This week I want to talk about falling off the healing wagon.
To give you an idea of where this came from I have had a couple of clients fall off the healing wagon and I have had another client tell me that although she is in for the long haul, she is grateful that I didn’t highlight everything that was required in great detail at the beginning because it would have been too overwhelming.
First of all, I expect that my clients will fall off the healing wagon because it is really hard. It is hard committing to the strictness of what is needed and sticking with it. It is hard to redefine a social life that involves such strict food requirements. Especially when others don’t truly understand the need or even how imperative the restrictions are. And it is hard to constantly justify the need to those that don’t understand when they don’t understand by the exterior appearance of my clients just how hard they are fighting for their quality of life.
My program is only 6 months with a promise to double your energy for a very good reason. For most people with autoimmune, it is not possible to achieve remission in 6 months. I’ve talked at length in many blogs about autoimmune, you can find a couple of them here and here. It took a long time for us to get to the place of illness and healing to a point of remission and sometimes just feeling better can take a while.
Why do I structure my programs the way I do?
Diet is the first area of focus, because it can be the most impactful and definitely one of the hardest undertakings in the healing process. I have also written on the AIP, if you are interested, which you can find here. The diet is very strict and the length of time you will have to remain on the diet will depend on what else you are willing to undertake in the healing process. The AIP for most people ionly offers a reduction in inflammation and in providing healthy nutrients to the body. It can help in healing the mucosal barrier to improve leaky gut but in most cases, it won’t be enough. Once a person has arrived at a state of autoimmune, healing requires additional help, in the form of supplements and removal of triggers. And the supplements are a waste of time and money if you aren’t fully on the AIP.
The other lifestyle factors must also be worked on in the initial stages of the program as well because if they aren’t, again, anything else you do will be a waste of your time and money.
Once diet and the other 3 lifestyle factors are managed, it is time to determine what type of support the body needs. Liver function, protein absorption, oxidative stress levels, food sensitivities and responses to gluten, corn, dairy, and lectins, adrenal and hormone function are all tested to determine what type of support the body needs to support the healing process. Once the body is fully on all of the supplements, the clock starts ticking and we will evaluate progress at 90 days. By now, you have been in my program for about 4 months. Maybe longer depending on how long it takes to be fully on the AIP.
If progress is made, and the client is happy with progress, that might be all we do.
Many clients are content with an improvement in the way that they feel after initial lifestyle changes, but it may not be enough to actually get off the AIP way of eating. The AIP will be crucial to maintaining the improvement without going further. Unfortunately, they hope that their efforts with the AIP will be enough to allow them to cheat, and the reality is that it probably won’t be. Many of their symptoms will begin to come back once the inflammation increases and once the attack on their body begins again.
Healing happens in layers. The dysfunction in a body of someone with autoimmune can be significant. So many things that the body really can’t pay attention to it all and with improved eating, it addresses some of the initial struggles like inflammation and mal-absorption and mal-nutrition. In the early weeks of the AIP, weight loss can be significant. Energy, sleep, and constipation can improve. And that will continue for a period of time until the body doesn’t have to pay attention to that anymore. As I said, healing happens in layers, so it will move onto the next thing that needs work. When this happens, new symptoms can show up. Weight gain can happen. Sleep and energy can be affected. And it can be very discouraging because the improvements that were worked so hard for, are slipping away for no good apparent reason. The reality is that not everything has been resolved and now the trick is to figure out what that next thing is.
It can be very discouraging and many times, this is when clients will fall off the healing wagon but come back again when they realize they really don’t like the way they are feeling. They have had a taste of what their lives once were and can be again. So, what next?
There are triggers that contribute to autoimmune.
The triggers for every client are different. For some it is as simple as gluten. For others, because it does take a long time to develop the illness, several triggers can be involved. If progress is slow, or non-existent, the next steps are to evaluate the other triggers. This will mean additional testing. Testing starts with an evaluation of pathogens that the body might have developed like parasites, bacteria, and fungus. We start here because it is the most likely. And without elimination of the chronic pathogen infections, we can’t progress to the next triggers.
The protocols to eliminate the pathogens can take a long time. It can range from 60 days to 6 months from a worst-case perspective. Then there is a retest and depending on the results, you may have to do it again.
Once that is taken care of, improvement should be made. Inflammation in the gut should go down quite a bit and the healing process should progress.
Additional testing may be required for metal if there is history of metal fillings, or an MTHFR genetic variation. Breast implants are getting some attention lately as they can contribute to metal and/or chemical toxicity as well. Chemical toxicity would be tested next if there was a history of exposure or if elimination of other triggers were not successful in reduction of antibodies or improvement to the healing process.
And there are more tests that could also be tried if necessary, once the most common testing is exhausted. And there are additional modifications to diet that can happen if it is also deemed necessary due to SIBO or histamine intolerance.
The reality of autoimmune is that if you don’t manage it, turn down the attack on your body, you will eventually develop additional autoimmune diseases. It is a bitch of an illness for that reason. The commitment is big, the impact to life as you know it is tremendous, easy but not simple. It is very, very hard.
Remission for most can mean up to 1.5-2 years of hard work depending on the length of protocols, number of layers in the healing process. Some are lucky in that there triggers are simple, like eliminating gluten or eliminating the food sensitivities but that is not the case for most. It is a huge commitment and there are many reasons in the process to fall off the wagon.
I commend all of my clients for their commitment and drive. I am completely empathetic when they do fall off and lose site of their why. I get it. They are on a difficult journey that they have no choice but to continue to truly take their lives back. They are all amazing people that just keep putting one foot in front of the other despite the difficulties. They are my tribe and we are all in this together.