One of our biggest goals for this blog is to give an accurate picture of what it’s actually like to use lifestyle and diet to manage autoimmune disease.
And honestly, we could paint the picture that our food is always Instagram-worthy, our home is a “healing haven” of cleanliness and calmness, and our hair is always looking reeeaaalll nice. We could paint the picture that this is super easy, always pretty, and crazy cheap.
But is that really what our life is like?
Maybe like 5% of the time. The other 95% of the time it’s a bit more… realistic.
We want all our autoimmune friends to know that it’s totally normal to eat ugly-ish food, take a boatload of nutritional supplements while following a healing protocol , and spend a less than desirable amount of time doing the worst chore of all: dishes. An anti-inflammatory lifestyle doesn’t just create itself. It really takes a lot of work behind the scenes to make it all happen.
Now, I’m not saying that our life is miserable. Quite the contrary. We thoroughly enjoy the way we live because we found a deeper meaning behind our lifestyle choices. For the most part, you’ll see a smile on our faces because we really do have a lot of fun… what we do keeps us healthy and happy.
But sometimes, there are not so fun parts too. There are boring parts. Expensive parts.
So below, I’ll walk you through a typical Saturday for us. We like to keep things simple due to our current phase of life: a single-income family with two toddlers who have not-so-flexible nap schedules.
To keep stress low, we stay close to home-base. Our “fun” usually consists of family trips to the grocery store, playing at the park (or going to the library if it’s winter), and eating together. In between, we work hard to maintain our autoimmune-friendly life, which we show in the pictures below. Enjoy!
Living with Autoimmune Disease: A Day in the Life (Using Pictures!)
Wake Up: 7:00am
On Saturdays, we wake up to the sounds of children screaming “Mom! Mommy! Mama! Mom!” We quickly open the windows to let all the daylight in. Daylight (not blue-light from a cell phone) immediately upon waking is crucial for sending the signal to your brain that it’s time to wake up. It’s also crucial for healthy cortisol levels, which are absolutely needed for a healthy inflammatory response.
(If you are not familiar with this, I highly encourage you to listen to this video. This information can change the way you wake up every day if you have autoimmune disease.)
Before heading upstairs to grab the kids, we both stop by our “Supplement Station” to take our morning supplements and drink some water. Since we believe in a personalized, targeted approach to supplementation, we all (including kids) take different supplements at different times of the day. I, for example, only take my dessicated thyroid extract in the morning with lemon water, while Frank takes magnesium and CoQ10.
Our breakfast/”getting ready” time is a delicate dance of preparing food, feeding/clothing/cleaning children, feeding ourselves, and planning out the rest of the day.
On this particular morning, Frank informed me that he ate the rest of the potatoes in the fridge the night before. This is a major food emergency in our house due to our family love of potatoes. So… he’s on potato making duty, otherwise what would breakfast be?!
While he’s doing that, I spend a few minutes trying to look at least somewhat put-together. I’ve never been a hair & make-up type of girl – part of it is just who I am (and always have been) and the other part is because of my current phase of life with two toddlers. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Plus, there are a ton of make-up and hair products out there that are incredibly toxic, particularly for an autoimmune-challenged body. I really just feel better going bare-skinned. On the rare occasion, I’ll slap on some clean non-toxic primer, mascara, and foundation (which I’m still in the process of finding one that I like… do you have any you recommend? Comment below).
Green Smoothie Time
Next up is one of my least favorite parts of the morning – green smoothie time. Why? Because it actually takes a long-ish time, and sometimes I have my son holding on to my legs like in the picture below. This eventually leads to me wearing him on my back while I finish making the smoothie.
But the best thing about our green smoothie is that it is basically salad in a cup. Our goal is to get at least 2-3 servings of vegetables during breakfast and this is one of the easiest way to do it. Plus, it’s pretty good since we add a tiny bit of mango and strawberry. Even the kids crave it! (We use a Nutri-Ninja and LOVE it. It’s one of our top ten kitchen tools.)
While I make the smoothie, Frank heads to our “Ozone Station” to make ozonated water and fill an insufflation bag. This is a very new therapy that I recently added to my personalized healing protocol. (If you’re interested in exactly what I’m doing to heal from my undiagnosed autoimmune disease, you can view my healing protocol in our Healthy Habits Reset Toolkit by subscribing below.)
What’s for Breakfast?
So, after “getting ready” and making the potatoes, a smoothie, & warming up leftover ground beef and broccoli, we sit down to eat breakfast together as a family – one of our absolute favorite things to do.
Breakfast is one of our easiest meals of the day and usually consists of some type of “bowl” that includes a protein, lots of veggies, avocado, and just a little bit of starchy vegetables, like sweet potatoes. We usually just make a huge batch of all the fixings at the beginning of the week and then re-heat as needed each morning. Super easy. Super tasty. Saves some money.
After breakfast, we always have an errand to run – Farmer’s Market, chiropractor, grocery shopping, etc. So, on this Saturday morning, we are off to Trader Joe’s to restock the house with fresh/frozen produce and a few pantry necessities.
Over the years, Trader Joe’s has surprised me with their growing selection of autoimmune-friendly foods, like guar-gum free canned coconut milk and organic coconut aminos (a gluten-free, soy-free alternative to soy sauce). Here’s a look at our cart at checkout.
Weekly Food Prep
After unloading the car and putting away the groceries, the kids are ready to go off and play on their own while we get to work in the kitchen. We find that if we dedicate just 1 hour (maybe 1.5 due to interruptions), then we can knock out a bunch of snacks for the week ahead.
This particular Saturday requires lots of fermented food prep – kombucha, sauerkraut, & fermented carrot sticks. We also soaked chickpeas the night before, so those were ready to be boiled and cooked.
And then – my personal favorite: waffles. Finally, after years of trying, I nailed down an Autoimmune Protocol compliant waffle that is not gummy or mushy. So, now I make a batch every week to store in the fridge for a quick snack. (Someday, I hope to share the recipe here on the blog. It’s on my to-do list!)
The reddish jars are filled with quick pickled radishes… another recipe I plan to put on the blog. But it’s basically this recipe, except we use radishes instead of onions.
*Quick side-note: all of this fermenting and pickling, plus the green smoothie and roasted veggies in the morning help us to eat more vegetables. Plain, raw vegetables are super boring in my opinion. So when we prepare them in various ways and incorporate them into our meals, it’s so much easier to enjoy eating them.
After food prep, we’re pretty close to lunch time and over the years, we’ve learned one major thing: keep it simple.
So, here’s an example of what we eat. Like I said – simple. Not very exciting. But delicious and nutritious.
Frank loves loves loves mackerel and cucumber
soup salad (he really loves A LOT of dressing), plus some plantain chips for crunch. I prefer just a simple mug of homemade chicken bone broth for protein and fat, and a lettuce salad. In this picture, I added chickpeas to my salad as part of my reintroduction phase of the Autoimmune Protocol diet. And unfortunately, after a second trial the next day, I confirmed that I cannot tolerate chickpeas consistently. Sigh…
Once lunch is over, it’s time to put the kids to bed for a nap. This time is mostly used for mid-day rejuvenation for Frank and I (at least for one of us)… whether that be a nap, blog work, or a work out.
On this day, Frank headed outside to mow the lawn and I stayed inside to “ground” and read. (My dear friend recommended Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Father Jacques Philippe, and now I am highly recommending it to you because it is a powerful little book.)
If you’ve never heard about grounding, read this. This therapy is so so so easy and is one of the most impactful things we have ever done for our health and autoimmune conditions. If you really want to dig deeper to learn about it, read this book.
After naps, it’s snack-time for the kids and then we are out the door to a nearby park to exercise and spend time in the fresh air and sun before our dinner plans. Our city recently installed an adult sports & fitness structure for working out, so Frank and I use that often while the kids run around doing their own type of “workout.”
Ironically, our friend Don (who has made an appearance on our blog before) came over for dinner. He is currently on an autoimmune healing journey himself from Multiple Sclerosis and took advantage of the sweet Amazon Prime Day deals to buy himself an Instant Pot! So, we decided to make a quick Instant Pot meal to help show him the cool features.
Meanwhile, a storm is brewing outside…
And if a storm is brewing, then we are almost guaranteed to lose power! Thankfully, our ground beef was done… but our tacos/nachos were quite bare of other ingredients because we couldn’t cook anything else without power.
I should note though – this type of meal is considered a “treat” and reserved for special occasions. Our typical dinners are more veggie-heavy with less starch.
(Sorry for the ugly picture quality… we were eating in very dim light due to how dark the sky was.)
After dinner, the power came back on, and we ended the night with the wonderful chore of: dishes!
On days we don’t have guests, our usual routine (after the kids go down for the night) is to put our blue-blocking glasses on and work on the blog until around 10:00pm-10:30pm. Then, we sleep… and wake up to do it all over again the next day.
Things that happened but I don’t have pictures of…
- Our cat, Mocha, threw up a hairball. I cleaned it up. I just assumed you weren’t too interested in seeing that…
- I also did ozone rectal insufflation. Yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like.
- I changed two poopy diapers.
- Frank made french-press coffee in the morning using organic coffee and our Berkey filtered water. This is a “treat” for him because coffee makes him kind of crazy.
- All the normal human things like brushing our teeth, going to the bathroom, putting on shoes, etc…
My point? Our life is pretty normal. Yes, we do a few uncommon things, but overall, our focus is to treat our bodies well and live the simple life together as a family. That’s really all we need.
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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?!