I’m Joan Claire Gilbert and I’ve used the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) from the earliest days of The Paleo Mom’s website to manage my autoimmune spinal arthritis (“undifferentiated sypondyloarthropathy”) and other autoimmune issues, since 2013.
Severe pain in my sacroiliac (SI) joint, waking up at 3 or 4 AM and being unable to return to sleep, often limping around or barely even being able to move, was not a fun new experience for me during late pregnancy and after the birth of my second child in 2011, with a toddler in tow. Hey, I was a runner. Not being able to move without extreme pain reminded me of the lupus-like symptoms I had for a long while during my senior year in high school after being a two-time 3,000 meter state champion runner. That scary health situation when I was so young, as it turns out, was due to long term use of minocycline, an oral antibiotic.
From the day I was diagnosed in 2013, I knew I didn’t want to be on biologics with nasty or potentially life-threatening side effects to manage my disease symptoms.
The AIP diet helped me lower my joint and brain inflammation like none other I have tried. It has been a true life-saver for me, and I’m incredibly grateful that Dr. Sarah Ballantyne has done so much research, work and outreach to share the power of this protocol to reduce inflammation. She is truly a badass in so many respects, don’t you agree?!
And yet, despite my best efforts to stick to the elimination phase which removes all grains, dairy, nuts/seeds, legumes, eggs, white potatoes, nightshades, processed seeds oils, etc., I rarely stuck to the diet 100% for more than a week or two at a time. I would get especially tired of it by the time the weekend hit. And even if I did stick to it 100%, I would occasionally still get bad flares.
Being on a restrictive diet was hard work, or at least it felt like it. I focused on how hard it was much of the time and beat myself up when I decided to indulge in foods off the diet, especially when I was feeling stressed. Then a flare. . . then guilt about going off the diet. A flare might last 4-5 days or more before it was totally or mostly gone, then back on the diet and repeat. Not a lot of fun.
Do I endorse the AIP elimination diet and encourage you to try it? Yes, 100%, it’s my first recommendation to anyone struggling with autoimmunity or inflammation issues.
Would I do it again? Yes, 100%, I would do it again 100% if I had to, but I can now regularly eat a more paleo-like diet and feel pretty great.
So what WOULD I have done differently?
Other than tweaking the AIP diet to include a couple powerful superfoods I discovered in recent years, I would have focused on changing my MINDSET. It would have helped me get out of a chronic fight-or-flight sympathetic state and find my home in more of a rest-and-digest parasympathetic state to help my body heal. This would have helped me feel more in control of my life and emotional well-being. I would have helped my body do its awesome job of healing without keeping it in a state of fear, worry, and stress about not just my autoimmune disease but LIFE.
More importantly, with regular and committed mindset work, I would have had a clearer sense of who I could become and what I could do with my interests, skills, inner drive, and talents beyond surviving, not held back by any limiting beliefs. I would have avoided a lot of my emotional breakdowns in front of my kids and been a better example for my family.
I don’t beat myself up at all for having a less than stellar mindset for so many years. It’s all I knew. No one directly handed me so many tools to improve my mindset as I am doing now for you. Even if they did, I don’t know that I would have used them as I didn’t realize how bad my mindset was and how changing it would improve my life and that of my family so much.
I also choose not to regret my past as it is OVER; I can’t change it; I can only learn and grow from it. Instead, I focus on the NOW and the future I’m building for myself, my family and the world now that I know these TOOLS.
I’m here to help YOU, whether you are just starting out on this journey of autoimmunity, just starting to find your bearings on the AIP diet, or are years down the road of healthful eating, improving your sleep, taking supplements, and exercising for joy and health.
The rewards are waiting for you….you just have to decide they are WORTH your effort of making that inner transformation, one day at a time.
You will be BLOWN AWAY by these mindset tools and many others I continue to learn and practice myself. These tools will transform your autoimmune journey from one of frequent frustration, fear, discouragement or even utter despair, to one of mostly hope, gratitude, courage, confidence, and excitement! Yes, you heard me right, EXCITEMENT!!! No joke.
I will know I have succeeded in helping you if, like me, you can say with full confidence, “My autoimmunity has served me, my family, and the world well. I am a better person because of it. Now I’m ready and ON FIRE to serve and help others from what I’ve learned and practiced. I’m filled with GRATITUDE for it all.”
You can change the world in the special way that only YOU can, starting with an elevation of your MINDSET.