Archive | March, 2014

Holistic Ebony Shout-out, Calories Schmalories & the Autoimmune Protocol

9 Mar

I recently secured an internship with  If you haven’t yet, check out my staff writer bio here:, my first article here:, and my newest article here: Holistic Ebony is dedicated to the pursuit of holistic wellness (right up my alley of course).  Feel free to check out the rest of the site!  Let me know if there are any topics you would like me to explore in an article/blog post.  I will take any excuse to research an interesting topic that I can get!


Towards the end of February, I was undergoing a 3 week calorie counting quest.  By the end of the second week, I had almost lost another pound (0.8 to be exact).  Instead of charging forward for a third week, however, I decided to throw in the towel.  I have come to the conclusion that calorie counting for a short period (say a week or 2) is a nice way to get an idea of how many calories are in the foods you commonly eat.  It’s a good reminder to see that a slice of your favorite pie has enough calories to constitute a meal.

But beyond that, I hated it!

My original guidelines for calorie intake were derived from my current weight, creating a deficit intended to lower it at a predictable rate.  As mentioned, I was feeling hungry and as though my body knew more than what the formulas decided for me.  Imagine that, inner wisdom vs conventional wisdom!  I increased my calories accordingly.  The calorie counting approach isn’t really compatible with the Appetite Awareness Training I just went through (check out January 2014 archives:  I’m not sure a person can eat according to their appetite while trying to reach a specific calorie goal set by somewhat arbitrary measures.  Many people with eating disorders use calorie counting to fuel their methods.

I was told by several current/former calorie counting women in my life that their goal was 1200 calories/day.  This is the bare minimum number of calories recommended for women seeking weight loss.  If you go too low, your efforts will be counterproductive, because your body will assume starvation and hold on to every last calorie you feed it.  I’m not a fan of this 1200 calorie goal.  I feel it’s far too low for the average woman.  Perhaps weight loss is possible with such restrictions, but do you really want to spend the rest of your life eating 1200 calories?!  Your metabolism will follow suit when eating so little.  It will likely set you up for greater weight gain in the future should you decide that a life restrained by 1200 calories per day is not a life worth living.

I’m just proud of myself for sticking to calorie counting for 2 whole weeks now that I’ve decided it’s a stupid waste of time! 😉  To each their own I spose.

The best thing I gained from calorie counting was the motivation to exercise (so I could eat more calories)!  I started making regular exercise a habit, and it’s been incredibly beneficial.  My arm muscles feel stronger, so my neck muscles are less ravaged.  This translates into less tension headaches (one of my biggest nemeses).  Yes please!

My new weight goal goes something like this: meh.  I’d rather just focus on balancing happiness with dietary freedom/restriction & feeling well.  Whether this equates to stuffing myself silly with corn chips and dancing until the sun rises or eating Paleo stews and sleeping for nine hours, so be it.  Life is too short.  My weight is no longer a burden, because I’ve decided it doesn’t matter.  I wanted to tackle my unhealthy relationship with food, and I’ve been doing a good job of that.  If eating normally doesn’t mean fitting into my wedding dress ever again, so be it.


Currently, I am following the Autoimmune Protocol created by Sarah Ballantyne, the blogger behind the Paleo Mom:  The diet is outlined on her page and in her new book:’s very restrictive.  Basically I can eat meat, most vegetables (no nightshades), fruit in moderate amounts (aiming to keep under 20 grams of fructose per day), certain fats (such as avocado and coconut oil), and some herbs/spices.  For more information as to why such a diet could help alleviate autoimmune disease, check out her blog and/or book.  You’ll find plenty of info! (Hint: It’s those damn leaky guts again!)

I am 1 week in and feeling so-so.  Anytime I cut back on carbs, I can count on feeling fatigued and cranky.  I’ve also been sleeping poorly.  Eating carbohydrates boosts serotonin production.  Serotonin is a precursor for melatonin, a vital sleep hormone.  Paleo advocates often recommend circumventing this problem by adding more carbohydrates to your evening meal or eating a Tbsp of raw honey before bed.  I haven’t been skimping on carbs too much.  I eat squash and/or sweet potatoes at least once a day.  Maybe I just need to focus on better timing.  These symptoms are supposed to be temporary, but I hope my patience can hold out.  I want to follow this diet for 2 more weeks, and then start reintroducing foods to see if I notice any correlations with fibro flares: 

Autoimmune disease refers to a condition in which the body attacks itself.  Diagnosis is dependent on where/how this occurs within the body.  Multiple sclerosis suggests an attack on your myelin sheath, rheumatoid arthritis strikes your joints, Crohn’s disease wreaks havoc on your digestive tract, etc.  For a complete list of autoimmune & autoimmune-related diseases, check out this link:  There’s a lot!  Currently, fibromyalgia is not classified as an autoimmune disease, but it has been speculated to have autoimmune origins and often coexists with autoimmune illness.  For example, Raynaud’s phenomenon: (which I experience) is common in fibromyalgia sufferers, and it’s considered an autoimmune disorder.

The first few days of a restrictive diet are usually the hardest.  I’ve survived 7 days.  Can I make it 14 more?

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…