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The Story of My Changing Diet: Lessons Learned Along the Way

The story of my changing diet: Lessons learned
The story of my changing diet: Lessons learned
Not a pic taken by me. My food doesn't look this pretty. But still, very representative of what I eat...
From Autoimmune Protocol to Eating for Lipoedema Managemant
We’ve come a long way, Charlie Brown.

I kicked off my Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) elimination diet well over ten years ago, now. (which freaks me out a smidge! Where did those years go?) And over time, I moved carefully through the three stages of the AIP – elimination, reintroduction and maintenance.  That process taught me an awful lot about feeling confident about using myself as an experiment for what serves me and what doesn’t. And to listen to the nudges I receive; to trust my instincts. It taught me that nobody knows as much about my body and my ‘stuff’ as me (and that it pays to track). It helped me to put my hideous Hidradenitis suppurativa affliction into remission.

The story of my changing diet: Lessons learned
Frankly, the AIP changed my life. In so many ways. I will forever be grateful to Sarah Ballantyne.

Along the way, I discovered that gluten was my big trigger. I will never knowingly eat it again. I struggled with nightshades for the longest time, but I’m very happy to report they are now back in my life. I’m still not eating a lot of grains or legumes – although that’s not for any particular reason other than I feel better when I don’t. I remain a keen fermenter. As I write this, I have a jar of turmeric kraut bubbling away.

I still miss bread. And I have periods where I try to reintroduce very good quality gluten-free options (like the most fabulous OMGoodness), but it doesn’t seem to love me if I indulge any more than very occasionally. Sniff.

Most recently, I have (finally!) discovered a reason for all my extra padding and long struggle to lose weight, along with a few other symptoms. And despite all this healthy living. The name of this bloody frustrating affliction is Lipoedema (That’s Lipedema for you Americans!), a long-term and often progressive condition affecting mainly women, where there’s an abnormal build-up of fat cells in the legs, thighs and buttocks, and sometimes in the arms. Left untreated, it can get very dire.

While surgery is one option for those suffering from Lipoedema, my preference is to seek conservative diet and lifestyle solutions. Thus far in my search for answers, I have discovered that a ketogenic approach, when followed with other lifestyle choices, may offer some respite.

My latest challenge is that I struggle – big time – with the very high fat/very low carbohydrate approach recommended for lippy (Lipoedema) sufferers. There are simply not nearly enough vegetables for me to feel comfortable. Not enough fibre! I am back to navigating this as an N=1 experiment – tracking all my food. This includes my macro-nutrients – carbohydrates, protein and fats. And tweaking as I go to see how I can enjoy my variety of (mainly lower starch) vegetables while maximising fibre, get my nutrient density levels to where I feel comfortable, and still see positive effects.

As an aside, I notice that my stress levels strongly affect my metabolism.

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So, where does this leave me? Well, I thought it may be helpful to try and break down some of the general themes of how I’m eating now…

Eat three meals a day.
  • But only eat three meals a day. No snacking. Including after dinner.
  • Aim for at least 5 hours between meals
  • Protein with each meal, but especially for breakfast. (Brekkie is usually some sort of 2-egg scramble with a side of kraut and COFFEE!)
  • Aim for 4.5+ hours between meals
  • Eat dinner 3+ hours before bed (and I’m asleep by 10 pm).
  • No eating after dinner is over
The story of my changing diet: Lessons learned

I’m not a snacker. It’s a bit sneaky for me to imply that no snacking is an issue when really, it’s eating often enough; and with regularity. I can quite happily forget to eat when I am in the middle of something and this leads to poor habits (and poor messages to my brain). I still like to have a batch of my Soup Equation Soup at the ready for lunches.

I dabbled a smidge with forgoing breakfast as a form of two meals a day intermittent fasting, but intuitively feel I run better on some (proper) fuel in the mornings.

Anecdotally, Leptin resistance is an issue for lippy sufferers. Leptin is a hormone produced in your fat cells, which are not just inactive tissue but an active part of your hormonal system. I haven’t had my leptin tested (yet) but most of my AIP-esque diet and lifestyle choices are very aligned with improving this. As you might imagine, I am now focusing on learning more.

What is Leptin Resistance?

Your fat cells actually form part of your hormone system. One of the hormones they are responsible for producing is leptin. One of leptin’s primary roles is to let your brain know to use your fat stores for energy. When your brain stops recognising leptin’s signals, you have leptin resistance. When this happens, your brain thinks you’re starving even if you’ve eaten enough food. It’s a real conundrum for the poor old brain because now, it turns on all the hunger signals to make up for the falsely perceived food deficit. Better yet, this means that everything you eat goes straight into fat storage, making the problem even worse. Your brain is effectively saving up for a famine that isn’t happening! The really great news about this (<–that’s sarcasm!) is that you can actually gain weight even if you’re eating all the nutrient-dense food.

I’m sure this news fills you with joy!

Fewer carbs. Limit processed foods. Gluten-free, alcohol-free, seed oil-free. Anti-inflammatory wholefood diet
  • My time on an elimination diet helped me to identify sensitivities and focus on adding nutrient density. I still live like this.
  • My AIP way of life taught me a lot. Whole foods. Eat the rainbow. Home cooking. Provenance matters.
  • Aim to eat local and seasonal where I can. I am a longtime fan of shopping at my local market garden.
  • Eat more fish. Especially oily fish for omega-3 benefits.
  • Lipoedema has changed things – higher fat, lower carb

To be honest, most of the time, unless I am cooking for visitors or for a special occasion, we eat very simply. More simply than in the early days of my AIP experimenting when I was doing ALL THE THINGS!

I am a lot more relaxed about my diet these days.

We live in an area of the country with access to very good food. I am very lucky to be just up the road from good fish from Michael at the Matakana Smokehouse; my local butcher is excellent, and Darren from Salty River Farm keeps me well stocked in seasonal, spray-free veggies.

Being gluten-free has an upside. I avoid the sweet temptations on offer and find that I can happily share a table with others eating baked goods without missing it. I’m sure that is better for me!

The story of my changing diet: Lessons learned
On the other hand, some treats are good. A girl’s gotta live! I do indulge in:
  • Dark chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Berries
  • Occasional homemade ‘special occasion’ desserts or best-quality ice cream

(Wo)man can’t live on anti-inflammatory, gluten-free, low-carb food alone, though. There has to be a little wiggle room. Well. That’s how I roll these days.

I’ve declared 2023 “Booze Free” for me. To be honest, this isn’t such a big deal as David doesn’t drink. But it is one of life’s pleasures that I have removed for now. It’s a bit of an experiment to see whether I feel any better. Most of the time, I happily drink sparkling mineral water. Except in the morning with breakfast when I must have my coffee. I’ve very recently cut my two-coffees-a-day to one as a bit of another personal N=1 look-see. We’ll see how that develops.

If I’m in need of an after-dinner something, a couple of squares of best-quality dark chocolate is my go-to. Otherwise, fresh berries with a little runny cream does the trick.

Very occasionally, if I’m having friends over for a meal, I’ll whip up a not-exactly-healthy-but-much-healthier-than-a-bought-one dessert or sweet treat.

And that’s me at the moment. Have I forgotten anything?
The story of my changing diet: Lessons learned

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