The Best of Nice and Tellaro: The Whole Daily Life GF Guide to Europe

I could easily get lost in reminiscing in a post like this, so I’m going to try and keep it practical and to the point!! My husband and I traveled abroad for 14 days, and I’m going to share where we went, how long we were there, the best of what we did, and anything else that I think is worth knowing! (Aka, the gluten free EATS.) This is part 1 of a 2 part series. The details on Tuscany, Rome, and Positano will be coming out next week!

NICE, FRANCE: 3 nights, 2.5 days

Travel:

We flew from PHX > SLC > JFK > NICE. We left PHX at 6am on a Friday and arrived in Nice at 10:30am on Saturday. Both layovers were pretty short, and we packed snacks (Wild Zora bars were my go-to, and I also packed one of their meals) for the trip, though food was provided on the international flight. (If you’re strictly GF like me, be sure to let the airline know in advance! One perk to having a special diet is that they serve you your food first, though you don’t get a choice like everyone else.) We did try to sleep on the flight from JFK to NICE, but neither of us are good plane sleepers. I did find that the TRTL wrap helped quite a bit though! When we landed in Nice, we took a local bus to get to our AirBNB. Tickets were less than 10E apiece and we bought them at the airport and caught the bus from there.

Accommodations:

We stayed at this AirBNB (save 15% with this link if it’s your first booking) and LOVED it. It was probably our favorite place of the whole trip! The view was incredible, and we spent as much time as possible out on the balcony to enjoy it. It was in a great location too; easy to reach from the airport, and perfectly walkable to the beach, old town, and anything that we wanted to do.

View from our Air BNB in Nice.

View from our Air BNB in Nice.

Activities:

The day we arrived we just settled in, took a nap, and then ventured out for dinner. On our first full day we walked along the beach and then hiked Castle Hill (great views of the city!), wandered through a Sunday farmer’s market in Old Town (we loved just getting lost in all of the winding streets and exploring the shops!), and went out to dinner.

The view from Castle Hill.

The view from Castle Hill.

On our second full day we took a day trip to the neighboring town of Eze, which I highly recommend! We caught a local train to get there and got off at Eze station, just a few stops down the coast. After we wandered down to the water (don’t miss that crystal clear blue!) we hiked through the neighborhood for an hour or so before realizing that the Eze that we had seen in photos wasn’t there. We made it back to the tourist office JUST in time to catch the once-an-hour bus that drove up to Eze Village, significantly further up the mountain than we would have been able to walk. We bought tickets on the bus for 1.50E each (I think). The drive was winding and beautiful, and when we arrived half an hour later, we grabbed a quick snack from the grocery store by the bus stop and then headed up into the stone streets to explore. There were tiny little shops around every corner! At the very top was the Botanic Garden, which cost 6E each to enter. We decided to go for it, and I’m glad we did, because the views were unbeatable! We stopped in a few shops on our way back down before catching the bus back down.

We also considered going to St. Jean, but our Eze adventure took longer than we thought, so we decided just to head back to Nice at that point.

View from the Eze Botanic Garden.

View from the Eze Botanic Garden.

Eats:

-GiGi Tavola Autentica: Probably the best GF pizza I’ve ever had, with a dedicated preparation space! We went two days in a row, and also enjoyed the vegetable platter and the salads. Located over by the port, it was a bit of a walk from our place, but worth it. One of our favorite restaurants of the trip.

Pizza from Gigi Tavola.

Pizza from Gigi Tavola.

-GROM gelato: Still my favorite gelato shop! Located right along the main road through town, not far from the beach. Everything here is gluten free, including the cones.

-Naturalia market: The equivalent of a Natural Grocers or local health food store here in the states. We picked up some no-cook eats for our travel day from here!

-Lou Pilha Leva: Socca, or chickpea flatbread, is a thing in Nice. You can get it pretty much anywhere, and it is naturally gluten free. We got some from Lou Pilha Leva on a chilly, rainy evening and ate it piping hot and drenched in olive oil and salt. It was delicious!! It’s a casual spot, so don’t expect anything fancy, but it gave us the experience we were looking for! We didn’t try anything else on the menu though.

Other:

-The local grocery store is Monoprix, and we stopped in several times, mostly for snacks/no-cook eats. We did pick up some GF bread, butter, eggs, and fruit on our first day and cooked breakfast at home every morning.

-Galettes, or savory crepes, are made with buckwheat and are traditionally gluten free. However, they are not always cooked on a dedicated surface. We did have them once without issue. More on how I approached gluten free eating in this post***.

TELLARO, ITALY: 2 nights, 1.5 days

Travel:

Since Tellaro is a tiny little town, it would have taken us a full day to get there using public transportation, so we decided to rent a car instead. However, renting a car in France and leaving it in Italy was much more expensive than keeping it within one country, so we took a 3 hour train from Nice to Genoa, then walked from the Genoa train station to the ferry terminal to pick up our rental car from Hertz. The rental (a Fiat 500L automatic) was around $350, so not cheap, but it was worth it for all the time we would save on several legs of our trip. We came prepared with printed maps and instructions, but trying to deal with traffic and get out of the city without an active GPS was nerve wracking, so we quickly agreed to pay the 10E charge by Verizon to activate international cell service for 24 hours. (It’s a day by day service called the Travel Pass and it worked great! We used it 3 times, each day we drove). Things went much more smoothly after that!

Accommodations:

We stayed at this Air BNB (save 15% with this link if it’s your first booking) and loved it!! It was 4 levels, and you could open the window on the top floor where the bedroom was and listen to the waves at night. Our favorite part was the balcony, which was 10 feet from the water’s edge. There was no internet here, which was both nice and inconvenient at times.

The Best of Nice and Tellaro: The Whole Daily Life GF Guide to Europe

Activities:

Because it was so small, Tellaro was a pretty relaxing destination. The day we drove in we stopped for a picnic lunch (we brought some proscuitto, cheese, cherries, carrots, nuts, etc from the grocery store) overlooking a neighboring town, Lerici, before meeting our Air BNB host. After we got settled in at our place, we set out to explore and quickly discovered that you can walk all of Tellaro in about 15 minutes! As such, we spent plenty of time enjoying the view from our balcony.

On our one full day in Tellaro, we decided to get out and walk along the coast over to the neighboring town of Lerici. The walk took us about 45 minutes on the road. There were no sidewalks, but plenty of others on foot, and cars were easy to hear coming. When we got to Lerici we explored the port and then walked over to the next town, San Terenzo, where we bought a carton of strawberries and sat by the water to have them as a snack! We wandered the winding streets and shops for a little big before heading back to Tellaro, which was a pretty good hike to get back up to the road, but didn’t take us long.

The Best of Nice and Tellaro: The Whole Daily Life GF Guide to Europe

Eats:

-Osteria La Caletta: One of the best meals of our entire trip! We would have eaten here both nights if we could have, but they were closed on the first one. We started with the steamed salmon appetizer and the roasted veggies, and then shared the seafood paella. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! We also shared a carafe of the house white wine. They brought out bread for both of us (GF for me) and also a complimentary fried socca appetizer. 10/10 recommend. Our entire meal (which I would give 5 stars) was only 60E!! If we could go back, we would do the tasting menu for sure.

Seafood paella at Osteria La Caletta.

Seafood paella at Osteria La Caletta.

-La Barca: This place was just a magical experience. We got there for lunch around 1:30 (they close at 2), and were the only ones in the entire restaurant. We had a table upstairs by the windows with a beautiful view of the water. I ordered the octopus with pesto mashed potatoes and beets and Craig got the gnocchi with veggies and langostino. This is also the only spot in town with internet! After having eaten there, we were able to sit at the cafe next door and use the wifi on subsequent days as well.

The Best of Nice and Tellaro: The Whole Daily Life GF Guide to Europe

-Bar Underground: This is the little cafe, coffee shop, and bar in town. We went every day for cappuccinos (1.50E each). It’s a nice little spot to sit and read, or to use the wifi from next door!

Cappuccinos from Bar Underground.

Cappuccinos from Bar Underground.

Other:

The restaurants don’t open for dinner until 7 or 8pm, so if you like to eat early (like we do), be sure to have some snacks on hand! Pretty much everything closes mid-day. We ate one meal at El Delfino, but it was just okay. If you can go to one of the two listed above instead, I highly recommend that instead. There isn’t a grocery store in Tellaro, but there are a couple of little food shops, one up above the square (the main part of town) and one down below. As usual, we picked up some eggs, veggies, and yogurt to have for breakfasts.


A few other random thoughts:

Budget:

No doubt about it, this trip was the stuff of dreams. There were times where I almost felt guilty for enjoying it so much and for all of the things that we got to do while we were abroad. However, I reminded myself that we saved diligently for two years for this trip, and it encompassed two anniversaries, two birthdays, and two annual vacations! We bought our flights with credit card points. Our biggest expenses were accommodations, followed by food and drink. Travel and lodging were all paid for up front, so while we were there, we aimed for a budget of around 100-150 euro per day for food and activities. Some days we spent way less (like in Tellaro, where everything was really affordable) and some days we spent on the higher end (like in Positano, where prices were almost double). We weren’t frivolous, but we also didn’t decide not to do something that we really wanted to do because of cost. Some of the ways we kept total expenses down were by making coffee and breakfast at home in the mornings and having simple food (no-cook or similar) for one meal most days. At the end of our trip, we were within a few hundred dollars of our goal budget!

Money:

-We used both cash and card on this trip. In the hustle leading up to leaving, we forgot to pull cash out of the bank, so the night before we left we gathered up all the cash we had on hand at home ($170) and took it with us. We exchanged it at the airport, which was a flat $10 fee, and got around 150E for it. We pretty much broke even here compared to if we had exchanged it abroad or pulled out cash from an ATM when we landed, but if we were going to do more, the airport would have been the better option, because the international ATMs charge a percentage in addition to the flat rate.

-We knew that our AMEX didn’t have an international transaction fee, so we planned on using that card for most of our purchases, but forgot that many establishments in Europe don’t accept AMEX. This meant that we were stuck using our Cash Rewards Visa, which did charge a 3% international transaction fee. We always tried the AMEX first, and paid for small things in cash (we did pull out cash from an ATM one other time), but ended up with about $50 in fees at the end of the trip from the Visa. Live and learn! If you bank with BOA, there is a Travel Rewards card that does not have an international fee that you can use as well.

For more on how I managed my Hashimoto’s while on this trip, see THIS POST, and for more on the supplements that I took and how I organized them, head on over HERE!

I hope this guide has been helpful! Feel free to leave any questions or comments below and I’ll get back to you!

-Tracey

How I Stayed 100% Gluten Free While Traveling in Italy and France

I have often heard that the wheat in Europe is different than what is available in the states, and that many who have a gluten sensitivity at home are able to tolerate gluten without issue abroad. While I don’t doubt that there is a difference (Europe doesn’t currently allow GMO’s and has much more strict food standards than we do), I personally chose not to risk eating gluten abroad, just in case I still had symptoms like I do at home. I’d hate to miss out on feeling my best for a couple days of vacation!

 

Fortunately, these days there are infinitely more options for gluten free food than even just a few years ago, but dealing with a language barrier did make things slightly more difficult. Even so, I found both France and Italy to be extremely GF friendly and completely accommodating!

 

Here are some of the things I kept in mind while eating 100% gluten free while abroad.

How I Stayed 100% Gluten Free While Traveling in Italy and France | Whole Daily Life

 

Do some research ahead of time.

While it is pretty much always possible to get simple meat and produce that would be safe to eat, I also wanted to enjoy the local cuisine! I knew that I wanted to have some GF pizza, pasta, and pastry if possible. I made sure to do some research ahead of time using Google Maps, Yelp, and Find Me Gluten Free to see if there were places that looked worth seeking out. It was also easier to do research in advance than when I was hungry and ready to eat! I went with a few ideas for each location that we traveled to, which gave me a good foundation for where we might want to eat.

Know the high risk dishes.

A meal of pan seared fish and sautéed vegetables is a much “safer” option than a GF pizza or pasta dish, as there is much less risk of cross contamination. (Pizza is often cooked in a shared oven, and pasta sometimes in a pot that hasn’t been thoroughly washed!) It’s hard to ask about shared surfaces and utensils in a foreign language, so if I wasn’t sure about the restaurant or they didn’t seem to have a good awareness of gluten and cross contamination, I usually stuck to meals that were less likely to be problematic. (I will say that I was less concerned about cross contamination abroad in general, primarily for the fact that many who have non-celiac gluten sensitivity do okay with wheat abroad. I did do my due diligence to avoid it, but didn’t ask as many questions as I might at home.)

Consider gluten digesting enzymes.

This isn’t something that I routinely use at home, but I did take them with me abroad. I have used this brand and this brand. In short, these enzymes are specifically formulated to digest gluten quickly, before it can trigger a response. They aren’t meant to handle a full gluten containing meal, moreso for accidental cross contamination. I used these when I ate meals that had a higher risk of cross contamination, such as GF pizza or pasta.

Have a backup form of communication.

I carried a gluten free card in both French and Italian. These are just written explanations in the local language of what gluten free means. They go a step further to describe cross contamination and possible sources of hidden gluten. I didn’t need to use these at all, but it was nice to have as a backup, in case we ended up in a situation where there was a complete language barrier and we didn’t have any other options. I had a screenshot of each on my phone. I also knew how to say “gluten free” in both French (sans gluten) and Italian (senza glutine), and was familiar with what the gluten free symbol looked like on packaging.

Let your server know up front.

I made sure to communicate from the beginning that I needed gluten free food and asked if there was a gluten free menu (if items weren’t marked). If there wasn’t a separate menu, I asked what dishes were gluten free and the server was always able to walk me through what I could and couldn’t have. I also reminded them when actually placing my order.

Trust your instincts.

This goes without saying, but if something didn’t seem right, or there was something on my plate that I wasn’t expecting or couldn’t identify, I waited to confirm what it was before eating. Same thing went for the bread that was served to me at a meal. Most of the time it was packaged and clearly labeled, but if not, I made sure to double check!

 

Living a 100% gluten free life is one of the ways that I manage my Hashimoto’s naturally. You can find some of my other top recommendations for that in my free PDF download!

I hope these tips are helpful! If you have any others that you would add, please share them in the comments!

 

Until next time,

Tracey

Traveling Abroad with Hashimoto's

There was a point just a few years ago where I was eating homemade blended soup three times a day and hardly wanted to leave the house because my bloating was so embarrassing. Contrast that with this past May, when I backpacked for two weeks with my husband through Italy and southern France on the vacation of our dreams!

Traveling Abroad with Hashimoto's | Whole Daily Life

I love travel, and always have. Some of my fondest memories are of adventuring through Europe in my early 20’s and subsisting off of croissants and cheap pasta for weeks. What a time in my life that was!

Travel with Hashimoto’s looks different, but with a few key ideas in mind, it’s no less doable!

Here are the things that I needed to know to travel successfully with Hashimoto’s.

First and foremost, I needed to understand how Hashimoto’s works, and how it affects me personally. Being able to understand my symptoms and adjust accordingly is what enabled me to travel so freely. For example, I understood that if my adrenals took a hit on long travel days because of the disrupted schedule, so would my thyroid. I also understood that if my anxiety picked up, or if I was feeling particularly fatigued and apathetic, my thyroid needed some TLC.

Hand in hand with that, I also needed to understand my major triggers. Gluten, disrupted sleep, stress, and toxin exposure are all big ones for me at home, so being abroad would be no different.

  • Gluten: Even though food quality in the EU is much better than here in the states, and many who are gluten sensitive are able to consume wheat there without issue, I chose to continue to intentionally avoid it while abroad. This meant researching ahead of time some safe options and being prepared to ask questions to restaurants. I’ll have another post with more specifics on eating gluten free while traveling, so stay tuned for that!

  • Sleep + Stress: To manage these, I started syncing my schedule to Italian time as much as possible when we boarded our first flight out of the US, and also gave myself as much time as I needed to sleep and adjust when we arrived. I was mindful about my caffeine intake too, because I knew that pushing my adrenals too hard would only negatively impact my thyroid. I also traveled with some extra adrenal support. I use this product, and have also used this one in the past with good results!

  • Toxins: Lastly, I minimized my toxin exposure as much as possible by bringing a small bottle of Branch Basics to use for cleaning (use that link for $10 off), my own soap and personal care products, and supported my toxin output with things like dry brushing, liver supportive foods, and glutathione. Toxin overload bogs down the liver, and a healthy liver is essential for healthy hormones, including thyroid hormone! I also traveled with a Go Pure Pod, which helped ensure that I had access to as much purified water as I needed, and packed my usual supplements to help support my system overall!

I packed extra thyroid meds, and traveled with them in their original container. There is always the possibility that flights could get delayed or travel plans disrupted, so I packed a few extra days worth of my T3, just in case. I also adjusted my dose on flying days, since there was a 9 hour time change, and did my best to take my pill within a 20-28 hour window from the last one, to keep my body as much on a schedule as possible.

I understood that things wouldn’t be perfect and my routine would change. I found a balance between indulging in those foods that were worth it, and sticking to the foods that I knew would support me best so that I could enjoy my trip to the fullest. Part of travel for me is getting to enjoy the local cuisine, and gelato and wine are both big parts of that! I chose to enjoy them freely, which looked like having small portions most days, but listening to my body for feedback on in/when I needed to stop. While my meals definitely looked different than at home (less veggies, more GF bread, etc), I embraced the change, enjoyed every bite, and it all worked out just fine!


I can’t even begin to describe how much more equipped and empowered I felt to manage my health on this trip compared to the last time I traveled abroad just two years ago.

That empowerment has come from consistently tuning in to my health and truly understanding my Hashimoto’s. Understanding my Hashimoto’s has enabled me to heal my Hashimoto’s and get back to living my life! If this is something that resonates with you, I put together a free PDF of my The Top 5 Things I Did To Heal my Hashimoto’s Naturally. You can grab that free download here! I’ve also created a course all about the ins and outs of Hashimoto’s, how it works, and how to overcome it. If you want to learn more about that, head on over here to get on the waitlist!


I’d love to hear about your travel tips as well! What strategies have you used to travel successfully with autoimmunity, or even just to stay healthy in general while abroad?


Until next time,

Tracey

My Top Supplements For International Travel

My husband sometimes jokes that I have my own little supplement pharmacy at home, and honestly, it’s not too far from the truth! When I moved away from conventional medicine as my first response to injury and illness in 2014 in favor of a more natural approach to health, I started to dive into the world of strategic supplementation as a complement to a nutrient dense diet. Through research and experimentation I have learned how to manage most maladies with supplements, herbs, and essential oils instead of conventional drugs.


I knew that if I was going to be abroad for a couple of weeks, I wanted to make sure that I was equipped with natural remedies to support my body if needed.


My Top Supplements For International Travel | Whole Daily Life

Here are the exact supplements I kept on hand for international travel.

Wellness

Traveling, especially using public transportation, means lots of exposure to other people’s germs, so I wanted to make sure I had some extra immune support on hand!

-Seeking Health Liposomal Vitamin C- Since this is a liquid that needs to be refrigerated, I only brought enough for my first travel day, about 1.5 tbsp (2 big doses). I carried it in my liquids bag. I find this liposomal form to be VERY effective.

-Seeking Health Liposomal Glutathione- Detox support. Also a liquid that needs to be refrigerated, I combined 2 doses of this with the Vit C and finished it off by the time we landed in France.

-Cold Calm- In case I started to feel a cold coming on.

-Source Naturals Wellness Formula- I took 3 capsules daily, and brought some extras in case either of us caught something.

-Beekeepers Naturals Propolis Spray- This is a natural antiviral. I used 4 sprays daily, more on travel days. (wholedailylife saves 10%)

-Integrative Therapeutics V Clear- A homeopathic antiviral, specifically for respiratory support. I took 1-2 droppers daily as prevention. (I traveled with the tincture, but could only find the liquid to link.)

-doTERRA Essential oils: On Guard, Oregano, Melaleuca with gelcaps in case one of us caught something.

-Thorne Olive Leaf and L Lysine- Natural antimicrobials, I took 1 capsule of each daily (this is part of my usual routine at home as well).


Digestive Support

Knowing that I would be eating some different foods and at different times than my body was used to, I brought what I needed to keep my digestive system strong, as well as some damage control in case I didn’t tolerate something like I expected to.

-Extra digestive enzymes- I use several different types, but BioGest by Thorne is one of my go-to’s. I took 2 with every meal.

-Gluten digesting enzymes- I used these when we ate out anywhere that I wanted some extra insurance against cross contamination. I’m currently using Gluten Guardian, but have also used Enzymedica in the past.

-Activated charcoal- In the states, I take charcoal if I have a glass of wine and it helps minimize any symptoms. I didn’t need to do this while abroad, but also kept charcoal on hand in case I ended up with digestive issues (it helps bind up toxins and gas).

-Mag07- I use this to keep me regular! I take one capsule AM and PM, but brought extras in case I experienced any travel related constipation. Fortunately, I didn’t need them!

-Probiotics: Probiotics are a huge part of how I keep my digestive system strong. I take MegaSpore and Garden of Life Colon Care every day, and add in a Garden of Life Once Daily Ultra for some extra support at meals with lots of higher FODMAP foods. (The latter also needs to be refrigerated, so I kept it in the fridge when possible but didn’t worry about that on travel days.)

-Beano and Gas-X- I took these at meals with lots of high FODMAP foods, just for comfort :) (I actually use the CVS brand because the ingredients are a little cleaner than the brand name versions!)


Pain

I prefer not to take conventional pain killers if at all possible, but wanted to have some options on hand in case I needed them. I was also due to possibly start my period while abroad, so included some of the supplements that I use to manage cramps and headaches at home.

-doTERRA Deep Blue Polyphenol Complex- 1 capsule BID as needed.

-Skullcap- 1 capsule BID as needed.

-Curcumin- I use Meriva by Thorne here, but also experimented with this product on travel days, and I think it really helped! Normally travel leaves me achey and with a headache, and I didn’t experience either.

-CBD- I use Viva Oils brand (wholedailylife for 15% off). I transferred some to a 5mL bottle and traveled with it in my liquids bag. I didn’t have any trouble or get any questions about it. I took it on our flying days, and then as needed.


Standard Supplements

I have a lineup of supplements that I take daily, primarily antivirals, liver support, and general wellness. I considered not taking these on my trip, but decided that I wanted to give my body everything I could to keep it feeling in top shape, so I brought them. Among them:

-Thorne Theanine- This is my FAVORITE supplement to help manage anxiety. I take this every morning, but packed a few extras for the trip just in case.

-Ecological Formulas Monolaurin- I take a hearty dose of this daily to help keep viral activity at bay.

-Thorne SAT- Liver support; I take 4 daily.

-Thorne Meriva- Antiinflammatory; I take 4 daily.

-Thorne Vit D- I take 10,000 IU daily.

-Thorne Selenium- To support my thyroid; I take 200 mcg daily.

-Prescription Compounded T3- I mention this here because I made sure to take a few extra days worth of my thyroid medication, just in case we experienced any travel delays.


I realize that this is a lengthy list of supplements. I have come to terms with the reality that my body does best with some extra support, and while it may not be forever, it is for now. It may seem a bit excessive to some, but for me, it enabled me to travel with confidence and to not have to worry about what would happen if I started to feel less than my best!


However, while at home I have a cabinet and a drawer dedicated to these things, we traveled abroad with just a backpack apiece.


Here’s how I packed it all.

I do love a good organization project!

For all of my standard daily supplements, I did what I always do, which is pre-portion them out into little pill baggies for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bed. I had one quart size bag dedicated to each set, and then each day I would pull out one from each and put it into my “daily bag” that I would carry around with me through the day.

For the other categories, I put as many of the capsules of each kind as I thought I might need in a labeled pill bag and then sorted these into two quart sized bags, one for wellness and one for digestive support + pain. This way, I could pull from these as needed.

I also kept a small little “digestive support” baggie in my daily bag (just call me the bag lady) that had a few capsules of charcoal, some beano, some gas-x, and some gluten containing enzymes. This way I could keep these on hand, since we often spent the whole day out and about, and then refill at night.

Lastly, I packed all of these up into two gallon sized bags, each about half full, which made them easy to pack in my backpack.

One last note on the plastic use: I have been re-using these pill bags, quart bags, and gallon bags since I did this for our first trip two years ago to minimize waste! I use this packing strategy often and only replace the bags when they wear out, which is rarely. I prefer to use Stasher bags when I’m at home!


I hope this guide is helpful! Remember, I’m not a doctor and cannot give you medical advice, but if you have any questions, please drop them in the comments below!

Thanks!

-Tracey

That Time I Could Only Eat 7 Foods

At one point, there were only 7 foods that I could eat.

I want to tell you the story of how I got there,

and how I got back to eating a (mostly) normal diet.

That Time I Could Only Eat 7 Foods | Whole Daily Life


Sneak preview: it wasn’t all about the food.

In late 2014 I was finally diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and SIBO after many months of trying to navigate a whole host of seeming disconnected symptoms. Earlier that year I had stumbled upon the Autoimmune Protocol while working with a client and, after researching it thoroughly, had successfully implemented it with multiple clients since then. When I was diagnosed, I knew with confidence that I wanted to use the AIP diet as a tool in healing my own Hashimoto’s. However, the presence of SIBO created an additional challenge, as many of the foods that are traditionally allowed on an AIP diet were off limits (high FODMAP foods, such as onion, garlic, broccoli, pear, etc). In addition, I also did some food sensitivity testing to see if there were any foods causing problems that I might not be aware of…and there were.

Come to find out, garlic, sweet potato, zucchini, pork, cinnamon, and a handful of other foods were all provoking my immune system by way of my (very) leaky gut. I added these to my “eliminate” list, which when combined with my SIBO and AIP lists, left me with about 7 foods total. (I’ll probably be able to list them forever: carrot, celery, lemon, olive, coconut, sole, and scallop.)

7 foods certainly do not allow for a nutritionally balanced diet, nor is that level of restriction sustainable, but I was motivated to do whatever I needed to do in order to heal. I stuck with this list for two weeks as recommended by the food sensitivity testing protocol (believe me, I had to get pretty creative with my meals!!) before starting to reintroduce foods. After a few weeks of reintroductions, I ended up with a mostly low FODMAP version of the elimination phase of the AIP diet (which also excluded my specific sensitivities).

I maintained this for about 3 months until I could get my antibodies tested again, at which point I was thrilled to find that my TPO antibodies number had come down by about 40%! Even though it wasn’t yet at goal, I began strategically reintroducing non-AIP foods according to the process proposed by Sarah Ballantyne, and was fortunate in that I did not have any notable reactions. About 6 months after starting the elimination phase in January of 2015 I had successfully reintroduced most non-AIP foods, though I continued to limit many of them out of principle until I could establish a good health baseline. There were still many higher FODMAP (AIP compliant) foods that I couldn’t tolerate due to GI symptoms such as gas and bloating. It took me much longer to re-establish some tolerance to FODMAPs, but that is a topic for another post!

As mentioned above, I have used the Autoimmune Paleo Diet with countless clients with amazing results. I have seen many people put their autoimmunity into remission simply by healing up their leaky gut and identifying their triggers! It truly is an amazing protocol, and is beneficial not only in cases of autoimmunity, but for anyone looking to reduce overall inflammation in their body.

Benefits of the AIP diet:

-STRUCTURE: following the AIP template gave me both structure and resources, which were incredibly helpful in the beginning of my journey as I was still trying to get my feet on the ground. There are so many more resources out there today (recipes, cookbooks, blogs, etc) than there were even three years ago!

-COMMUNITY: any kind of elimination diet comes with challenges, and the more restrictive, the more isolating it can be. There is a strong community around the AIP diet, and I was grateful to experience their support and encouragement first-hand! I have been able to connect with a local AIP group in each city that I have lived in.

-FUNCTION: the AIP diet is incredibly nutrient dense and eliminates all major allergens and common triggers. As such, it is valuable for not only reducing the attack on the body, but also for helping it to heal. As I mentioned above, I have seen many people successfully implement it to reduce systemic inflammation even outside of the context of known autoimmunity.


Challenges of the AIP diet:

-SOCIAL: the biggest challenge that I experienced personally was not actually the limited number of food choices, but having to navigate (or forego) social events. I’ve always been a foodie, and in the years leading up to my Hashimoto’s diagnosis, many of my social events revolved around dining out or attending events with food. This was a major shift for both me and my husband. (We felt like we had to learn how to date in an entirely different way!)

-(POSSIBLY) LABOR INTENSIVE: let’s face it, when you have a limited list of foods and ingredients like black pepper aren’t on it, any kind of pre-prepared food is difficult to find. I found that I prepared 95% of my foods at home while on the elimination phase, and while I was used to cooking quite a bit, learning to get creative with this new food list also took some time. (However, it doesn’t have to be complicated!! Even these days, most of my meals are composed of batch roasted veggies and batch prepared protein.)


So the big question is, would I do it again?

Absolutely, but not in exactly the same way. All three of the protocols that I used were incredibly healing, and taught me a lot about myself and my digestion. However, while implementing them all at once was effective, looking back, I don’t think it was necessary. When I consult with clients now, I work with them to create a food list that takes into account the most urgent needs first, and considers what is realistic for each individual.

  • The AIP diet is an invaluable tool for reducing inflammation and healing a leaky gut, and I recommend it quite often.

  • Eating low FODMAP foods can help alleviate symptoms in a huge way until the root cause can be identified and corrected.

  • Food sensitivity testing can be incredibly helpful in identifying sensitivities to foods and chemicals that may not be obvious.

These days, I know my FODMAP tolerance and after lots of gut-focused healing, have been able to incorporate many higher FODMAP foods back into my diet. I do still use aspects of the AIP diet on a regular basis. I know which foods are absolute no’s for me, and which ones I can handle in small amounts vs in unlimited quantities. Whenever I feel inflammation sneaking up on me or symptoms threaten to arise, I can use various gradients of the AIP diet to fix the issue before it becomes a problem.

It Wasn’t Just The Diet, Though…

While the elimination diet itself absolutely contributed to my healing, It was definitely not the only factor. Treating my SIBO, managing my stress, improving my sleep, balancing my hormones, and identifying my root cause triggers were all ESSENTIAL components of my healing, and together, they restored my gut and allowed me to bring foods back into my diet. In fact, my healing stalled until I addressed each of these things. These are all factors that I cover in depth in my Healing Hashimoto’s course and in my free PDF download: The Top 5 Things That Have Helped Heal My Hashimoto’s Naturally, and which I will continue to explore here on the blog in the coming weeks!

If you’ve ever been on a limited diet and felt stuck in your healing, know that there IS hope!!

Have you used a therapeutic elimination diet? Share about your experience in the comments!

Until next time,

Tracey