Stacy met Kathy through a local blogging friend, Shirley of Gluten Free Easily. Kathy and Shirley came to a potluck party at our home when Danielle of Against All Grain visited, and then Kathy came back for our Halloween party with her family dressed as the cast of Walking Dead and we’ve been buds ever since! We are so glad that Kathy is here to tell us a little about her journey with the Autoimmune Protocol, and we know so many of you will relate. Her recipe for AIP Teriyaki Steak is an awesome addition to our site, and we love how she has paired it with Kombucha Pickled Radish and Carrot Salad. Not only is it AIP friendly, but she has truly nailed exactly what AIP is about – not just excluding foods that can cause flares, but most importantly including foods that are nutrient dense and promote healing, like fermented foods. Take it away Kathy!
When I was growing up I LOVED the movie The NeverEnding Story. If you are an 80’s kid, you’re following me… if not, just be patient. The movie is the EPIC tale of a sensitive kid named Bastian who is relentlessly bullied by kids at school for being “weird,” when he comes across this book that he hides away with and starts to read. Shockingly the book isn’t all that it seems and is an actual story that is happening which he becomes part of! The hero of the story is Atreyu, a boy about the same age as Bastian who is chosen by the child-like empress to save Fantasia and all its inhabitants from the Nothing. (Now you want to see it and all it’s stereotypical 80s glory, right?)
The Nothing is like a disease that is taking over Fantasia. It cannot be seen or heard, but gradually the waters dry up, the hills and valleys crack and fall into the earth and all the fantastic and different residents of Fantasia are dying including the child-like empress.
So as Bastian reads along, he follows Atreyu on this journey to try to save Fantasia. It goes through amazing highs like flying on the back of a dragon-dog then incredible lows as he travels through The Swamp of Sadness and loses his best friend and horse Artax. Just when Atreyu feels like there is nothing he can do to really save Fantasia, Bastian finds out he is the one that needs to turn it all around, break through his sadness, take control of the Nothing and save the day.
What does this have to do with Autoimmune Disease!?
There is a parallel, albeit a weird one, but one none the less.
For years my doctors told me “there is NOTHING wrong with you”…and prescribed me drugs for depression and anxiety. They told me “there is NOTHING else we can do”…..and sent me away with stacks of prescriptions to help me cope with the symptoms. I was told “there is NOTHING to be worried about.” But still, this Nothingness just kept on eating away at me leaving me unable to speak clearly, eat without nausea or illness, unable to walk without the help of a cane, or be a mother to my young kids. My Nothing, was killing me and I didn’t know what to do.
In 2009, I was told that I mostly likely had Muscular Dystrophy (misdiagnosis) and then later was diagnosed with Hemiplegic Migraines. During my second pregnancy I was told that I had MTHFR but when I brought it up in treatment, my doctors either didn’t know what it was or said it was not affecting me. At my worst point, I was on 14 prescriptions taken throughout my day and still bed ridden. Though my diet was steady, I lost and gained weight dramatically and couldn’t maintain it. My kids got used to mom being really sick.
Many relationships in my life changed. My marriage fell apart because of the constant strain of my illness and ended in an ugly divorce. Many friends and family either criticized my condition or just went away. It was hard for anyone to really cope with my issues which didn’t seem to show any signs of improvement. I fell into a depression and walked through my own Swamp of Sadness for a long time before I realized that I had to make a change.
I had resigned myself to the fact that I would always be sick, when I met my husband. Oddly enough he stuck by me through all my medical issues, even holding back my hair when I was sick, though the sound of vomiting makes him retch. While I don’t give my husband all the credit for my recovery, he certainly is the Bastian to my Atreyu, helping me get through the journey to reach the other side. Together–and with my kids–we started to really look outside of conventional medicine and more towards nutrition to spur the changes in our health.
One day I met a good friend for lunch and talking about my continued medical issues she suggested that I try the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). I had thought about it, but her nudge was what I really needed to push forward. On my way home I picked up Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo and pored over it.
We had already eliminated gluten and dairy the year before but actually doing AIP was definitely one of the most difficult things I have done. My first few months AIP were really hard and I only stuck to it with the support of my husband and even my mom. They could see the improvements and really pushed me to stick to it. After the first month I start to delve into planning my meals very carefully, always having something that was AIP compliant with me to eat when we were out and not cheating at all. It was only then that I really started to see improvements.
Nov. 2012/Feb. 2013, 3 months AIP
Gradually I became more confident in my cooking and preparing again and got back to making some recipes. Last year for our dating anniversary (February 12th) right before our wedding, I surprised my husband with my first complete AIP dinner. I really wanted to celebrate with him the occasion and upcoming wedding but also the huge health strides I had made with him over the previous year. To this day he says that that AIP Teriyaki Rib Eye is his favorite steak ever.
Today I maintain a modified AIP diet with adjustments when I have flare ups. Regularly I stay completely free of all nightshades, chocolate and regular coffee. Because of a lifelong latex allergy, I realized that yucca (and its starch–tapioca) and well as plantains cause me to react. I do eat nuts and seeds (as well as the spices made from them) but I use them in moderation and usually soak them. I am really bad with sleep (something I need to improve on) but try to maintain at least 8 hours a day and shoot for getting 9-10 hours if I can. Each day with my food I eat at least one fermented food, two cups of bone broth (either in a soup or on its own) and try to eat offal at least once a week. I practice yoga each day and try to take at least one walk a day, though that can be tough with my schedule. I wish I could say that there was one magic book that is leading me to the right way, but really the combination of everything has been so essential to my path to healing.
Now I know that my Nothing is indeed something, but with AIP and paleo I have been able to take the steps I need to defeat it. I am beginning to work with a holistic nutritionist who is helping look at all my micronutrients and my MTHFR to see exactly how it is impacting me and how my body is absorbing nutrients properly. I still feel like I have a long way to go to feeling the way I really want to, it sort of feels like I am in my own NeverEnding Story, but from where I have been, I feel like I have already defeated my Nothing. Two years ago I was bedridden, sick and didn’t see hope of any improvement. Today, I am working on a new business, run two blogs and lead a local support group for gluten-free kids. In addition to feeling better, I lost over 50lbs and am finally getting back to running (which I did regularly before I became sick). As long as I continue to heal, I don’t mind taking the time my body needs. With the help of my own Atreyu (hubby!), I have taken control of my life and my healing and am grateful every day that I did.
- 2 rib eye steaks (you can order grass fed from US Wellness Meats)
- 1 can organic pineapple slices, juice and fruit separated
- 1/2 cup coconut aminos
- 1 T apple cider vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 3/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 2 T toasted sesame oil
- In a shallow pan, add the steaks and arrange them so they are in one layer.
- Combine the juice from the pineapple, coconut aminos, vinegar, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper. Pour the liquid over the steak.
- Refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours, preferably over night.
- If using a grill pan, heat pan over medium-high heat until a droplet of water sizzles.
- Drain the liquid from the steaks and discard.
- Coat the pan with toasted sesame oil and add steaks to the hot pan.
- Cook on each side to desired temperature (we prefer to cook this recipe to a medium, medium-rare temperature of about 140 degrees)
- Serve alongside the salad and enjoy!
- 3 medium-sized carrots
- 1 daikon radish
- 1/2 red onion
- 1/2 cup unflavored kombucha
- 1/4 apple cider vinegar
- 2 T toasted sesame oil
- 1 T raw honey
- 1 T minced cilantro
- 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp crushed black pepper
- Using a zester or julienne peeler, julienne the carrots and the radish. With a mandolin, slice the red onion into thin slices and place all vegetables into a mason or other sealable jar.
- In a small bowl combine the kombucha, vinegar, oil and honey. Whisk the liquid until the oil is dispersed through the liquid.
- Add the cilantro, salt and pepper and blend to combine.
- Add the liquid mixture to the jar and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 2 weeks.
Follow Cake Cooks Gluten-free on