Our Magical Wedding Day

TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand063

TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand034

I’ve been a little quiet on the posting front over the past few months. And this is why. I got married to my best friend and soul mate on July 26th, 2016, in Koh Samui, Thailand surrounded by 35 of our dearest friends and family.

It took a bit of planning around my full time (plus some) job and hence, blogging fell by the wayside for a little. Sorry!

I’m going to let the photos do the talking today (for once) and in a future post I’m going to talk about my advice for a healthy and stress-free wedding. Stay tuned.

Finally, I wanted to do a HUGE shoutout to Tristan from The Bow Wedding Photography who took our truly amazing photos. He is a wedding photography superstar! I’ve included an abbreviated version below but you can find his full play by play right over here. 

TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand041TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand043TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand044TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand045TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand046TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand051TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand053TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand054TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand055TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand059TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand060TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand061TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand158TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand063TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand072TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand073TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand074TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand078TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand080TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand082TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand084TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand099TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand101TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand104TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand109TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand110TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand114TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand121TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand123TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand124TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand127TB_VillaKalyana_KohSamui_WeddingPhotographer_Thailand133

I hope you enjoyed. Also, I’d love to hear from you about your wedding day or your wedding plans! Please comment below email me at bec@anautoimmuneapproach.com

To your happily ever afters.

xx Bec

 

My unexpected brush with a little known eating disorder – Orthrexia

photo-1463490093487-b0ffe9b8e140Image by Lukas

A few years ago as a response to trying to course correct my health, I went through a phase where I became overly obsessed and strict with healthy eating, unwittingly dipping into a form of eating disorder I now know is called Orthrexia.

In part, I think this started after I began eating a vegetarian diet (well, pescetarian actually, but whose counting) and saw some health improvements. I actually even went into remission for a short time and I think mistakenly I attributed this solely to the diet. To be honest I don’t even think it was true ‘remission’. I think it was just that my thyroid levels were killed enough from the suppression drugs I was on, that they didn’t have to treat me with them anymore. I still had antibodies but traditional medicine looks only at the symptom levels as a diagnosis. I digress – probably another article for another day…

After I was re-diagnosed (or my thyroid levels went lower than healthy and I was officially diagnosed with Hashimotos), I was disheartened and I latched onto what I thought fixed the problem before. I was already well on my way to eliminating gluten, and next I started quitting sugar. Eventually I was eating pretty close to paleo, minus the meat.

I’m not going to stand here and state that much of the above is theoretically wrong. In fact, I truly believe from my research that a paleo diet is the best thing you can do for an autoimmune disease (more on that here). The problem was that I slowly slipped into an obsessive state, where I fretted on everything that entered my mouth. I was hard to eat with and I had friends and family sort of tip-toe-ing around my diet. It was at the point where I would only eat a paleo cake for my birthday! Not only was I obsessing about the quality of what I ate, but due to the ongoing sensitivity I’ve had around my post-sickness weight, I was obsessing over the quantity as well. I was pretty restrictive at times, but I found it impossible not to give into my sweet tooth – I was finding any way I could to get my dessert paleo style.

Orthorexia isn’t very well known and honestly I believe because of this, I didn’t realize I had a problem, despite my friends and family making comments about my obsessiveness – I felt they just didn’t understand I was doing this for my health!

What made me truly have the realization I needed was this article by Jordan Younger that I came across. She writes “During my recovery process, I learned that the “superhuman willpower” I’d exercised for so long is a typical eating-disorder warning sign. I was trying to control my life through food”.

These words were the clincher for me.Control. Superhuman Willpower. This was what was making me feel good about my diet and my health. I have experienced many moments since my Graves Disease diagnosis where I feel hopeless and out of control of my own body. Food was the one thing I felt I could control when it came to my health. It was definitely my perfectionism trait taking over again. But it wasn’t working. My skin was terrible, my periods were all over the place, and my antibodies and thyroid levels weren’t getting better. In fact, they were getting worse. I realize now that my Orthrexia was actually causing additional stress on my digestion and my body causing more harm than good.

I’ve had to go through a full mental undoing process with my diet where under the guidance of my amazing nutritionist, I actually reintroduced meat back into my diet, and had to eat more than I would have liked (6 meals a day) and purposefully allow myself to ‘splurge’ outside of my strict ways. For me, I consciously made sure that 20% of meals weren’t strictly ‘healthy’. I also focused on eating mindfully and saying affirmations while I eat. Affirmations like ‘This food nourishes me and makes my body healthy’, or ‘I allow myself to enjoy this blissful food’. I found that positive body affirmations and meeting my amazing fiancé  helped as it all comes back to self-esteem.

But I’m not going to lie – I continue to struggle with this from time to time, as for me it can be a very fine line between eating a clean, and not obsessing over it.

I’d love to hear if anyone else struggles with or has struggled with Orthrexia as part of their health journey and how they have overcome it. Feel free to email me at bec@anautoimmuneapproach.com or comment below.

Paleo Lasagna

IMG_1221

I’m always trying to find new (paleo-ish) ways to enjoy recipies I used to love before my AI diagnosis and learning all I now know about nutritition. Lasagna is fragrant & warming perfect for colder nights or when you just feel like an Italian feast

Ingredients

Bolognese:

  • 2 cloves Garlic diced or
  • 1 Brown Onion diced
  • 150 grams / ¼ Pound Mushrooms diced
  • 1 Pound / 500gms Ground beef
  • 1 can Puréed Tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 5 cups Wine and/or Beef Bone Broth
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Herbs (I use a little nutmeg, Oregano & Basil)
  • A dash of Apple Cider Vinegar (Optional)
  • Chili to taste

‘Pasta’

  • 1.5 pounds thinly sliced Eggplant and / or Thinly sliced zucchini – cut the veggies length ways

White Sauce:

  • 2 cups Coconut Milk
  • 1/5 cup Arrowroot powder (This is the thickener. You could use Corn flour as well)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 tbsp Yeast flakes

Method:

Preheat 180C / 350F oven. Heat pan and add 1 tbsp coconut oil or oil of choice. Add Onions & Garlic and sauté until transparent. Add mushrooms & meat, and sauté until the meat is brown. Add the tomatoes & tomato paste, and wine / broth, salt, pepper & herbs. Simmer for a while until it’s reduced (Min 20 mins, but can be done up until an hour for tastier sauce). Add vinegar & chili approx 10 mins before you finish simmering.

While the Bolognese is thickening, prepare the ‘pasta’ veggies. Wash and cut the Eggplant & Zucchini thinly – Try for thinner than 0.5 cm or 1/4 an inch. You could also use a mandolin for best results. Make sure you cut long ways. Place on a lined baking tray and bake in the 180 C oven for 10 mins.

While the ‘Pasta’ are baking and the Bolognese is still reducing, you can make the white sauce. Add arrowroot flower to a saucepan. Slowly add a tiny bit of the coconut milk to make a thick paste. Add to heat over gentle / low stove. Slowly add the remainder of the milk, whilst whisking to make sure there are no lumps. Add the salt and pepper and yeast. Stir occasionally whilst heating –but don’t let it get too hot to boil. Eventually this should be a thick consistency. Once this is thick enough, take off the head and let it cool slightly.

You can also cut the ‘pasta’ veggies thinly whilst – Try for thinner than 1 cm. You could also use a mandolin as well. Make sure you cut long ways. .

You’re now ready to assemble! Line or lightly oil the bottom of the lasagna tray. Place veggies at the bottom of your lasagna baking tray, I make sure they are overlaying each other like pasta sheets. Over this, add Bolognese sauce, then another layer of veggies. Follow that with the white sauce, another layer of Bolognese, then veggies then top with white sauce. Finally I top mine with some tomatoes and sprinkle with yeast and salt & pepper. Bake for 30 mins in 180 degrees until the top browns.

Slice and Enjoy!

 

Inflammation and Autoimmune Disease + An Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric Latte Recipe

photo-1449149988769-3e30c0e9d61eImage by Francisco

I’ve talked about the effects of chronic systemic inflammation on autoimmune diseases briefly here and here, but I believe it’s one of the most important topics when it comes to autoimmune disease so I wanted to do a special post specifically covering inflammation.

To begin, I thought I would quickly detail why your body needs inflammation. If you hurt yourself, your body swells. This process of acute inflammation is your immune system’s way of rushing to the scene of the injury to make sure that pathogens don’t get & ensuring repair by literally ‘localising’ the damage. Inflammation is a vital for normal immune and repair processes to occur in the body.

But it’s when the inflammation is not controlled where problems begin.

Chronic Systemic Inflammation is your body’s immune response to stress and bad diet. When your body’s cortisol levels are raised or pathogens are getting in via a Leaky Gut, it produces inflammation to counterbalance this cortisol or pathogen. And once inflammation is active, it is highly self-perpetuating. Especially when the root cause isn’t going away.

Inflammation contributes to autoimmune disease as the self perpetuating elements (cytokines and chemokines) summon more and more destructive immune system fighters — cells like T cells — to the area, amplifying the inflammatory response and eventually causing an immune response.

Dr Hyman sums it up perfectly: “Autoimmune conditions are connected by one central biochemical process: A runaway immune response also known as systemic inflammation that results in your body attacking its own tissues.”

Unfortunately, it’s safe to say that if you have an autoimmune disease, you have chronic inflammation. But how to you treat inflammation? The good news is you can test for chronic inflammation via a blood test to note where you are. A few tests to ask your doctor about are:

  • C-reactive protein (CRP)
  • Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate

Then there’s diet. Reducing inflammatory foods like Gluten, sugar and trans fats is critical. Adding anti-inflammatory foods like ‘good’ Omega 3 fats, fruits and vegetables will also help. Antioxidants are known to reduce the cell damage caused by inflammation.

Turmeric is another great ingredient that helps to curb inflammation because it contains the chemical curcumin, which fights inflammation at the molecular level.

I try to sprinkle turmeric on pretty much every savoury meal I eat (but remember to add black pepper too to help activate!) but finding new (and sweet!) ways to have turmeric is exciting, so I thought I would share a Turmeric Latte Recipe below. You can enjoy as an afternoon Pick-Me-Up or alternate to coffee!

Turmeric Latte Recipe

IMG_5586

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Coconut Milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1 Tbsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 heaped tsp sweetener (Rice Malt Syrup or Stevia etc). Add more or less depending on how sweet you want it.
  • Pinch black pepper (to activate the Turmeric)

Method:

  • Heat the milk over the stove. I froth my milk to make it feel like a true latte. If you have access to a milk frother / foam maker. I would recommend doing this whilst heating.
  • Place all other ingredients into the cup
  • Once the milk is heated enough, pour a little into the ingredient mix and stir so it becomes a thick paste. This will help to ensure it’s mixed well with no
  • Once the paste is well mixed, you can slowly pour the remainder of the milk in whilst stirring.

Enjoy!

I have a really weird habit – And it mimics my disease

photo-1427324301858-41039f1e0c32Image by Roberto 

This is probably the most embarrassing thing I will ever disclose here on my blog. I pick at my lip. I do it in times of stress and in times of boredom. Right now you might be thinking ‘What is she on about – it’s not that bad – lots of normal people have an occasional nervous habit!’ but this is not normal. It’s constant. Obsessive even. I am probably doing it more than half of the day (and yes I’m counting sleep!)

So why do I do this? It’s not conscious. But I suspect it’s my ‘chronic anxiety’. This is actually a pretty recent discovery because I always thought I was not a stressed person. This sounds like a pretty crazy juxtaposition so stay with me a minute here while I try explain: I’m not outwardly stressed. By this I mean I generally seem composed and I don’t seem to let much phase me. On the outside. I could be jumping out of a plane with David Beckham (My Ultimate) whilst looking deadpan-calm-slash-Resting-Bitch-Face and picking my lip to oblivion. Literally I would be the celeb-crushing–skydiving-girl with no lip left.

And I genuinely thought: I. Was. Not. A. Stressed. Person? I look back now and actually Lol at this statement. I AM A HIGHLY STRESSED PERSON! It’s just that I internalize my stress. In the form of anxiety. I actually went through a serious period of my life thinking that picking my lip was not related to anxiety, which I definitely didn’t have.

So what does this have to do with my autoimmune disease? It’s well documented that one of the causal factors in autoimmune disease is chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is your body’s response to stress. When anxious, your body raises cortisol levels and inflammation is actually meant to counterbalance this stress. So the more cortisol you have, the more inflammation you produce. But cortisol is not meant to be constantly running rampant in your body, which means neither is inflammation. Around and round it goes. And once inflammation is active, it is highly self-perpetuating. Specifically for those with Thyroid Autoimmune disease, Cortisol also inhibits the conversion of storage thyroid hormone to active hormone.

I also can’t deny the irony that this habit physically mimics my autoimmune disease. I attack my lip like my body attacks itself. Coincidence much?

I’ve been trying to stop picking my lip for years, with no luck. Just ask my fiancé, or my closest friends. It actually bugs them beyond belief. But what I’ve realised is that it’s not picking my lip that I need to fix. It’s the underlying cause of my anxiety. As I stated in the beginning, the issue I have is that I get anxious when I am both bored AND stressed, so there needs to be some form of middle ground. I am a person who needs stimulation, so I find traditional stress relievers like meditation and yoga especially hard. But I know I need to get better. Reading and walking is probably my best form of middle ground I can find right now, so I am trying to allocate at least an hour per day to this. And I’m getting my inflammation markers tested now so I’m interested to see if I quantifiably make improvements!

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you if you’ve dealt with similar problems with anxious habits. Just comment below or email me at bec@anautoimmuneapproach.com

Until next time, with Zen love,

Xx

 

 

In Sickness and In Health

Happily_Ever_AfterImage by Ben Rosett

Today marks the 3-month countdown to our July wedding, and it’s gotten me all reflective on ‘wedding planning’ and the effects I think it’s has on my autoimmunity through mind and body stress.

I wouldn’t quite call myself a ‘bride’ type. I keep being asked how my wedding planning is going, and to be honest I can’t help but feel a sort of imposter syndrome. Am I doing it right? I have an incessant feeling like I must have forgotten something because I definitely haven’t found myself busy or overwhelmed by ‘planning a wedding’ as it seems like I should. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t caused its own unique emotional rollercoaster and I can’t help but notice it having an affect on my health.

It’s uncomfortable. At times, I have felt like I am having to please people outside of just the two of us. Taking care of others feelings when it comes to who we invite, and how others think we ‘should’ do things has been a challenging part of planning a wedding. I’ve found it hard to maintain my ‘truth’ and this has caused unwanted turmoil with others.

It can mess with your body image. Trying on wedding dresses was not an enjoyable process for me. Seeing models wearing amazing dresses on Pinterest or Instagram & then comparing them to how they look in reality when you try them on plays on your mind. And it didn’t end there. I ended up buying a sample dress from an amazing NYC salon, which I instantly fell in love with, but was quite comically told I needed to lose10 pounds by the tiny (and untactful) seamstress in broken English. I’ve been teetering a fine line of trying to be healthy and ‘dieting’ at the same time, but have had my fair share of mental challenges that have come with it. I’ll share more on my successes and failures here soon.

 

IMG_4587
Not my actual dress

It can become obsessive compulsive. This one came out of left field for me. I was obsessively spending time on social media looking at everything from wedding bands to makeup to table settings. I was glued to my screen and spending less quality time with my fiancé and just decompressing like I need to do to keep my stress levels at bay. This definitely took it’s toll on my anxiety. I’ve lost valuable sleep literally dreaming about bouquets.

It can be a financial burden. Part of the reason why the dress shopping was not-so-enjoyable for me was that all the dresses I liked were $15K upwards. Seriously! For a SINGLE dress!! Needless to say this is wayyyyyy more than I wanted to ever spend. And it doesn’t stop there. I was shocked at the cost of every-damn-thing-to-do-with-a-wedding! Our wedding is a relatively low-key destination wedding, and we did this partly to keep costs down, but things add up quickly and it’s easy to get carried away. Somehow you are always looking at the slightly more expensive version and thinking it looks /is way better. For my fiancé and I, money is something we are actively choosing to work through because we come from very different money mindsets and it causes anxiety and stress for both of us in different ways.

It’s actually makes me tear up. Embarrassingly, I just watched a bride walk down the isle on the TV and I actually got teary thinking about my own pending nuptials. I’m now resigned to the fact I’m probably going to be an emotional wreck when it comes to our day. Stay tuned.

Last but not least, it’s exciting! I can’t deny that it has made me the absolutely elated to be asked to marry my best friend and soulmate. It’s a beautiful feeling to have someone love every little thing about you and still want to be with you forever. It’s such a memorable time and a beautiful feeling and I wouldn’t change for the world.

It’s been an interesting time to say the least, and combined with a country and job move (minor life changes!), it’s definitely resulted in some health consequences. I’ve had some setbacks with my gut health and my thyroid results over the past year, but it’s absolutely taught me more about the interplay between my emotional and physical health and I’m starting to get things back on track. So for the next 3 months I’m trying to reframe my preparation to focus on the two of us, our health and our wellbeing – because our new marriage deserves the best of health.

With everlasting health and happiness,

Bec

Xx

 

Autoimmunity Is Sometimes Skin Deep

makeupImage by Manu

One of the most visible struggles I’ve had with my Graves / Hashimotos Thyroid Disease is the struggle with acne. I never had bad skin growing up and through puberty. But before I was even diagnosed, this quickly became one of the symptoms telling me something wasn’t right.

I struggled with pretty bad acne from my diagnosis, until about a year ago. Almost every doctor I saw in that 8 year period said that my autoimmune condition shouldn’t affect my skin. But what I was seeing showed otherwise! It was frustrating, embarrassing and at some times devastating. I’ve cried to myself in front of the mirror. I’ve cried silent tears in a beautician’s chair while enduring painful procedures. I’ve spent thousands of dollars on supplements, potions and appointments. And for years not much worked.

I usually avoided photos, but I managed to dig up a few holiday snaps sans makeup with cheek acne on full show …

It didn’t change with medication and dosage changes. It didn’t (largely) change regardless of the products I used on my face. It didn’t even change depending on how healthy I ate or what supplements I took.

That was until early last year when almost overnight, it cleared up. I’ve been trying to retrospectively assess the changes I made in the lead up to the somewhat sudden change, in the hope to pinpoint some answers, because I know this was such a sore point for me and I hope to help others who may be experiencing similarly frustrating and unexplained symptoms.

To make a somewhat obvious caveat here, the following is what I THINK worked for me, but I can’t scientifically back this up nor am I a medical professional. I’m just detailing the changes I made (in order) in the lead up to my skin transformation.=

  • I did a gut dysbiosis protocol – I underwent tests that showed my intestinal tract was overrun with bad bacteria, so under the direction of my holistic nutritionist, I naturally got rid of bad bacteria & possible parasites that were in my gut, whilst also rebuilding the good bacteria with probiotics
  • I worked on healing my Leaky Gut. More on this here.

With these 2 conditions, it didn’t matter how healthy I ate or what supplements I was taking. I wasn’t absorbing nutrients I needed and the ‘bad’ was clearly overtaking the good. Toxins were rampant in my blood system from food particles and my skin was simply showcasing my inside health conditions, stemming from my gut.

After these protocols, I started taking the right supplements I needed based on my blood tests. I also ensured my Thyroid medications were making my hormone levels steady. For me I still can’t decouple the fact that if your Thyroid controls many of your hormones including your sex hormones, and off-skew hormones can cause skin issues.

I now get why my doctors were saying it wasn’t my autoimmune disease that DIRECTLY wasn’t causing my acne; it was more the causative & correlative issues that were affecting it. But if you look at the condition holistically, it makes sense why my acne was providing the biggest warning sign of all.

I want to be clear here though, that none of this provided instant relief or a fix. This was nearly 9 months of dedication to holistic healing. I do believe this was all necessary long-term foundational work that built up over time, but at the time I didn’t see results I wanted to.

So what was the most unexpected clincher for me? The only thing I can attribute to the ‘overnight’ effect was meeting my now-fiancé. Almost instantly, with his love I think it helped to heal me emotionally. He made me feel beautiful and much less stressed and excited about our future. I truly believe this was the last and most important thing to fall into place. Now I’m not saying you need to fall in love to make your skin better. But I am saying there is an emotional stress and perpetuating self-critical factor I think is at play.

IMG_5313.JPGAs you can tell, I’m so excited about my new skin I’m upping my #nomakeupselfie game

If skin is an issue for you, I believe it’s all about healing from the gut first. Your skin is telling you what is going on in your body, so if it’s off, something’s off. But you also can’t deny the power of emotional stress on your body and your skin. Thinking honestly about what is emotionally stressing you and trying to address this is key. It’s the best feeling in the world being able to put your best #nomakeupselfie face forward after years of embarrassment and I hope you can experience this soon! Feel free to email me at bec@anautoimmuneapproach.com or comment below if you want to share your experience or ask me any more questions.

Until next time, with glowing love and care,

Bec

X