This is Part 1 of our Autoimmune Healing Protocol series. The second part of this series is:
This is a true story.
A mom in a Facebook support group posts the following question:
“There is a cold/flu going around at my son’s school. What can I do to help support his immune system so that he doesn’t get sick?
Members start to respond with comments and suggestions:
Mom #1: Vitamin C is awesome, we use this (ascorbic acid) brand. I highly recommend it!
Mom #2: “Thieves” essential oil blend is our go-to. We swear by it in our family. Works every time!
Mom #3: Vitamin D supplementation is so important to help keep the flu away.
Then, Mom #4 comes along and replies to Mom #1: Ascorbic acid is straight poison. I would never give that to my child. You need an all-natural, food-based Vitamin C.
Mom #5 swoops into the conversation to combat Mom #2: Thieves essential oil is dangerous for children. My friend is an aromatherapist and says to never use that for your children! We use this one instead.
And of course, Mom #6 just couldn’t resist firing back at Mom #3 by explaining to her: Vitamin D is a hormone and should never, ever be supplemented. The real supplement needed is Magnesium. Look it up.
I’ll sum up the rest of the story like this: everything blew up into a thousand threads of multiple arguments. And ultimately, the poor mother who asked the initial question was probably left feeling confused, discouraged, and paralyzed from trying any of the suggestions.
Based on my personal experience, as well as my observations of others, determining the best treatment for autoimmune disease can leave you feeling the same way.
You have one doctor who swears by immunosuppressant drugs, thinks lifestyle and nutrition makes no difference, and that “toxin-overload” is pure quackery.
Another doctor locks right into a super-restrictive diet, heavy supplementation, and intense detoxification.
Finally, you pop into your online autoimmune disease support group and realize that there simply isn’t one answer. There are thousands of paths to take, and all you’re trying to do is figure out your best plan forward. You feel overwhelmed by all of the options, jealous of the people who have found their answers, and not totally convinced if you’ll actually get better or not.
And that, my dear friend, is exactly why you need a healing protocol for your autoimmune disease treatment.
Because the only way to figure out which direction is best for you, is to actually take a step forward. Yes, even if it’s in the wrong one initially (more on this later).
So, what’s an Autoimmune Healing Protocol?
In a nutshell, it’s a written strategy and/or protocol for tackling your autoimmune disease by:
- Finding your root causes
- Trying interventions (lifestyle, diet, supplements, etc.) that work with your body
- Tracking your progress
- Ultimately learning what works for YOU
What I’ve noticed throughout the years is that many people love gathering opinions, data, and a ton of other information about autoimmune disease. They research things like various root causes, diet changes, genetic mutations, nutritional supplements, prescription drugs, etc.
But, when it’s time to make a move and actually improve their condition, they get stuck in this swirling vortex of information overload. The result? Never taking a step forward and making the necessary changes for healing.
At some point though, the info-mining has to stop. This is where a healing protocol comes in.
A healing protocol takes all of that information and puts it down on paper in small, organized actionable steps. It might include what tests you’re going to order, what diet you’re going to follow, what supplements you’re going to take and when, a new sleep routine, etc.
To make it easy on you, many practitioners already provide step-by-step action plans and if you’re looking for great examples, I suggest you check out The Autoimmune Solution by Dr. Amy Myers (she calls her plan The Myers Way®), The Wahl’s Protocol, or the Hashimoto’s Protocol 90-Day Plan by Dr. Izabella Wentz. All of these books tell you what foods to eat, what supplements to take, what lifestyle changes to make, for how long, etc. so that you can manage your autoimmune disease with minimal to no prescription drugs.
While I really, really love these books and think that the majority of people that follow those steps will make a significant amount of progress, they are still missing one major thing and that is:
It’s imperative to take these generic plans, written by doctors, and tailor them to your specific needs, prioritizing and strategizing to fit YOUR life and body. Because…
What if you can’t afford all the supplements they recommend?
What if you have an infection that needs to be handled using interventions other than the standard anti-inflammatory diet or lifestyle changes?
What if it’s going to take you a bit more time to implement changes because your family may have trouble adapting to a new way of eating?
These types of obstacles should not hold you back. But they do highlight the importance of individuality in any healing plan.
Any problem that needs solving requires critical thinking, planning, research, and a budget to find the solution(s), especially for an autoimmune disease. A healing protocol checks all of these boxes, and is most effective when it is individualized.
The benefits definitely don’t stop there, though. Let’s dive deeper into why you need an autoimmune action plan in your life.
6 Reasons Why You Need an Autoimmune Disease Healing Protocol
1. Writing it down means greater success.
This is probably one of the simplest and most convincing aspects of making an action plan for your autoimmune disease. Physically write down the steps you will take for healing, and you will have a much greater chance of executing the lifestyle/diet/behavior changes needed to reach your health goals.
A study by Dr. Gail Matthews at the Dominican University of California, showed that writing down your goals and checking in with them on a regular basis increases your chance of following through by 42% (click here to read more.)
It’s important not to let those ideas swirl in your mind. If you are thinking the Autoimmune Paleo Diet is worth a shot, move it from your brain and onto paper. Then, follow the plan you created!
You’ll never know unless you try (but write it down first.)
2. Saves you from wasting your time.
I’m not so sure I’ve ever met someone who said “You know what? I hope my healing takes a really, really long time. That would be awesome.”
Sadly, the journey for so many people IS long. Take mine for example.
My personal Hashimoto’s journey took over 8 years… bouncing from doctor to doctor, trying this for 5 seconds, trying that… but if I had just been organized, didn’t cheat, or opened a book, then I could have cut 8 years down to… wait for it…
Less than a year.
Yeah, I know it sounds crazy. But if I had just stopped to catch my breath, then I may have seen that running around like a hot mess and sticking to a “gluten-free diet” for 16 hours before giving up, was just wasting my time and sanity.
A healing protocol would have kept me grounded. I had the information at my fingertips (we all do). All I needed to do was write down a plan and commit to it for at least 30-60 days before making my next change based on what was or wasn’t working.
Writing and planning your lifestyle and diet changes is an effective way to prevent wasting time by trying one thing for 5 seconds and then moving onto another.
But, I know what you’re thinking… “What if the direction I pick is wrong?” This leads me to benefit number 3, which is…
3. You find what works for you (and what doesn’t).
It’s time to embrace it.
You are unique.
And that is awesome, but also incredibly frustrating when solving your autoimmune puzzle. As much as we would all like the surefire path forward, that’s just not how it works. Almost all of us will require some form of experimentation with different diets, supplements, stress-relief techniques, or other “crazy” interventions.
Unfortunately, that means a lot of wins but also a lot of failures. Failures can really feel like wasted time, but not if you ask our ol’ friend Thomas Edison:
“I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
An autoimmune disease may not be a light bulb, but this quote is surprisingly applicable to the recovery process. There are thousands of interventions to try. Some people need just 1 to recover completely. Others, like myself, need like 1500 (at least that’s what it feels like).
Every failure is a check in the box that you tried it, it didn’t work, and it’s time to move on. Every success is a new tool to incorporate and use to build your own personal autoimmune-friendly life.
A healing protocol organizes and records all of these successes and failures, so that by the end, you have a list of everything that did and didn’t work. Not only is it useful for you, but it’s especially useful for a good doctor.
4. Saves your hard earned cash.
Want to know one of the best ways to waste a bunch of money?
Buy a bundle of expensive, high quality supplements that you may or may not need, and then take them every 3 or 4 days (whenever you remember) so that by the time you run out of the bottle… you actually have no idea if they work or not.
Speaking from experience here. Supplements, “superfoods,” essential oils, whatever, they all sound good when you’re making the initial purchase.
But without consistency and literally scheduling them into your day, you can’t really gauge if they work or not. Thus, money wasted.
My personal healing protocol always includes a supplement tracker and schedule for this very reason. I love my supplements and home remedies, but they are expensive and you better believe that if I am going to spend over $500 on magnesium every year, or $130 for 1 bottle of high-quality CBD oil, I know for a fact that they work.
The first step to determining if a supplement or other expensive intervention is working, is to schedule it and stay consistent. A healing plan helps you make your schedule, stay focused through your day, and acts as a reference for check-ins to make sure you are on track.
5. Look back and feel the confidence and accomplishment.
Let me tell you, this is one of my absolute favorite reasons for making a healing protocol.
It happened to me just the other day. I was reviewing a document I put together years ago for one of my doctors that included notes describing my symptoms along with all of the interventions I tried up to that point.
I sat there in awe. I couldn’t believe how sick I was back then. Then I looked at all the interventions – so many wins, but also so many failures. All I kept thinking was:
“I was that sick, and look at what I was still able to do.”
By no means am I in perfect health, but to see how far I’ve come, despite all the adversity on the way is re-inspiring. I consider my healing protocols and health journals like medical scrapbooks. They provide me with a detailed description of my personal health history and the detective work I did to recover.
To my surprise, as I currently battle a new unspecified autoimmune disease, my records of my past give me a boost of confidence and hope for my future because I’m able to see how far I’ve come.
I believe that your healing protocol will someday do the same for you.
6. Writing down your plan can help others.
Finally… perhaps the most important part of all, your protocol can help others.
If you don’t know someone who is in the autoimmune boat with you, it won’t be long before you get some company. Autoimmune rates are on the rise. They are complicated, and debilitating diseases that most doctors don’t know how to treat. This is why coming together and sharing with one another – what worked for you, what didn’t, and what you’ll try next, is crucial.
So often, others with autoimmune disease approach me and I can see the pain in their eyes… the confusion, the struggle that no one seems to understand. They so desperately ask me “How?… HOW did you recover?”
So much information can be found in a book, but we all crave real-life stories and evidence. They are validating, and give us hope. This is why a support group full of real people can be so, so powerful for a healing journey.
Someday, someone will ask you… “What worked for you?” and you’ll have your whole journey on paper to walk them through your struggles and lessons learned. Hopefully, you’ll help them to realize the hope and possibility of healing, just as I hope I’ve done for you.
Recovering from Autoimmune Disease Takes Planning
It’s not as easy as popping a pill for a couple weeks. But, by approaching your autoimmune disease with careful planning, you’ll uncover the answers you’ve been searching for.
Get started today by making your healing plan following this step-by-step guide and promise yourself to commit and follow through. Your health deserves your utmost attention… don’t you agree?
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Hi! I’m Anna, co-founder of Healthy Habits Reset. After managing my own autoimmune diseases using lifestyle, habit, and mindset changes, I now work to teach others how to navigate the treacherous and confusing journey of chronic illness living. I firmly believe YOU hold the power to question, think critically, and become your own rock-solid advocate in a world full of unhealthy habits. Consider me, and my husband, Frank, your autoimmune disease health coaches. Are you ready?!