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Amanda Bennett

Whole30 and AIP: Fearing Isolation

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I ran across Whole30 and the autoimmune protocol three days ago, and I've spent a lot of time at Whole9 and The Paleo Mom soaking up everything I can. I started reading It Starts with Food as well. I am 100% convinced this is what I need, and I plan on starting November 13 as I'm currently traveling.

I've been living nightshade free since July 2011. The recommendation came from a dietitian who was finally able to pinpoint my sensitivity after about 10 years of symptoms. I've been suffering since high school, and I felt like “modern medicine†failed me.

The decision to live nightshade-free was a tough one...for about 2 weeks. I was feeling less lethargic, achy, hot tempered, drowsy. After a month I felt better than I could remember in my adult life, in fact, my personality changed is a very pleasant way. When I accidentally got into something with spices, it set me back about a week. I don't believe I'll ever be able to reintroduce nightshades, and I've come to terms with this. The good news is, I was able to stop all prescription medication: including asthma treatment and antidepressants. (I did this under the care of my doctor, and it took 3 months to ween.)

Still, I can't help but feel the isolation of this choice. Living in Texas, it's difficult to avoid the BBQ, Mexican food, etc. In fact, I experience extreme anxiety when faced with a new restaurant or traveling out of town. I've often sat at restaurants with my glass of water while friends and family enjoy their meals - waiting until I can pick up something to eat later.

While I feel so much better avoiding nightshades, I do believe there is more healing to be done. I was trying to decide whether to start Whole30 without nightshades and then do Whole30 with the strict AIP the following month or tackle both at once. I am already enduring the isolation of living nightshade free, and I'm fearful of further isolation and frustration.

Does anyone have any suggestions or advice on how I should proceed?

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First, what does your diet look like right now?

Second,

If you're in a good place right now (pain and symptom wise) I would recommend starting with the standard W30 minus nightshades. The W30 can be a stressful experience for some- it's a pretty big paradigm shift- and there's no reason to take on added stress if you're not currently struggling with serious symptoms. Once you get the hang of the program, you can always remove the AI indicated foods and see how you feel.

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Hi Amanda! And Welcome! I think Robin's advice is great, but I do disagree with it. Keep in mind that I'm not a Whole9 Mod, and this is just from my experience, based on my personality. I see the Whole30 as an elimination diet that can be sustained long term if you so choose, unlike most elimination diets, which are designed as a temporary, factfinding experiment.

Personally, I want the maximum amout of information in the minimum amount of time. So the way I look at it, I could cut out 50% of the possible dietary culprits for a month, and then spend a month on reintroduction. That might be all I need, just two months out of my life. Unless I'm still not feeling my best, in which case I would have to do the whole thing over again only removing 80% of the possible culprits for a month, then about six weeks in reintroduction. (Reintro times are approximations, to get my point across.) So that gives me a total of 18 weeks of refusing anything I didn't prepare myself.

For me, it makes more sense to cut out the 80% from the get-go, which translates to AIP Whole30 for four weeks, and then 6-8 weeks of reintro. Reintro times vary based on symptoms, and become way less limiting, progressively. But it WILL be different for you. Robin's advice may be spot on for you. To me, it sounds like you've acclimated to being the odd man out (however reluctantly) and you could handle a month of even more extreme "restriction". I put that in quotes because it's always a tradeoff- we restrict our convenience and social lives, or we restrict our potential health.

I totally understand and empathize with the seeming impossibility on avoiding nightshades. I live in Arizona: while our BBQ might not be as good, it's ubiquitous; as is our Mexican food. I encourage you to look at both Robin's advice and mine through the filter of your lifestyle. And keep your lifestyle in mind. Which approach will cause the least amount of stress in your life [read: least disruption in cortisol levels]? In my opinion, the healthiest lifestyle can be undone by the stress of adopting it.

So, I guess this was a really long non-answer. I agree with Robin that it would be good to hear what your diet is like now. And please keep in mind as you undergo your Whole30, whether it be AIP or not,that even though the folks you're around most of the day might be perplexed/offended or even offensive bout your choices, you do have a likeminded community here on the forum. It helps, I think.

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Amanda - both options would be fine in the long run, but if you want to pinpoint your sensitivities faster I would recommend going for the full AIP whole-30. I tinkered with eliminating and then introducing all of the AIP foods for about 6 months, but it was not complete or systematic so I wasn't successful. Eventually I did a fully-compliant 6 weeks, which made an incredible difference for me. I now eat that way permanently because it has resolved so many of my symptoms and I have not been able to tolerate most of the foods not included on the protocol. I wish that I would have just gone for the AIP first - it would have saved me 6 months of not feeling great!

I am not going to lie, the social isolation is intense. I have been eating this way for months now, and social situations do not get easier. My way of dealing with it is not going out for dinner, and at the most going out for drinks and just having water. If I feel like I need to share a meal, I will host a dinner party, and cook a AIP compliant meal and have friends bring the alcohol they want to drink and dessert. A year ago I was bedridden fighting for my health, so none of my friends give me a hard time because they understand how important it is to my health. I try to do other things to socialize, like sharing tea or going on walks.

Hope it helps :)

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My "normal" diet is terrible. Because of the nightshade restriction, I over-consume dairy, sweets and grains. It is rare that I eat 3 servings of vegetables a day. I love fruit and probably eat more than I should. I know I'm continuing to wreck my body despite avoiding nightshades.

Robin, thank you for calling this to my attention - I am starting to have symptoms again, even though I'm really good about avoiding nightshades. I suspect grains and dairy are the culprits, but eliminating eggs is probably a good idea since I over-consume those as well. After reading reading everyone's replies, I've decided to go ahead and launch into the AIP Whole 30.

Joey and Mickey, thank you for helping me put this into perspective - I'd rather get it over with instead of dragging it out.

I just got back from the grocery store with a load of AIP Whole30 grub, and I'll start posting my log tomorrow :)

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Goodluck Amanda! The AI can be strict at first but there are so many combinations you can put together and some great recipes out there if you just search. Throughout the forums on "whole30 for medical conditions" I've found great ideas, suggestions, and reciepes.

One thing that helps me is cooking in batches. I make food for 4-5days and freeze it in plastic containers, so easy to take on the go. Nothing feels better than feeling good! You can do this!

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I know I'm a bit late (back) to the party, but I'm glad you decided to go AIP since you weren't happy with where you were. Some folks with AI, or other medical issues, jump into the protocol even if they're feeling fine which generally doesnt do them much more good than the standard. However, when you're trying to nailndown the cause of your discomfort more info is always better. :)

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Hope you don't mind me tagging on here.....wasn't sure how to start my own thread.

I did Whole 30 (45) in October and never got to the feeling good energy part. My hubby and I will start in Jan and I get that AIP is probably what I really need. I thought the congestion and mucous would let up, but it's been steady since Oct....I'm making an effort to add more tumeric and ginger.....are there other ideas? I would love to get to the place where get more movement in my life. I do feel better than I did B4 W30.....less achy, lots of improvements too gross to list :) but the fatigue is still ruling.

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Hey GretaGarBre - everyone here is pretty quick to respond. It's best to start a new topic so that your question doesn't get "lost in the mix". Just click on a category - such as "Whole30 with medical conditions" then click on "Start a new topic" in the upper right hand corner. This forum is great - hope you use it often.

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It took me 4 months on strict 100% compliant Autoimmune Protocol for Paleo to get to a point where I could start adding back foods I'd cut out. I would add a food back (like avocado) and wait a day or two then try it again = then wait a few more days before trying another one. I'm 6+ months in and still fiddling and adding and taking out foods. Still pretty limited but I FEEL SO GOOD - I don't mind or miss foods I used to love. Yeah, my diet is pretty simple and I have dinner for breakfast but it works! NO MEDs! I haven't felt this good in a couple decades...

I hope it's going well for you!

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