Rebalance Your Expectations
Re-Awaken Your Inner Trust
If you have just finished your several months to a couple of year journey through Phases One, Two, and Three.
WAY TO GO!!!
If you do not feel that you need to go through the Ancestral Autoimmune Protocol and just want to lessen the burden on your immune system for a while, the Phase Four Protocol should reduce some if not many of your symptoms. If you try Phase Four by itself and do not see any results after six weeks, please consider going through each of the Four Phases, step-by-step.
Either way, if you have just completed the first three phases or are just focusing on reducing triggers, this is an excellent time to get some lab testing done.
Talk with your clinician about the Phase Four Protocol and your lab results. Together, you may decide that certain foods will never be a good idea, or how many to reintroduce and how fast, or hopefully, you feel healthy and adaptable to try anything on the list.
As you reintroduce foods that you love, pay attention to any addictive or self-soothing habits that may arise.
This phase encourages you to re-awaken your inner relationship with the deeper parts of yourself that got you through the challenges of your healing journey and rebalance your expectations for the future.
Have Fun! And be mindful of old patterns.
If you have gone through the previous phases of this process, you have definitely learned a lot about Integrative Medicine, and you have probably learned a lot about yourself. As your life begins to return to normal, remember all of the stress reduction skills, self-quantification tools, and mindfulness practices that you have explored.
This is not the end of your healing journey…
This is the beginning of your lifelong and skillful adaptation to having an Autoimmune Disease.
In this article, I will discuss:
- An Honest Relationship with Your Expectations
- The Importance of Trusting Your Body
- The Healthy Homesteader Diet
- Long Term Metabolic Health
- The Four Seasons of Fitness
- A Longevity Mindset
- Long Term Supplementation and Taking Breaks
- A Long Term Relationship with Your Healing Journey
The Four Phases of the Ancestral Autoimmune Protocol
If you have not read the articles on the other Phases,
they may have some important answers, perspective, and guidance.
An Honest Relationship with Your Expectations
“Expect nothing and you will have Everything.” – Daoist Proverb
Many, if not most Autoimmune Conditions are life-long and tend to flare-up in times of intense or long-term distress. In my personal experience as an Autoimmune patient, I can feel exactly when life’s challenges are starting to affect my immune system. If I expect too much from myself and my immune system, I can feel my symptoms creeping along the Autoimmune Spectrum. If I wait until I am having an actual flare-up, then I will plan out my Ancestral Autoimmune Protocol and expect it to work as it has in the past.
Or, I could stop what I am doing, adapt more patiently and consciously, and do everything I need to in order to stabilize my metabolism and immune system. When I choose to take a pit stop instead of trying to push against the pressure, my health returns to normal in a few weeks.
If I do not feel better, then I do a complete Ancestral-AIP reset over three months.
When I am feeling healthy and calm, I return to my approach to the Phase Four Protocol. That is what I can expect for the rest of my life – if I am lucky!
If you have not the article on the Autoimmune Spectrum, TAP HERE!
If you are new to this degree of lifestyle and diet dedication, there is no way for anyone to know what to expect. If you have been at this for a few months or more, you probably have an inner sense of how you are doing and what to expect if your life gets intense for a while.
The only way that I know of to have a reasonable and personal relationship with my expectations is to be very, very honest with myself.
When I have this conversation with my patients, the answer is the same. But I usually ask these questions first:
- Where are you on the Autoimmune Spectrum Now?
- What is the worst stage you have ever been to?
- How long did it take you to get back to Stage Two level symptoms?
- How effective are the Supplement protocols you have tried?
- How many Pharmaceuticals have you taken for your condition since your diagnosis?
- How are you doing with your inner life (Stress/Trauma)?
- How many of the Six Pillars are you able to include in your protocol?
After considering these questions, you may want to have a chat with your clinician. As you enter into Phase Four make sure you are having an honest relationship with your expectations.
If you are just starting – the more you commit, stay consistent, and include all of your Six Pillars, the more you can expect things to improve.
The Importance of Trusting Your Body
Imagine you are given a car. It just has a steering wheel, a gas pedal, and a brake pedal. No Gauges, no dashboard lights, and no signal lights. Every day you get around hoping everything will keep working, and hoping that your mechanic (doctor) can fix whatever goes wrong.
That is what it is like to move through life unaware of your body.
If you have read much of the content on this site you will be familiar with me saying: Listen to Your Body!
The hardest part of having an Autoimmune Condition, in my opinion, is losing trust in your body. Each sensation and symptom could be normal, like butterflies in your stomach, or it could mean your body is going to do something catastrophic.
It only makes sense to just ignore the ‘noise’ and numb out. There is no surprise that we have an opioid crisis. No one wants to get up every day and drive a car that could explode at any moment.
Listening to your body is a skill.
Try these simple self-awareness exercises:
- Get very still and breath slowly and deeply.
- Feel your mouth and tongue. Which side of your tongue feels thicker?
- Feel your feet. Which one feels stiffer?
- Feel your belly. Are you holding any unconscious tension?
- Feel your neck and shoulders. Move your head around. If you were getting a massage, where would you want some relief?
Listening to your body takes patience and the courage to feel what you are actually feeling. Begin having regular and intimate conversations with your body. Consider what you feel, trust your body and your sensations.
Reawaken your inner trust.
You can experience your body as a car or you can explore practices like Qi Gong and Yoga, that focus on a tangible collaboration of your body, mind, heart, and soul.
If you have recently been diagnosed with an Autoimmune Condition, you and your body, your adaptability to stress, and many other aspects of being, have just gone through a 180-degree trust turn. If you have a history of trauma and/or addiction, this aspect of your healing journey will always be an essential component. If trauma and addiction have one similarity it is a loss of self-trust.
If you want to learn more about the impact of trauma and addiction, and also want to learn some Qi Gong, TAP HERE for the Article Qi Gong, Trauma, and Addiction
The Healthy Homesteader Diet
If you want to learn more about Evolution and Epigenetic Resets – TAP HERE!
If you want to learn more about the evolution of the human diet and The Four Healthiest Diets in History – TAP HERE!
The Healthy Homesteader Diet or the Phase Four Diet reflects what humans came to eat after learning animal husbandry and small scale agriculture.
It combines all of the food and spices from Phases One, Two and Three, with all of the new choices that come from homesteading. Now you can add healthy organic dairy products and some grains and beans. To counterbalance the negative influence of eating more starch, you should also include Lacto-fermented foods like Kimchi and Sauerkraut.
This diet is very easy to follow and definitely makes going out a lot easier. You still want to be careful with alcohol and avoid sugar and processed foods. Most people lose a lot of weight on the Phase One and Two diets, which makes some people happy and others worried. The weight loss is primarily due to a low starch diet. If you get concerned with losing too much weight, eat more starch.
In Phase Four, if you are concerned about gaining back some unwanted weight, eat less starch – especially grains and anything made from their flours. If you have significant concerns with your weight, (under or over) then talk with your clinician about measuring and modifying your diet’s macronutrient ratios (fats, proteins and carbohydrates).
In general, the Healthy Homesteader Diet will pack on some extra pounds if you are not very active. After all, homesteaders worked all day.
The most exciting additions are white rice, oats, yogurt and cheese. It is best to add one at a time and get the highest quality dairy possible.
Your Ancestral AIP Shopping List
Below is a list of common foods and recipe ideas to choose from.
More Seafood and Sea vegetables
Salmon, Oysters, Prawns, Scallops, Herring, and Sardines.
Sea Vegetables (Arame, Kelp, Kombu, Dulse).
Meat and Poultry
Beef, Pork, Lamb, Goat, Venison, Elk, Boar, Chicken, Turkey, Duck, Goose, Quail, Ostrich.
Nose to Tail
Liver, Kidneys, Hearts, Tripe Necks, Tails, Hocks, Feet, Skins, and Tongues.
Broths, Shanks, Ribs, Steaks, Wings, Braised Meat.
Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Kvaas, Kombucha, Kefir, Ginger Bug, Whey, and Yogurt.
High Starch Vegetables
Yams, Sweet Potatoes, Turnips, Beets, Parsnips, Rutabagas, and Squash
Grains, Beans, and Pseudograins (and Their Flour and Pasta)
White Rice, Oats, Teff, Wild Rice, Quinoa, Buckwheat, Pinto Beans, Black Beans, Chick Peas, Split Peas, Split Mung Beans, Lentils.
Nuts and Seeds
Pumpkin Seeds, Pistachios, Walnuts, Chia Seeds, Hemp Hearts, Almonds, Cashews, Pecans, Macadamia Nuts, Brasil Nuts, and Hazelnuts.
Fruit, Berries and Vegetables
Apples, Pears, Bananas, Blueberries, Raspberries, Tart Cherries, Grapes, and Strawberries.
Greens, Cucumbers, Avocados, Celery, Olives, Beets, Radishes, Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, Collards, Tomatoes*, Bell Peppers*, Potatoes*, and Chard
Milk, Cheese, Yogurt, Sour Cream, and Ice Cream. Yummy!
Fats, Oils, and Spices
Tallow, Bacon Grease, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Avocado Oil, Sesame Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Sunflower Oil, Suet, Turmeric, Ginger, Garlic, Cinnamon, Rosemary, and Thyme, Cumin, Paprika*, Cayenne*, and every other spice that you enjoy and tolerate.
*If you have passed your Nightshade Challenge.
Sausage and Poached Eggs with Suet Biscuits (Eggs Benedict)
Traditional Scottish Oatmeal
Buckwheat, Teff, and Mixed Berry Pancakes
Hunting Lodge Chili with Frybread
Savoury Oatcakes and Yogurt Dip
Egg Crepes with Braised Lamb
and Carrot Ginger Mash
Pad Thai with Rice Noodles
Smoked Salmon and Caper Frittata
‘Coq Au Vin’ over Wild Rice Pilaf
Beef Bolognaise over Rice Pasta
Curried Prawns, Dahl and Onion Dosa
Desserts and Snacks
Maple, Blueberry and Cinnamon Soufflé
Key Lime Avocado Pudding
Coffee and Cacao, Coconut Macaroons
Homemade Chocolate Cherry Ice Cream
Long Term Metabolic Health
Your metabolism changes with your health and your age. It is just common sense to say that your metabolism (all of your body’s functions combined) is going to change with a chronic illness and especially with an inflammatory Autoimmune Disease. It is less obvious, but your metabolism changes with your age and how you age.
Every decade your metabolism slows ten percent every decade after forty years of age. If you sit all day or work physically hard, your body and metabolism will change in specific ways. Instead of talking about all of the unique ways that people age, I would rather bring up the proverbial elephant in the room.
The best possible outcome will be achieved, by everyone, by focusing on balance.
When it comes to your long-term metabolic health, especially if your want to enjoy all of the freedom of a Phase Four lifestyle and diet, you will need to stay fit, meditate, and keep an eye on your health through yearly lab testing.
These are the tests I recommend for a yearly check-up.
- A Glucose Tolerance Test
- Nutrient Levels
- Cortisol and DHEA Balance
- Cortisol Rhythm and Sex Hormone Balance
- Blood Lipids
- Organic Acid Test
- Lipid Peroxide Test
- Subclinical Inflammatory Markers
- Intestinal Permeability
If you love feeling healthy and want to stay ahead of what the statistics say, do a yearly cleanse – including some fasting.
The Four Seasons of Fitness
If there is a theme to the Ancestral-AIP it is to get as healthy and fit as you can – as a lifestyle!
When it comes to physical fitness, my advice is to put on a few pounds of muscle. One of the most important warning signs of an intense Autoimmune flare-up is rapid weight loss, and more importantly, lean muscle loss. This happens when your body becomes Catabolic, which means your immune system is using your body’s protein stores (muscles) as a source of material and fuel.
Having a few extra pounds of muscle is not only good to have in case your immune system <?>, extra lean muscle is also associated with longer life, better tissue repair, and increased sex drive.
The opposite is also true. If you are overweight, your long term health outcomes look a lot worse.
Like most health opportunities, balance creates the best outcomes.
Fitness can mean a lot of different things, so I am going to define it the way I mean it. Physical Fitness is your physical adaptability to effort, flexibility, rest, breathing, endurance, and body mass index. Below, I will describe a balanced and seasonal approach to getting or staying fit.
Fitness and the Four Seasons
Circuit Training, High-Intensity Interval Training, mild Endurance Training (Cardio), Hiking, Primal Swimming (diving with extended breath holds).
Traditional Strength Training, Tabata Training, Rhymic Movement (Dancing, Qi Gong), Team Sports, any kind of Play, consistent Endurance Training (Cardio).
Negative Resistance Training (NRT- focusing on the eccentric or lowering movements) Deep and Slow Felexibilty Training (Yoga, Qi Gong), Trauma Release Exercises (TRE).
Sleep Hygiene and Deep Rest, Sensory Deprivation, Meditation, gain a few pounds, Swimming, weekly muscle challenges, Skiing, Snowboarding, potlucks and celebration feasts.
A Longevity Mindset
As I have said in earlier posts, ‘The key to Mindset is Mindfulness!’
Adapting to a potentially life-long process like having an Autoimmune Condition, is similar to a committed mindfulness practice. You have to have an honest and regular check-in with your health and symptoms. Depending on how you are feeling, you may need to become more mindful and disciplined with your diet, supplements, and lifestyle.
Each of us has a choice, fell frustration or resentment, or focus on what will keep you healthy and happy in the short term and in the long term.
Anytime the subject of longevity comes up, I always think of Daoism. Daoism is an ancient indigenous approach to daily life, spiritual life, and a long life. Daoists believe that life is a gift and the best way to honour that gift s to live as long and as youthful as possible.
My favourite simple Daoist teaching about longevity is called The Way of Enough, of Chong Zu Zhi Dao.
This teaching is centred around the Chinese character Sheng. (see below)
Sheng – Life
The character Sheng means life, birth, to grow, to engender, and vitality. It is actually the picture of a plant, including the soil and roots, stalk, leaves and a flower (or seed). This character embodies the Daoist view that life exists between the Sky or Heaven (Yang) and the Soil or Earth (Yin).
Sheng also suggests that health requires a balance of these two complementary and opposing energies, within us and moving through us.
We can cultivate a Balanced Life by finding:
- Create Enough soil and water, ways to receive Yin from Yin, by eating properly and getting enough, water, sleep, rest, sexual intimacy, and relaxation.
- Create Enough of your trunk or stalk through personal growth and change, ways to express Yang from your resource of Yin, by finding enough challenging life and fitness goals in life without losing your sense of freedom.
- Create Enough leaves for the sunlight, ways to receive Yang through a Yin activity, by finding enough companionship and connection in your life, while still being able to enjoy times of shade by being alone.
- Create Enough seeds and flowers, ways to express Yang through Yang, by getting enough exercise, expressing your feelings, being creative and perhaps even exploring your spirituality.
Enough is up to you.
Enough can be just right, “I have had enough.”
Enough can be too much, “I HAVE HAD ENOUGH!!!!”
Enough is never up to anyone else.
Long Term Supplementation and Taking Breaks
I often refer to my supplements as ‘Space Food.’ Because, for the most part, nutritional supplements are just concentrated vitamins, minerals, enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics, enzymes, and other things your body needs to work properly. Other supplements help you adapt to the science fiction future that we live in now by stimulating your liver or balancing your hormones. Space Food!
Not everyone enjoys swallowing pills or having their life scheduled around ‘fighting an illness’. Most of the time I feel that way. Other times, I would rather take supplements three times a day and eat stews and salads for weeks if it means I am not in debilitating pain and vomiting all day, or taking immune system suppressing medications that have many long-term and dangerous side effects.
Each of us has to find that balance and make those decisions and commitments for ourselves.
If your health is stable, gradually reduce your supplements – one at a time, every four days. If you feel the same all the way through, take a couple of months off of your Space Food. If you notice that no Vitamin D3 stops you from sleeping, you need to take that daily and tell your clinician. This entire process is a learning journey for us all.
The hope, of course, is that your immune system and body and soul heal. I have seen it happen. Chronic illness for many years on day one, no signs of illness after a few months of dedication.
The higher probability is you will reduce the underlying immune system dysfunction and repair your body (and soul) enough that you can live a balanced and healthy life if you adapt to having an Autoimmune Disease.
If you focus on longevity in general and keep an eye on your immune system and tissue repair often, supplementation can become a seasonal habit.
Depending on your condition, your age, your stage on the Autoimmune Spectrum, and the amount of distress in your life, what you need to take or choose to take each season will vary.
This list is not medical advice. It is based on loose associations and an opportunity to have a long-term and cyclic approach to promoting and supporting all aspects of physical and physiological adaptability.
Essential Fatty Acids (EPA and DHA)
Fat-Soluble Vitamins (A, D, E, K)
Black Cumin Seed Oil
Mineral and Electrolyte Balance
NAD (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide)
Hydrochloric Acid with Pepsin
St. John’s Wort
A Long Term Relationship with Your Healing Journey
If you are just getting started with the Ancestral Autoimmune Protocol, or are feeling like your immune system is ready for an almost modern diet, this is always going to be about your long term adaptability to the limitations of your diagnosis. For some people that is being able to eat solid food, for others that is being able to go out for a pizza and beer occasionally.
Wherever you are at, and however you got here, welcome to the real healing journey. If you can maintain honest expectations, listen to your body, stay connected with your six pillars, you are doing what it takes for most people to improve their health.
If I have learned one thing as a patient, it is this, I am not alone. There are millions of people out there right now, trying to figure out what works.
A long term relationship with Autoimmunity is also a long term relationship with exploring your options. Sometimes a lifestyle and diet change works forever, and sometimes they only work for a couple of years. Then you may need to switch things up or spend more time in the restrictive phases to get the same results as before.
The best ways that I have found to stay focused on the long term are groups, goals and sharing with others.
Going to an Autoimmunity group is no different than going to an addiction meeting. You will meet people facing the same challenges, trying their experiments, finding the patience to accept your situation with humility and courage. I learn as much from speaking with other patients as I do from a seminar with a leading clinician.
I also recommend Spiritual gatherings if that fits into your world. The open-hearted and connected experience that comes from sharing a ceremony is the best reminder, at least for me, of how to be with myself and my symptoms during a flare-up.
In the ancient healing traditions, imitating nature can be a source of healing energy or ‘power.’ Most living things, even plants, grow in a direction on purpose. Without a focus on a future possibility, without a proverbial sun in your sky, it is harder to find the motivation and sense of meaning to be disciplined.
I used to make fun of people who needed a life coach – until I made friends with one. Their entire skillset is to help you reach for the sun.
Finally, if you feel stuck and want to yell at me for writing such obvious advice, go and serve food at a soup kitchen.
If good-hearted and common sense advice piss you off, and I have been there many times, you have lost your sense of patience and kindness. Chronic illness and a challenging future will do that. It can be soul-crushing.
Taking some time and going out of your way to care for people, especially people who are in a more dire situation than you, can give you perspective.
Hopefully, with yourself and for yourself.
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