Monday, March 6, 2017

Disneyland on AIP/ Paleo/ Keto eating style

>>This blog post contains affiliate links. Click here to learn more what it means.

Going on vacations should be fun right? For the longest time, I didn't think so. I used to have so much anxiety at the thought of going into a flare while away from home and not having my "stuff" to calm my angry gut. Several years ago, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Ulcerative Colitis,  it belongs to the Inflammatory Bowel Disease family and it was debilitating. Fast forward to today,  I was lucky to find remission through diet and lifestyle changes instead of taking the conventional pharmaceutical route.  If you are also following a unique diet in the name of health, in other words, not the Standard American Diet,  I am going to show you how you can enjoy your vacation with proper planning. In my case, I am currently following a keto focused, Paleo Autoimmune Protocol. What does that mean in plain English?  Basically, my diet is free of grains, dairy, soy, nuts, nightshades and I only eat starchy vegetables sparingly.  What about fruit? Seasonal berries are on the menu,  so summer is exciting times!

Never take the simple things in life for granted

Last November, we went on a family trip that was special,  Why? It was the first trip since I was officially in remission where I could enjoy life with their family like a healthy "normal" person.  Even with my autoimmune condition in remission,  it still takes extra preparation to make the time away from home go smoothly.


When I was researching online, I plugged in different combinations of keywords that best describe my specific eating style, it's rare to find suggestions matching the exact protocol you are following,  unless you are Keto AIP, then you are at the right place.

To start I found Danielle Walker, another IBDer who follows a Paleo lifestyle, has great resources under her "Eating at Disneyland series"

Then I turned to my AIP community and read up on The Bacon Mum's great post Shout out: The Magic of Disney where she offers lots of smart tips about her travel experience. So I took more notes.

Finally, the keto part, I turned to my keto sista, Leanne Vogel from Healthful Pursuit and went through her keto travel tips.  Even though the keto thing is kind of new to me, I realized the most important thing I needed to focus on is having enough good fats on hand. These are my three fat staples while on this trip: Avocados, Extra Virgin Olive oil and Creamed Coconut. The beauty of being Fat Adapted ( teaching your body to use fat as preferred fuel instead of glucose through a ketogenic eating style ) is my blood sugar remains more stable, which translates to NO MORE HANGER! I can go a lot longer without being hungry so the hypoglycemic Hulk no longer busts through my seams in her old ravenous way. Trust me, I think my family might appreciate this new change more than I do.

How about the Everyday Disneyland Theme Park tips?

Find this book Unofficial Guide to Disneyland Anaheim 2017 either at the library or you can order it online through the affiliate link above. Read up on the magic of Fast Pass especially if you have small children.


The following is a list of gadgets and hard to find items I am sure glad I packed.
  • Tea bags, I made them through the coffee machine. These are my favourite at the moment
  • Handheld Electric Frother  to blend Fatty collagen block into my tea
  • Collagen,  I pack a few of them in tiny ziplock baggies or old medication vials and slip them into my purse for a quick protein fix 
  • Bring extra ziplock bags of varies sizes to portion snacks
  • Canned Smoked Oysters, from Trader Joe
  • Canned Smoked Sardines, also from Trader Joe
  • Small bottle of EVOO or buy one at your destination
  • Creamed Coconut packet ( great as fat bomb on the go ) 
  • Small bottle of Apple Cider Vinegar or buy one at your destination 
  • Essential oils - lavender, thieves, peppermint
  • Thieves fruit and veggie soak or spray to clean off fruit without water

Exploring your local resources

Find your closest healthy grocery, Trader Joes is probably the best but Wholefoods is, of course, a bit pricier choice. Believe it or not, I managed to get what we needed at the closest, grocery only, Walmart.

Shopping List
  • Buy enough water for everyone in the family, bottled waters are extra pricey inside the theme park.
  • Prewashed Salad mixes 
  • Lemon or limes - squeezing the juice from them make great salad dressing if you don't have your ACV 
  • Whole fruit if you brought swiss army knife or peeler, otherwise get a few packages of already cut fruit

Eating out

My first meal there was at Earl of Sandwich just outside of the theme park. I got the Earl's Cobb Salad and asked for olive oil on the side, they didn't have vinegar for me but I solved the problem by grabbing a few cut up lemon wedges they had for people to squeeze into their pop.  Whatever works works! We followed Bacon Mum's advice and made a reservation for dinner inside the theme park. The chef did take the time to come out to verify my food restrictions but it was a pretty overpriced piece of fish and a side of arugula. The one place I found my most satisfying meal was... wait for it... Cheesecake Factory.  I never thought I would be able to eat compliant meals at there just from the sick of their name. Besides their desserts, they are known for their huge salads. Back in the days when I went for their Cheesecakes, I would have never been able to finish their ginormous salads. Now, it's the perfect size for me. I do wonder if they had health in mind when they planned out the sizing of their salads?

Now that you are prepared, are you feeling more excited than nervous about leaving your kitchen? You should be, so let the FUN begin! Remember to take lots of pictures, LAUGH with your family and ENJOY every moment of your trip because

YOU deserve it!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Where am I going?

Did you see the post on my facebook page about finding your inner child?  Well,  that post really triggered a domino effect and inspired me to set some new focus in my way of sharing.  I have decided this is the year where I will be branching outside of my comfort zone to share my wellness journey in fresh and exciting ways.  I will be exploring beyond healing foods and talking about other aspects that contributed to my wellness like adding keto focus into my Paleo Autoimmune Protocol approach, embracing self love and living a chemical free lifestyle.  I hope you will continue on this expedition with me.

Adding keto to AIP/ Paleo 

Since taking the ketogenic approach last May,  I have been feeling a bit lost in where I fit into the world of healing protocols.  Feeling confused at times,  I wished I could draw a simple roadmap of how I arrived at remission with the least detour possible.  But the truth of the matter is we are all unique and cannot follow someone else's map because there is no ONE way to healing our bodies. With the rigid mentality kicked to the curb,  I am ready to take as many turns necessary to travel my path and enjoy the scenery.

Self love

Along the way,   I have lost sight of that inner child within, the carefree little girl who just wants to share JOY with everyone she comes across.  I joked that I finally found her buried under a big pile of self-doubt, which is why I will be sharing how self love has played an important role in my wellness.  Every day I try to muffle my self-sabotager's voice and at the same time encourage my self-lover's whispers to be heard.   One day I hope to hear my self-lover belt out a beautiful Opera while my self -sabotager observes in silence.

Chemical Free Living

This topic is no breaking news to the world,  it's just a matter of how much effort you want to put into making it happen for the sick of your family's health.  Yes,  we are surrounded by harmful chemicals everywhere but you have the power to take small steps in improving the quality of your environment.   Let me show you simple ways on how I have made the transition easy and fun.

Where am I going?

So where do I go from here?  I am looking forward to sharing my wellness journey about using fat to fuel your body,  putting yourself first and foremost and replacing harmful chemical with plant-based natural products all in the name of wellness.

Thank you for your support

Are you ready?

 I AM.

 Let's Go. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Phoenix Claws - Paleo/AIP/ Keto quick braised Chicken Feet

Photo by WW

Unless you are an adventurous nose to tail enthusiast, this recipe may appeal more to those of us with an Asian upbringing. I am so pleased with this recipe as it's a game changer for my Chicken Feet loving family, especially the children.  When I first saw the chicken feet bone broth recipe in the Paleo AIP Instant Pot Cookbook, I was excited about enjoying one of my favourite and dearly missed Dim Sum dishes, braised Chicken Feet, aka Phoenix Claws,  after the broth is done. Little did I know the power of the Instant Pot will turn the bones into a crumbly mess after merely 2 hrs of cooking. 

So that started my search for a recipe online but to my surprise, all I found was how to make bone broth with the fowl claws. Luckily, I didn't have to look far to come up with my own recipe. In the cookbook that came with the Instant Pot, there was a recipe for Cranberry Braised Turkey Wings, I made it for the family and enjoyed it but it just wasn't the same as my beloved chicken feet. Before having the Instant Pot,  making chicken feet the conventional stove top way took 2-3 hours. Now I can whip it up in under 30 mins including depressurizing time. 

Makes 4 servings     Prep time 5 mins      Cook time 10 mins  


  • 1 lb Chicken Feet ( best quality you can source, talk to your trusted butcher, you might be surprised)
  • 1 c bone broth
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce 
  • 1/4 tsp galangal powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • salt to taste 
  • 1 c cranberries
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil, or high heat cooking oil of your choice

  1. Rinse chicken feet under hot water and drain well
  2. Follow Step 3 to sautee the chicken feet in the Instant Pot or go to step 6 if you chose to sautée over stove top in a wider more shallow pot. Either way, make sure you heat the pot well enough with a high smoke point oil like avocado or coconut oil to prevent the chicken skin from sticking to the pot. 
  3. Turn Instant Pot on the select Sautée
  4. Add oil in Instant Pot to heat up
  5. When Instant Pot displays Hot, sautée chopped garlic and chicken feet in batches for 5-7 mins
  6. Add in salt, galangal powder, fish sauce and coat well
  7. Add bone broth and cranberries
  8. Close lid, make sure vent is at Sealing and hit Keep warm/ Cancel
  9. Select Manual and set timer to 10 mins
  10. When cook time is up, let Instant Pot cool naturally ( 15 mins ) 
  11. Serve paired with fermented vegetable as a snack

Monday, October 31, 2016

Q & A + giveaway for Sickness to Fitness Quick Start Guide by Tara Perillo

Does autoimmunity mean saying goodbye to your workouts forever?  That's what I thought throughout most of my Ulcerative Colitis healing journey.  Never would I imagine I could stabilize my health enough to rebuild strength and feel vivacious again.  While I was following fellow AIP blogger,  Tara Perillo' s, healing progress,  I became more and more inspired by her AIP + Fitness approach.  Her interest in the low-carb ketogenic way drew me even closer to her updates so when she unveiled her latest project Sickness to Fitness Quick Start Guide,  I knew I had to chat with her about the unique resource she is offering the AIP community.  In this post,  I will provide a quick review of Tara's program, dive deeper into her motivations behind creating this guide with a Q&A,  and tell you how you can win a copy ( PDF ) of Sickness to Fitness Quick Start Guide in a giveaway.

>This blog post contains affiliate links. Click here to learn more what it means.  

First off,  here is a quick little review her program before we get to the Q&A.

The Sickness to Fitness Quick Start Guide is divided into four parts

      1. Nutrition - AIP + macro and meal planning
      2. Workout - Simple and easy to follow step by step workout instructions from warm up to cool down. Tara also shows how to create a home gym with a few types of exercise equipment like dumb bells and achieve a great workout.
      3. Wellness - supporting lifestyle factors like Sleep, Stress, and Supplements
      4. Recipes - Batch cooking, Meal Prepping, and Yummy recipes!

As promised, here is the Q&A with Tara on Sickness to Fitness Quick Start Guide. 

"Remember, we are trying to make your body stronger..."

Q & A

Have you always been interested in fitness?

I actually have always been interested in fitness.  One of my first jobs, in high school,  was working in a gym.  I was in charge of teaching new clients how to use the weights and equipment.  That's where I first learned about weightlifting.  It was love at first lift, for this girl who was used to Jane Fonda videos and aerobics.  From there,  I went on to earn certifications in personal training,  class training,  and yoga.  Eventually,  I even competed in combat sports and was actually prepping for a fitness competition when I received my lupus diagnosis.  At first,  I was completely devastated,  knowing I would have to end my training.  But, like everything else,  I learned to work within my limitations,  and come out a victor in the end.  That's the program I created in Sickness To Fitness Quick Start Guide.

Can you please provide a brief intro about your AI? 

I have systemic lupus erythematosus,  which affects my skin,  joints,  blood,  and various organs. Many years were spent suffering from my symptoms before I received my diagnosis.  Years ago,  I was diagnosed with Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome,  a blood clotting disorder.  That is a disorder many people with lupus also suffer with.  Had my doctors, at that time,  ordered the appropriate tests, they would have discovered my lupus much sooner.  I also have secondary psoriasis and vitiligo.  Vitiligo causes a person to  lose pigment in their skin.  The combination of the three autoimmune diseases means I suffer from Multiple Autoimmune Syndrome.

Can you  describe the turning point when you knew you needed to take your health into your own hands and can you tell us what your rock bottom was like?

When my doctor initially diagnosed me and discussed her treatment plan,  which included prednisone,  I simply looked at her,  shook my head,  and said,  "I'm not doing that."  I went home that day and started searching for another way.  At the time,  I had the lupus butterfly rash,  several bleeding psoriatic rashes,  a stomach ulcer,  painful arthritic joints,  a kidney infection,  a hiatal hernia, fibroids,  and pockets of inflammation throughout my intestines. I started by going gluten free, which helped a little.  Then,  I found paleo,  which helped my symptoms improve much quicker.  But, it wasn't until I discovered and implemented Dr. Sarah Ballantyne's The Paleo Approach,  that my health really improved.  For me, taking my health into my own hands was never a question.  I've been a certified herbalist and homeopath for 16 years now.  I know the power to heal that nature has. I've also seen the harm that pharmaceuticals and the medical profession have done.  Even though I was suffering,  I knew I had to rely on myself to get back my health.  Now,  I'm so glad I did!

When did you think you were ready to tackle the fitness component?

About a year after starting the AIP,   I started toying with the idea of training again.  To be honest,  I was a little afraid.  I had heard horror stories about exercise causing flares in people with autoimmune disease.  But,  I missed it so much.  Since I was feeling much better,  and my symptoms were under control,  I decided to formulate a program for myself to begin building strength,  stamina,  and endurance, without putting my health at risk.  After following my program for 8 weeks, I knew I was on to something.  Not only did I not experience a flare,  but my health continued to improve,  in ways that I never thought possible.  I only wish I hadn't waited so long to add the fitness component.  It truly was the missing piece of the autoimmune puzzle for me.  Within 6 months of starting my Sickness to Fitness Program, I had put my lupus into remission.  Plus,  my body was stronger and fitter than ever.  A year later, I'm happy to report, I'm still in remission,  and I just rocked it in a bikini,  in Las 47 years old!

How do you think fitness affected your healing protocol?

Obviously,  I think fitness affected my healing protocol in the most positive way.  By building muscle,  I gave my body the foundation it needed to be stronger.  The muscle that isn't being used will simply waste away, making a person feel tired and weak.  Our lack of action is actually making us sicker.  When we get rid of extra fat and build our muscles,  we are helping our bodies to regulate hormones and body systems.  We are improving our circulation,  cardiac response, digestion,  and mindset.  And,  let's not forget about the psychological boost you get after an amazing workout session.  We all know the power of the mind in healing.  This psychological boost I received after adding fitness to my protocol,  was a key factor in me reaching remission.  Because I was feeling better about myself,  I was able to manifest that healing in my body.  It's all about the mind and body connection.

For people struggling with chronic conditions, what is your advice in regards to a fitness routine both for starting and maintaining a fitness routine?

To start,  my advice is to follow every component outlined in Sickness To Fitness Quick Start Guide. My program has been tested by many people,  with different autoimmune and chronic conditions. The most important concept to remember is to start slowly.  Every aspect, including diet, stress management,  and sleep,  is the key to maintaining balance in your fitness routine. You must first build a foundation.  I see so many people moving into fitness routines too quickly,  or skipping the diet aspect,  or not working on lifestyle factors.  When you do that,  you set yourself up for failure....or,  in our case,  a flare.  Exercise,  in any form, places a certain amount of stress on the body.  If you're skipping steps,  chances are you're not helping your body to heal.  You may actually be hurting yourself.
Once you've implemented the Sickness to Fitness program,  you will notice the improvements in your health and fitness levels.  After about 6 to 8 weeks, you will be able to determine if your body is ready for more.  Always listen to what your body is telling you.  There are several ideas in Sickness To Fitness Quick Start Guide, that help you with how to advance your fitness routine.  And,  just to help you out, even more,  I've already started on my next ebook, which will outline the nutrition changes and workouts to move your progress up to the next level.
It is never too late to regain your health and build your fitness.  Those of you with autoimmune disease or chronic illness should always speak with your doctor before beginning any workout routine.  Once you get the okay from them, be sure to move at a level that is comfortable for you.  I think you are all going to be surprised at how much better you're going to feel and look!

Thanks again,  Astrid!


Timing is everything.  Since I recently got my Ulcerative Colitis under control,  I am ready for a new challenge like Tara's Sickness to Fitness program.  I am excited to use this guide to help me build muscles,  gain strength while supporting my mobile joints.  I look forward to fulfilling a little goal of mine to lift heavier things.  If you have been thinking about getting back into fitness while navigating your autoimmunity,  you should consider Tara's Sickness to Fitness Program.  Her Quick Start Guide will walk you through her AIP + Fitness healing approach in four steps, share her passion about how to return to health by including a suitable workout routine and encourage you to search for resources that resonate with you. Don't forget to enter the giveaway ( PDF ) below for a copy of Sickness to Fitness Quick Start Guide.

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

My 3 steps to overcoming IBD Flares, Product Review + Coupon Code

photo by Luisa Koehler
>This blog post contains affiliate links. Click here to learn more what it means. 

The other day,  I was humbly reminded how IBD affects people of all ages and walks of life.  My friend's tween-age son has been struggling with Crohns for a few years,  in helping the family through confusing times,  I was motivated to sit down and write about healing my almost forgotten Ulcerative Colitis flares.  I am not trying to boast about my remission,  instead,  I wanted to emphasise even when the body has been dramatically affected by the chronic disease,  there is still hope in returning back to a state of health.  It is the body's main focus to repair and thrive. 

In this post,  I will share a few of my tips for overcoming IBD flares as Reduce Stress,  Sleep,  and Bowel Rest with Nourishment.  I hope some of these tips will resonate with fellow IBDers searching their way towards healthy bodies. 

Reduce stress   

Luckily,  by following a healing diet like Paleo Autoimmune Protocol ( AIP ),  I was already reducing some of the stress to my body from consuming inflammatory foods found in a Standard American Diet ( SAD).  However,  when it comes to lifestyle stress,  it was a bit more complicated.  Once I got a couple flares under my belt,  I could predict another looming around the corner by observing my elevated stress level.  Managing stress was one of the biggest hurdles against remission and now I make a conscious effort in putting Self Care on top of my to-do list to keep stress levels in check.  When I sensed my body become out of balance,  I reviewed my schedule to accommodate more down time.  Then,  I turned down unnecessary obligations and asked for help to maintain any essential duties as I focused on healing.  After all,  even as a caregiver,  what good am I to others when I was unwell.


Most people assumes sleeping 8 hours is enough,  but when you are battling autoimmunity,  you will probably need more hours under the covers.  When I was in a flare,  I slept until my body told me to get up.  During my worst flare,  I could easily sleep 18 hrs and still be exhausted.  My days blended into nights,  but I listened to my body and sleep more.  Another way to rest beside being in bed was relaxing in an Epsom Salt bath.  At times,  I would alternate between the two to prevent bedsores and boredom.  Sometimes I found it hard to quiet the mind,  so I turned to meditation podcasts,  like Louise Hay, and Essential oils,  like lavender, to guide me into a more relaxed state.  To learn more about getting restful Sleep to support healing- check out Go to Bed by The Paleo Mom.

Bowel Rest with Nourishment

The idea of bowel rest came to me after my first preparation for colonoscopy,  instead of taking the recommended clear diet of sugary juices and Sports drinks,  I consumed my homemade bone broth, grass fed gelatin and coconut water.  To my surprise,  my flare symptoms subsided right after my scope.  I understood that as my digestion was given a break,  my body could focus on repairing my gut lining.  In regards to the duration of bowel rest,  I really had to listen to my body.  I also found it helpful to add fats,  like coconut oil,   in small tolerable increments to provide my body with extra  energy.  My bowel rest practice evolved as my body healed,  I was able to consume more variety of liquids.  This lead me to search for more easy to digest liquid nourishment options to fuel the body during this healing process.  While preparing bone broth is easy,  it can be time and energy consuming, especially when you are not well.  Grass Fed Collagen protein is still my favorite form of gut healing supplements to this day. Recently,  I was contacted by Primal Health and Nutrition regarding their unique Paleo and Autoimmune Protocol compliant line of products,  Paleo Perfection Protein.  Keeping my fellow IBDers in mind,  Paleo Perfection Protein may be a great option as a convenient periodic meal replacement or an easy to digest liquid nourishment in supporting bowel rest.  For those who are intolerant to common allergens,  Primal Health and Nutrition has made their product free of dairy, nuts, seeds, soy, corn and legume.  Comparing to the majority of protein supplements on the market,  Primal Health and Nutrition uses Grass Fed hydrolyzed beef ( aka. Collagen) as their protein source instead of whey.  With the addition of nutrient enhancing organic fruits and vegetable,  Paleo Perfection Protein offers a fuller body texture when comparing to other Collagens I have used before. Primal Health and Nutrition currently offers two flavours,  “Chocolate” Cherry Flavour,   which is made with carob instead of chocolate and a Natural flavour.  After testing their products,   I found the "Chocolate" Cherry Flavour a bit sweet ( with stevia) tasting for me.  By adding coconut milk/cream ( you may use any high-quality fat or your choice of tolerable “milk”),  I found the perfect balance in taste and richness in a cup I would gladly serve my children as a treat.  In fact, it was almost hard to believe this easy to make supplement is tasty,  guilt-free and AIP compliant.   Lastly,  I feel their prices are reasonable especially for the quality of the ingredients used. 

Although I still believe it is preferable to heal our bodies with real whole foods,  this product can provide a good alternative for a clean source of on-the-go protein supplement.  If you are on the AIP protocol,  I would suggest that you give this a go once you have gotten past the elimination phase and successfully re-introduced ingredients used in the product.

If you want to try Paleo Perfection Protein,  as my blog audience, you can save 20% off of the retail price.  Simply use coupon code "AFox"  to redeem your 20% off here ( Offer expires 12/31/2016 ).  

Below is how I made my taste testers ( aka. my kids) their cups of guilt free and nourishing hot "cocoa".  There was no surprise that they loved it. 

Makes 2 servings   Prep time 5 mins 

  • 1 scoop Paleo Perfection Protein  - Natural
  • 1 scoop Paleo Perfection Protein - Chocolate Cherry
  • 1/2 c full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 c hot water
  • a sprinkle of pink Himalayan sea salt
Optional: 1 Tablespoon MCT oil


Add all ingredients into a blender and blend at low speed until smooth. Be careful when handling hot liquids. Enjoy. 

Use Coupon code "AFox" for 20% off retail prices  ( Offer expires 12/31/2016 )
Redeemable at here

In conclusion,  it was bittersweet to sift through faded memories of Ulcerative Colitis flares,  I remember how terrible I felt at my rock bottom and all the times in between.  The pain,  weakness from undernourishment,  and fears of whether I would ever feel well again eventually subsided as I follow my trial and error routine of Reduce Stress,  Sleep and Bowel Rest with Nourishment.  My above-mentioned tips to overcoming IBD flares are only a few of countless out there.  They have worked well to further my healing when I focus on them.  I encourage every IBDer to get creative, be determined and continue to search for ways to heal your gut.  Remember, the body is designed to repair and thrive. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Coconut Gelatin Squares

Coconut Gelatin Squares were one of my favourite sweet treats from childhood dim sum memories. It must have been the early sign of my love for anything coconut. 

You may still able to order this dish from push carts at old-school Chinese restaurants. No doubt this is a very simple treat to create so I don't know why it took me this long to make my own version of it? 

My adaptation is completely AIP/Paleo/ Keto/ LCHF compliant. I actually do not add any sweeteners in mine, which makes them more like fat bombs for Keto and LCHF folks. My recipe produces a pretty firm gelatin, if you prefer a softer mouth feel, you can try decreasing the gelatin by 1/2 t increment to find your happy place. 

>This blog post contains affiliate links. Click here to learn more what it means. 

Makes 8  1" x1" squares      Prep time 5 mins      Set time 2 hour


  • 4 oz. coconut milk ( I use AROY D in tetra pak)
  • 4 oz hot, just off boil, water
  • 1 tsp maple syrup ( optional ) 
  • 1/2  tsp vanilla extract
  1. In a small bowl, pour in coconut milk,
  2. Sprinkle gelatin over and let sit for 5 mins to expand and soften.  
  3. Stir in hot water to dissolve gelatin. Stir in remaining ingredients. 
  4. Pour mixture into silicone mold ( like this one )  and let set in fridge, about 1-2 hour
  5. Loosen edges before popping out the squares to enjoy. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

My latest health experiment - Nutritional ketosis + AIP

Back in May,  I started a new direction on my healing protocol that eventually brought my Ulcerative Colitis into REMISSION.

In this blog post, I will share with you how by incorporating nutritional ketosis into my Paleo Autoimmune Protocol, I found equilibrium in health; however, there is no one size fit all protocol for everyone. I hope by sharing my experiment, I can encourage my readers to continue their search towards finding the best way to support their healing journey. 

Here are the three points that explain my latest progression.
  1. What inspired me to chose this route
  2. What my AIP Nutritional Keto looks like 
  3. What improvements has the changes made

1. Why would I think the ketogenic diet, originally designed to treat epileptic children, could help with my health? I didn't.  

Initially, I chose to investigate the ketogenic diet in hopes of balancing my blood sugar and finding hormonal support for peri-menopausal symptoms I started experiencing in the past few years. 
Having a history of diabetes in the family,  I am always watchful for signs of insulin resistance as I get older. Despite following the AIP protocol, I was still indulging in too many fruits and starchy vegetables to fill my belly. I wanted to learn more about blood sugar imbalance as I believe it plays an important role in supporting my gut health.  So as my UC symptoms subside, I took that as a sign to move forward in my continual search for better health.  With the predominant gut symptoms under control, I was still experiencing periodical energy crashes. I wasn't sure if that was because, as I felt stronger, I was eager to push myself more which resulted in fatigue. I had heard that the ketogenic diet can help regular blood sugar, stabilize energy and increase mental clarity.  So with my inquisitive mind, I decided to learn more about this concept of fueling the body.

Through the AIP/ Paleo community, I learned about The Wahls Protocol by Dr. Terry Wahls, where nutritional ketosis plays an important role in healing the body. She designed her protocol, with three stages to lead to a gradual transition from the Standard American Diet ( SAD) . The highest level, Wahls Paleo Plus, is not far off from AIP, so I was able to easily to slide over without going through the first two levels. 

What is Nutritional Ketosis? 

To quote Dr. Terry Wahls, " ... ketosis means you are burning fat, rather than sugar, as your primary fuel source ... when your body is in a state of nutritional ketosis, the liver begins producing ketone bodies" ( as a by-product of turning fat into energy the body can easily use). The Wahls Protocol p.191, 196

I am most fascinated with a process called autophagy where a Ketogenic Diet mimics fasting state to support the body in detox and repair itself.

2. What does my AIP Keto way of eating look like?

Based on Wahls Paleo Plus, the first revamp of my eating plan was increasing leafy green vegetables to 4-6 c a day. It was a bit nerve wrecking to increase so much insoluble fiber into my UC gut but the transition went smoothly with little discomfort. I also paid more attention to the variety, especially in colours, of vegetables on my plate. I increased my healthy fat intake by adding 4-5 tsp of coconut oil a day on top of the fats in my cooking and salad dressings. This increase in fat helped my body became fat adapted.  I decreased my protein intake to 6-10 oz. to prevent gluconeogenesis, Yes one can eat too much protein which turns into fat storage. Finally, I focused on staying hydrated as it is common for the body to excrete extra water in a ketosis state. Besides drinking enough fluids, I kept my electrolytes in check by consuming enough salts in my diet and sometimes even add a sprinkle of pink Himalayan pink salt into my drinking water. 

Three weeks into Nutritional Ketosis and I was feeling pretty good. Intermittent fasting 16 hours most of the days seem to happen naturally since I was satiated in between my meals. My brain was much clearer, my energy was stable and I was losing some hormonal weight gain that sneaked up on me in the past few months. Unfortunately, the increase in energy also resulted in  keto insomnia.  I had a hard time falling back to sleep after it was interrupted by waking up several times a night,  although falling asleep initially was not an issue.  Then slowly, my weight loss stalled and the bloating returned. Needless to say, I assumed that the healing honeymoon was over. Instead of feeling defeated and wanted to give up,  I browsed through forums and learned that other women also experienced obstacles when their carb intake became too low.  I began practicing Carb up ( increasing carbs in forms of berries or starchy vegetables) in the evening when needed, 2 to 3 times a week, and found that my body was not stressing out about the lack of carbs anymore. I learned that the body tends to panic when there are signs of energy deprivations. Since my body ran on glucose all my life, it viewed this new way of functioning as a threat. The small increase of carbs in the evening calmed my body and my sleep issue was therefore resolved. 

Now at 4 months into AIP Nutritional Ketosis, my body seem to like this routine.  I eat only when I am hungry, not when I am bored or think I should. Instead of worrying about whether I have food with me, I can go a lot longer period of time,  running on ketones, without being hangry. Being in NK has taught me to listen to my body ever so closely the right time to eat. This state has provided me more flexibility in my schedule by removing extra food preparation time off my plate. I can easily IF as long as I had enough good fats to keep me satiated until the next feeding opportunity. Currently, I start my morning with warm water with lemon juice, if I feel I need some extra energy, I might enjoy a spoonful of coconut oil and coconut manna to power up my body. Otherwise, I continue with my morning routine with a little yoga or exercise with free weights before getting the kids ready for school. After school drop off, I enjoy my 40 mins to 1:30 hr walk. When I return home, I make myself a blended fat drink with noncaffeinated tea, cocoa butter, MCT oil and collagen. I continue to Intermittent fast until 12p to 3p and break my fast with a big salad, cooked vegetable and protein. Dinner is a typical AIP meal around 6pm. 

3. What improvements have I noticed?

The greatest improvements I noticed since adding nutritional ketosis to the equation is stabilizing blood sugar. Although this effect seems to be unrelated to autoimmunity,  I believe managing blood sugar levels is key in supporting continual healing of the gut. Other positive side effects from the diet change are stability in the mood, better mental clarity, higher body temperature, and easier stress management.  With cravings at bay, I eat intuitively and no longer turn to food to fill boredom. Craving for carbs, especially fruits, seems to be a thing of the past, which means I enjoy social outings more where friends and family consume their non-AIP food. Of course, it is important that I bring my own compliant food to adhere to my eating for nourishment practice. As an added bonus, this way of eating has become more economical for the family's food budget because I am preparing meals with less protein than before. 

In conclusion, I am pleased with the health improvements since added Nutritional Ketosis to my AIP protocol. As the season change, it would be interesting to see how my body adapts. I hope this post will encourage my readers to listen to the body, let it guide them towards optimal health. Remember to be patient by allowing enough time for a new protocol to settle in.  Once the body finds its healing "groove", enjoy the progress when the momentum picks up but don't be discourage when it is time to re-evaluate the plan.  

Wholeheartedly support the body's natural ability to heal.
Continue to pursue optimal health by being intrigued by the process. 

Additional Resources about Nutritional Ketosis

History of Ketogenic Diet

Fellow AIP bloggers' experience with Ketosis