Slow and Steady

They say that slow and steady wins the race, right? Well my slow and steady race to health has been paved by some frustrations and some mental fatigue, but I’m still in it to win it!

This past summer, I worked on the Outer Banks, living on the beach with my husband as recreation directors of a campground. It was a fantastic job and the community of people we worked with and lived beside couldn’t be beat. We were also privy to some delicious potlucks and amazing seafood, as well as a weekly hot dog lunch and ice cream. After successfully introducing almonds and all spices, I wanted to be able to eat socially again. So I decided as long as I kept it gluten-free, I could try to be flexible once or twice a week. At first I didn’t stop re-introductions; I just kept a great journal and knew to be mindful. The reality is that if I eat something once in a week, I rarely react to it, as long as there’s no gluten involved.

But by the end of the summer, I had an incident that has frustrated me in my food adventures, and I still haven’t quite recovered. At the end of a week of potato reintroductions (which I thought were going well), I walked on the beach, barefoot, for the first time in a long time. I pulled a muscle in my feet in a way that made any walking painful. And instead of taking a few days to get over like it usually would, it took weeks. My daily beach walks (in sneakers) were replaced by slow strolls on the pavement, if that. And while my first realization was that I must be sensitive to potato, when it took many months and my muscles STILL hadn’t fully recovered (my feet did, but I’ve still got unexplained tension in my shoulders and such that I’d previously lost with my diet changes), I started wondering if it was the cheating or if it was something else.

So I stopped worrying about it for a while. I’m eating gluten-free, and I’m limiting potatoes and corn and anything else I haven’t re-introduced formally yet. And I’m trying to work up the mental and physical energy for more reintroductions.

When we hit the road again, leaving Florida, I may decide to try another reintroduction. I know I need to do more. I’d like to limit my cheats more this year. But food freedom is tough to navigate, especially when I still feel pretty great overall. I’ve gotten new meds for suspected Sjogren’s from my rheumatologist, but I haven’t started them yet. I’m told they’ll make me sweat. We shall see.

In better news, I’ve been doing well with maintaining my cardio and my weights haven’t been to shabby. I’ve also been doing an excellent job of eating organ meat at least a few times a week. (Publix is a wonderful source, and organ meat is so cheap!) So I have lots to be proud of. I’m hoping to integrate more meditation this year as well, and I’ve set some ambitious work goals I hope to achieve.

Did you set any resolutions this year? It isn’t too late! I’d love to hear what you’re doing to improve your health.

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Comfort in Cookies (and Fast Food, Too!)

As you probably noticed in my last post, I got kind of depressed when my egg yolk reintroduction wasn’t successful. One of the major reasons I was depressed is that eggs are so standard in baking. This meant that I’d always have to be careful with baked goods and at the minimum observe extra moderation with them.

So what do you do when you’re feeling blue? Whether it’s election blues or egg yolk blues? You bake, of course!

Early in my AIP adventures, I was missing chocolate. One of the easiest chocolate substitutions is cacao, although it doesn’t agree with everyone. In my enthusiasm at learning it’s on the protocol, I bought cacao powder and chips. Unfortunately I later learned there are a few ingredients that make the chips non-compliant, so I should have made my own, but since I had them on hand, I decided to indulge a little in this case. As I worked on healing and mourning the loss of eggs, I got to work tracking down ingredients for this recipe.

Flame to Fork is where I found this recipe for AIP, Chewy “Chocolate” Chip Cookies. I substituted arrowroot powder for tapioca powder, since it’s what I had on hand, and I think it made them a little extra dense and more akin to a chocolate peanut butter cookie if that sounds good to you.


First you mix a bunch of stuff. I found it a tad crumbly so increasing the liquids slightly might have helped. And I tripled the recipe since we’re staying with friends and I wanted lots of cookies!


Next you roll them into balls. This took way more time than regular cookie dough. But they will do the job, particularly if you follow the instructions and let them set a bit before you remove or eat them.


These took a while to cook. It can be hard to tell they’re done because they don’t burn as obviously as traditional cookies. So err on the side of less time if you’re unsure. After all, there aren’t any eggs, so you can even eat this as cookie dough without fear!

I’m crazy about these cookies. So is my husband. If I had controlled myself and not eaten 6-8 in a day, I think I would have been fine with the store-bought chips, but next time my digestion will thank me when I make them myself. And if my husband has his way, I will be making them a lot!

If you have trouble finding the ingredients, check Amazon. Depending on the area I’m in, I’ve found most of these ingredients at Walmart or local grocery stores and just about everything at a local food cooperative.

One final note: a quick fast-food story. We just spent a couple of days in Minneapolis and of course visited the Mall of America while we were there. I was prepared with meat and fruit bars, but I was hoping for some fast food I could eat without paying for a sit down meal. A quick search hadn’t turned up anything, but finally I thought to ask Piada Italian Street Food what oil they use on their grill. When they showed me the bottle of olive oil I got so excited!

I had a fantastic salmon salad – they let me substitute things I could eat (olives, cucumbers, artichokes) for things I couldn’t and talked me through every ingredient. Amazing service, amazing meal and I can’t recommend them more highly for a healthy and delicious fast casual experience! Look for them in a city near you in Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota or Kentucky.

Thanks for reading, and stay strong! We are so much more than the food we eat but it sure does influence how we feel.

Making Healthy Food Choices on the Road

I talked in my last post about my experiences eating out while following my diet, the auto-immune protocol. Although eating out is fun once in a while, as a rule I am much less stressed and happier when I am prepared with my own food as I travel. But planning ahead and packing myself a meal or two looks much different than it used to before I was following the protocol.

Back when I commuted 45-60 minutes each way to jobs across southern NH, I kept bread, peanut butter and apples or bananas with me. That way I didn’t need to be tempted by fast food. Filling, relatively healthy meal on the go? Done. It also seemed like a bit of a treat as I rarely ate peanut butter or sandwiches normally if I wasn’t traveling.

Currently, I can’t eat nuts or bread, and I need to limit my fruit intake as well – I try to avoid more than two servings in a day, although I definitely cheat sometimes. So when I will be traveling, here’s what my planning looks like.

1. Pack a cooler and ice packs. I have one large enough to fit 5-6 Tupperware if needed, which covers me for two meals easily.

2. Keep silverware, plastic or otherwise with you at all times. If a meeting runs over or you forget to pack a fork in the morning you won’t be stuck eating salad as a finger food. Plates and napkins or paper towels help too.

3. I now keep an emergency box in my trunk. It has coconut butter, olive oil, some kind of canned meat that opens easily and a package of seaweed. If needed, I can improvise or supplement a meal with these. My next goal is to buy a can opener for the car.

4. I never leave home with an empty purse. At the minimum, I have a fruit bar and an Epic meat bar with me at all times. Between protein and the fruit I almost have a meal and I can go many more hours without eating at the drop of a hat. (Epic bars are great. I buy them by the case on Amazon. Full of protein from great sources without any fillers or weird ingredients.)

5. Pack yourself legitimate, satisfying meals and use that cooler well. Some of my favorites this season? Chicken salad made with avocado instead of mayo, sometimes on a cabbage or lettuce wrap, approved deli meat sandwiches with avocado on lettuce, AIP approved tacos or salads, make your own sushi with smoked salmon or lobster, avocado and seaweed and much, much more. Even just a fancy salad will leave you satisfied without the fast food regret! And with my sweet tooth, dessert is usually essential. A maple candy, date roll or dried banana help me turn down the ice cream.

I spent the last week traveling in an RV and sight-seeing. To make sure I stayed on track, I packed easy to prepare foods like frozen shrimp, chicken sausages and salmon and I pre-cooked sweet potatoes, veggies and squashes to make things easier. I had an awesome week and didn’t feel deprived thanks to the tasty food options I had on board!

What tips do you use to avoid temptation or frustration while traveling?