Eileen Laird transcript

Written by Christopher Kelly

March 14, 2016


Christopher:    Hello and welcome to the Nourish Balance Thrive Podcast. My name is Christopher Kelly and today I'm joined by my wife, food scientist, Julie Kelly. Hi, Julie.

Julie:    I'm glad you introduced me as your wife first this time instead of a food scientist.

Christopher:    I remembered. Yes. So I thought this podcast we'd do something a little bit different. Rather than being an expert interview, although you are expert of sorts, I thought it would be nice to recap on some of what we'd been doing particularly over the last year. I know that a lot of people listening to this podcast are interested in becoming a different type of practitioner, maybe a practitioner that doesn't run a bricks and mortar presence or maybe a health coach that's looking into maybe starting a business.

Julie:    Or they're just curious about what we do.

Christopher:    Or they're just curious what we do. So it's one of my most frequently asked questions. I get people that phone up for free consultations and what they really want to do is find out how I started the business. So maybe I just need to record a podcast and talk a little bit about what we did to start the business and maybe people will find that interesting. So, I guess, the first question is: Was it fun? So, I quit my job at hedge fund. That was a pretty cushy job and we started a new business.

Julie:    Had a new baby.

Christopher:    We had a new baby. So, do you think it was fun? That's my first question for you. Was it like more fun running a business than it was when I was working at a hedge fund earning a salary and had health insurance?

Julie:    I'd say that it's getting more fun. I think in hindsight it was kind of just a shock to the system. I think when you start a business I think you don't know what to expect.

Christopher:    You don't know what you're getting into.

Julie:    You don't know what you're getting into and you kind of just have to put your head down and keep going until you can come up for air. I think we're by no means have we gotten to a place where like, "Oh, we made it. We can just chillax and hang out and watch this thing go." But I think we've learned so much that we're now in a very different place than when we didn't know anything.

Christopher:    Yeah. I think it is the sudden changes that are quite stressful. Like the first time you find out that health insurance is going to cost you a minimum of $1000 a month.

Julie:    Right. Well, and we were learning. We also did a lot of other things at the same time. We had a baby. We moved. Then the following year we've sold our house and now we're buying another one. So it's just like--

Christopher:    Yeah, so let's talk about that. That is fun. Back when I was working for the hedge fund, I worked in Walnut Creek in California. And there's no way that we could afford to live there and I don't think we really wanted to live there either. It's kind of very posh la-di-da, everybody drives a Tesla or a Bugatti type.

Julie:    We were living in Oakland and I did -- Oakland is kind of on the border of Berkeley. And I did really love that area. But, yeah, I mean, I'm not sure we could have afforded to live there even when you were working at the hedge fun.

Christopher:    Right. So, we lived in the hood. We lived on 59th in MLK in the hood. And it was noisy and it was dirty and me quitting my job and starting this business has enabled us to move to a little town called Scotts Valley, which is just outside of Santa Cruz. That's where Julie's family lives. So that's been huge, like having her people to help us with our baby has been incredible. And then I'm not going to lie, the mountain biking here is world class and that was kind of why I really wanted to live here. It's absolutely fantastic.

    The trails of the moment are just phenomenal. The weather is amazing. The trails are tacky. Life is pretty good. So starting a business has enabled us to do that. And now more recently -- We've been renting up until now since we started this business and now we've just -- we're not quite out of the woods yet but we're nearly there closing on home that we bought in a little town called Bonny Doon, which is again just outside of Santa Cruz. And it's cooler place actually. It's kind of the back of beyond really. It's not really that much there.

    The main appeal to me was the fact that you could -- You pull out your phone and you go into the settings and you look at the Wi-Fi and yours is the only Wi-Fi. So, yeah, if there's any truth in what Jack Cruz says then this is a really good home for us. And there's a creek that comes out the ground a mile away that passes through the property. It's 1.5 acres. It's a pretty crappy house but the location is fantastic.

Julie:    I think it's a good house. It just needs some direction and some love and some creativity.

Christopher:    It's like 1980s original.

Julie:    Yeah. But I'm looking forward to that because I think we have an opportunity to make it our own. What I really love is where it is and I love that we can grow some of our own foods. I mean, I guess, to relate this back to what we're getting at here is that, yeah, I mean, I think starting a business provides you opportunities.

Christopher:    It's a double-edged sword.

Julie:    It's a total double-edged sword, for sure.


Julie:    Hello, and welcome to the Paleo Baby Podcast. Today, I am excited to be joined by Eileen Laird. And Eileen, welcome to the show.

Eileen:    Thank you. It's such a pleasure to be here.

Julie:    Awesome. Eileen has recently written a really great book that I am excited to dive more into as we get started but she has written a book recently called A Simple Guide to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol. It's not something that we've talked a huge amount on about on the show. And I'm excited to have Eileen here because I think she'll be a great guide through the topic. Eileen, what is the autoimmune protocol?

Eileen:    Sure. So, I think, where it first started out it was considered to be an elimination diet where it helped people with autoimmune disease identify their food intolerances outside of the regular Paleo template. So certain foods like nightshades and eggs people we're noticing were troublesome for people with autoimmune disease. So the AIP was set up to remove those foods along with another group of them. And I can list those all for you if you want.

    For a minimum of 30 days until you see an improvement in your autoimmune symptoms and then you would reintroduce them and see how your body responds and get to personalize your Paleo diet for you. So everyone reintroduces a different group depending on their own unique body's needs. So, for example, let me see, what would be the list of the foods that you remove? You've removed the nightshades, the eggs, the nuts and seeds.

    If you are doing a primal style Paleo, dairy gets removed during the autoimmune protocol. And then there are few other kind of small items like seed based spices, fruit based spices, seed based oils, nut based oils, lot of those people are more successful at getting back in their kind of like a way to tweak the protocol. And then some of the larger categories are the ones that people are more likely to have trouble with. So that's like the diet piece.

    But I think as more people are doing this, they're really looking at the autoimmune protocol as an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. So it's beyond just diet. It's paying attention to things like are you getting enough sleep at night? Which I'm sure your audience can relate to. Are you managing your stress well? I mean, you can't live a stress-life but how are you responding to the stress in your life? That can have a big impact on autoimmune symptoms if you have autoimmune disease.

    How do you talk to yourself? What's your relationship? What is your self talk? Is it positive or is it negative? Is it self-loving or is it self-loathing? Things like that can really have an impact on how you feel too. I think the autoimmune protocol overall has a lot of layers but the goal is to live the best life possible with autoimmune disease.

Julie:    Autoimmune disease seems like it's kind of just this huge umbrella. What are some of the more common things that you run into and specifically for yourself, if you want to get into your story? Who are people that need to be thinking about whether or not they're going to use the autoimmune protocol?

Eileen:    Do you mean like what are some of the diagnosis?

Julie:    Diagnosis or maybe they don't even have a diagnosis. There's plenty of people that come to me and say, "I'm not celiac. I've done all this food sensitivity testing and none of it says anything but I'm still suffering from XYZ. I still have a lot of inflammation or I've had this gut infection." They're never going to get a diagnosis or maybe the only diagnosis they have is irritable bowel syndrome. What am I feeling like if I might want to do the AIP diet and then what are some of the more clear black and white you have this autoimmune disease?

    Because I think a lot of people still aren't totally familiar with things that are even classified as autoimmunity. I think a lot of people are walking around with even diagnosis and they're not even clear that that's something that they should be considered to eat a different diet to try to manage it.

Eileen:    Yeah. That's a really good point. There's over 100 autoimmune diseases right now classified. I think the list continues to grow. And the classic ones that most people are probably familiar with are rheumatoid arthritis, which I have, multiple sclerosis, lupus, things like that. But there are other ones that some people don't think of. Diabetes type I is actually an autoimmune disease. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease.

    A lot of skin conditions which often are not diagnosed correctly end up having an autoimmune nature. So eczema is more like an immune reaction but the AIP can also help with that. But there's also a lot of ones that begin with the word lichen like lichen planus, lichen sclerosis. And there's another one called Hidradenitis suppurativa, if I'm pronouncing that correctly.


    But any time something is going on with your skin there's usually an immune system component whether it's an autoimmune component or just an inflammatory immune component. And I think the AIP can help with both of those. But then, like you said, some autoimmune diseases are really hard to diagnose. For me, I was a textbook example of rheumatoid arthritis. It wasn't hard at all. And I can go into my story a little bit later but there's certain symptoms like pain in the balls of your feet and in your hands, and some disfiguration in the joints. And they know what that is.

    But then a lot of times it's just feeling crappy. And going to the doctor and not given answers and getting really frustrated. Like having them continue to say your tests are coming back normal because the test they run aren't very thorough as you know because I know you all at Nourish Balance Thrive really dive into, I think, testing at a level that's really helpful for people that a conventional doctor doesn't do.

    So, it might be that you're just exhausted all the time. Your hair might be falling out. Your skin, you might be having issues there. Your digestion is not optimal whether you're constipated all the time, whether you're having diarrhea, whether you're altering between the two, whether you're bloated. Maybe your mood is swinging all over the place. A lot of times mental health issues have, I think, whether it's an autoimmune component or the gut-brain connection, that all connects into that, I don't know, but I know a lot of people find the AIP helps with things like anxiety, depression, panic attacks, those types of things.

    So, I think, anytime you're not feeling optimal, it's definitely a good idea to look at diet and the Paleo lifestyle to see where that can help. And I know you talked about that a lot in the podcast already. And then if someone listening has these symptoms has gone Paleo and it's helped but you're still having lingering symptoms, AIP is a good thing to try at that point to see if that can alleviate them. Just because, like you said, sometimes it can be an autoimmune disease that's undiagnosed. Hashimoto's, for example, often takes ten years to get diagnosed. Lupus is another one that's tricky to diagnose.

Julie:    Well then it can be compounding. I've seen plenty of people with multiple autoimmunity. Because if you've lived your whole life with an autoimmune condition and you've not done anything about it or your treatment hasn't been appropriate or you're still eating the thing that's causing it, I mean, it's likely that you can cause other autoimmune conditions, correct?

Eileen:    It's true. They often come in pairs or trios, which is kind of scary to know. But it's true. So, for me -- should I share my story a little bit just so people get a sense of that?

Julie:    Yeah. I think that would be great.

Eileen:    I was a healthy woman who was really physically fit and active. I was hiking ten miles on my vacations, ten miles a day for fun and working full time as a massage therapist doing deep tissue massage therapy. And I was actually cooking my own meals at home and I was eating organically and I didn't use toxic house cleaning products. So I was living a pretty healthy life but not Paleo. Paleo wasn't even on my radar. I had gluten and dairy every day. I baked my own homemade goods so I had sugar regularly too, organic. But it was fine.

    So anyway, so that was my life. And then I woke up one day and just had pain in the ball of my foot under my pinkie toe. It hurt to put on my shoe. And I thought, "Well, that's just really weird. I must have just hit it." And I just went on with my day. And the next day the exact same spot on the other foot hurt. And that's kind of a classic RA symptom is having the same problem on both sides. Within a week it was the balls of both of my feet where I was limping just to walk across a room. And within a month it spread to my hands where I couldn't really bend my fingers or really put any pressure on my fingers.

    And then it moved to my wrists and my shoulders. It was awful. So within a few months it was ricocheting around my body in a way that I call RA Russian roulette where I would never know what joint will get hit and whatever joint got hit would be so excruciatingly painful that I'd be gasping and crying if I moved it so I would have to un-mobilize it. So, one night, my shoulder would be in a sling, the next night my wrist would be in a brace.

    Once -- I shouldn't say once -- a few times it hit my jaw. And that was really scary for me because I could not open my mouth when that happens. There's a real, I think, threatened feeling when that happens because you can't eat. And it was just such a powerless feeling and really terrifying. And so when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis I was also really frightened by the medications because they help some people -- it really varies in terms of the success rate for medications with people with autoimmune disease.


    And there's a time and place for them. So I think I've softened my stance on that than when I first started Paleo. But I really was hoping that I could avoid them if possible and certainly less than if I ever needed to go on them. And I've been lucky in that I have not needed to go on them. So when I went Paleo, my inflammation did start to decrease. And then it took a full year before my flares went away all together but I started reclaiming joy in my life within a few months. And it's night and day from when I started.

    So I went from living with excruciating pain to the point that I couldn't wash a dish because it hurt to lift. My wrist wasn't strong enough to do that. I couldn't walk across the living room without limping. I could barely sleep because when you lie down you put pressure on your joints and it was painful. So I was trying to sleep in a lazy boy chair. And it went from that to really living the full and beautiful life now where I'm back to working full time. I'm back to hiking. I'm back to doing a lot of things I enjoy. I don't have the same body I had before I had rheumatoid arthritis but I'd say I have the best body I can with rheumatoid arthritis, you know what I mean?

Julie:    So what, you mean, you're saying, Paleo, at what point was it that you, did you employ AIP and was it gradual thing? Was it something that you kind of just did overnight? How did the AIP come into?

Eileen:    So I took it in steps. So when I first started freaking out about the rheumatoid arthritis, I started, I tried -- it made sense to me that diet would have some effect on how I felt. I had had some digestive pain in the year leading up to RA, by the way. So, that's interesting. And so I made that connection right away. And at first, I tried vegetarianism, veganism and my inflammation continued to skyrocket.

    And then when I did some research, it was actually a vegetarian friend who told me about Paleo which was interesting because it helped her mother who had irritable bowel disorder. So when I went Paleo I went regular Paleo. I did not do AIP. Because it was such a huge change for me, the AIP intimidated me too much. And I wanted to hope that Paleo would be enough. And for some people, it is. I will say that. So I always tell people go Paleo first before taking it to the next level. Because I think we shouldn't restrict our diet further than we need to.

    So Paleo really helped me. I did improve for about five months and then I plateau-ed. And so I was flaring a few times a month instead of everyday and the flares were more moderate instead of extreme. I was working part time, didn't have the energy for full time. I could walk about a mile before it hurt too much to walk further. So I was getting better but I knew I could get better than that.

    And then at the five-month mark, I was ready to take it to the next level. So then when I went AIP, I went 100% into the protocol. At that point there weren't a lot of resources available. So there were very few recipes. Now there's like great cookbooks, lots of recipes online. I mean, so many resources, which is wonderful. I felt like the fun had been sucked out of my kitchen to be honest with you because I didn't -- I just went wooh--

Julie:    I cried when we had to transition. Because it wasn't for me. It was for Christopher. And I was the sole cook. I just remember feeling like somebody took away all of my cooking tricks.

Eileen:    Right. Yeah.

Julie:    I felt all the wind on my sails.

Eileen:    I think, I don't know if you do this -- Yeah, I just removed those foods and didn't really replace them with anything great. So I was eating really bland food which is not the way to do it because you're just going to get crankier and crankier and crankier. But now, like we said, there's so many resources available. You can have just amazing food every day on the AIP and not feel deprived. So that's lovely.

    And then within a month my flare stopped all together on AIP. And I think the reason for that for me is I was still -- It was interesting. When I was doing Paleo, I limited my nightshades to just the spices because I had heard nightshades and RA had a connection and I thought a little bit of spice can't matter. And just for your listeners to know, it matters a lot apparently.

    And then I was eating raw organic fermented goat dairy, the best dairy you can get if you're going through the list of quality dairy. And I was thinking that that was okay. And when I removed both of those, then my flare stopped. And when I reintroduced those I had RA flares. So those were the two foods that were still in my diet that were the problem for me.

Julie:    It's interesting. And this is something I'm just listening and I'm thinking to the people that I've worked with that I've transitioned to AIP.


    It's a very common thing in how I broach the AIP subject. I try to be -- I either offer as a challenge, because some people want to rise to a challenge and they want to tackle it and conquer it, or I present it as a temporary thing that you can get through and it's going to be okay. But either way you slice it, I mean, it is a challenge. I mean, it's an elimination diet. It's restrictive. It's removing things that you're used to eating. I mean, how do we make it simpler? Your book is about making it simpler. How, what do you think is like when you boil it down, how do we look at it or how do we approach it to make it a little less intimidating?

Eileen:    Yeah. I love the way you describe that for people. Especially we're going to do just a quick aside. There's a -- what's the woman's name? There's a woman who wrote a book on habit. It's Gretchen Rubin on the Four Personality Types. Have you heard about that?

Julie:    Yeah.

Eileen:    You said challenging people. Like if someone's a rebel, that's awesome to challenge them. I think if someone is a personality who needs accountability from someone else, you would be perfect for that because you'd be their coach for that. But finding some type of support group can be really helpful so that people are doing it alongside you and you don't feel alone. I think that's actually helpful for just about every personality especially if you don't have a lot of support at home.

    I'm a questioner personality, so for me, doing the research and figuring out why this is supposed to help me was really helpful. So I think kind of knowing yourself and what you need. But in my book I just try to break it down for people so that in a few hours you can read -- The book is called A Simple Guide to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol. Within a few hours you can read the entire book and know exactly what it requires of you. So I think having a handle on what it is, is really important. And then preparing for it. It's not something you can say, okay, tonight without making any plans, I'm going to start.

Julie:    That's totally true. I tell people that. I was like, okay, so the first thing I want you to know is that you can't start this tomorrow.

Eileen:    No. No, no, no. You're going to -- Because that's just setting yourself up for really some rough day and rougher few days. Because you're going to get hungry. You're not going to have the food available that you need. You're going to be tempted by all the stuff around you that you haven't removed yet. So what I recommend for people is to plan a start date and then the time leading up to the start date, I, if at all possible, either remove or kind of move into one corner of your kitchen all of the foods you can't eat. So kind of out of sight out of mind.


    And then sit down at a table and think of what do you eat in a day, breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack? What on that list can you not have on the AIP? And what are you going to eat instead? You really need to know that because when you're hungry, you're just going to get madder and madder if you can't figure out what to eat. And so having that plan is really helpful. Getting support from your household is really helpful.

    I remember I interviewed Terry Wahls and she said that in her clinical trials for people who are doing healing diets, the people who have a household who is supporting are much more successful than if your husband is bringing home pizza while you're trying to do AIP. And I realize we have a wide variety of personalities and the people in our lives. So some people are going to have more support than others. But I do encourage everyone to love themselves enough to at least ask for what you need. Because sometimes people will give you more support than you give them credit for if you ask them for it.

    And a lot of times they just don't know how hard it is. Like my friend Angie, she is one of the bloggers or at Autoimmune Paleo, and her husband thought he could just keep eating whatever he wanted around her as long as she didn't eat. It wasn't a problem. And they have a very loving marriage and he's a very good man. He wasn't trying to be difficult. And she finally after a week of that was just like, "I can't do this. I can't have you bringing in all these foods I crave every day." And he was just -- he actually was mortified. I talked to him about it and he said, 'You know, it just didn't cross my mind." So and try to get your household on board is helpful.

    And keep your eye on the big prize. So if you would ever -- the only reason you would be doing the AIP is because you're not feeling well and you want to feel better. And I always say that that is huge. Like the life I was living at rock bottom with rheumatoid arthritis was torture literally every day. So changing my diet was so small comparatively.


    And so I think just keeping that perspective is really helpful. And then like you said, it's not meant to be forever. It's really a tool to get to know yourself better. It gives you a chance, I think, for moving a bunch of inflammatory foods, gives your body a chance to cool its inflammation and start the healing process. So that's really nice. And then when you do the reintroductions, you get to figure out what foods you can get back in and what foods you need to keep avoiding. And I know for me that was huge for me. Like during the elimination phase, I don't know how you felt about it, Julie, I didn't like it. I wasn't one of those people who could just gracefully go through it without any emotions.

Julie:    Yeah, I know. I wasn't either. But Chris, he can. He is just -- he can turn it off like a switch. If you tell him he can't have them he can just stop eating them. I hated that. Because even though I wasn't doing this for my own personal health but I was doing it for his and it was so easy for him that I had to do all the cooking and it was an emotional thing. I think a lot of people, there's some part of it that's emotional. I definitely had a few moments where I was throwing my toys out of the pram because I just didn't want to do it anymore. And I think a lot of people experience that because somebody is taking something away from you.

Eileen:    Yeah. And I felt that absolutely. And so to not judge yourself if you feel that way. And then that's another key is to really take good care of yourself during the elimination phase especially if you can schedule in some treats that aren't food related, whatever within your budget. It might be just taking a bath, having time to yourself one night a week, making arrangement where you can go into the bathtub for an hour without kids and put on some pretty music and candles and just relax or have a date night with friends or with your partner or anything that you enjoy doing. If you can afford a massage, that's really nice.

    So that just let you feel nurtured when you're doing something really challenging. Because like you said, it is challenging. And then for me, the reintroductions really helped because, two reasons. If you successfully reintroduce a food you appreciate it so much more. Once it's been out of your diet, when I got eggs back, I was just doing a happy dance in my kitchen. It was such a huge thing. And then when I did flare to the nightshades and to the dairy, it was literally painful. But it also suddenly made sense. I was like, okay, I don't want to feel this way again so, therefore, I'm okay with giving up these foods. It was no longer theoretical.

Julie:    I want to talk about reintroduction because I think it's where -- I mean, if you're going to stumble, this is where you're going to stumble. Whether it's you thinking that you don't need to exclude something completely because it's not going to make a big difference like you and some of the spices. Or it's adding something back too soon or adding things back in an inappropriate way so that you can't get the best information from this elimination diet that you've worked so hard to do. And I've seen a lot of people stumble on this. I guess, when do you know? when is it the right time? Which order do you do it in? Is there a simple answer for that?

Eileen:    I mean, I think there's -- Things can be simple and it doesn't mean they're easy. So, yeah, I have simple answers for this but the main thing I would tell people is you really need patience for the reintroduction process. And to just know that in advance and be prepared for that in advance. And really see it as an experiment where you are the focus of a science experiment and you are going to get to know yourself in your body better than you ever have before. You're going to learn to talk with your body and listen to your body in a way maybe you never have before.

    And once you have that skill you have it for life. It's incredibly empowering. So it's work to do the reintroduction process correctly but it's so worth it. It's awesome. You get so much information out of it, like you said. And you absolutely don't want to go back to square one. If you mess up the reintroduction process you got to eliminate everything for 30 days again, at least 30, and some people longer. So you don't want to do that. Just keep that in mind.

    In terms of when is the right time to do reintroduction, so the minimum time is 30 days.  What you're really looking for is an improvement in your symptoms. And on the minimum side, you want to have enough improvement that you have a baseline for reintroductions. Like for me, if I was still having joint flares at the same rate I was having them before, how would I know when I did reintroduction? What was the causing the flare if I was still having them? So for me, stopping, having the flares stop altogether was key for me being ready for reintroductions. For someone else it might be, say, you're having whatever your digestive symptoms are or you're fatigue or brain fog.


    All of those things maybe once they start to improve or have even disappeared, that's a good sign that you can do reintroductions. Because how the reintroductions work is if you eat a food that's inflammatory for you, it will bring those symptoms back and usually pretty acutely. And that's interesting. If you were feeling that in a chronic way before the AIP it's going to come back feeling it's worse when you reintroduce the foods. But what I will tell you, it's not that it's worse. It's that you've cleared enough inflammation from your body that you now can see a cause and effect.

    And that's the magic of the elimination protocol. Because until you clear enough inflammation everything is kind of blurry. There's way too many variables and it's hard to know what's causing what. So even though acute reactions are not comfortable, they're the clearest information that you can get.

Julie:    Yeah. I think that's an important way of saying it. I like to tell people too that it's also that you've had a break from this and hopefully you've cleared enough inflammation that you now have a clear view to what you were experiencing before and you probably had grown slightly accustomed to or you at least developed some coping mechanisms too. And then after you've had a break from it and it comes back, kind of what feels like a vengeance really, that's probably just what you were feeling before you just found a way to deal with it.

Eileen:    Yeah, absolutely. And so once you're ready -- and that timing is going to be different for different people -- the other piece I put in that for people is if you're really struggling emotionally with the elimination phase, you take that into consideration. So if you're someone who at the 30-day mark you're ready to go to McDonald's and get a double whatever with cheese and everything because you're just sick of the whole thing, well then I would say to you start your reintroduction.

    Because you don't want to sabotage your health altogether. And the reintroductions let you very slowly and carefully and safely and healthfully expand your diet again. So, I think the psychological is as important as the physical in terms of how you're feeling. And that helped guide me. So I reintroduced at six weeks because at that point I was just too mad to continue. And I had enough of the physical baseline to help me as well.

    And then I have other friends who I think waited a few months and a few other friends who waited like a year. I will say to people you should reintroduce foods eventually. So I think some people in this community make the mistake of thinking somehow the AIP is healthier than regular Paleo. And it's not. I mean, the idea is for us to eat as wide a variety of foods as our bodies enjoy. So we don't want to eat foods that are inflammatory but everyone I know, everyone I know, without exception, is able to reintroduce something on the AIP. And I really encourage people to do that.

    If you don't do that I think you're -- and this is really a big thing. If you have autoimmune disease, I can relate to it. But you tend to have a lot of fear of food and there could be some disordered eating stuff that starts to develop. And we want to be aware of that as well and just do everything we can to keep ourselves, again, healthy psychologically as well as physically for that.

Julie:    Yeah. I think that's huge. Making sure that we don't let -- I also worry about people letting it become a stressor because like we talked about in the beginning of the show, there's a lot of things to our optimal health that contribute, not just the food that we eat. And so if you are letting your food become another stressor much like maybe some of the other pain that you had because of an autoimmune condition or just as much as a stressful relationship, I think it's important to keep in mind that that's another stress that you need to consider.

    So what do we need to do to make it so that your food is not something that's bringing you down, that it's empowering you and it's uplifting you and it's allowing you to live a more healthful life? I think that can two ways. It can go a reason to do AIP but also a reason to reintroduce foods as well.

Eileen:    Absolutely.

Julie:    And not get too carried away.

Eileen:    How did Chris do with his reintroductions?

Julie:    You know what, it's interesting. I think we've learned a lot. Because he's the type of person that can just stop eating something and not care about it and has no emotional connection to food whatsoever, that part wasn't a problem for him. But he did suffer from the fear of not wanting to feel like crap again, which I don't blame him for. We talk about this a lot.


    Because we get really frustrated when we see people posting things about basically saying that everybody that does Paleo and AIP is orthorexic and all of this stuff. Because I think there is a lot of merit to not wanting to feel like crap again. I think it's not orthorexic to want to be healthy and want to take care of yourself and not want to force yourself to eat things that you know led you to feel bad in the first place.

    And so I think it was a little bit important for him to kind of overcome, to do some reintroducing that maybe he wasn't, didn't feel like he needed to do because he didn't miss those foods. But, yeah, when it got down to -- we'd been doing kind of a modified AIP for -- we've been doing it now for about three years. And it's been a slow process. We figured out that when he does -- he's an athlete and he races a lot and he trains a lot -- and so we figured out when he's had a stressful either training exercise or stressful race or long ride or a long race, he is more susceptible to being, to feeling effects of foods that he's added back in.

    So he can pretty selective. So if he has done something stressful I don't cook with nightshades at all. Or he doesn't eat eggs or things with eggs if he got a race coming up or he's just had a race. So we can kind of be pretty careful where he eats these things and where he doesn't.

Eileen:    That's pretty cool that he knows and you know too how his body is quite dynamic.

Julie:    But, yeah, it took a long time to kind of dial that in and really kind of figure it out. Unfortunately, his only kind of metric for it is his stool.

Eileen:    It works.

Julie:    Exactly. But that's the kind of, I think, that's an important piece because that's the level that we're talking about here, the intimacy with what you should know your body. And I'm glad that you brought that up because that's one of the main things that I think -- that's my job. My job is to help people learn how to figure this out for themselves. I think a lot of times I get people on the phone and they think I'm going to give them some kind of a meal plan or something.

    I'm like, "Well, I could do that for you but what are you going to do when the meal plan is over?" Or they say, "How long do I have to do this?" And I'm like, "Well, I can tell you that but what are you going to do when you get to the end? Are you going to go back to eating the way that you were before? Do you want to feel the way that you felt before?" I think it's getting to that place where people can really kind of take ownership of their health and take ownership of the outcomes that they want to see and their vitality and their optimal health and giving them the tools to get there.

    I was really happy to read your book. I guess, this is a question for you: What pushed you to write it? Because clearly lots of people are familiar with Sarah's books, Sarah Ballantyne's book. It's a tome. It's massive. So that information is out there. What pushed you to write your version of this guide to AIP?

Eileen:    I think my personality has always been to try and make information as accessible to people as possible. And I've done that in different ways throughout my life. And so with my blog, Phoenix Helix, that is one of the things I've always done is to try and take some things people are talking about in the Paleo community relating to autoimmune healing and in a page kind of condense it so that someone who doesn't have a lot of time and who may be even feeling some brain fog so concentration is difficult, who maybe is in the middle of autoimmune flare so they have a lot of distraction just coming from their body, how if they have a couple of minutes to spare can I put something together for them that will give them the information they need, that they can do something, like you said, in their own life to feel better.

    And so that's what I've been doing for the past three years on Phoenix Helix and I just felt like we really needed a book that just put it all together. So that people could in a few hours have it all in one little package that if you are experiencing all those things I just said you can still get it, you can still understand it, you can easily reference it. Sarah is amazing. I love her. She is so smart and she has contributed so much to this community and The Paleo Approach is an amazing book. I call it the AIP bible. But you're right. It's like an encyclopedia. It's huge. And there are certain personalities like myself who can really dive into that and kind of geek out on it.


    And then there are other personalities who are just like, "You know what, that's a lot of information that I don't want. Like I just want to know what I need to do and why very quickly and I want to be able to just get to it. I don't want to have to read 500 pages before I do the AIP." So that was one reason. And then I also wanted a book that was easy to reference.

    Like I will say Sarah's book has a ton of information. It can be hard to find it. Like if you're looking for -- Say, you have a question. You've been on the protocol for a while and you're like, "Wait a minute, can I have this food or can I not? Why am I supposed to be avoiding this? What's the science behind this?" And you can try and find that in there but it's a lot of information to sift through. So I also wanted a book that when you have a question you could just quickly find that chapter and find that bullet point and get that question answered.

Julie:    I really appreciate it because I definitely have had the call with somebody that I know is suffering and they need to act on the information that I've given them and they want to pull the trigger. And I feel horrible for giving them this massive thing to sift through as a primary resource. I really appreciate it from that perspective. And then also just from the perspective of somebody who wasn't the primary user of AIP but I was the primary provider of the food of AIP. I think having clicked things that I could call on to just refresh my mind, okay, what can I make again? What can I not make again? What are the rules here?

    I think that's another great application for your book, is to the supporters of the person with AIP. Because I think it's a great way to quickly understand the importance of the approach. And I think it's also just a great reference, quick reference for, okay, what are we doing again? How do I help this person? How can I be in this with them? And I think that's usually important and totally appreciated from somebody that works with these things on a daily basis. So thank you for that.

Eileen:    Thank you. Let me tell you one thing about that just because -- Yeah, when I wrote the book, I was definitely thinking of people with autoimmune disease. But it's been interesting. My mother read the book, my stepdaughter read it and my grandson read it. And cover to cover. And I didn't expect them too because I thought they kind of knew what I was doing because I'd been doing this for almost four years now.

    But all of them loved it. They said they understood it better. Like I had tried to explain it to them verbally but that was different than them just being able to, I guess, read about it. And so it was just like you said that the support I was getting from them was good anyway but it increased like exponentially. They felt like they understood a lot more why I was doing it and how it worked and, yeah, better able to prepare when I come to visit. So that's nice. And then some readers have been buying it for friends with autoimmune disease. So people who haven't yet sought Paleo as a solution, the book is kind of a non-intimidating way to introduce someone to it as an idea.

Julie:    I think that's great. So, I guess, one of the other questions that I have that I'm trying to think of the people that I work with, the common questions that I get and the common struggles that we work with when we are kind of dealing with an AIP case and something that I'm just kind of curious about, that I'm interested in is sometimes I think I will tend to want to use AIP as -- Somebody will come to me and they clearly, there's nothing that's screaming out autoimmune condition.

    They've got no diagnosis. They just have suffered from a long line of digestive issues and I know they've got a gut infection. And because I know the power of AIP, I want to use it as a healing diet. What is your kind of stance on that? As kind of a temporary starting point for someone who maybe has off and on tried Paleo and just maybe not stuck to it but they're ready now, they're ready to commit to something and they're trying to take control of their health. What do you think of AIP as just a healing diet, maybe not for somebody that has a specific autoimmune condition?

Eileen:    I think I can totally see why you recommend it because it does remove a lot of the digestive irritants. And it also focuses so much on nutrient density to help the body heal. So I can see where it would really work well for someone in that position as a temporary diet. So I think just a way you talk about it is something that could be really helpful for people. And actually, the people I've seen in the community who use it that way, I have known people who have leaky gut or they're recovering from an infection, like you said.


    And it seems like after a few months, they can reintroduce everything. So that's the beauty of not having autoimmune disease. So that's nice. And it really leapfrogs them forward in their healing. As long as they're addressing the underlying causes, right? I know with you all, you do -- Like if they have an infection, you have them on a protocol to eradicate that infection at the same time that you're putting them on AIP, I'm guessing. Yeah. Because I think if the infection isn't healed, then you probably can't get off the AIP.

Julie:    No, definitely. I think that's huge. And then I think it's important to touch again on the lifestyle pieces and maybe I can learn some things from you here. But when you're working with someone or you recommending this, I mean, what are some of the other things besides diet? Because this is -- Clearly, AIP is a big commitment and it's a challenge as we are talking about but clearly worthwhile. Sometimes I find people are so focused on that that they forget that there's a laundry list of other things that we recommend for healing as well. Things like sleep and reduction of stress and all of that.

    I guess, the first part of the question is: How do you recommend making space for those things when you've got this looming elimination diet that you're trying to tackle? And then what are those things? And then how do they fare in comparison in terms of importance to the diet itself?

Eileen:    I think they're equally important. I think it's okay for people to address things in stages because it can be overwhelming to try and do everything at once. I think one of the things a lot of us have in common is we're perfectionists and that is not to our advantage. And so if you try and do like everything about the AIP perfectly, oh my god, it's so much pressure and it's so much work. And it's a lot of change all at once. And so like you have said it can become a stressor in itself to try and do it all.

    So I can understand that focusing on the diet piece first. I focused on it first. It was a big change. And also one thing that was happening with me is sleep. I knew sleep was important. But frankly, there was no whole lot I could do about it until I got a little bit better. And so some of your listeners who have small children might be thinking that way too. And so one thing is focus on what you can change now and keep in mind other things that you'll want to change later as you're able to.

    So I got the diet dialed in first and I did do meditation simultaneous with diet. For me, that really helped me manage the symptoms that were remaining. It calmed me down when I was in a very painful flare. So meditation is wonderful to include at any point in time. And I know that's something that a lot of people are intimidated just by the very word. But I believe there are -- It's really just a way to take a break from the pressures of your life and your constant stream of thoughts and try to just be present. And if you do that for five minutes a day, ten minutes, 15 minutes, it can make a really big difference.

    And you can do that through yoga. You can do that through listening to relaxing music. You can do that by going outside in nature. And the main thing to do no matter what you choose is to just really try and be present with the experience. And when you get lost in your thoughts, which will happen, just notice, and then go back to the experience. And it calms you down. I can feel it change. My heartbeat will slow down. Like if my stomach feels that kind of roiling stress feeling, that slowly goes away. There's like a tightness in my chest that softens.

    All of that is an anti-inflammatory effect. So any time you can incorporate that right from the start is a good thing. Sleep whenever you're able to focus on that is really important. I'm sure you guys have talked about that a ton because I had Chris on my show to talk about like how to get good sleep. So I know your listeners are well trained in that. But it is important. I think, for me, I really started focusing on that about a year into my own healing journey.

    I was already getting better because my pain my less so I was able to sleep more. But I'm a natural night owl. And that usually means you have an erratic sleep pattern, that you stay up later and later and later, get less and less sleep and then try and catch up on your days off. It's circadian, the opposite of circadian health, right? And so I gave myself a 30-day sleep challenge and switched myself to a bedtime and a wake time.


    And after a month of that I felt a lower inflammation in my body than beforehand. So that was really cool to notice the difference in that. As we talked about before, like the self-love piece, it can sound kind of, I guess, maybe new age woowoo but it's just so important. I think we're all really harder on ourselves than we should be. And a lot of times we don't realize how hard we are on ourselves. And so if you do stop and listen to how you talk to yourself and it's not the way you would talk to someone else, I think it's really good to try and change that.

    And again, ironically, not just yourself for doing that. But just notice when you do and just try and replace that with something kind instead. So cultivating self-love, I think, is good for any human being anywhere. But I think for people with autoimmune disease especially, we tend to blame our bodies, feel betrayed by our bodies. We've been given war terminology in relation to our bodies. So there's this like enemy feeling. And we are one with our bodies. So that means all of that enemy, hatred, anger gets directed to ourselves. And so anything we can do to love ourselves to heal instead of hate ourselves to heal I think really does make a big difference.

Julie:    That's great. That's all very powerful and very important. I think that should always be wrapped up in the whole picture. I don't want anybody to feel so overwhelmed by one piece of it that they can't reap the benefits of all of it. So, yeah, take it in stride. I think that's really important. Well, this has been fabulous conversation. I hope that if anybody out there feels like AIP may be something that they need to pursue, please check out Eileen's fabulous new book. I think that's a great place to start to get familiar with AIP, what it is and how it can help you. Eileen, where else can people get in touch with you, work with you, learn from you? You've got a fabulous podcast as well that I think people should check out.

Eileen:    Thank you. Yes. You can find me on phoenixhelix.com. And so it's kind of a weird name so I'm just going to tell you why I named it that way. So when I was at my worst with rheumatoid arthritis I literally felt like I was on fire. That's how much my joints hurt. And it is a hot feeling. And I really wanted a symbol of hope. And so the phoenix rising from the ashes is what I clung to. And then the helix represents the DNA and our ability to turn our genes on and off based on our choices. So that's why I chose that title. And it's my blog and my podcast.

Julie:    Well, I love it. I think that's a great name.

Eileen:    Thank you. And so you can find the podcast in iTunes. There's also a tab on my blog within archive of episodes. And if you choose to do the AIP, every week I host a recipe round table on my blog where other AIP bloggers share recipes. So you won't be in that position that Julie and I were in where you're really bored with the foods you're cooking. So you can definitely check that out.

Julie:    Well, that's wonderful. I'm looking forward to continuing to use you as a great resource for people as they transition. So wonderful to talk with you and looking forward to working with you more in the future.

Eileen:    Thank you so much, Julie. It's been really fun talking with you too.

[0:48:28]    End of Audio

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