I Took a Morning Walk


Today, I took “one third” of a morning walk. I am pleased, in fact ecstatic, with the progress that represents. I am trying to climb out of a deep physical hole, one more time. My autoimmune flare was a devastating experience. I felt as though I were going to die, even though I knew I was not. That flare took me, into the pits, physically.

The flare started in my mouth and for weeks I could not eat solid food. I dealt with that by relying on my Vitamix blender.The fatigue and muscle aches and joint pains were combined with sharp blinding headaches.

The flare was complicated by the fact when the first headache hit, my brain stopped sending signals to my limbs. I fell. I damaged my left knee. It is a complex structure including a metal and plastic prosthesis, a bone graft, and cerclage wiring which is now partially broken into tiny pieces.

This structure did not appreciate slamming down on a concrete subfloor covered by a thin layer of carpet. In addition, I sprained two toes on my left foot during the same fall. That left me without a (good) leg to stand on. (That’s a joke, smile).

Once the flare remitted, I started the process of rehabilitation, again. I tried going to aquatic physical therapy but we could not make the timing work. I am doing my rehab program in the instructional pool on my own. I know what I am supposed to do. The challenge is showing up and putting in the work.

I have not been bedridden. I have obtained and prepared my own food from the start. I sometimes go out to shop for groceries and to pick up my medicines. There are numerous supermarkets within my driving range. However, none of them offer items like “grassfed beef bones.” These l have delivered.   Once I was mobile, I started to going to the pool. I love the pool. 

Still, I missed my morning walks. So today I gave it a try. I am weak. I have lost much of the strength and muscle mass that I developed during my last rehab effort. I am in pain. Both legs are problematic. I waddle and limp. I can’t find a lack rhythm for my stride. There is no cadence that works for me. Nevertheless, I walked for 20 minutes. I consider that an accomplishment.

In addition to physical activity, I have been paying attention to nutrition. I have not strayed far from the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). Homemade bone broth, cooked in an instant pot is an extremely important part of my recovery.

As hurricane Florence threatened Virginia, I experimented with cooking a whole chicken in the instant pot. I loved it. Today I ordered another whole free range chicken from Whole Foods. Free range chicken is expensive. However, I use every part of the chicken. I waste nothing. They were out of stock. I will search stores closer to me to find the best chicken available. I will continue to do the best that I can to eat clean.

I am trying to increase my strength, flexibility, and overall wellbeing  I am coping more effectively with stress than before the flare. I am engaged in the appropriate spiritual and religious activities. I am engaging in appropriate physical activity. I am eating an appropriate diet.  

I am celebrating my 72nd birthday day by starting the rehab process over again. I have started over again many times since my first autoimmune diagnosis 62 years ago. The birth defects have increased the difficulty level. Yet, I persist. To persist is my nature. I am not responsible for the outcome. I am responsible for the effort. Today I made an effort to walk. I am pleased by the effort. 

From Whole Foods to the Ultra-Processed

I often mention that I have long preferred a nutrient dense whole foods dietary style.

Nutrient dense foods are foods that have a high proportion of nutrients relative to the calories they contain.

Whole foods are foods that are unprocessed and unrefined, or processed and refined as little as possible, before being consumed” (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whole_food).

It is important to note that “processed” foods are not a single category, but rather a continuum. Rice provides excellent examples. Human beings cannot eat rice until the outer most hull has been removed.

The process that produces brown rice removes only the outermost layer, the hull, of the rice kernel and is the least damaging to its nutritional value. The complete milling and polishing that converts brown rice into white rice destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids. Fully milled and polished white rice is required to be “enriched” with vitamins B1, B3, and iron. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=128

Even though it has been processed through the removal of its outer hull, brown rice continues to be a “whole food.” White rice is not a whole food. It has gone through stages of processing that involve removing nutrients and replacing some of them through the process of “enrichment.”

Food manufacturers take the processing of rice further. They precook both brown and white rice to make instant or microwaveable rice. That often involves adding some form of oil. It can sometimes require additional enrichment.

At what is now the far end of the spectrum, manufacturers will go beyond simply precooking the rice. They will include oil, salt, sugar[1], unnamed spices, and other “food additives.” Let’s look at the ingredients in Uncle Ben’s trademarked Ready Rice Jambalaya.[2]


On the real-world package, this list of ingredients is too long for me to read without adjusting my eyeglasses. That immediately violates one of the most important “food rules” that I have adopted. The longer the list of ingredients, the more highly processed the product is likely to be. For people who need a number, I suggest the “five ingredient” rule from Michael Pollan’s Food Rules. This blogger lists each of the 64 rules from Pollan’s book. Pollan drew these works from previous works such as In Defense of Food.


Marian Nestle’s Food Politics remains the first work to read when trying to understand how individual food choices are influenced by the food industry in ways that many grandmothers never imaged. Even with our staggering rates of obesity, human beings only have so much room in their stomachs. To provide profits to their share holders, food manufacturers compete for that limited stomach space through the use food science and psychology. They wage expertly enticing advertising campaigns and they influence the food policies set by our government agencies.

In this short video on navigating the supermarket, Michael Pollan and Michael Moss introduce the distinction between whole foods, processed foods and ultra-processed foods.

Watch “Navigating the Supermarket Aisles with Michael Pollan and Michael Moss | The New York Times” on YouTube


A 2016 research article in the BMJ offered the following definition of ultra-processed foods.

Ultra-processed foods were defined as industrial formulations which, besides salt, sugar, oils and fats, include substances not used in culinary preparations, in particular additives used to imitate sensorial qualities of minimally processed foods and their culinary preparations. https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/6/3/e009892

This study found that almost 60% of the calories in an average American diet come from these ultra-processed foods. They provide 90 percent of the excess sugar calories that Americans consume. The high consumption of added sugars in the US is seen as contributing to excess obesity, type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension and coronary heart disease.

Scientists are investigating the role that the additives in ultra-processed foods play in health with recent research linking them to cancer. It should also be remembered that a small, but not unimportant, number of people are sensitive to or allergic to these additives, even one at a time.

12 Common Food Additives – Should You Avoid Them


The first elimination diet should be the elimination of ultra-processed foods. Only by eliminating this manufactured food like products will are people able to determine if the industrial components have a negative impact on their health. Once they have successfully eliminated these edible food like substances, they will be able to try dietary styles, like the Autoimmune Protocol, that require the elimination of certain whole foods.

For some people the switch to a nutrient dense whole foods diet is enough to dramatically improve health indicators. For those who require more extensive protocols, it is the necessary first step.




  1. Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared. This does not include naturally occurring sugars such as those in milk and fruits. When nutritionists a(nd nutrition educators talk about the high rate of sugar consumption, we are usually talking about the added sugars that are often invisible to people who do not read labels or understand the potential health consequences of ultra-processed foods.
  2. I did not miss the genetically modified notice. That is simply a topic for another day.

(If you buy from Amazon using one of the links that I supply, they will not  pay me a small commission. I am not a good salesperson and did not make the cut.  Not a problem. ALWAYS TRY YOUR PUBLIC LIBRARY.)




Lupus Remission: Calming the Wolf

“From my perspective it seems that each person who has lupus starts from a different point and follows a unique set of pathways in developing lupus.” Thomas, Donald E. 2014. The lupus encyclopedia: a comprehensive guide for patients and families. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

I was asked to explain how I arrived at a place where analyses of my blood find none of the abnormalities associated with lupus. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, the word “remission” is appropriate in this situation. I am “in remission on medication.” I take hydroxychloroquine and at present have no symptoms that can be seen solely as manifestations of lupus.

The Wolf that was once tearing my life apart is now resting quietly at the foot of my bed. I believe that the Wolf is quiet because I took charge of my health. I took charge of learning and doing what was best for me. I learned that many of my most painful symptoms were not caused by lupus. These symptoms were being caused by structural defects with which I was born. I learned to recognize what triggered lupus flares (an increase in the frequency and intensity of symptoms) in me. I learned to protect myself from the triggers. I avoid them or mitigate them impact.

Remember, this is my narrative. It is an attempt to describe my unique pathways. The uniqueness of each person’s experience in developing lupus is part of its continuing mystery. It is this uniqueness which makes lupus so difficult to diagnose and to treat. It is also this uniqueness which means that those patients who take charge of the disease(s) manifestations in their own life fare the best. We follow a unique set of pathways in developing lupus and we need unique, even if overlapping, pathways to remission.


This is another question that the Lupus Foundation of America answers very clearly. The answer is a resounding “NO.”


This is the paragraph which best describes my experience over the past 50 years.

“In some people, lupus will flare, become inactive (quiescent), and go into remission—this course of the disease may or may not occur regularly throughout their life.”

I understand that not everyone shares my experiences. I experienced my first autoimmune/chronic inflammatory disease, rheumatic fever, at age 10. My first serious lupus flare occurred after the birth of my first child, more than 50 years ago. The frequency and intensity of my lupus flares decreased after menopause. This indicates that in my case the sex hormone estrogen played a role in the severity of lupus.

Unfortunately, the years leading up to menopause were very difficult because none of my physicians recognized that I was also dealing with Hashimoto’s Autoimmune Thyroiditis.

By the time the hypothyroidism was diagnosed, both my thyroid gland and my ovaries were no longer working. I had also learned to identify other things that triggered lupus flares. These triggers arouse the Wolf in me.




I am extremely photosensitive. I am even sensitive to the UV from florescent lights. The sun is my enemy. I avoid it and protect myself from its UV rays as though my life depends on it. It does.


Because I avoid exposure to UV, I MUST SUPPLEMENT VITAMIN D.

Barometric Pressure

I am also extremely sensitive to changes in seasons and weather patterns. The change from winter to spring and the change from fall to winter is traumatic every year. As a small child, I lived in a rural community where older people spoke of the impact of changing weather as “the rheumatism.” They did not have a physician who was a rheumatologist. I do.

I am especially sensitive to changes in barometric pressure. A change of 10 millibars can knock me off my feet. I live in the mid-Atlantic and once winter has finally changed into spring, I watch the weather reports and prepare for the summer storms as another matter of survival. I have barometric pressure apps on all my mobile devices.

When a “big storm” comes, I am going down. The electrical power will also go down. The first question is will I have all the supplies that I need until I am once again mobile. Needs include water, food, and medicine. The second question is do I have appropriate amusements. I like to keep my gas tank full because my automobile is a giant battery charger.

Other locales present other problems. I have lived in: Chicago (too cold), Southern California and Arizona (too much sunlight), the Gulf – of Mexico- Coast (too much sunlight and much too close the summer storms). People with lupus are sensitive to weather patterns. As my son announced at age three, “Where ever you go there is weather.” If you have lupus and you want to have a life, you must adapt to the weather patterns of the area in which you live. You must pay attention to them.


There are foods and food additives that increase my lupus symptoms. I avoid additives by avoiding packaged and processed foods. I consider much of what is sold in supermarkets to be manufactured food like substances, rather than food.

Like most people, even those without lupus, I feel better when I eat a nutrient dense whole foods diet. I have a strong preference for traditional dietary styles.

Before the rise of 24 hour minimarts, vending machines, and fast food delivery, traditional diets rooted in wholesome, seasonal ingredients nourished families all around the world. https://oldwayspt.org/traditional-diets

I know, however, that I am sensitive to some foods that are included in my preferred traditional nutrient dense diet. Attempting to identify the foods that most impact my health, I recently completed the elimination phase of the Autoimmune Protocol.

I am following the work of Dr. Sarah Ballantyne – The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body. Dr. Ballantyne believes that the Autoimmune Protocol will help people with lupus in several ways including increasing their energy. I think most people with lupus are looking for ways to stop being so tired all the time.

Sedentary Lifestyle

When I am forced to stay in the bed or to only move between my bed and a chair, the Wolf becomes unruly. I need exercise. Over the years, I have spent a great deal of time in physical therapy. When other people say that they are going to the gym, I am most likely headed out to work with my therapist.

Outside of physical therapy, I love the swimming pool. I would rather be at the beach. However, I am photosensitive. So, I get into the pool and visualize myself in the warm clear waters of an Island Paradise. I have been out of the pool for a while now. But getting back to the pool is one of my goals.

I am working on achieving that goal with the simplest exercise of all. I go for walks. I am five months post spine surgery and simply taking a walk is both demanding and satisfying. I tend to go for my walk around 6:00 am. In late May and early June, it is already light outside, but the UV rays are not yet prohibitive. Every step that I take is a battle. I am fighting this battle and I plan to win.


My other major trigger is stress. I have spent years studying stress and learning how to break the stress cycle. I have taken classes, participated in workshops, and worked one on one with teachers and therapists. I have skills.

Like everyone else in the world, I often find myself dealing with the “fight or flight” response. I often fight. Sometimes I flee. When I can neither fight nor flee, I (try to) FLOW. I FLOW through meditation, visualization, and expressive writing.

I FLOW into the kitchen. I love to cook.

I FLOW into reading. I love to learn. Learning helps me to take charge of my health.

This has been my pathway to remission. It has taken me years to calm the Wolf. I work very hard to keep her (Yes, she is female and alpha) quiet because I have other health issues with which I need to deal. Right now, lupus is not biggest problem in my life. It would only take one “quick trip to the store” without appropriate UV protection to change that. If I get distracted and start wandering around the farmers’ market, I could end the day hospitalized.

Doctors who care deeply about their patients know very well that it is the patients who take charge of their diseases who fare the best. Thomas, Donald E. 2014. The lupus encyclopedia: a comprehensive guide for patients and families. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Most of my posts have some connection to my journey through life as a person dealing with autoimmunity. I plan to connect the dots, eventually. I cannot say everything about my journey in a single post. Please be patient with me.

If you have specific questions, I will gladly point you to resources that offer answers. You can respond to this post in public or you can message me for a private conversation. And remember, I would love to hear your story. I would love to learn of the unique pathways that lead you into the lupus maze and how you plan to find your way back out. What awakened the Wolf in you? How do you calm the Wolf in you?


Need Nutrients? Try Bone Broths!

I first posted this blog 11-12-2013. I have reposted it here because bone broths are alsoimportant sources of nutrients and great taste in that Autoimmune Protocol (AIP).


Earlier today a friend asked me for my chicken stock recipe. I had to confess that the recipe did not belong to me but to Sally Fallon. Fallon shares her recipes for chicken, beef, and fish stock on the in the cookbook that she wrote with Mary Enig (Nourishing Tradiions: the cookbook that challenges politically correct nutrition and the diet dictocrats).

Fallon takes a position on almost every controversy that we consider when comparing the health benefits of dietary styles. She definitely believes that traditional animal broths and stocks provide a basis for both tasteful cuisine and good health.

Because Fallon challenges conventional nutritional knowledge so strongly, and provides so many instructions for creating health enhancing traditional foods, there are many websites and blogs that discuss her viewpoints and her recipes. My favorite site is the Nourishing Cook. The creator of this site, Kim Knoch, has set as her goal to cook every recipe in Nourishing Traditions. as her goal. I enjoy reading about her successes and her failures, as well as to how her family responds to each attempt. But what brought Kim to my mind today is her reason for being so committed to nutrient dense foods.

Nutrient-dense eating is personally important to me because I need all of the nutrients that I can get. I had weight loss surgery in 2001 and lost 200 pounds, and as a result of that became severely anemic and had a shortage of other vitamins and minerals in my blood. ‘Nourishing Traditions‘ got my eating back on track. I made sure that everything that I put in my mouth was the best quality that it could be. It worked, and my anemia has been corrected and my vitamin/mineral levels are normal, partly due to the methods that I talk about in this blog. http://thenourishingcook.com/about-2/

Like Kim my friend has had weight loss surgery and is anemic and dealing with other nutritional deficits. My friend also has lupus.  She needs all of the health enhancing nutrients that she can get. Like Kim my friend must cook for a husband as well as for herself. I think that she will enjoy reading about how Kim fits meal planning into a life that includes a husband, two teenagers, a full time job, and even playing in an orc tohestra, while keeping stress at a level that is manageable.

Bone broths are the starting points for many nutritious and delicious recipes. And because they are easy to cook they are a great place to start when considering the benefits of a traditional dietary lifestyle.

People with autoimmune conditions also need all of the nutrients that they can get. Bone broth is both highly nutritious and tasty.

Broth is Beautiful

In 2013 I was still living in my house and had lots of freezer space. I only made bone broth several times a year. Now that I have downsized, I make it more often and  in smaller quantities. I have been trying slow cooker recipes. I do not yet have a favorite. Do you have a favorite bone broth recipe for slow cookers? If so, please share.



Vegetables and the AIP


For years I have lived a nutrient dense whole foods dietary lifestyle. My customary approach to food was disrupted by the growth of a cyst on my spine and the surgery to remove it.  While recovering (or not recovering) from the spine surgery, I decided to transition to the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), slowly. Chronologically, I am 71 years old. Physiologically, I am much older. I approach most things slowly.

I knew that the basis of the AIP in the Paleolithic dietary style meant that I must eliminate grains. I also knew, from reading the early work of Wahls, that I would also need to eliminate legumes and nightshades from my diet.

The first question that I asked was what plant foods can I have on the AIP and how much of them may I eat.  I quickly discovered that vegetables and fruits are very important in the AIP. Because of the nutrients they contribute (fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants), vegetables are not generally limited on the AIP.

My first step into the AIP required that I was getting plenty of vegetables at each meal.


In the Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body, Ballantyne describes the nutritional benefits of leafy vegetables and writes, “Eat as many and as much of these leafy vegetables as you like, ideally with every meal.”


Ballantyne also makes it clear that I am free to choose other nonstarchy vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.






With the few already mentioned exceptions, I am free to choose from roots, tubers, and bulbs.

The bulbs of the aromatic alliums are also valued on the AIP. In addition, I can also choose from “vegetable like fruits” and have some choices from among sea vegetables. These I will discuss later. The bottom line is that transitioning to the AIP did not require me to give up vegetables.

In fact, Ballantyne does not mention a serving limitation until she gets to fruit.

You just have to make sure that your daily fructose intake is between ten and twenty grams—that’s about two to five servings of fruit a day.

She, of course, offers a table that shows the amount of fructose in various fruits. I also used the Nutrient List of the USDA Food Composition Databases. I realized that on those days when I eat whole fruit that is relatively high in fructose, I need to eat only 2-3 rather than five servings.

The AIP is a 30-day elimination diet. After the 30 days there is a period of reintroduction. I have eliminated coffee for more than 30 days. I was well on my way to making the other eliminations when I slipped on, or rather into, a bowel of vegetables with noodles hidden on the bottom. I have now started again.

The only food to which I have had a reaction during this time is beets! I love beets. I have eaten them all my life. The last two times that I ate them I developed a very unwelcome digestive issue. That requires additional investigation.

I have also continued to use Ted’s Pain Cream. It has greatly reduced the pain signals being transmitted along healthy nerves from tissues that have healed. This has allowed me to sleep longer and that has been very refreshing.

An Autoimmune Protocol Reset

I was discharged from the hospital one day after the removal of a synovial cyst and some scar tissue from my spine.  I will be writing about that experience. What is important here is that several days later I was able to push my rolling walker into the kitchen, take a frozen prepared meal out of the freezer, and heat it in a microwave oven.

That is not my customary dietary style. For years I have preferred a nutrient dense whole foods diet that excludes prepared foods, refined oils, and sugar. My lactose intolerance also means that I customarily limit dairy.   I do not cook in a microwave. By the third week after surgery, I was feeling the effects from eating the prepared foods and dreaming about the meals I would prepare for myself when I able to cook.

I was reading about food and health, especially chronic inflammation and autoimmune diseases.  The autoimmune diseases with which I have been diagnosed are in remission, technically. That means that the disease activity in my body is too low to be detected by standard testing methods. However, I have been living with autoimmune diseases for more than 50 years. That means that I am one trigger away from a flare.  I tend to think of the autoimmune conditions as organic malware lurking in the background waiting for a single signal to launch an all out destructive attack on the systems of my body.

I also know that I am still living with chronic inflammation and pain. I am still living with unending fatigue. I sometimes experience nerve wracking brain fog.  I know that I am extremely photosensitive. By the first of March the need to protect myself from UV rays will require energy that I do not have. Each of these diminishes the quality of my life.

I am fighting back.  I believe that improving the quality of my life requires a complete dietary reset. I have decided to accomplish that reset using the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). Transitioning to a Paleo dietary style requires that I continue to avoid processed foods, refined oils, sugars, and dairy while also avoiding grains and legumes.

The AIP then helps to identify other foods that may be problematic for me by eliminating them for at least 30 days and then allowing for their gradual reintroduction. The foods that must be eliminated for at least 30 days are eggs, dairy, nightshades, nuts and seeds.

My approach to implementing the AIP will be guided largely by the work of Sarah Ballantyne, PhD.  In her blog (https://www.thepaleomom.com/start-here/the-autoimmune-protocol/) she generously provides all the information that I, or anyone else, needs to start an AIP lifestyle

AIP ReverseI have also invested in Ballantyne’s books. The first book that I am reading is The Paleo Approach,. This book is not just for people who have autoimmune diseases. It is for anyone who wants to understand how the foods we eat, and our lifestyle behaviors influence our health.

I want to improve my own health. I must try to understand the science behind AIP. I must implement the approach in a way that fits my personal circumstances. I am thinking of it as “AIP for One – On a budget.” I have a lot of work to do.

The work is not just for me. The secondary audience for this work includes those people with whom I share an inherited  propensity toward chronic disease. For us, this may be more than a simple dietary reset. It may be an AIP epigenetic reset. Another audience for this work is anyone who is interested in Ballantyne’s presentation of the contemporary scientific literature dealing with the impact of food, and lifestyle on health.

I would love to discuss this book with people. Let me know if you would be interested in reading this book and joining in the discussion.