Is healthy eating enough to recover from autoimmune disease?
Have you made healthy changes to your diet but still not seen results? Have you tried the latest herbal remedies and wheatgrass shots, but your symptoms still niggle away at you? And do you generally feel like you are doing all you can to feel better, but it doesn’t seem enough?
I know I felt that way. I spent 25 years trying different health diets, and my autoimmune symptoms returned. I was vegan, then pescatarian, and then tried keto. I had a cupboard full of supplements that addressed the many symptoms I was experiencing, such as fatigue, joint pain, skin rashes and headaches, but nothing helped long term. I had begun to lose hope and accept that this was how life would be, and I would do my best with what I had.
But then, as part of a new training program, I discovered reformer Pilates and started to train as a Pilates instructor. It opened my eyes, not only to functional movement but to a new way of being. One where I lived in the present moment. One where I set boundaries and put my needs first. And one where I developed skills which meant that I could personalise my approach to diet and lifestyle.
And that’s when I started to use a complete approach to recover from my autoimmune disease symptoms. Diet alone was not enough. Without solid foundations to build upon, I just kept going backwards. But once I started to build upon my discoveries, I started to see meaningful results.
This article will explain The Complete Autoimmune RESET, which is a system I created to take a complete approach to your health: Release, Eat, Stabilise, Energise and Thrive. If you would like to take a complete approach to feel better and live symptom-free for the long term, as I did, read on.
Release emotional tension and toxins
Firstly, your body needs to be in a stable emotional state to move forward. For years, I buried my emotions to push on and move further up the career ladder. I knew it would take time to heal if I addressed these, and I felt like I never had enough time. However, I found another way to release emotional tension and build stronger connections through complementary therapies.
By working on my emotions, I found that the stress in my life affected me less, and I slowly began to reduce the pace of my life, which before was set at a constant hundred miles an hour.
Life coaching, the energy alignment method, and the emotional freedom technique (also known as tapping) all contributed to my progress, as well as others. I kept an open mind to all the techniques I used to improve my emotional state and release my beliefs from the past. Over time I saw a significant improvement in my mindset and confidence, which I know was a significant shift in my way of thinking, and cleared the way to make meaningful improvements in my health.
Eat nourishing gut-restoring food
The problem with the ‘clean eating’ that I had adopted to help with my symptoms is it lacked nutrient density. At the time, I felt that the vegetable stir-fry and rice I made most nights were enough to fulfil my nutritional needs. It wasn’t.
I ate this way for many years. I didn’t realise I was missing out on critical nutrients, especially those linked to autoimmune diseases, such as iron, magnesium, selenium, and vitamins A, D, and B12. And as many people did, I avoided fat.
Coming from a family with a history of heart problems, I always saw fat as bad. I rarely ate fat, and my protein levels weren’t much better. I assumed eating lots of vegetables and grains was the best approach.
I realised my diet lacked nourishment after studying nutrition and functional medicine. By adding in nutrient-dense foods and those that would support my gut health, such as bone broth and stewed apples, I began to see a big difference in my energy levels, which helped me power through to the next area that I wanted to improve in my life, balancing my blood sugar.
Stabilise your body and systems
I knew that the crashes I experienced after eating weren’t normal. I knew that the lightheadedness I felt during the daytime was a sign something was amiss. And waking up at three am with a racing heart just didn’t feel right.
The changes I had made to my diet had already helped these symptoms considerably. Still, by adopting a more fat-focused diet and reducing carbohydrates, I suddenly felt that my energy levels had stabilised and my symptoms had vastly improved.
You see, when you have chronic inflammation, which is often the case in autoimmune disease and chronic fatigue syndrome, your sensitivity to insulin decreases at the cellular level, which means you are less effective at regulating your blood sugar. If you want to read more about this, please check out my recent article, Blood sugar balance in autoimmune disease.
It can take time to improve the sensitivity of your cells to insulin which is why reducing carbohydrates, especially sugars and starches, when you are first improving your health can make a big difference. Then, as I have, you can slowly bring these back into your diet when ready.
And not only that. Stabilising your hormones through diet and lifestyle changes can also transform your health.
Reproductive, adrenal (stress), and thyroid hormones may be out of sync and contribute to the development of autoimmunity. Often stress can override the effects of all the other hormones in your body, so addressing this as a priority can make the most obvious change.
Focusing on your well-being and giving yourself space to rest, either through walks in nature, Epsom salt baths, or just time sat quietly without distractions, can make a huge difference.
It took me time to make these changes in my own life. I took it a step at a time. I blocked out time in my calendar to do nothing. And I made sure that I went for a walk every day. At first, it felt like wasted time, but now it feels like some of the most valuable time in my week as I know how much it contributes to living symptom-free.
Energise your cells, body and mind
Energy is everything when you have lived with fatigue for over 10 years. Even though I was still experiencing some niggling symptoms, I began feeling like myself again when I optimised my energy.
I would wake up and feel like leaping out of bed. I didn’t even realise you could feel that way! I was able to exercise for an hour a day without any muscle aches or pain, which had before lasted days to recover from. And the fog that had clouded my thoughts for years finally cleared, and I had focus and clarity again.
I still remember this time in my life. It felt like I was finally free to live my life like others were doing. And I started to concentrate on taking a proactive approach in enhancing my health to a higher level rather than the reactive approach I had taken for years, which all focused on managing my symptoms.
Through developing better sleeping habits, eating energy-enhancing foods, and sticking to an exercise routine which suited my needs, I felt a boost in energy. My health started to improve tenfold, and I felt like I could achieve anything in life. I felt better than I ever had. I developed an autoimmune disease at seven years old and chronic fatigue syndrome as a teenager, so in my mid-30s, this moment was life-changing for me.
Thrive in health, happiness and life
Following the turnaround in my health, there was no going back to my old ways. Even if I could have, I didn’t want to. I loved the newfound energy I had. Without joint pain and other symptoms, my movement wasn’t restricted, and I was able to try more exercise classes and started to enjoy running.
And I liked the new pace of life and understanding of myself that I didn’t feel like I needed much else.
However, in order to thrive, I knew maintaining my new way of living was key. I made sure I moved every day. I developed my cooking skills, so cooking from scratch took less time, and the healthy food tasted good. I also started to connect with others who had an autoimmune disease and had a similar journey to myself.
And that is my complete approach to getting my health back. It took 25 years to find a process that worked for me, and now I have lived symptom-free for over seven years, and I wish the same for you as well.
That is why I have created a six-week program, The Complete Autoimmune RESET, which encompasses the five branches of health which got me to where I am today and enabled me to take a proactive rather than reactive approach to my health.
And I am excited to have other therapists, including health coaches, complementary therapists, personal trainers, and fellow nutritionists, who are joining me in the program.
If you want to learn more about the program, which starts on the 24 October, you can find out more about it here. And don’t miss out on the special early bird price, which is available until 15 October, and a very special bonus for the first 10 people to sign up for the program.
Are you ready to RESET your health?