When I got diagnosed with Hashimotos and MTHFR at the beginning of this year, I really didn't know what to make of it. As I've been learning more about autoimmune disorders and genetics, I've realized something I've always known but probably forgot along the way. Diet is one of the few things in life we are almost 100% in control of (usually), and one of the easiest ways to make a significant impact on our health. These are the ways I'm trying to create a positive impact on my health through diet and epigenetics.
Hubby and I have been Paleo-ish for the past 5 years or so. Sure sometimes we cheat, but usually regret it and fall back to our Paleo ways. Are you picturing a dining table spread of bacon, pork chops, steak and bison right now? Not exactly.
In fact, half of those meats are never seen at our table (read below) and recently the other half are rarely cooked at home either. The only meat I currently cook at home is fish. Yeah, I'm a Paleo pescatarian 90% of the time these days. Here are a few reasons why Paleo works well for my Hashimotos and MTHFR diet plan.
No processed wheat (or super minimal 100% whole wheat only).
As you have heard gluten is not exactly a friend to autoimmune disease. Luckily I don't have a gluten sesinitivity but I do have a heterozygous MTHFR gene mutation. This means my body cannot process folic acid well and it over-accumulates in my system wreaking all kinds of havoc. Therefore all enriched wheat is a huge no-no for me. If you walk the bread isles at a supermarket, you'll be lucky to find any bread product that isn't enriched with folic acid. Only 100% whole wheat products are usually not enriched.
Lots of Fat (Good fat vs Bad fat). One thing Paleo has taught me is that not all fat is equal. When you stop consuming carb dense foods like wheat, you quickly realize that you are hungry and hangry! You may also feel like you lack energy. This is where the fat comes in. Good fat will keep the hangries away and boost your energy among many other amazing benefits. I get plenty of good fats from butter, fish, supplements and coconut oils.
Not all carbs are equal (slow vs fast carbs). Some people think the paleo diet is the Atkins diet or low carb diet. It's not and we eat plenty of slow carbs like sweet potato, zucchini, and spaghetti squash. Sometimes even rice!
Veggies are great & should always be included in a meal! Growing up SDA, many of our friends were strict vegetarians or vegans and I grew up appreciating the idea of living on plant foods. Paleo is not all about meat for us. If anything, our palette has become more appreciative of vegetables of all sorts. We love veggies at our table!
Sugar and artificial sweeteners are evil. Is there anything more to say?! No not really. Please stop eating that stuff on a regular basis. Stevia is my sweetener of choice.
Milk and dairy are not so good either (except butter). This is a hard one for me and uh-ehm...were are still working on it! (as I reach into the fridge and grab that triple cream greek yogurt). We'll get there eventually.
I keep a Kosher diet. What?! Not only do I keep kosher for the sake of my physical and spiritual health, but I also do it because I serve a God who knows better than I.
As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:9)
I don't subscribe to the Jewish religion and although I don't consider myself ethnically Jewish, I technically am partly genetically Ashkenazi (fun fact). I do consider myself a Christian and as a follower of Christ, I try to do as Christ did and as God commands. Christ kept the Torah dietary laws commanded by his father, therefor I will also keep the Torah dietary laws. Simple as that. So what does that mean and what is kosher? (Having trouble believing this tidbit about Christ? Listen to the expert Jodi Magness)
- Kosher diet means you only eat meats that are sanctioned by God as detailed in the days of Noah and in the Mosaic Law.
- Kosher dietary laws also detail rules for slaughtering an animal, eating animal blood and eating animals who have died of natural causes. See Leviticus 17. However there is much room for interpretation in the application of these specific rules. Read my note below.
- Clean Vs Unclean meat. When someone refers to a meat as being Kosher, what they mean is that the bible calls it a 'clean' meat to eat. Are 'clean' meats healthier than 'unclean' meat? Well some people think 'clean' meats have lower toxicity compared to 'unclean' meat. Here's a comprehensive article from Dr. Axe.
- My 90% pescatarian diet means I don't have to worry about slaughtering animals a certain way or eating unclean meat bc most fish at the supermarket is Kosher anyway. What about the other 10% of the time you ask?? If I feel like eating other clean meats, which I do from time to time, I'll go out to eat at one of the limited but so worth it Kosher restaurants in my area. Two of my favorites so far are 613 Grill and Kitchen 18.
- Note that there is a spectrum of adherence and application of these laws. Some tend to see no reason to follow the slaughtering laws as they are specific to the priest class and the temple. Those laws are open to interpretation and no one in any way should feel that they are not fully in compliance by only following Leviticus 11 and a more relaxed form of the slaughtering laws.
Inflammatory Diet Habits
After reading the Hashoimoto's Protocol by Izabella Wentz (great book on autoimmune disorders!), I learned that MTHFR and Hashimotos are often buddies that travel together. Therefore many of the dietary steps you take for either one, will help both. Great news for me! One of Isabella's main points in her book(and most other health books I've read) have the following foods on the no-no-list.
Sorry to break it to you guys but alcohol, gluten free or not, is always at the top of the list. Yes that includes wine ladies. Which is why I sometimes opt for non-alcoholic wines or wine juices if you absolutely must have it. I have one word for alcohol: INFLAMMATION.
We mentioned this already but here it is again. Processed wheat that is enriched is another inflammatory food that wreaks havoc in our gut and in our bodies.
Ok this is my weakness! I love a latte in the morning but lately I've been switching it out for a green juice. I limit coffee to once or twice per week and have green juice the rest of the week. Coffee has great benefits for our gut, but for people with Hashimotos it's best to maintain alkalinity in our gut as opposed to acidity. A green blend of lime, cucumber, mint and parsley gives me the energy and vitality I need in the mornings.
I try to replace sugar with stevia when possible. I avoid high fructose corn syrup like the plague and really try to be mindful of my sugar intake. Sugar, like wheat, can cause inflammation in our bodies by feeding the harmful bacteria in our guts and keeping them happy.
Enjoy my fine dining pics from our summer trip to Marseille. Hope this has been informational and stay healthy guys!