagnosed me with fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia (FM or FMS) is characterized by chronic widespread pain and allodynia (a heightened and painful response to pressure). Fibromyalgia symptoms are not restricted to pain, leading to the use of the alternative term fibromyalgia syndrome for the condition. Other symptoms include debilitating fatigue, sleep disturbance, muscle spasms, muscle cramps, and joint stiffness. Its exact cause is unknown but is believed to involve psychological, genetic, neurobiological and environmental factors. The central symptom of fibromyalgia, namely widespread pain, appears to result from neuro-chemical imbalances including activation of inflammatory pathways in the brain which results in abnormalities in pain processing. In my case, I constantly have inflammatory markers in my blood, but no known cause. This is typical for people suffering from FMS.

There are many treatments for FMS, mostly drugs, but most are not effective. From my own experience and the research I have done by actually talking with people with fibromyalgia, taking drugs is just like sticking a band-aid on a gaping wound. I take Gabapentin and Cymbalta daily. Sometimes I take Tramadol and Tylenol for severe pain. If it is super bad, I throw in a muscle relaxer to help me sleep (I get many muscle knots in my shoulders and neck). I also supplement with a B vitamin complex, vitamin D3, and magnesium. I also take turmeric factor blend from my local pharmacy and krill oil. I feel like a walking pharmacy some days. Do any of these meds or supplements work? Sort of, mostly not though. I honestly do not want to take any medication, other than natural herbs and vitamins. So what are other ways I can treat my FMS?

Since my life has changed drastically by being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I started researching alternative therapies to help to to reverse my pain and inflammatory response. Again, no one knows what actually causes the nerves and muscles not to operate properly in our bodies, but one known cause are environmental factors. I only am looking for natural ways to do this. NO MORE DRUGS. Therefore, after much online research, I am hypothesizing that changing my eating habits by adopting a strict Autoimmune Paleo Protocol (AIP Paleo) will help alleviate, and maybe even put into remission, all the pain and fatigue associated with my disease. Also in combination of routine exercise and massage, I hope this trifecta will do the trick. The AIP is an elimination diet. You stop eating certain foods for 30 days (or longer), and then slowly reintroduce them to test your body for food intolerance. If your body reacts positively, you can happily reintegrate that food into your diet. If your body reacts negatively, you know that food is an inflammation trigger for you, and best to avoid.

In this blog, I will share my journey as a “sleeved” FMS person seeking alternative treatment for fibromyalgia by changing my eating habits drastically. I will be following the Whole30 Autoimmune Paleo and Low Histamine Protocol program http://whole30.com . Their philosophy is that certain food groups are causing a negative effect on your health. The Whole 30 program cuts out all unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups for a FULL 30 DAYS. This a RESET of sorts. It lets your body “heal” and recover from the foods and processed junk that could be causing a negative effect on your body. They say the next thirty days will change my life. I hope so. Fingers crossed. I guess we shall see.

So what are the rules for the Whole30 program? For thirty days: 1) Eat real food – meat, fish, tons of veggies, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits and certain oils. Eat foods that are totally natural and unprocessed. Pick organic/grass fed foods if you can. 2) Do not consume sugar of any kind, real or artificial. This means no agave nectar, honey, splenda, stevia, etc.  And read labels. Companies do sneak sugar in products. 3) No alcohol/tobacco of any form. 4) No grains – not even quinoa. Watch for added wheat, corn and rice into foods in the form of bran, germ, starch, etc. Read your labels! 5) No legumes – no beans, peas, lentils and peanuts. No peanut butter either. Also no soy (watch for added lecithin) and yes that mean no soy sauce either. 6) No dairy products – not even butter. 7) No MSG, sulfates/sulfites, or carrageenan. 8) Do not try to recreate baked goods, junk foods or treats with “approved” ingredients. 9) Do not step on a scale or take any body measurements during the program. This isn’t about weight loss, this is about making you feel healthier! You can weight before and after if you’d like. 10) The last and final rule -DO NOT CHEAT. Your only job is to eat good food. You only need a small amount of these inflammatory foods to break the healing cycle. You will break the reset and have to start all over. Think of this as a life change. And it is only 30 days. BTW there are three exceptions; you can use salt (iodized table salt contains sugar-dextrose). You can have fruit juice if used as a sweetener. You can drink coffee – black. Umm yaa. That last one is going to be super hard.

So I guess you are asking, like I did, what CAN I eat? Well meat/fish protein, vegetables, fruits and certain fats! Here’s a link to the food list I will be following: http://whole30.com/downloads/whole30-shopping-list-AIP.pdf and http://whole30.com/downloads/whole30-shopping-list-histamine.pdf

It is a lot to take in. By following the low histamine/autoimmune protocols, I am going to have to give up eggs, shellfish, processed meats, potatoes, spinach, all nightshade veggies (peppers, eggplant, tomatoes), and lots of fruits (bananas, grapefruit, kiwi, mango, lemon/limes, oranges, papaya, pineapple, strawberries, tangerines, and any dried fruit). I also have to give up any nuts and/or seeds and clarified butter or ghee. The only cooking oils I can use are unrefined coconut oil, EVOO, animal fats, and avocado oil. And the only “eating” fats are avocado, coconut butter (manna), coconut meat/flakes, and canned full fat coconut milk. Thank goodness I like coconut! With the AIP protocol you also have to avoid all spices in the nightshade family (paprika, cayenne, chili powder, curry, red pepper, etc) and any NSAIDs. With the Low Histamine protocol you have to also avoid any fermented foods, canned meats, smoked meats, vinegar or vinagar containing foods, chocolate/cocoa and black/green teas. Coffee is suggested to be eliminated by both protocols but I honestly think I would kill someone. And there isn’t much evidence for it. I will just cut back. Esp since I have to drink it black. Yuk. Also I have to look for organic/grass fed/pastured/wild-caught – super expensive stuff. Great. Well glad I have a small tummy and cannot eat much, especially meat. Yay for my VSG! 🙂

So I have begun the process of clearing out my cupboards and fridge of all the things I am not allowed. I have to leave some things because I have a 4 year old daughter and I am positive she will need to eat something not on my approved food list. Must resist the temptation to lick the spoon when cooking for her! I think I can do it. I gave away a lot of my food to my sister and am cooking up the rest before I start this 30 day Whole30program. I will keep this updated through my journey.

doing-the-w30-IG-300x300