About

Over the past 10 years, I have learned so much about healing my own body.  18 years ago, I was first hit with an a pretty severe case of ankylosing spondylitis, AS, and for the first ten years of mysterious back pain and flare-ups I went misdiagnosed my doctors. Then after 8 years of taking NSAIDS and doing my best to ignore the pain, I was hit with raging IBD to where I was having trouble eating food. Like any foods. This started my quest into healing my body naturally, as the doctors and specialists I saw back in the early days offered no help or advice, I was told repeatedly by doctors (including GI specialists) that what I ate had nothing to do with how horrible I felt. And I seriously felt horrible. Painful bloating, stomach cramping, gas, insane back and joint pain, feeling like you’d been hit by a bus, you get the idea. Facebook didn’t exist back then, nor did Paleo diet or AIP websites. In fact I only new ONE PERSON who was gluten free back then, and she turned me onto the idea, so I tried eating gluten free. I also went on to try everything from the anti-Candida diet, the Dr. Hulda Clark parasite cleanse and anti-parasite diet, the gluten-free/dairy/soy/corn-free diet I discovered on Dogtor J, the raw vegan diet, the Blood Type Diet, the SCDiet, the Paleo diet, a liquid diet, and finally discovered the Low Starch Diet after getting diagnosed with AS about 6 years ago.

Thankfully the world has come a long way in the last decade at recognizing the roll diet plays in our health and well being. I am now at a point of what I consider “remission” from IBD and AS, to where if my spine wasn’t so badly fused, most days I would forget I ever had AS. I know longer live in fear of the next AS or IBD flare. I no longer consider my middle name to be “inflammation”, and instead I feel so blessed that I’ve been able to regain my health to where I can be active everyday, and life my dream life. I am honestly living my dream life. ♥

The most important thing I learned is that a “healing diet” looks very different for each one of us! I wish there was a magic wand I could wave to make everyone instantly better and healthy again! Oh, how I wish. My first cookbook was an attempt at that magic wand, and while I got many wonderful thank you notes, I got just as many notes from those who were frustrated and not feeling better despite their efforts at changing their diet. And because I am not a trained doctor, health professional, or nutritional therapist, I am not equipped to be advising anyone of dietary changes based on their unique circumstances over email. Every time someone sent me questions regarding their health and personal challenges I was very upfront about saying “This is what worked for me… but the most important voice You can listen to in this journey is going to be YOUR inner voice.” And I still absolutely believe that to this day. In the end, it was my own voice that helped me save my own life. ♥

I shared everything I learned along the way very publicly in recipe/blog posts on this blog, on KickAS.org (my user name was BettyRawker if you search old forum posts) and in the The Low/No Starch Diet for Ankylosing Spondylitis Facebook Group. I also had an ebook cookbook available the past year & 1/2 called “Pure and Simple Paleo: a Low Starch Cookbook”.

Here is a short and sweet summary of the tools I used to help heal my body, mind, and spirit along the way:

Dig deep and identify which foods (if any) are causing inflammation and an autoimmune response in your body. Once you identify those foods, AVOID them. Once symptoms have subsided and one is “pain-free” then foods can be tested again to see if they cause inflammation. I personally used Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCDiet) combined with the Low Starch Diet for AS to find the foods that made me feel my best, and the foods I needed to avoid if I wanted to continue to feel my best. I modified the SCDiet to fit my body, so I quit eating all dairy while healing, and added in ingredients that worked well with my body, like cacao, flax seeds, chia seeds, pysllium seeds, etc. I can now eat pretty much all foods except: soy (soy is the number 1 trigger of inflammation in my body!), I also avoid cows’ milk (I can eat unlimited goat & sheep cheeses, kefir, butter, etc, but I am allergic to cows’ milk), and I now eat all grains (except I have not added gluten back into my diet yet, but I enjoy all other grains), and I avoid refined / cane sugar as my body no-likey (I can eat all the honey, maple syrup, fruits, juices, and natural sugars I want, but refined sugar makes me feel icky so I simply avoid it). I used to be really sensitive to nightshades, but I can now eat all the potatoes I want, peppers no longer bother me, though I haven’t tried eating tomatoes again yet, but I’m no rush. Otherwise I eat a very diverse diet with starches, grains, wild caught fish, a little pasture raised meat & eggs, all organic fruits & veggies, all nuts & seeds, and whatever else is in season.

Savor every bite. Find the beauty in the foods that make you feel good. Celebrate nourishing your body. Find things to feel grateful for everyday. If your diet is feeling really limited, you may feel you have endless options when it comes to enjoying flavorful teas. I also love doing little arts, crafts, and splurging on new fabrics at the fabric store. One can also savor a deliciously good book. Sometimes when we take our focus off of searching for all the answers, the answers we seek flow into our lives in unexpected ways.

Look into the “Rules of Food Combining” if you suffer from bloating, cramping, or gas after eating. This was a revolutionary discovery in my journey. Following the principles of food combining early on helped me so much when my IBD was at its worst. I no longer follow the rules, as I no longer suffer from IBS or IBD, but they did enlighten me quite a bit on how to drastically improve my overall digestion of foods! Which was key for my healing!

Make necessary lifestyle changes to reduce stress. Put your health and well being above all else.

Get more restful sleep. Make more time for relaxation and meditation. I love being outdoors in our garden, or resting under the shade of our apple trees on a summer day with my dogs. I take my shoes off and connect my bare feet to the earth to rest, recharge, and experience “earthing”. I also enjoy what the Japanese call Shinrin-yoku Forest Therapy also known as “forest bathing” or simply being out in nature, when I’m out foraging wild foods for a pie or our dinner.

Find the activities and people that bring joy to your life, and celebrate those. Learn to say no to things that don’t.

Find a Doctor or Health Professional that you feel has your best interests at heart. I’ve worked with a great Functional Medicine Doctor who helped me get some tests done to that looked at the cellular health of my body, and it helped identify which supplements I can take to better nourish my cells. I only take a few supplements, and most days I forget to take them. 😉

Use a Full Body Healing Approach. Not only did I focus on healing with my diet, but I also focused on healing physically with Rolfing Therapy and using my own fasica tools at home, warm water pool physical therapy (I swim everyday!), I’ve also been using microcurrent therapy to help bring back more range of motion in un-fused joints, and I have worked with some brilliant physical therapists on restoring my posture with body mechanics. I use skin creams and salves made with arnica that I love to run into any achy spots, the Naturlz company makes 2 “healing pain” creams that I love. In the past I’ve tried everything from accupunture to cold laser therapy, to sitting in a radon mine in Montana. Our bodies are always changing, and often times we need to adapt the therapies that make us feel our best along the way.

If fermented foods make you feel good, eat them. My favorite probiotic rich cultured foods are: Jun tea, (directions for making Jun & why I love it here), raw fermented sauerkraut and cultured veggies like carrots, beets, & ginger, Kevita sugar-free kefir made from fermented coconut water, and goat milk kefir (which I love in this no-churn goat kefir ice cream recipe). I also like fermented dill pickles (either Bubbie’s brand or from our friends at Super Natural Farm – I also get other fermented veggies and krauts from Super Natural Farm). I have also taken probiotics in supplement form, and my current favorite brand of probiotics is Megaspore, which you can get from some health practitioners or online.

If you’d like to hear my voice, and hear more about my journey’s in healing check out this podcast I was recently interviewed on by Eileen at Phoenix Helix. I think it’s a really great & inspiring podcast, perfect to listen to on an hour long drive in the car. ♥

I guess that about sums it up! I’d love to stay connected, so please join my mailing list if you’d like to receive my monthly newsletter.

 



And I’m absolutely thrilled to be working on a new *gluten-free* & *grain-free* cookbook project that I just know peeps are going to LOVE!! The plan is to have this new cookbook available as an ebook in the summer of 2017, and hopefully and extended version in print in 2018.

Andrea Wyckoff

A lot of the inspiration for my blog comes from living here nestled into the foothills of the Oregon Coast range, a little place I call the edge of the world! On any given day at our home, you may find a herd of 50 elk wandering through our front yard, a bobcat lurking in the backyard, wild turkeys trotting by, raccoons raiding our compost pile, and squirrels in our attic. We also see so many amazing wild birds! And hawks, great-horned owls, and many coyotes too! We truly live in a magical and wild place, on the edge of the modern world, I treasure everyday here, and I look forward to sharing these treasured moments with you too! ♥

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24 Comments

  1. Thank you for this. Your place sounds magical, beautiful and rare. A treasure indeed. I’m so sorry for your diagnosis, but am inspired by how you’ve turned it around to help, not only yourself, but others as well. I’m looking forward to settling in here at Pacific Wanderlust and learning from you! Thank you!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your recipes! I live with AS as well and it is always so exciting to stumble across new recipes that I can actually have! Because as you know, few people truly understand what “starch-free” means and how important it is to preventing our pain. My lovely mother-in-law made your bagels for me today and they are delicious. I haven’t enjoyed something so wonderfully bread-like for years, chewy and not crumbly, what a treat! I will be enjoying your recipe in my own baking now. Thank you for sharing!!

    1. Hi Adrianne!

      Thanks so much for the wonderful note! I love meeting fellow AS Warriors!!

      So glad you enjoyed the bagels! have so many more yummy starch free recipes up my sleeve that I am looking forward to sharing soon, as I am compiling a cookbook of over 100 low/no starch recipes. I am so excited, in the process of the final recipes testing right now. Whoot!!

      Stay in touch! Lets kick this AS Monster!

      xo,
      Andrea

  3. My husband has AS, and we eat a lot like you — mostly vegan, with some wild-caught fish and some pastured/organic eggs. My husband and I are looking forward to more recipes!! What a goldmine!

    1. Hi Laurie!

      I ♥ Central & Eastern Oregon too! I used to say my heart belonged to the John Day River, but then I met my husband, and he brought me with him, back over here to the lush, wet, west side of the Cascades. Where it’s got it’s perks too.

      I hope you enjoy the Holidays and those Cookies!!

      xo

  4. I am a fellow Oregonian too! I live in Hillsboro, but envy your more wild location! Sometimes you feel like you’re living on an island alone, but meeting fellow bloggers on healing diets reminds me I am not!

    1. Hi Neighbor!!

      So cool to know you are nearby! And I know, whenever I meet someone else on a healing diet, it’s like we just know, and can instantly relate to each other. ♥

      Thanks so much for saying hi!!

      Andrea

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your recipes and story with us. I have been struggling with IBS, hypoglycaemia, low iron, low blood pressure, candida overgrowth and what feels like an endless amount of food intolerances and restrictions. For the first time thanks to you I’ve found recipes with ingredients I can actually tolerate. I’m finally beginning to feel excited about eating again! I purchased your book and I can’t wait to dive into your recipes! Thank you a billion times ♥

    1. Wow! Thank you for this sweet comment Loukia! I can totally relate!! I hit a wall 8 years ago, where EVERYTHING I ate caused raging inflammation in my body, major GI distress, AS (autoimmune arthritis flares), and it was beyond frustrating and incredibly painful. Through tons of trial and error, and dedication to an elimination diet (starting with the SCD diet) I am now just so thankful to have finally honed in on the food my body can thrive on, and that actually taste good too! I really hope you enjoy the recipes in the cookbook as much as I do!! xx

  6. This looks amazing! I am new to Paleo and am looking for ideas. Crumbles are a great one! I am featuring it tonight on Savoring Saturdays. Can’t wait to see what you post this week!

  7. Hello! I am so glad I found your page, blog, whatever. Due to many years of self neglect I found out a few years ago I am diabetic. I was told to lose weight or die. So i did. I have tried literally hundreds of diets, but the one i have found best is simply, Low carb-high fiber lots of veg a little dairy, proteins (must have bacon), and watching the fruits… I have lost over a period of two years over 50lbs. I walk, a lot and my husband and dogs help. I love chocolate and cheese, breads and everything I’m not supposed to have. But finding recipes and sites like those you post save my sanity. Thanks so much.

    1. Hi Stephanie!

      Thanks for the sweet comment! And thank you for sharing your story!! It’s amazing what a difference changing my diet has made in changing my life too! Cheers to lots of veggies and of course chocolate too!!

      xx

  8. You are truly an inspiration. Your peaceful energy emanates through your writing. It calms me just reading your blog! I came back to re-read this page today and benefited again from your sharing. So grateful!
    I started the No Starch eating approach in November 2016 and am limited even more by specific “safe” foods that also cause me inflammation so I eat mainly avocados, sauerkraut, inner eco coconut kefir, macadamia nuts, walnuts, coconut wraps, Barlean’s key lime swirl fish oil (as a dessert) some lamb, beef, a bit of chicken occasionally and some veggies. My pain is vastly reduced but have more bloating and tons of “wind” from the fats I suppose. I really don’t mind having a limited diet , no complaints there at all. Yet, Your writing here helped me take the long view, that yes, the bloating will, in time, disappear as well, and my gut will normalize with time. It has only been 3 months. I was AIP for years, but it is the starch free addition that is truly shifting my parameters. Your writing and the “no starch fb page” filled with sharing has truly changed my life. Just wanting to reach out and let you know how much I appreciate all that you are and have done for so many of us. You are a gift.

    1. Wow! Thank you so much for the kind words!! ❤

      I agree, it’s sometimes hard to see the forest through the trees and we wonder if we will ever get better! And I’m still in awe every single day of how far I have come, appreciating every painfree movement I get to enjoy, my newfound energy, all while eating a wide variety of foods again now that my gut is healed! This past year it’s been almost unreal that I’m able to enjoy organic rice, corn, potatoes, nightshades, even delicious sweet little tangerines daily, after 6 YEARS of avoiding these foods while I healed with a low starch SCD Paleo diet. And I hear ya on the bloating, as many of these once forbidden foods used to make me bloat up like I was 8 months pregnant! But amazingly not anymore.

      I’m getting ready to send out a newsletter about the alternative therapies that have helped me heal beyond diet. I believe that if I used some of these therapies sooner I would have been able to graduate from a strict diet sooner too. Either way though, I am just so thankful I have been able to heal and in turn fall back in love with my body and my life!

      Best healing wishes!!

      xx

  9. Thank you for this!!! My 13 year old son has been diagnosed and it’s taken me 3 weeks to start to wrap my mind around it. We have been low/no starch for 5 days and are both over the carb flu and feeling better. Today is the first day he hasn’t had any pain at all. Here’s hoping for more. Thank you for the recipes and inspiration! I do love the low/no starch support on facebook. kickas.org, too. I’m so pumped for your new cookbook!
    Thanks for helping me not feel terrified that there’s nothing to be done about AS. <3 <3 <3
    Nicki

    1. Hi Nicki!

      Thank you so much for this note! That is so wonderful to hear your son is feeling better and pain-free just 5 days in! He’s so fortunate to have a supermom keeping an eye out for him and helping him with all the diet changes. Wishing him many pain-free days ahead!! xx

      PS: Please join my little mailing list so we can stay in touch! ♥

  10. Hello, Andrea! I’m a 50 year old woman. loved reading your story because it helps me to not feel so alone! My dad had AS (complete spinal fusion) and my own horrible flares began at age 23. It took years of intense pain and doctor visits before I got my diagnosis, despite my family history and symptoms. They told me, “Women don’t get AS like men do!,” and they got so sick of seeing me in the doctor’s office about it that they eventually told me I had fibromyalgia and they even sent me to a psychiatrist. I was in my early forties when I couldn’t take it anymore and demanded an MRI. The doctor spun madly around in his chair and wrote the order just to shut me up. …and then I got a personal phone call and an apology after my MRI and blood tests came back positive for AS. I took Indomethacin for about 8 years–it was a miracle drug for me– but by age 45 I still had to get total hip joint replacement surgery on both sides. Like you, I did everything I could think of to heal…dietary changes, supplements, “earthing”, Jedi mind control, burning magic candles (just kidding–sort of) and finally, Reiki. I had gone to a hypnotist but I wasn’t going under, and it made me frustrated…and so she asked me, “You paid for my time, how about getting on my Reiki table, instead?” And I *reluctantly* got on the table, never in a million years believing in what it would do for me. Two weeks later I was off the Indo and I’ve been in remission ever since. And yes–I think it is crazy!! But it’s a true story. I eventually became a Reiki Master and other people have sworn to have experienced total healing, although it is a crap shoot with everyone. It wasn’t until I got psoriasis on my legs they stayed for two full years, plus debilitating pain everywhere in my body (excluding my spine, go figure) that I had to go totally AIP with my diet. I did that two months ago and I have not regretted it one single bit. Even my finger swelling has gone down. I sleep through the night now, and I don’t have any more pain. Pain is a huge motivating factor, huh? So thanks for your website here. I am grateful for the support and the recipes.

  11. What a lovely place you live in! One of your posts mentions how you got well, and made huge improvements, when you did your juice fast. Perhaps it would be good to include here so others can be inspired by it? ☺️💗 http://www.forestandfauna.com/juice-fasting/

    I’m on day 14 of a juice fast to get rid of migraine symptoms, and it’s going great! The migraines aren’t gone yet, but I hope I can do 30-40 days total if needed. It’s amazing how I’m not craving food at all—loving the juice! 🍏🍍🥒🥕

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