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Unfortunately there may come a time when you feel it’s one step forward and two steps back. In cases like this you might want to dig a bit deeper into the do’s and don’ts and do a little troubleshooting.

I’m going to get on my soapbox here for a moment here,
so brace yourselves!

TRACKING – There is a REAL need for proper tracking and monitoring to know what’s working and what’s not. By tracking, I mean everything we consume, what we do daily (work, sleep, exercise, relaxation, self-care), our stress levels, reactions to food, medications and more – this can be more than just an upset tummy so if you’re not sure what else this may include, read up on reintroductions (even though you may not be to that stage yet), things to watch for include itching, skin problems, dizziness, pain, congestion etc. I call this type of tracking a food/mood/poop journal, and yes, it is a real thing! If you’re not doing it, I highly recommend you look into it (one of these days I’m going to write a post about it), but for now you should know a few things: 1) Reactions to foods, supplements, etc. can happen up to 72 hours later (trust me – you’re not going to remember this type of detail 3 days later unless you journal it!), 2) While the AIP is NOT about weight loss I highly recommend you weigh yourself every morning and keep track of it – reactions can come by way of subtle inflammation, and weight fluctuations can help you pin-point your triggers, 3) You don’t need to buy anything fancy or find some special app for this – I used an Excel spreadsheet and kept it in the cloud so I could update it on the go. The best part about a spreadsheet is it’s searchable, so I could easily look back when exploring problems and reactions.

GIVE IT AN HONEST SHOT – It’s only by truly giving the Autoimmune Protocol your full attention that you’ll really know what’s working and what’s not. The Elimination Stage is 30 days minimum, but 60 – 90 days is not uncommon before most see marked improvement in symptoms. Don’t expect miracles … slow and steady wins the AIP race. IF after giving it a REAL and HONEST shot you’re not seeing seeing the improvement you expected it is time to start the troubleshooting process as you may be dealing with underlying issues that you may need professional help to get to the bottom of and start treating.

DID YOU REALLY? – I hate to be a nag, but did you REALLY give it an honest shot? Did you really follow the protocol properly?  First and foremost, if you’re struggling but have never considered The Autoimmune Protocol book by Dr. Ballantyne, I will again suggest it to you. Not only does she include information about the basics and reintroductions, but she includes troubleshooting as well. If you’re honestly ready to start troubleshooting, keep reading.

Do’s & Don’ts

I’ve saved this until part three because I really want you to keep it simple starting out, and because, let’s face it, nobody wants to be faced with an even LONGER list of restrictions and directions after trying to adjust to the foods allowed and omitted. This article by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, AIP Do’s and Don’ts (click for article), is an amazing compilation of issues she’s helped people like us work through on their healing journeys. There are almost literally a bazillion links to other articles shared in her post, so if you’re not feeling up to digging really deep at this point, be careful to look at this with a more high-level or basic approach – read the introduction and them simply consider each numbered headline and assess whether it’s something you think might be one of your pitfalls, something you’re skipping or not giving enough attention to on your journey. Once you determine your weaknesses, look further at those as a starting point – don’t read items that don’t apply to you, this will only cause yourself overwhelm and confusion.

Progress & Patience

So, you think the AIP isn’t working or your healing journey has stalled? Read what Mickey Trescott of Autoimmune Wellness has to say about this in her article here – How to Gauge Success on the AIP When Progress Isn’t Obvious. Another common pitfall is our own impatience, and who can blame us, we just want to feel better! check out Eileen Baird’s article here – Is Your Impatience An Obstacle to Healing?

Troubleshooting

Probably the best article I’ve read on this topic is written by Mickey Trescott of Autoimmune Wellness. She delves into when you do and when you don’t need to troubleshoot, first steps to troubleshooting, three areas to explore and her own personal experience troubleshooting the AIP. Click here to read the full article – Troubleshooting the Autoimmune Protocol – A Guide.

Professional Help

If you’ve comet this far and still don’t know where you’re going wrong, please check out my Coaching Page – this is where you’ll find more resources for getting the helping hand you need.

As you know by now, the AIP involves more than just dietary changes – it’s a holistic approach to health.

To be truly successful on your journey to autoimmune wellness you will need to consider the additional lifestyle changes Dr. Ballantyne discusses in her e-book, The Autoimmune Protocol. These lifestyle changes are known to be important modulators of immune function, gut health and hormone health, so don’t discount their significance.

If you haven’t picked up a copy of The Autoimmune Protocol yet, I definitely recommend it – it contains everything you need, all in one place – get yours here.

Below are a few additional resources that go hand-in-hand with the e-book and expand upon it.

Sleep

This is HUGE! Are you getting enough? What’s right for one might not be enough for another.

Did you know that not getting enough sleep causes inflammation and increased susceptibility to infection – even in healthy people! Studies show that one night of poor sleep causes higher insulin resistance than six months of bad diet! In fact, scientific studies show that sleep may be even more important for our health than diet! Now, if that’s not enough to make you take a serious look at your sleep routine, I don’t know what is!

It’s recommended that we get to bed by 10 pm for optimal rest and recovery, and that we get 7 to 10 hours of sleep per night (for autoimmune sufferers it might be 9-10 hours or even 12 hours every night to heal).

Sleep is so important that Dr. Ballantyne has written an e-book that is full of information about the science behind sleep, how it effects every aspect of our life, tips for creating a healthy sleep environment and bedtime routine, good sleep hygiene, troubleshooting insomnia, FAQs along with nutritional and supplement guidance. Dr. Ballantyne also includes a 14-night challenge to help you track your progress. Grab your copy of Go to Bed! – Click here.

Stress Management

Did you know that for every five minutes of upset it takes your body six to eight hours to calm down biochemically! Those numbers are staggering. Imagine what long-term, chronic stress is doing to your body. Without getting into a bunch of science about cortisol, adrenaline, hormones and more (I’ll leave that to the experts – check out this article from Dr. Ballantyne – How Stress Undermines Health), simply know that when under stress, your body misuses its precious resources leaving your immune system weak and your body vulnerable to disease.

Finding effective ways to reduce and manage stress is imperative for our healing journeys – it’s been one of my biggest challenges, and I still need regular reminders. It’s essential for maintaining a healthy gut, normal immune function and balanced hormones. Each of us will need to find effective ways to deal with our individual stressors. For some it may be as simple as learning to slow down, scheduling deep breathing exercises and meditation, healthy self-care activities like yoga or gentle autoimmune safe exercise (see below). For others, more may be involved and you may need to seek the support an guidance of a professional to help deal with past or present traumas, personality traits or difficult situations. If you’re looking for a motivation on this, join me on Instagram.

Activity

Everyone knows that exercise and activity are good for our health, but what should you do when you’re faced with chronic illness and you often don’t have the energy to do much more than get out of bed in the morning?

Not surprising then that the most commonly avoided part of the autoimmune protocol is exercise.

There are lots of ways to incorporate light activity into your day. For some it might be just a reminder by way of a timer on your phone to get up and stretch or move around a little. Short walks, yoga, rebounding and stretching might be as much as you can achieve, while others may feel they’re capable of more but are unsure of how to approach an exercise program safely so they don’t face setbacks.

Thankfully there’s an amazing program, called Autoimmune Strong, that’s available to help us add a healthy, balanced routine of exercise to our lives without making things worse.

Autoimmune Strong will help you break the cycle of flares and recovery caused by over-exercising or exercise intolerance – it helps you find the “sweet spot” that’s right for YOU and YOUR autoimmune challenges. It’s the only online exercise program tailor-made for YOUR condition, even if you have limited mobility, are bed-bound or in a wheelchair!

You can sign up for a 7-day FREE trial and decide if it’s right for you.
If you decide Autoimmune Strong is right for you, you can sign up for the program monthly, by the year or join a small group coaching program for 12 weeks! Check it out and get Autoimmune Strong!