As a result of my autoimmune disease, I have two problems: one I call a reaction and one I call a flare-up. The reactions come on suddenly and feel like I’m having an allergic reaction to something: itchy throat, sneezing, congestion, hives, itchy eyes. They almost always happen late at night. My allergist calls is “idiopathic anaphylaxis” or “your body just does this”. I am typically so tuned into my body these days when they begin that I can prevent them from getting bad. Interestingly enough, nursing my baby calms it down (if they haven’t done any research on this, they really should because I swear it’s true) and fingers crossed, I haven’t had a bad reaction in a year. The flare-ups are prolonged but more mild: joint pain, aches, irritability, upset stomach, bloating, and just feeling tired and weak.
I have been gluten/dairy free for three years now and for the most part have been able to manage my autoimmune symptoms by eliminating these foods as well as watching my alcohol intake. There are times though when my system flares up. Sometimes I know the cause, and sometimes I have no idea. I know that I always feel the worst after the holidays during the cold winter months. I know that stress makes me feel like crap. I also know that I seem to respond to rapid changes in the weather. I also know that I have been feeling worse for the past few months (after feeling better than I expected to after my little girl was born in January). Apparently, all of the hormones that were helping me to feel good initially leave the body after a few months postpartum, leaving me to feel crappy.
On Monday night, I felt like I was coming down with the flu. My body and joints ached and I was exhausted. I’ve been frequently waking up in the mornings feeling hungover (even when I haven’t had a drop of alcohol). I’m sluggish, achy and irritable. Some days I’m fine, and then I’m hit with it, which is what happened on Monday. What was the cause? A cold front was rolling in with a storm and I have been stressed out about sending my little guy off to kindergarten today. That’s my best guess anyway.
Just when I feel like I have this all under control, I’m reminded that I don’t and such is the life with an autoimmune disease.
When this happens, I initially feel like giving up. Why am I restricting my diet so much if I just feel crappy anyway? Then, I want to get more restrictive. My chiropractor (whom I adore) typically has me do a detox when this happens (see my review for the Metagenics Clear Change Detox here) but I’m stearing clear of any detox while I’m breastfeeding. I thought about doing a “Whole 30” but again, I’m worried about it impacting my milk supply. I feel like I’m somewhat stuck feeling like this until I’ve weened my little girl, which I don’t plan to do until she’s past her first birthday.
So what should I do? I’m hoping to use the start of the new school year and this period of time before I head back to work to get things under control again. My plan for the month of September is to do the following:
1) Drink 8 ounces of bone broth a day. I use Danielle Walker’s recipe (found here).
2) Limit alcohol. (I would say none but let’s face it, I’m probably going to have a glass of wine over the holiday weekend and on our anniversary).
3) Limit sugar/processed foods significantly.
4) Practice yoga three times a week at home.
5) Daily walks (because let’s face it, my poor neglected boxer needs the exercise as much as I do!).
6) Increase supplements (my chiropractor also has me increasing my prenatal vitamins right now).
Hopefully, I can get things back on track. If you have an autoimmune disease, what things do you do to decrease the inflammation and get back on track? How do you get through a flare-up?