Managing to stick with the Autoimmune Protocol/Paleo Approach while visiting family over Thanksgiving holidays is easy when family is open to try new foods or familiar foods prepared in new ways.
First clue: An afternoon headache — I never get those.
Second clue: Several days of increased thumb swelling and generalized achiness in my hands, beginning the morning after the headache.
Investigation: Using my food diary, an essential tool in my healing process, I started a probe into the reaction (aka “setback”) I was having.
I asked myself: Could the reaction be due to grain exposure from feeding our chickens while my spouse was out of town? (We throw cracked corn to lure our eight chickens back into their enclosure for predator-free overnighting after they spend the day grazing freely. Since they have not yet been transitioned to paleo, feeding them involved reaching my hand and arm into a feed sack to scoop their gluten-laden treat and tossing it into their pen, which often results in a puff of grain dust rising up from the ground.) Did I get that headache before or after feeding them?… I can’t be sure–that detail was not noted in my food diary.
What was noted though, was that shortly before that headache, I had sampled homemade sauerkraut for the first time. And that I had eaten some at lunch for the next two days. Hmmm… Time to reach for another essential tool in my healing process: the internet. A search on “homemade sauerkraut” and “headache” and “joint pain” returned a possible piece of the puzzle: that I could have histamine intolerance (HIT).
It is a complicated subject and there are ample resources out there to explain the science behind it, so I won’t venture into explaining it. [The above link is a good starting point for an explanation.]
I will note, though, that many of the recommended foods for Paleo/AIP are high histamine foods, including:
- smoked and cured meats: bacon
- bone broth
- fish (including sardines)
- citrus (the lime part of bacon and lime)
- aged meats
to name just a few. And leftovers.
I am going to pay attention to this, but I am not sure yet about my approach. Have things now become more challenging?… When I first started writing this post I thought they had. But then I checked in with The Paleo Mom, Sarah Ballantyne, PhD, whose Autoimmune Protocol I am following, and I read her encouraging words on the subject and decided to not get all crazy and more restrictive with my intake just now.
One very helpful quote from her post is: “…often health doesn’t come from what you take away, but rather what you add.” So while I will probably scale back my consumption of sauerkraut for the time being, I am going to continue drinking bone broth and eating avocados for awhile. Bacon though? Oh, I hope so!
Another possible cause of the reaction to eating homemade sauerkraut is bacteria die off from the probiotics. Another possibility to explore.
Ooh, I’ve been anticipating the results of another new AIP/Paleo nutritional adventure, another food I have not made before. Five days ago, I shredded a head of cabbage and massaged some sea salt into it.
Then I pressed the salt-wilted cabbage firmly into a glass pitcher, weighted the cabbage with a heavy object and secured a cloth over the pitcher. I tucked the pitcher into a corner on the counter so the cabbage could do its thing: ferment and become sauerkraut. In the paleo & autoimmune protocol (AIP) communities (and no doubt others), sauerkraut is prized for its nutrient-dense, probiotic, vitamin and digestive-enzyme rich deliciousness. It can ferment for up to five months, but according to the recipe I am using, it is okay to begin tasting it after five days. So, today being the 5th day, I couldn’t resist sampling it. I urged out a small test portion and sampled it with my lunch. Hey, I like it — crunchy and sour — well on it’s way. I will keep sampling it daily until it seems just right and then I’ll refrigerate what is left.
I can see that I am going to need to get lots more organic cabbage in here to start fermenting so I can keep a steady supply of this healing goodness on hand. Affordable and easy.
Recipe from: The Paleo Approach Cookbook, Sarah Ballantyne, PhD.