my autoimmune issues + the keto diet after one month

I've really struggled losing weight with autoimmune thyroid issues until I tried out the keto/low carb diet. This is what my experience has been after one month. | via The Spirited Violet
I've really struggled losing weight with autoimmune thyroid issues until I tried out the keto/low carb diet. This is what my experience has been after one month. | via The Spirited Violet

This post includes affiliate links which help support The Spirited Violet.

Over the past month, I have been sharing my keto diet adventure on my instastories and a little on my blog.  The keto diet has been something that has been so helpful for me and has especially reduced my autoimmune issues.  I’ve felt in a large part, my autoimmune issues have really hampered my personal growth and what I wanted my everyday to look like.  I have been so encouraged to see improvements in my life; if you’ve been discouraged about autoimmune issues, weight loss, or just want to learn more: this post is for you.

If you’ve been reading my monthly posts on the blog, my autoimmune issues have been a low point for me almost every month for a long time.  I’ve had horrible flare ups.  I’ve spent months nauseous.  I’ve slept with heating pads.  The list keeps going, but one of the other unfortunate side effects when my medication is messed with is that I gain weight; I gained 20 pounds in one month last summer (do I get an award?).  I began looking for solutions and different ways to try to get the weight off and had to realize that calorie tracking just doesn’t work for me anymore.  I began researching macro counting as well as “the keto diet” and decided to just go for it after I realized my Doctor had recommended me go low carb in one of my many lab reports.  I have great news though and good food to show for it in posts coming up 🙂 .

I have lost a little over 10 pounds since this photo in the last three weeks. I still have over 20 pounds to lose from what I gained in one month last summer while my doctor was messing with my meds (I'm not kidding). . However, as someone with autoimmune and thyroid issues, I kind of was beginning to think it was impossible. I've tried a lot of different things, but Keto has made macro counting and calorie tracking a breeze for me. The weight loss has been nice, but what has been life changing has been the lack of autoimmune symptoms I've had. When you've spent months unable to digest food properly or have your body satisfied with sometimes 12+ hours of sleep (among other things), you know you're onto something when life begins to feel normal again. . Happy for the little things that make a huge difference! #autumngetshealthy

WHAT IS THE KETO DIET?

It means I have been eating under 20-50g of net carbs a day.  A net carb simply means: carb – fiber= net carb.  

While keto diet is low carb, low carb is considered anything under 100g daily according to the FDA.  Regular meals for me looks like: meat, a lot of dairy, tons of vegetables, and I drink a protein smoothie everyday with unsweetened almond milk and berries.  I have been putting a lot of my meals on my instastories on instagram; which has also included the massive fail of protein powder coffee mug cake that clearly crawled out of a sewer and the 7th circle of hell (it was so bad y’all… so bad).

RESOURCES HERE:

  • Basics here
  • Health benefits of keto here
  • Foods to eat and to avoid here
  • My pinterest board with recipes and more resources here

THE GOOD BEHIND THE KETO DIET (FOR ME)

Of course, I am not a medical professional and I don’t think this will be the best way to go for everyone, but this is my experience and I’ve found a lot of good.  As far as weight loss, I have lost over 11 pounds in a month which has been impossible in any other way I have tried.  I’m able to button pants that I have been avoiding for a few months.  I am full.  My appetite is mostly gone throughout the day.  

After a few days though… I realized that I hadn’t had a single autoimmune symptom that whole time.  A week passed and I still realized I didn’t have any autoimmune symptoms.  

After two weeks, I realized I still hadn’t had a single autoimmune symptom.  People began commenting how nice my coloring was when I wasn’t wearing makeup.  I always used to have a healthy coloring, but I often have an ashy coloring when I’m having autoimmune issues.

After three weeks, I realized I still hadn’t had a single autoimmune symptom.  I also began seeing people in the Keto facebook groups I am in asking if other people had autoimmune issues and if they were seeing the same impact in their life.  They were!

This has been really working for me.  I feel myself again.  My coloring is normal.  My body doesn’t hurt all of the time.  I haven’t been dead tired.  People have commented on how I seem to have more energy.  I am so pleased!  We’ve easily gone to restaurants and I’ve been able to figure out different things to eat.  We also haven’t eaten out as much just because I’m really just not as hungry.  

I did take a break while we had a guest in town and I had an autoimmune flare up.  I have to work on getting back into ketosis, but it has definitely made me think a lot more of what I used to eat. 

HOW THE KETO DIET HAS HELPED ME:

  • I am more mindful of what I eat
  • I like that I’m always full
  • I feel like I’m learning a lot about food + my body
  • I love that I haven’t had any autoimmune symptoms
Dinner time with pork chops and pan fried brussel sprouts. I had my first cheat day in two weeks yesterday. Coke didn't taste as good, but the rice bowl I has tasted like the best thing I have ever had. It will probably take me another two days to get back into ketosis, but I had stomach issues for the first time in three weeks so I definitely hit a trigger food in there; sometimes you just have to have a break and enjoy time with friends. Looks like I need to start cooking with more seasonings though 🤔. #autumngetshealthy

THE BAD BEHIND THE KETO DIET (FOR ME)

I did low carb in high school and I stopped because there wasn’t a lot of variety of recipes or foods.  Well, food blogging has been a complete game changer for this and there is a bounty of recipes.  However, the food takes a lot longer to make.  There are really excellent recipe substitutions, but the ingredients can be way weird sometimes.  I tried stevia and I thought it was absolutely disgusting.  I’m still working on having variety in my diet, but I’m content otherwise.

The second thing: keto flu.  It is a real thing.  It was nothing compared to my autoimmune flare ups, but I was super weepy for a few days for absolutely no reason.  Keto flu is basically carb withdrawals while your body is learning to process your body fat for energy instead of using eaten carbs for energy.  It is real.  It was a lot of tears.  I kept checking my anxiety medication trying to make sure that I actually had taken it for the day (yes, I had).  I learned the hard way that you can avoid keto flu by having enough electrolytes; learn from my mistakes 🙂 .

PRODUCTS I AM USING

  • Ketone strips
    These are strips that you pee on to measure how many ketones you have in your body for weight loss.  This helps me know if my body is spending time burning fat from food I ate or fat from my body; I want the latter.
  • Garden of Life protein powder
    I have been using this protein powder in my morning smoothies for months.  I found it while researching a cheaper alternative to Shakeology and I wanted something with less sugar in it.  This is a great option because it is actually only 1 net carb (dietary fiber – carbs = net carbs) and it is super nutrient dense.  I get the vanilla kind, but I’d be open to trying different kinds when I need to order more.
  • KetoDietApp
    I use this app (I pay $2 a month) to easily track my calories and macros.  I love this app because it makes tracking your calories, carbs, protein, and fats so simple.  It makes suggestions, but you can also adjust them all.  I plan on continuing to use this app and I do think it is worth the money.  Considering I was thinking of going on Weight Watchers again prior to choosing this option, this option seems extremely cheap.
  • MyFitnessPal
    You’re probably like: why are you using two different apps?  I really like the social component of MyFitnessPal because people cheer me on and I track my weight and measurements here.  I log my calories in it everyday since I have been logging here since 2010, but I think the interface of the app could be a million times user-friendly like KetoDiet.

WILL I BE DOING THE KETO DIET FOREVER?

After saying all of the things I say that are positive, I don’t think I would want to do this for the rest of my life.  I have weight to lose though and I’m really motivated.  Devin has been really helpful and supportive.  He doesn’t stick strictly to this, but he eats what I eat when he is home.  He has lost some weight and has been doing most of the grocery store runs for us because it keeps me from buying comfort foods.

While the low carb aspect of keto is helping with weight loss, I should make it clear it that I don’t think keto is the reason I have had reduced autoimmune symptoms; rather, I think it is because I have reduced potential trigger foods to follow this diet.  My plan right now is to lose weight and then continue macro counting without such an extreme carb deficit.  I really love fruits, beans, and sweet potatoes and I’d love to slowly add these back into my diet.  However, because I’ve had such a positive impact with this and the foods I have been eating has been heavily reducing my autoimmune symptoms, I’m going to be very mindful in slowly these food items back in.

I've been macro counting and doing the Keto thing for almost a whole month now. I haven't had many cravings, but I have had three non-Keto meals in this time because 4th of July and friends inviting us over for dinner. I've been working on a post about how this has been with my autoimmune issues because it has been really helpful. In the mean time though, it is hard to miss anything like ice cream when you remember how great gelato tastes in Europe . #autumngetshealthy

I’ve loved hearing from my autoimmune illness people how effective different food techniques have been for them in reducing symptoms; if you’re struggling with autoimmune issues, I hope this can bring some hope to you that things can be better.  If you’re feeling really discouraged because you’ve tried other weight loss strategies, macro counting in addition to calorie tracking works!!  I feel like I’ve tried a lot of different things and they have bombed, but I’ve been really grateful for how natural macro counting and the keto diet have felt for me.

Have you ever tried keto?  Any recipes that you suggest?  I’d love to hear your experiences with food!

  • Hopefully you’re able to get to the point where you can slowly add some other foods in permanently, or at least not flare up every time you eat them. The book I read before I went on my elimination diet hypothesized that all AI diseases actually start in the gut, so by healing your gut, you put your disease into remission. I was lucky in that when I finally figured out my trigger (gluten) and went off of it for about 5-6 months (or at least, I ate gluten free about 90% of the time), I was actually able to add it back in permanently and haven’t had any flare-ups since. It’s good to know though that if I do start seeing AI symptoms again, I know to amend my diet FIRST, even before I go back on all those crazy frustrating meds!

    • I’ve been trying to add foods in and see. The great news is that I haven’t had the stomach issues I used to have. However, it is time for me to go back to this or at least cut sugar and grains again because my inflammation has been bad (it could be stress from recently leaving my job though). I love that you were able to figure out how to go into remission, that is so so huge!

  • Hopefully you’re able to get to the point where you can slowly add some other foods in permanently, or at least not flare up every time you eat them. The book I read before I went on my elimination diet hypothesized that all AI diseases actually start in the gut, so by healing your gut, you put your disease into remission. I was lucky in that when I finally figured out my trigger (gluten) and went off of it for about 5-6 months (or at least, I ate gluten free about 90% of the time), I was actually able to add it back in permanently and haven’t had any flare-ups since. It’s good to know though that if I do start seeing AI symptoms again, I know to amend my diet FIRST, even before I go back on all those crazy frustrating meds!

    • I’ve been trying to add foods in and see. The great news is that I haven’t had the stomach issues I used to have. However, it is time for me to go back to this or at least cut sugar and grains again because my inflammation has been bad (it could be stress from recently leaving my job though). I love that you were able to figure out how to go into remission, that is so so huge!

  • Christina Guariglia Strickland

    That’s awesome Autumn! I have many friends who’ve suffered with autoimmune diseases and other gut related diseases like Crohns and IBS. They’ve all gone off the 12 bad food lists from Dr. Wallach and reversed those things completely within 2-3 months. Keto is the closest diet to that so it’s no wonder that it’s working for so many of my friends to help them gain energy, lose weight and get their gut flora back on track! One thing I noticed in there is that soda doesn’t taste as good to you anymore-it doesn’t for me either, if you ever DO want to have a carbonated beverage of any sort though without it affecting your digestion-just have it separate from a meal. The carbonation reduces the strength of the stomach’s digestive juices, slowing down and retarding the process of digestion-which causes many upset stomach/gut issues to flare up. So just don’t drink carbonated beverages if you’re going to have them with a meal. Other thing-if and when you cheat and have carbs-many naturopath physicians with people on the Keto diet say to have some carbs once or twice a week and go off it-just do it with Gluten free carbs: rice, organic potatoes, GF breads/pizzas/brown rice pastas etc… and again you’ll probably stay feeling better after the meal. Gluten destroys the lil nutrient grabbers in the gut…(it did come from Babylon lol nothing good ever came out of Babylon). Once you are off gluten for 3 months, if you have it again-oh boy you’ll know your body was sensitive to it b/c you’ll feel it right away. The more clean your body is, the quicker it will let you know symptom wise when it does NOT want something you give it. I recently went out with some friends out of town and got stuck eating really junky food where they chose to dine-no good options-and I payed for it dearly for 2-3 days afterwards so I learned my lesson! You feel soooo much better when you give your body the fuel it needs 🙂 Good luck on your journey to energy and excellent health! If you want that 10 bad food list and a link to see what gluten does in your gut (video cartoon footage) email me and I’ll send it out to you 🙂

    • Okay, I am so sorry for the delay in responses, but you seriously have such an informative answer. I would love the video you were talking about (mynameisautumn@gmail.com). I noticed that carbonated drinks are upsetting my stomach so I’m not quite ready for them yet, but I will have to try your suggestion on when to try it.

      Also, the cheat day twice a week is such a good suggestion. I feel like sometimes people make their bodies so unused to normal foods that it can be hard to differentiate between your body being unused to a food and your body simply not liking food.

      The Babylon comment made me laugh big time haha!!

  • Christina Guariglia Strickland

    That’s awesome Autumn! I have many friends who’ve suffered with autoimmune diseases and other gut related diseases like Crohns and IBS. They’ve all gone off the 12 bad food lists from Dr. Wallach and reversed those things completely within 2-3 months. Keto is the closest diet to that so it’s no wonder that it’s working for so many of my friends to help them gain energy, lose weight and get their gut flora back on track! One thing I noticed in there is that soda doesn’t taste as good to you anymore-it doesn’t for me either, if you ever DO want to have a carbonated beverage of any sort though without it affecting your digestion-just have it separate from a meal. The carbonation reduces the strength of the stomach’s digestive juices, slowing down and retarding the process of digestion-which causes many upset stomach/gut issues to flare up. So just don’t drink carbonated beverages if you’re going to have them with a meal. Other thing-if and when you cheat and have carbs-many naturopath physicians with people on the Keto diet say to have some carbs once or twice a week and go off it-just do it with Gluten free carbs: rice, organic potatoes, GF breads/pizzas/brown rice pastas etc… and again you’ll probably stay feeling better after the meal. Gluten destroys the lil nutrient grabbers in the gut…(it did come from Babylon lol nothing good ever came out of Babylon). Once you are off gluten for 3 months, if you have it again-oh boy you’ll know your body was sensitive to it b/c you’ll feel it right away. The more clean your body is, the quicker it will let you know symptom wise when it does NOT want something you give it. I recently went out with some friends out of town and got stuck eating really junky food where they chose to dine-no good options-and I payed for it dearly for 2-3 days afterwards so I learned my lesson! You feel soooo much better when you give your body the fuel it needs 🙂 Good luck on your journey to energy and excellent health! If you want that 10 bad food list and a link to see what gluten does in your gut (video cartoon footage) email me and I’ll send it out to you 🙂

    • Okay, I am so sorry for the delay in responses, but you seriously have such an informative answer. I would love the video you were talking about (mynameisautumn@gmail.com). I noticed that carbonated drinks are upsetting my stomach so I’m not quite ready for them yet, but I will have to try your suggestion on when to try it.

      Also, the cheat day twice a week is such a good suggestion. I feel like sometimes people make their bodies so unused to normal foods that it can be hard to differentiate between your body being unused to a food and your body simply not liking food.

      The Babylon comment made me laugh big time haha!!

  • This is really interesting. I’ve been thinking about trying paleo for about 30 days to see how my body responds and to try to encourage myself to focus on being more deliberate with my eating habits. Thanks for sharing this! I heard about the keto diet but wasn’t really sure about it because I haven’t been hearing nearly as much as I do about paleo and other stuff.

    • I have heard of a lot of people really liking their whole30 experiences. As far as paleo though, there definitely is some overlap of foods, but the overall feel of it is very different. I think paleo would be a great way for me to move towards in the future.

  • This is really interesting. I’ve been thinking about trying paleo for about 30 days to see how my body responds and to try to encourage myself to focus on being more deliberate with my eating habits. Thanks for sharing this! I heard about the keto diet but wasn’t really sure about it because I haven’t been hearing nearly as much as I do about paleo and other stuff.

    • I have heard of a lot of people really liking their whole30 experiences. As far as paleo though, there definitely is some overlap of foods, but the overall feel of it is very different. I think paleo would be a great way for me to move towards in the future.

  • I’ve been hearing a lot about the Keto Diet so I love how you explained it! I’m a horrible eater and want to try it just to see how my body does with this.

    • I’d love to hear what your response to it is. I think it honestly is a very easy diet to follow and since it reduces your appetite a lot (at least for me and many other people), I didn’t find myself ravenous all of the time like I can normally feel.

  • I’ve been hearing a lot about the Keto Diet so I love how you explained it! I’m a horrible eater and want to try it just to see how my body does with this.

    • I’d love to hear what your response to it is. I think it honestly is a very easy diet to follow and since it reduces your appetite a lot (at least for me and many other people), I didn’t find myself ravenous all of the time like I can normally feel.

  • I’m so glad the Keto diet is working so well for you and is helping you with your autoimmune symptoms. I’ve heard a ton of great things about the keto diet and how it’s really good for you overall.

    • It is really easy to maintain, but the bad thing was just the lack of variety. I really love fruits! However, it sure has made me more mindful of what I eat and that is amazing!

  • I’m so glad the Keto diet is working so well for you and is helping you with your autoimmune symptoms. I’ve heard a ton of great things about the keto diet and how it’s really good for you overall.

    • It is really easy to maintain, but the bad thing was just the lack of variety. I really love fruits! However, it sure has made me more mindful of what I eat and that is amazing!

  • Elizabeth Johnson

    I have never done a Keto diet but it sounds like it is really working for you. That is amazing that you have found relief from your autoimmune issues. I have friends who have autoimmune issues and it has been tough for them to find something that works. Good luck!!

    • It has been a constant game of trial and error since my diagnosis. However, it has helped a lot. I was really surprised at how many people are using this to help with autoimmune conditions. Thank you! 🙂

  • Elizabeth Johnson

    I have never done a Keto diet but it sounds like it is really working for you. That is amazing that you have found relief from your autoimmune issues. I have friends who have autoimmune issues and it has been tough for them to find something that works. Good luck!!

    • It has been a constant game of trial and error since my diagnosis. However, it has helped a lot. I was really surprised at how many people are using this to help with autoimmune conditions. Thank you! 🙂

  • I’m glad that you had luck on the Keto diet. I never could get past the Keto flu. It was really disappointing because I have heard so many good things about it! I hope you continue to have good results!

    Joy
    http://www.basicallyjoy.com/

    • Keto flu was rough! I heard the way to prevent it is to make sure you’re getting enough electrolytes. We started drinking a powerade g2 everyday and that seemed to really help, but before that, it was awful.

  • I’m glad that you had luck on the Keto diet. I never could get past the Keto flu. It was really disappointing because I have heard so many good things about it! I hope you continue to have good results!

    Joy
    http://www.basicallyjoy.com/

    • Keto flu was rough! I heard the way to prevent it is to make sure you’re getting enough electrolytes. We started drinking a powerade g2 everyday and that seemed to really help, but before that, it was awful.