July 16, 2020
Since July 8, my wife and I have been following an even more restrictive meal plan based on Dr. Amy Myers’ “The Autoimmune Solution.” It is a Paleo / anti-inflammatory set of foods similar to an elimination diet, but The Myers Way aims to remove foods that can potentially cause an autoimmune illness and other maladies.
So, what’s included in The Myers Way meal plan? Not a lot. It’s more restrictive than Paleo, Keto, and the popular Whole 30. It cuts out typically autoimmune suspicious foods like alcohol, caffeine, dairy, gluten, eggs, and sweetners. But also usually healthy foods like nuts, soy, legumes (including beans and peas), pseudo-grains (like quinoa and rice), and nightshade vegetables (like tomatoes and potatoes). And many seasonings and spices like paprika and teriyaki sauce.
What does that leave? Not a lot! Most forms of meat are included, organic, grass-fed, or wild caught fish if possible. A lot of vegetables including my new buddy sweet potatoes! Most fruits are game. And avocados, coconuts, olives, and their oils play a big part.
TOUGH TO SWALLOW?
Something that seems so drastic could be very difficult. Essentially this is completely grain-free, which seems kind of crazy. And my wife and I are binge-watching The Great Canadian Baking Show on Netflix where everything seems to have flour, cream, and eggs. But, there are quite a few things that will help me in this journey.
I did a Keto-esque thing in 2011 and it didn’t go well. I was hungry, I was moody, and I didn’t feel well. From what I understand, the human brain has many layers, and without sufficient nutrition, the “mammalian” brain shuts down that leaves you with only the more primal “reptilian” brain and a lot of “fight or flight” instinct.
To do better this time, I have been viciously tracking my calories and macros with myfitnesspal. It’s been really informative to see what I’m getting out of each meal. And, makes me realize how nutritiously hollow most grains are.
I have essentially been easing into this bit-by-bit over the last year. I cut out dairy and gluten about a year ago. I got the results back from food sensitivities test last year and have eliminated many foods because of that. This was just another step.
And, I don’t expect weight loss to be the driving factor. But, I lost 5.5 pounds in a week, and I feel like I’m eating more than ever! I think it’s the huge volume of vegetables that’s filling me up. They say you lose weight in the kitchen, and I think I’m finally figuring out how.
There is a surprisingly good guide to this in Dr. Myers’ books. The Autoimmune Solution details the reasons for “The Way”, but also has recipes and a 30 day meal plan. And the companion book, “The Autoimmune Solution Cookbook” contains 150 more recipes which we have been diving into!
And most importantly, the idea is to reduce the risk of another autoimmune illness. I would do ANYTHING to not go through what I went through, and ANYTHING to prevent my family from having to suffer because of my health like that.
CHEW ON THIS
So what have we been eating? We’ve been eating a lot of sweet potatoes. And I never thought I’d be the guy that is satisfied by a large salad at lunch. But, it’s working for me.
It has been a great learning experience from a cooking point of view.
For the first time ever, I’m making my own salad dressings. And I think it went pretty good!
And, I do cook a lot, and like to think I’m getting better. But this has opened up a whole new level of “cheffyness” for me. I made my own veggie noodles by using a spiralizer on butternut squash. And, I made my own pesto pasta sauce! I followed a recipe in “The Autoimmune Solution” and put fresh basil, olive oil, garlic, water, and salt and pepper in a blender. I was pleasantly surprised by the result.
I’m getting quite used to some new recipes, like my family’s new go-to breakfast: Sweet potato and ground meat hash. It sometimes includes apples, onions, and kale. Sometimes it’s grass-fed ground beef. Sometimes turkey. Sometimes I substitute butternut squash for the sweet potatoes. And sometimes it’s spinach and/or arugula instead of kale. But, it’s like fries and a burger for breakfast, and deceptively healthy, and quite filling.
It’s introducing me to a whole new world of things in the kitchen. I’ve bought new foods like cassava flour and beets which I never used before. I’m using mustard powder and nutmeg for spices. Why has no one told me about nutmeg before?! It make savoury even more savoury! And, quite frankly, getting most of my meals from scratch gives me a bigger appreciation for how it’s made and what’s in it!
Taking charge of food in the kitchen like this has been empowering. It is motivating me to take other steps to take care of myself, like flossing more regularly, using moisturizers, and generally improving my outlook.
It hasn’t been without challenges. Anything worth achieving will be challenging and difficult.
I tried going vegetarian for a while, and that did some interesting things to my digestive system. This has done kind of the opposite. But, I find that if I up my water intake, to like 12 cups a day, things seem to be flowing better.
This has also restricted what we can get for delivery food too. We’ve found a couple of things that meet the criteria of this meal plan like Swiss Chalet chicken with a side of sweet potatoes. Even though their trademark Chalet Sauce is gluten-free, it contains corn products, so unfortunately we have to pass on it. And we can order “naked burritos” from. Burrito Boyz that have just lettuce, sweet potato, avocado, and a protein. And, most restaurants have entree salads to which you can add a big piece of protein like a steak, salmon, or chicken.
I have never done so much peeling, chopping, and other food prep. And lots of dishes. But, that’s part of cooking at home.
Explaining this to our families was an exercise. Having to repeat things like “No rice. Yes, rice wrappers are made of rice.” And, there have been some temptations. We went to my in-laws and there were fresh croissants, freshly cooked spring rolls, and rice. My daughter enjoyed, but we stuck to our guns.
And we do miss some foods: My wife particularly misses ice cream and chocolate. Some of my recent favourites like sushi and even gluten-free pastas are off the table. We can start re-introducing foods starting August 7. Even if we do reintroduce some, I think I’ll be happy to staying mostly to The Myers Way, forever.
I will continue posting images, recipes and updates about how this goes. What’s next? Making my own BBQ sauce, and biscuits made from sweet potatoes!