My Body Is On My Side

“Why me? Why now? Is this how things are going to be for the rest of my life? Why is my body so broken?”

If you’ve dealt with autoimmunity, chronic illness, or symptoms that nobody can seem to explain, you’ve probably asked yourself these questions too.

My Body Is On My Side | Whole Daily Life

I was fortunate to receive an accurate diagnosis of Hashimoto’s and SIBO before I even really realized that I was sick, but it was years before I saw true progress, and thoughts like these were no stranger to me.

I’ve always been a doer, a type A fixer, a problem solver. So naturally, when Hashimoto’s and SIBO came up, I set out to fix them through diet and lifestyle. I did everything I knew to do, and after many months without a change in my symptoms, I got discouraged. I started to feel betrayed by my body.

I decided to seek out a new naturopath and see if a fresh pair of eyes could help me. That decision was a turning point in my healing. Not because of the doctor, though she has been an invaluable part of my progress, but because of the shift in my mindset that happened when I started working with her.

I decided that I was just going to trust the process. I was going to follow all of her recommendations, not worry about my symptoms, and have faith that over time, things would change.

It took several months, but one day, I noticed that my bloating was a little better. Not long after that, my menstrual cycle started to show signs of returning. While we did add some new and different treatments, I believe that my shift in mindset was a big part of what finally allowed my body to start to heal.

I decided that I had to ditch the “woe is me” mentality and take responsibility for my healing, instead of hoping that my doctors would fix me. I acknowledged that it was a privilege to get to take care of my body in this way. To learn to listen to the feedback she was giving me. To honor her by saying no to some things so that I could say yes to others.

I also had to shift my mindset around cost. Working with functional medicine providers and alternative therapies is rarely covered by insurance, and I had a lot of hesitation, fear, and even guilt around spending so much money on these things. Shifting my mindset to acknowledge that this spending was an important investment didn’t change the total amount, but it did change the way that I perceived it. I set up a budget and started planning for what I needed.

And lastly, I had to reframe the idea that my body was failing me or against me in some way and instead consciously proclaim that my body was on my side. She wasn’t bad or broken, she was just doing her best to communicate her needs to me, and I was learning to listen.


Shifting my mindset was an essential component of healing my Hashimoto’s naturally, and is one of the tips that I share in my Top 5 Tips to Heal Your Hashimoto’s Naturally handout, which you can download here. If you’re looking for more comprehensive support on how to create a healing lifestyle and get your life back, you might also be interested in The Healing Hashimoto’s Course. You can find more info on that here!


Have you seen the impact on mindset on your own health? Tell me about it 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

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

How To Know When To Ditch Your Doctor

I’ve been through 7 doctors since getting my Hashimoto’s diagnosis in late 2014. Some of those changes were forced due to cross country relocations, and others were by choice.

Here’s how I knew when it was time to move on, and what I looked for when I did.

How To Know When To Ditch Your Doctor | Whole Daily Life

Each of my doctors has been helpful in their own way, and each has helped me understand more about my health. However, just as there is value in having a doctor who has known your full health history, there is also value in recruiting a fresh pair of eyes! As I have partnered with each of these doctors over the years, they have been able to recruit their own professional experience to see my story with a unique lens.

Even so, there have been a couple of times in recent years where I have found myself stuck, and my doctor didn’t really know what to look for or recommend next. The reality is, in healing, there are sometimes plateau periods like this. However, seeking out the root cause and optimizing health should still be the priority, rather than just sitting back and “waiting things out.”

Remember, your doctor is working for you. You should feel free to ask questions, request tests, propose alternative treatments, and more. Your doctor is the expert in medicine, but you are the expert on your body. You should feel like your he/she is on your side, supporting you with your best interest at heart. Even if you’re not actively seeing progress, your doctor should be able to explain why this is and what exactly you are waiting on before making another change. If this is not the case, consider looking elsewhere!


When I’m looking for a new doctor, here are a few things I consider:

-This relationship is a partnership. I am knowledgable about my body, my symptoms, and my health. It is important to me that my provider welcome my questions, input, and suggestions.

-What is his/her practice philosophy? Will they be seeing out the root cause or just treating symptoms? What do they believe about the value of diet and lifestyle in healing? (These are foundational concepts in the naturopathic approach to medicine.)

-Do they have experience in treating autoimmunity?

-Do they offer alternative treatments, such as IV therapy, sauna, acupuncture, etc?

-Is this person covered by my insurance? If not, do they offer a free meet and greet so that I can see if I feel comfortable with them before moving forward?

-When I share a brief overview of my health history with them, are they able to respond in a way that inspires confidence? Have they worked with patients with my particular health issues before?

-Is there anyone who has seen this doctor before of whom I could ask questions?


Medical care is expensive, and when it comes to health, it truly is important that we have our best interests at heart. One of the most important pieces of my healing has been to take the initiative and be my own advocate. When I reflect back on the early days of my journey, I was so desperate to feel better that I took anything that my doctors said as truth, and I didn’t know how to do my own research. Had I been better equipped from the beginning, and known what to look for in a provider partnership, my journey might have been quite different!


This concept of how to be an empowered patient and partner well with your provider is one of the topics that we explore in depth in my Healing Hashimoto’s course. We also discuss topics such as optimizing your lab work, different types of practitioners, how to make the most out of your appointments, and much more!

If you’re ready to understand your Hashimoto’s so that you can heal your Hashimoto’s and take back control of your health, you can start by downloading my free PDF on the Top 5 Things That Have Helped Heal My Hashimoto’s Naturally!

I hope you feel empowered by this information! I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions in the comments below!

Warmly,

Tracey