My 2017 Health Protocol, Part 2

**This post was written in 2017 (I used to write posts about my health protocols as I went through them, so those posts are more time-dependent), and since writing this, these health issues have been resolved. I am grateful for these experiences as they inspired me to become a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and health coach myself. Please remember that this post is not current – it was just a documentation of my experiences at the time.**

In Part 1 of this post, I explained a little bit about my health history, the symptoms I’ve been having recently, and the main problems I’m planning on addressing with the protocol I’m going to follow over the next six months. If you haven’t read Part 1, please do so by going here. It’ll get ya up to speed. And like I said in that post, it’s extremely important to me that you understand why I’m doing what I’m doing. The why is greater than the what.

Anyways, let’s get into the details of the protocol. Not all of it is new. A lot of it is a continuation of things I’ve already been doing for the past two years to heal my leaky gut and other related issues, but still gotta keep doin’ it.

I’m not going to list every single supplement that I currently take in this post. A lot of you have asked what supplements I take, so I will do a full post later on with all of those deets. I want to focus mainly on the food component because that’s the most complicated, and I’ll mention some of the newer, more relevant supplements I’m taking. However, I really don’t want someone to read this, go online to Amazon, and just blindly buy the same supplements I’m taking. My protocol was created for my body. Everyone is so unique. The probiotics I take could be detrimental to your gut flora, because I can guarantee we have very different gut flora. The same thing applies with other supplements.

First of all, I’m going to continue to support my overall digestive function with a number of supplements. I have switched brands of Hydrochloric Acid pills and will continue to take those with all of my meals, as well as a new brand of digestive enzymes. I take 7 HCL pills and 2 digestive enzymes with each meal. I’m hoping to get that HCL pill number lowered within the next few months. To support my liver and gallbladder, I’m taking a supplement called Beta Plus, which will be switched to another type of gallbladder support in a few weeks. I’m also taking something called Liver/G.I. Detox from my doctor. Additionally, I’ll be taking something called Spanish Black Radish as a drainage/elimination support, and something called Gymnema to increase my insulin receptor site sensitivity.

I’m also going to be working on healing my gut lining with a combination of different healing agents and building the microbiome with a few different types of probiotics. I’m starting off with Klaire Labs Therbiotic complete, and then slowly I’ll be adding in Megasporebiotic. Adding in the probiotics will be a very slow process, and by the end of the six months my NTP is hoping I will be able to take four of each type of probiotic every day. Right now, I’m just starting with one pill at a time to see how I react, and planning on adding one more pill in each week.

Now let’s get to the big ones – the yeast and the food sensitivities. Let’s start with the yeast, because that’s less complicated. I’m going on a standard Candida protocol, but every practitioner has a slightly different Candida protocol. They’re all based on the same idea, though. You take an anti-fungal, or a few, to get rid of the yeast, and you also follow a no-sugar diet. When I say a no-sugar diet, that includes fruits, starchy veggies, vinegars, and every other variation of sugar. This protocol is slightly different than the one I did previously, but similar overall, so I know what I’m in for. This time I’m taking a caprylic acid anti-fungal to get rid of the yeast.

In terms of diet for the Candida protocol, I have to eliminate all kinds of sugars, like I said. Thankfully, a lot of the things I can’t have on the Candida diet are things I don’t eat anyways. Foods that need to be avoided during this time are all refined and simple sugars, including maple syrup and chocolate (stevia and xylitol are allowed, though), milk, dairy, alcohol, foods high in yeast (peanuts, mushrooms, corn, cheese, dried fruit, etc.), vinegar-ferments (vinegar, soy sauce, vanilla extract, etc.), fruit, baked goods with yeast, processed meat and processed foods with artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives, condiments (ketchup, etc.), and grains, beans, and legumes.

Allowed foods include all animal proteins that are unprocessed, soaked nuts and seeds (except pistachios, peanuts, and cashews), non-starchy vegetables, raw cultured vegetables, raw apple cider vinegar, herbs, ghee and coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, tomatoes, and avocados.

For me, that’s not too bad. It’s not too far off from how I eat on a regular basis. I will have to give up my weekly dessert adventures with friends, but it will be well worth it if I start to feel better. I will be following the Candida diet for 3 months.

Next, I’ll be eliminating the inflammatory foods that were identified in the MRT food sensitivity test. The MRT test is a food sensitivity test that can be done through your doctor or NTP. It’s not like the Pinner test where you can just order it online and do it yourself. Sorry. You get your blood drawn, the samples are sent to the lab, and the results are sent to the doc. The MRT tests for chemicals, fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains, seafood, flavor enhancers, meats & poultry, beans/nuts/legumes, and other miscellaneous foods.

When the results come back, there are three categories – green, yellow, and red. Green foods are non-reactive foods, yellow foods are moderately reactive, and red foods are the most reactive. Basically the foods that are yellow and red are the ones you have sensitivities to. The test also shows the level of each sensitivity. So instead of just saying reactive, moderately reactive, or non-reactive, it shows which foods were barely non-reactive or barely moderately reactive, so you can gauge even when you’re about to become sensitive to a food. I’m going to insert screenshots of parts of my MRT in a sec so you can visually see what I’m saying.

All practitioners have different guidelines for how to handle the MRT results. My NTP is aggressive, so these are her rules:

  1. I will eliminate all red foods (reactive) from my diet for 6 months.
  2. I will eliminate all yellow foods (moderately reactive) from my diet for at least four months. At four months, we will re-test and see if I need to conintue to keep these out of my diet.
  3. All “high greens” need to be rotated. A “high green” is a food that is green, but 3/4 of the way over to the yellow line. That means I eat them only twice a week. If it’s extremely close to the yellow line, I need to try to keep it out of my diet as much as I can.
  4. Green foods are fine to eat.
  5. If a food isn’t on the list, then I treat it like a “high green” and only eat it twice a week.

Let me be clear – the point of this is not to get rid of these foods forever! I would literally die if I had to do that (not literally, but you catch my drift). My body is reacting to these foods right now, so the idea is that I should be able to add most of them, if not all, back into my diet after eliminating them for a long enough amount of time. Basically, I need to give my body a break from these foods so my gut can heal and my body will stop engaging in an immune response because of them, and then I should be able to bring them back in. Foods that are still on my food sensitivity test after 6 months even after removing them are probably foods that I will react to longterm and will most likely not ever add back into my diet completely.

Let’s start with fruits – the least problematic. Nothing big here. Every test I take shows that I’m intolerant to watermelon and honeydew melon, so I’m pretty sure I’m actually longterm intolerant to those. I never eat them anyways, though, because I’ve hated the taste since I was a kid. No biggie. The only fruits I really like are strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries, but I won’t be having those during the Candida diet, anyways. The only thing that is slightly problematic is the avocados. I just have to try to stop eating them every single day so that I don’t become intolerant to them, because they are 3/4 of the way over on the list. I’m going to try to only eat them every other day during this time, but I’m not too concerned about it.

In terms of proteins, this is very do-able. I think it’s very interesting to me that these results are basically the opposite of my food sensitivity results last time, which makes total sense. Last time, the foods that I was intolerant to were salmon, tuna, chicken, and eggs. After that, I started eating a ton of turkey and beef since I had to take the others out of my diet for a few months, and I never went back to eating them as much as I did before. This time, it makes sense that the proteins I eat most often – turkey and beef – have shown up again. Beef includes ground beef, veal, bison, and buffalo. I’m sad, but this is extremely do-able. Thank god I’m still good with salmon. Cod and sole also always show up on my tests as reactive foods, so those are probably real intolerances, too. I don’t really care about those, either, though. I’ll probably be eating more eggs in the next few months, so I’m excited to get back to some of my favorite scrambles.

Okay, baker’s yeast… couldn’t care less about it. I never eat anything with baker’s yeast in it. The flavor enhancers made me sad, I won’t lie. Black pepper?! Ugh. Black pepper is in everything. Ginger made me really sad as well, because I love to put it on so many things, and I adore ginger tea. Sesame was like a huge stab in my heart – I FREAKIN’ LOVE TAHINI. Ugh. The garlic I was not surprised about at all, but I was still unhappy about it. I love the taste of garlic, but it literally rips my stomach to shreds.

But then we have the high greens. Basically cayenne pepper, parsley, mustard, cane sugar, dill, turmeric, cumin, and cocoa can only be consumed twice a week. However, I will probably just not include these in my diet purposefully at all unless I need to for some reason, just to be safe. Cocoa and cumin were BARELY not reactive, so I consider them to be yellow. I was pretty sad about the cocoa and turmeric. I’m a huge chocoholic, but I also always notice that it gives me symptoms. Also, with no black pepper, ginger, or turmeric, I can say goodbye to golden milk and turmeric lattes in the next few months.

The thing is, all of these make sense to me. A lot of these are supposed to be healing foods and digestive aids, so I try to include them in my diet because I think they’ll help me. However, I always feel like crap when I consume them. I try to just ignore it because I tell myself, “Oh, this is supposed to help digestion! Maybe you just need to adjust.” But no. I have actually mentioned every single one of those spices specifically as something I thought was giving me symptoms in the past few months. I made my therapist and friends guess which spices I was reacting to, and they literally guessed the exact list based on my previous complaints.

The good news is, there’s only one thing to take out of my diet from this section. Who cares about lima beans?! The bad news is, it’s CASHEWS. Ummm. Cashews are a very important nut. Probably the most versatile. I live for cashew butter. I like to make cashew milk, cashew sour cream, cashew cheese, and use cashews as the base for a ton of other recipes. Anyone who does GF/dairy-free cooking knows how important cashews are!  Also, most of the restaurants I like to eat at in L.A. happen to be vegan, and almost every vegan dish I like involves cashews in some way. I don’t even want to think about the fact that Yoga-urt’s froyo is made from an almond-cashew base. I realize I would have to take them out of my diet anyways for the Candida protocol, but since they’re red-zoned, I have to take them out for six months. I’m freaking out a little bit over the potential that they might need to be permanently removed since they are one of my highest reactivities, but let’s just think positively. Cashews are the nut I eat the most, so these results make sense.

The only high-green I eat is hazelnuts, but I only eat those on rare occasions since I don’t usually buy them myself, so no inconvenience there. Luckily, my favorite nuts are totally safe – pecans and walnuts!

Lastly, and most upsetting to me, are the vegetables. Okay, this could be worse, but this takes a lot of explanation. First of all, you have to understand that I eat a lot of vegetables every day. A LOT. It’s the bulk of my meals. I don’t care about string beans – I never eat them. Also don’t care about white potato – they’ve bothered me for as long as I can remember so I don’t eat those either. All of the other yellows, I’m pretty sad about. Carrots and sweet potatoes won’t be that difficult for me to remove because I’ve gone long amounts of time without them before, but they are two of my favorite foods. Anyone who knows me knows how obsessed I am with sweet taters. However, this makes me feel like less of a crazy person for feeling like I want to die from the pain after almost every time I eat one.

The most upsetting things to me are the lettuce and the spinach. Lettuce includes romaine, butter, leaf, red, and iceberg. Honestly, I could kind of feel the spinach coming. I get stabbing pains in my stomach whenever I eat it, and I eat a lot of it every day. Like, I go through at least one bin every single day. I eat a lot of salads, so this is going to be inconvenient for me. I was planning on leaning on salads as a way for me to eat out at restaurants during this time, but that’s pretty much a no-go now. Almost every restaurant uses a lettuce or spinach as the base of their salads. If a guy asks me on a date, I’m screwed!

Now, let’s talk about how many high-greens there are. Yellow squash and celery are basically yellow. I eat celery every day. Ugh. Beets, broccoli, zucchini, and cauliflower need to be rotated – so I can have them twice a week. Unfortunately, those last three are things I also eat every day, so limiting them to twice a week is going to be a major adjustment for me.

The vegetables I can eat freely during this time are eggplant, cucumber, green pepper, asparagus, and tomato. Does anyone else think it’s funny that three of those are nightshades? I tend to avoid nightshades because they are such big triggers for people with autoimmune diseases, but I guess I’m not avoiding them anymore! I can’t have mushrooms during the Candida diet, but I will gladly add them in after these first 3 months. Onions give me horrible stomach pains, so I doubt I’ll be eating those.

This might not seem like a nightmare to most people, but for me…it led to a total panic attack. The number of vegetables I can eat just drastically reduced, and most of my favorites have to be limited in some way. It’s now turned into a numbers game, and I have to figure out how to fit everything into my diet most effectively.

Because of my low thyroid numbers, both my NTP and my doctor want me to limit the amount of cruciferous vegetables I eat. That’s going to be quite a task for me, because I’m kind of addicted to cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, etc. They initially told me I could have no more than one cup of cruciferous veggies at a meal. Then I had a major freakout and they said I can have two cups at a meal if I absolutely need to, but that I might have to go on more supplements for my thyroid if I do that and that I might have to take the cruciferous veggies out more strictly after the whole protocol is done. Weighing my options.

Also, in case you don’t know much about me or need some more context, I eat a paleo diet, so obviously I will be continuing that. That means I don’t eat grains, legumes, dairy, soy, etc. in general, anyways, which is why diet is mainly meat, veggies, and healthy fats.

After hearing all of these limitations, I started to freak out. How am I going to build a plate? I’m going to have to eat way less veggies. How will I only eat my favorite foods twice a week? How will I bulk up my green smoothies?! Is that even enough vegetables for a week? I can never eat a salad!

Wow. Salads and green smoothies. Major #girlproblems.

In terms of greens, I can still have chard, collard greens, kale, arugula, parsley, bok choy, watercress, dandelion greens, mustard greens, and endives. However, the majority of those are cruciferous. Collard greens, kale, arugula, and bok choy, for example, are all cruciferous veggies, so I can only have one cup at a meal. I’m bitter about the other ones because they’re harder to find and they don’t come pre-chopped, and I’m lazy. I admit it.

The other problem is that I apparently am eating way too many vegetables in general. That is a very uncommon thing so please don’t freak out and think this applies to you. I eat a ridiculous amount of vegetables, and it’s actually causing me problems. Vegetables are hard to digest. Also, because I eat so many vegetables every day, I’m eating all vegetables too often without rotation, causing my body to basically react to everything. My NTP has limited me to no more than 3 cups of vegetables at every meal, which is a very low amount for me. I am literally always so hungry due to my malabsorption that I eat pounds of veggies every day (amongst other things, obviously). Can’t do that anymore…

The problem here is that if I can only have 3 cups of veggies a day, and only one can be cruciferous, but the greens I can eat are cruciferous, I can’t really make a salad. Also, for my smoothies, I don’t want to use up my cauliflower or zucchini or avocado for the week blended into something! If I can only have each of those twice a week, I’m eating them as real food.

It might seem dramatic to others, but receiving all of this information and these limitations in one day made me very very depressed, because I realized how much my life will have to shift in the next six months.

Food is a big part of my life. I love it. And I don’t like to overthink it or think about it like a puzzle. I feel like that’s not good for me, or for anyone. I do have to puzzle it out though, to make sure I keep in line with all of my limits.

How am I handling this? By being very organized. I have a list on my phone of potential meal ideas, a new grocery shopping list, and a list of what I can and can’t eat. I have a vegetable tally where I mark off how many times I eat a veggie each week. I emailed some restaurants to see if there was anything on the menu I’d be able to eat if I had to eat out, and that was a no-go, unfortunately. My first week in has already been confusing. I bough too many of my “need to be rotated” foods, and not enough of the safe greens. Habit.

Over the next few months, I’m going to eat more protein than I’m used to, and I’ll also increase my fat intake even more. I eat a very high fat diet already, but I’ll probably need even more during this time. Since my body has a hard time digesting fats, I can definitely afford all of the healthy fats I can get. Thankfully, coconut isn’t problematic for me. Coconut meat, coconut butter, and coconut milk are going to save me.

Honestly, all of these food restrictions have been very emotionally challenging for me, on a number of levels. First of all, I’ve had to give up a few things I was really looking forward to, and I’m bitter about it. I can’t really participate in any Expo West events, I cancelled my trip to New York, and I cancelled my graduation trip. Just in general, this is going to be hard for me socially. People go out to eat and to socialize. My friends and I love to grab dinner, dessert, etc. For work, grabbing lunch or dinner is a common thing. I can’t really eat out for the next six months, which honestly sucks. My birthday and graduation are coming up, which are both things I want to celebrate… with food.

I hate that this is going to inconvenience the people around me. I feel like I am disappointing my friends because I’m always the person everyone goes out to eat with. It’s my thing. I also feel like I’m disappointing all of my friends who are visiting for Expo West. I feel like I let down the people I was planning to visit after I graduate, but it’s not worth the money for me to go on a trip but not be able to eat out anywhere. I know my family is upset with me because I’ll have these limitations during graduation. Honestly, I’m really sad I can’t have spinach for at least 4 months, and it doesn’t make me feel any better when people tell me they can’t do anything fun now that I can’t eat dessert. That’s the flip side. It’s honestly ridiculous for people to say that. I’m already very stressed about this, and I don’t need anyone else trying to make me feel worse. I would not choose to do this unless my stomach was literally in shambles and I saw no other way.

The thing is, this isn’t something you just kind of half-ass. I have to do this and be consistent and strict, or it won’t work. This is my third time doing a protocol like this, and I’m honestly so tired of it. I don’t want to do it again. So I’d rather do it full out and never have to take so many foods out of my diet for so many months ever again. The key to that will be that when I add foods back into my diet, I have to actually continue to rotate them. No more eating the same thing every single day, even though that’s what’s easiest for me.

Am I ever going to cheat? Yes. I am. I’m going to cheat at dinner on my birthday. Other than that, I don’t plan on cheating. If something comes up and I have to eat something I’m supposed to remove, then fine. But that can’t be a pattern, and I’m not going to plan on that happening. In case of emergencies. I’m hoping it doesn’t have to happen at all. I really want to give this my all.

What does this mean for the blog? I will post some recipes that involve ingredients I can’t eat during this time, because they are recipes I already created and photographed and had lined up for future content. But, as always, these are recipes I would usually eat, if I wasn’t on the protocol. And I’ll eat them when I get off of it!

I’ll also probably have some more protocol-friendly recipes, which could be helpful for anyone who has to do something similar! In general, I’m going to try to share as much of this journey as possible. I can use all of the support I can get!

I wish I could say I took this like a champ, but I didn’t. I cried and felt sorry for myself. I complained nonstop to my friends and have probably been super annoying, but I’m still trying to process everything and figure out how I’m going to handle the next six months without feeling like eating is overly complicated, and without feeling like I’m a burden to everyone around me. I feel like I have a much better handle on everything now, though, and I have a ton of recipes that I’m looking forward to making. So I’m in a relatively good place now, and I’m ready to tackle this. Bring it. To all of my friends who listened to me bitch and complain –  I’m sorry, thank you, and I love you.

Please let me know if there is anything specific you would like more details about, and I will happily write a post. I’m thinking of doing update posts of how things are going, so let me know if those are of interest to you. Thank you again to everybody who has already been so kind and supportive – it truly means the world to me.

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