It seems like a lot of you – an overwhelming majority! – have experienced some sort of brush with an autoimmune condition.
Maybe it’s you, your husband, daughter or BFF. Maybe it’s your yoga teacher, your neighbour, the friendly check out assistant at Aldi.
I was so surprised that a post I did on Instagram where I briefly mentioned I had recently been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition called coeliac disease went viral.
There were a lot of “me too” and “I’ve got that too” and “tell me how you live with it”.
So, although I haven’t shared this with you yet, I wanted to lift the lid on my condition, how I’m living with it.
Please note: I’m not a medical expert; I have no formal training in this area. Like many of you, I’m a working Mum balancing life as best as I can. This post is about my experience and there is never a one-size-fits-all treatment, diet or exercise plan.
This is what has worked for me. You may need to do something completely different.
If you have any concerns about your health, please seek medical and allopathic advice and treatment. I believe that having both a great GP on board and a caring naturopath to help is a great start.
Ok, over to what happened to me:
Around 2 years ago when I was thick in the throes of having young children and a start-up business, I started getting tummy troubles. I had always had a little iffy gut – I would get bloated, constipated, inflamed but just thought “that’s just me” and I accepted it.
I actually got used to living with a gut that resembled a fully cooked 9-month pregnancy. I’m deadly serious.
It would stick out so far, I actually got asked one day if I was pregnant.
This was right around the time I was finishing up my book and getting ready for my debut photoshoot for my book which would go onto being published in 5 countries!
I actually remember showing up to the photo shoot feeling like a complete fake!
I mean, here I was supposed to be glowing for all the healthy gut-loving products I was making and my own tummy was a bloated as a hot air balloon.
Even when I did the Gut Health Tour across Australia with Pete Evans – and I was on stage in front of thousands of people, and all I could think about was keep your tummy in!
I mean, I was doing everything “right”.
I thought I was looking after myself as best as I could.
Having my husband’s organic spelt sourdough bread, lentil soups with broth, and of course lots of fermented veggies and Imbibe Water Kefir.
The bloating and discomfort I honestly thought I would just live with it and this is how it will always be. I accepted it.
Some days my abdomen would be so sore and bloated it would burn from within, it was sooo painful.
Then, 7 months ago my friend and incredible Naturopath Helen Padarin offered me a consultation via Skype.
She had concerns over my bloating and sore tummy.
She asked me to get a range of blood tests and one of them was for an autoimmune condition called Coeliac Disease.
I thought, yeah right – that is for other people, I’m into wellness, there is no way I’ve got that.
To my shock, the results came back as a double positive gene for coeliac disease!
So just to frame it: we all get born with a genetic code, I’ve had these genes since I was born. But somewhere along the line – and I put it down to the stress of starting a business and post-natal depletion – my genes for coeliac got “turned on”.
The genes were expressing themselves loud and clear!
It was at that moment that I went full gluten-free:
- no more organic spelt sourdough
- no more steel cut oats
- no more Jatz (!!)
- no more spelt pancakes with my daughter on a Sunday morning
And I got all loved up on gluten-free products!
Yay for the gluten-free products health aisle!
- Gluten Free Cookies
- Gluten Free bread
- Corn crackers
- Buckwheat pancakes
- Brown rice
- Chick peas!
- Beans and rice
And what do you think happened?
The bloating was just as bad, constipation returned and I thought oh shit! What am I gonna eat!
In fact, I once went for 6 days without doing a bowel movement! Can you believe that? It was absolutely, well, sh*t!
I even got a tummy Xray to make sure my bowels were not obstructed.
I work full time! I need easy foods!
And these gluten-free products were causing me almost as much pain as the gluten.
Turns out, the inflammation markers in my body at this moment are so high that even these starchy and carb-based products I struggle to digest.
So now, I’ve become Paleo and have removed the culprits that were causing so much inflammation in my gut. But luckily for me, I’m ok with dairy!
So, cream in my coffee can stay! Thank goodness for small mercies!
And I feel way, way better!
I’m back exercising, the inflammation in my body has disappeared.
I still have the autoimmune condition, but it’s 100% under control and managed with better diet choices for me.
It’s taken a little getting used to living this way: I’ve had to rethink every meal choice and show up to my day fully prepared food wise.
It’s almost like having a baby again, having to have all the food ready for the day ahead! Except, this time I’m the baby….
I still have loads of fermented products, including Imbibe; I just can’t tolerate any starch or gluten or even gluten-free products.
WHAT I CAN’T EAT
Along the way, I’ve had to get super specific about what I can and can’t eat…. it’s been trial and error and also been frustrating when I can smell fresh gluten-free cookies baking and I can’t have one (yet!)
I should mention that not only was my tummy super bloated and sore, it also had a huge impact on other areas of my life: my moods would alter because my gut bugs were out of whack, intimacy was tricky because my abdomen was sore and when your digestion is off, you’re not absorbing nutrients from all the food so my energy would be a little low.
Basically, the flow on effects was huge!
I’d much rather go without some foods and be firing on all cylinders than put up with the pain!
Along the way I’ve had to cut out these worst offenders:
- all starchy products including corn crackers, tapioca, rice noodles and all starchy gluten-free items
- most dairy but a little pure cream is ok
- all processed foods (goodbye delicious gluten-free chips from the health aisle!)
- sweetness like honey, stevia, coconut sugar etc. luckily for me, Imbibe is great because the sugars are fermented out of it
- dried fruits
- grains and lentils
If you’d like to know what I DO eat, please let me know either on Instagram or Facebook or by commenting on this post.
WHAT IS AUTOIMMUNITY
Autoimmunity is a state the body can get to where it starts to attack itself. The scary thing is that autoimmune conditions are totally on the rise.
It’s a combination of factors that can cause autoimmunity- in my case I put it down to stress and postnatal depletion and some viruses I’d had.
Common autoimmune diseases are rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, type 1 diabetes and Hashimoto’s.
Whilst there could be no exact “cure” for these diseases in my case they are managed with diet and lifestyle choices – I follow a really specific diet and I’m aware of my stress levels…… and at this time it means that my condition is under control…..
DAY ON A PLATE
Would you like to see a post about what I eat in a day to keep my inflammation at bay? Let me know in the comments!
Thank you so much for reading this far! I hope this has been helpful!
This blog is based purely on my personal experience. It is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or treatment. I am neither a medical nor health professional and I cannot guarantee that the information in this blog post is accurate, reliable or complete. If you use this information, you do so at your own risk and should consult a qualified medical or health practitioner before relying on any information contained in this blog.