The AIP Diet – A new adventure for my health and for my stomach

I have Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease, and most people probably know that, because I am pretty vocal about it.  I know the condition is fairly common and often easily treatable, mine never has been.  Even when the doctors tell me that my blood work is “within range,” I rarely feel like myself and constantly suffer from a broad range of related symptoms. More information about my autoimmune disease and my symptoms have been written about in previous posts (and I am sure I will post on that topic again).  However, I do want talk about food and its relation to Hashimoto’s and my health.

I have been on a gluten free diet for several years after discovering that this is often recommended for Hashimoto’s patients. There are lots of articles out there that talk about why gluten is bad, but basically eating gluten makes my body attach my thyroid more than it already is doing.  Here is a decent article on the topic: Gluten and Hashimoto’s Disease.  When eating a gluten free diet, I find that my symptoms are reduced somewhat and that my flares occur less often.

I was doing good as of last year was down to my pre-diagnosis weight!  I was so excited!  Then there was some major stress in my life and my thyroid levels over the last year have been going down and down.  I am up to 200 mcg of Synthroid a day!…my symptoms are all over the place, and my weight is back up to where it was at its highest (pre-pregnancy).

I have decided that something needs to change and I need to try something new.  I am looking for a new doctor and I am hoping to find a Functional Medicine Doctor that my insurance will cover, but in the meantime I have decided to take on the Auto Immune Protocol Diet.

I have been reading a lot about this Protocol and I am very optimistic that I will see positive results.  This protocol is often prescribed by doctors for patients with autoimmune issues and leaky gut.  I have been pulling my information from a number of sources, but my go-to has been Paleo Mom.  She gives a great overview of the protocol here.

What is the AIP diet?

The goal is to detox your system of foods and substances that often cause reactions.  The foods allows and disallowed are easily found online and Paleo Mom has some great reference charts.  This strict protocol is to be followed for a minimum of 30 days (although many people find that they are still symptomatic and need to follow it for longer) and then start reintroducing foods in a limited and specific way.  By reintroducing foods slowly, it should be easy to recognize which foods cause symptom flares.  Foods that cause a negative reaction should be removed and kept out of the eating plan for that individual.  The ultimate goal is to finish on the paleo diet with the addition of limiting food that that specific person also reacts too.

Wish me good luck and strength of will to stay on the AIP wagon!

Hashimoto’s: 3 years since my diagnosis

Hashimoto’s: 3 years since my diagnosis

January is Thyroid Disease Awareness Month.  In recognition of this, I thought that a post about my struggles with Hashitmoto’s Thyroiditis was timely.


Before I go into my thoughts, I want to state very clearly that this is my story.  I know lots of people who have thyroid issues and they feel like their lives and health are fully normal when taking their daily dose of Synthroid. Everyone with thyroid problems reacts to them differently, experiences different symptoms, and reacts to treatment differently. This is my story, not anyone else’s.

My initial diagnosis from my family doctor, in 2012, was Hypothyroidism.  After several months of constantly adjusted treatment, my TSH levels were never in the “normal range,” so my doctor referred me to a Endocrinologist.  This specialist tested my antibodies and did a thyroid ultrasound and diagnosed me with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.  I only saw this specialist a few times before I quit seeing him, in favor of another Endocrinologist.  Frankly, he was an ass and had a terrible bedside manner.  He refused to talk to me, telling me he would “send me a letter” and when I inquired about dealing with the weight gain caused by my condition, he told me to “eat more salad” over his shoulder as he walked out the door.  My second Endocrinologist was very nice, but he turned me off by refusing to do blood work 50% of the way through my pregnancy because he said “if your levels havent changed yet, they aren’t going to.”  Following this statement, my OB ordered my bloodwork and medication until after my baby was born.  Following my daughter’s birth, I started seeing a new Primary Care doctor.  I am currently on a waiting list to see a Internist, because I am tired of my symptoms being ignored just because my TSH is in the “normal range.”

I was diagnosed 3 1/2 years ago with Hashimoto’s  and the only improvements I have seen are a lessening of complete exhaustion  (at one point I was sleeping up to 20 hours a day), lessening of weight gain, ability to lose weight with medical intervention (phentermine), and an improvement in my ammunition system (which I credit to removing gluten from my diet).

I am on my 5th doctor and on a 7 month waiting list for doctor #6. So far all the doctors generally ignore my symptoms.

The only meds I have been able to get prescribed are levothyroxine. While my TSH and T4 are checked regularly, other tests are rarely done or have only been done once. Generally my inquiry for more tests is met with the doctor ignoring me or making me feel dumb. I’ve had my antibodies checked once, my vitamin D checked once, and my free T3 and free T4 checked once or twice. I’ve also been tested for anemia. That’s it.

My symptoms include: fatigue, difficulty swallowing/”thick saliva”, dry skin, itchiness, difficulty sleeping at night, occasional restless leg syndrome, waking up tired after a full night’s sleep, easily bruised , brain fog, forgetfulness, halitosis, receding and bleeding gums, seborrhetc dermatitis (I think – this is a self diagnosis, but again the doctors have been ignoring me), hair loss, nail ridges, keratosis pilaris, anxiety, gritting teeth/clenching jaw, periodic hot flashes (primarily at night), difficulty regulating temperature /cold intolerance, varicose veins, IBS, difficulty losing weight, sensitivity to gluten, muscle and joint pain, and tingling/numbness in legs and feet, pain in soles of feet.

We can all agree that when the thermostat is set to 75 degrees I shouldn’t need to sleep with three blankets, an electric shawl around my shoulders, and a heating pad between my feet – all while fully dressed, right?

I am very happy to say that to date I have lost 30lbs (based on pre-pregnancy weight) and that I am 10 to 15 pounds from my pre-diagnosis weight, but 100% of this weightloss had been attributed to the phentermine.  I am scared to death of what will happen to my body after I go off this medication.  I am scared that the weight will pile back on and I am scared that I will start reverting back to my super fatigue state.  Right now, I strongly believe that the phentermine is keeping my energy levels fairly normal.  I know most people experience rapid heart rate and a hyper state on phentermine, but on days I dont take it, I feel like a zombie.  Even on days I take it, I fight brain fog, but on days I dont take it, I really have trouble functioning.  I guess I think that it is masking my super fatigue symptoms.

Again, I know lots of people suffer from thyroid issues.  Thyroid problems are one of the most common illnesses in women.  However, I am only 32 years old and I most days I feel like I am living detached from my body and that my body cant be mine because a 32 year old shouldnt feel like I do.  Everyday I think: how bad will my feet hurt today?, Will I be able to focus as I drive to work today or while on the phone during my conference call?, Should I take my electric shawl to work today to use in conjunction with my space heater?, Will my staff think I dont shower because my scalp is flaking so badly?, Oh, how long have I been scratching that spot on my arm – there are scabs there now?.  Are these normal thoughts for a 32 year old?

Why should I be willing to wait 7 months to see a doctor (#6)? Why are my symptoms ignored? Why wont someone run a vitamin deficiency panel or consider putting me on a treatment other than Synthroid?

Could I live my life and put on a happy face, letting the world think I am happy and healthy? I could, but I am honest with myself and honest with those who live their lives around me.  I am not the person I think I should be – I think I could be happier and healthier, but I need someone to listen to me. I want a doctor to care. If my symptoms are untreatable and I just have to live with them, then fine – but damn it, at least someone should care enough to find out if something is causing my symptoms and if that something is treatable!


My name is Ashley Graves and I have Hashimoto’s.  I am 32 years old, a wife, a mother, a professional, and an educated woman.  I will learn everything I can about my illness and I will advocate for the best healthcare available to me. I will live my life to the fullest I am able and I will not let other people tell me how I “should” feel.

In order to be the best mother I can be, I need to show my daughter that I am important, that she is important, that our health is important. I want to be in my best possible health, so I can be there for her and I want to ensure that she grows up knowing that advocating for yourself is important.

My illness maybe lifelong, but my symptoms dont have to be.  I am dedicated to being my own best advocate.


Gluten Free: a beginner’s guide

I started my Gluten Free journey in June of this year, after educating myself about my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and ways I could reduce my symptoms and make myself healthier.

I wont go into a lot about my illness, because I have posted about it before, but I will say that since going gluten free, I have been healthier.  Prior to changing my diet, I was sick a lot and when I had a cold or something similar it hung around for weeks.  Since my change in diet, I have not been sick once.  My headaches have mostly disappeared and I have not had a cold or sinus infection.  The one exception to this was the one time I ate macaroni and cheese (even though I knew better).

Enough of that.  This post is not about my health.  This post is about the resources I have found that make eating gluten free easier.

Before going gluten free myself, I had heard a little about the diet, but I really hadn’t paid that much attention.  Therefore making the change was a huge task.  I educated myself about how my body reacted to gluten (mine is an immune response), what gluten actually was, what types of foods I was going to have to give up, and where I could find information about gluten free alternatives.

This post is what I wish I had found on day 1.  No its not a fancy list with eloquent reasons why or introductions to each link, but you know what? I’m not a fancy person.  I like facts, and I dont like fluff.  So here is a list.  A simple (and by not means all inclusive) list of websites, blogs, etc. that I have found useful in the last several months of my gluten free journey.  I hope it helps.

Informational Resources about Gluten and Hashimoto’s :

Discussion Boards about Gluten and/or Hashimoto’s:

Websites and Web Resources:

Gluten Free Blogs (My favorites):

Other Resources:
  • Living Gluten-Free for Dummies (Book)
  • Gluten-Free Made Easy As 1, 2, 3 (Book)
  • The Essential Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide (Book)
  • 2012/2013 Gluten-Free Grocery Shopping Guide (Book)
  • Find Me Gluten Free (App)
  • Is That Gluten Free? (App)