Fed & Fit

Ep. 78: The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook

Today I’m joined by Mickey Trescott and Angie Alt! They share their health journey stories, how they came to find success with an Autoimmune Protocol, their business together, and their newest book, ‘The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook.'

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Episode 78 Transcription

On today’s show, Mickey Trescott and Angie Alt, both leaders in the autoimmune protocol world join me on the show to share their stories to talk about their new printed autoimmune wellness handbook.

Cassy Joy: Welcome back to the Fed and Fit podcast! I’m thrilled today to have not just one, but two awesome ladies on the show today; Mickey Trescott and Angie Alt. Mickey is an NTP, Angie is an NTC and CHC; {laughs} I’ll tell you what all of that is in just a second. I’m really excited to have them both on. First, I’ll tell you about Mickey.

Mickey is a nutritional therapy practitioner; that’s what the NTP stands for; chef, blogger, and author of the Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook. She’s the creator of AIP Batch cook; a video based cooking program that teaches users how to prepare allergen free meals in their own home. Very, very cool stuff. She teaches cooking classes online and at seminars across the country, as well as at Bastyr University; I hope I said that right. I’m an Aggie. {laughs} We’re kind of…

Mickey Trescott: Yeah, no, you totally got it.

Cassy Joy: I nailed it? Awesome. Sometimes I feel like I’m tucked into my Texas bubble very tightly. Mickey is on the board of directors for Hashimoto’s Awareness, an advocacy organization for suffers of Hashimoto’s disease, and in 2012, Mickey founded Autoimmunepaleo.com; a website with recipes and resources for those suffering from autoimmune diseases. She lives in Willamette Valley, Oregon. Did I say that one right, too, Mickey?

Mickey Trescott: Willamette. Close!

Cassy Joy: {laughs} Oh man. Did I say it like Siri says it? {laughs}

Mickey Trescott: Oh, I think you did better than Siri, actually.

Cassy Joy: Awesome. Ok, I’m going to tell you guys about Angie. Angie is a nutritional therapy consultant; that’s what the NTC stands for; and a certified health coach; the CHC. She’s also the author of the Alternative Autoimmune Cookbook, a recipe and guidebook for the autoimmune protocol. She is the creator of SAD and AIP in 6, an online coaching program that has helped over 1000 members on the path to wellness; very cool; teaching them how to transition their diets and lifestyle over a 6-week period. In 2015, Angie became a partner at Autoimmunepaleo.com, and she lives in Washington, D.C. Welcome, Angie!

Angie Alt: Thanks! It’s nice to be here.

Cassy Joy: Oh, it’s nice to have you girls here. Well I’m going to pass the baton off. Those were really lovely bios, and gave a nice introduction, but I would love it if y’all could share a little bit more about your stories, and about this latest project that you girls are working on.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah, so Mickey here, I’ll go first. And you know, my journey really started like a lot of us who come to paleo, come to all these health modifications, diet modifications, the autoimmune protocol, with a personal health issue. So I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and Celiac disease about 5 years ago now after suffering for about a year, which in the scheme of things isn’t very long; but it was a pretty bad year. And I kept going to the doctor and trying to figure out what was wrong, and there were kind of two parts to my story. One part was not really getting what I needed from the medical community; so, going to the doctor and being told that there was nothing wrong, that my lab tests were normal, a lot of refusal to order additional testing. And then the second part was just that food was a part of my problem, but I had a really hard time uncovering exactly what that meant. I had been vegan for 10 years, so I really was eating this low-fat, plant based diet. I thought it was great, and when I was having problems and I asked my doctors about it; they said, oh no, that’s the best diet you could possibly eat. And it has nothing to do with the problems you’re having.

I actually found out through a whole slew of events that I won’t bore you guys; it’s a really long story. But really the food piece was a really big part of why I wasn’t feeling well, and why, even after I got my diagnosis, I continued to feel worse. So I got to the point where I lost my job, I could barely get out of bed in the morning. All my hair was falling out; I was just super emotional, I was super anxious, and you know, every day was a struggle. And when I went back to my doctors and I said; you know, these problems that I’m having they’re not really explained by my diagnosis, and what you guys told me to do was just go gluten free. It’s not really working.

So they told me that I was probably developing more autoimmune diseases, and that I just needed to wait to experience those symptoms for 6 more months before they could give me a diagnosis. And I wasn’t going to wait that long, you know. I was having neurological problems, balance problems, numbness, especially one side of my face. I was slurring my speech. I had this crazy cloud of brain fog, I couldn’t even think or remember anything. It was really debilitating, so I went online, and that’s how I found out about dietary modifications for people with autoimmune disease.

So what I really started researching was; what does science say about nutrition for people that have an autoimmune condition? And what I found out was this whole wormhole of information coming from people like Chris Kresser, Sarah Ballantyne, Dr. Datis Kharrazian, who are all kind of in the alternative/functional medicine community. And really what they were saying was passing along this research that showed that there were all these foods that were problems for people with autoimmune disease. So that’s how I got into this modification of the paleo diet called the autoimmune protocol, which is just a little more strict than paleo. And then you reintroduce foods back; you know, those nutrient dense foods. We can talk about that later; like the eggs, and nuts, and seeds, and things like that that not everyone is sensitive to. You add them back in; but then there are other foods like gluten-containing grains, dairy for a lot of people, nightshade foods; those are things that some people with autoimmune disease just can’t tolerate.

So completely changed my life; kind of getting on this track of AIP, and 5 years later here I am trying to share the message of wellness and hope with people that are diagnosed and just really want to know what they can do. Because it was a really scary place not having any options, and not feeling like there was anything I could do to help myself when I was really sick.

Cassy Joy: What a beautiful story, and really, really encouraging. I know there are a lot of folks here; you girls, believe it or not, you’re actually the first autoimmune protocol specialists that I’ve had on the show!

Mickey Trescott: Ooh!

Cassy Joy: I know. You’re breaking ground. That’s really, really wonderful, and really encouraging, and I know that it’s going to resonate with some readers, because I’ve talked with a lot of folks one on one, but this is the first very open format that we’ve brought it up so I think that’s wonderful. I tip my hat to an autoimmune protocol; probably the most widely accepted form of it, in the Fed and Fit book with recipe modifications and notes, just to kind of help cater. But it’s really, really wonderful to hear your testimonial and your perspective. That’s wonderful. And you’ve taken it and run with it!

Angie I could love it if you could share a little bit more about your story, as well.

Angie Alt: Sure. So, I have a very similar story to Mickey. Celiac disease is also my primary autoimmune diagnosis; I have two others as well, endometriosis and lichen sclerosis. My story is a little longer than hers, though. You know, it’s not so unusual in the autoimmune world for the path to diagnosis to be a little bit ridiculously long, and mine is on the outside of that far end. {laughs}

Cassy Joy: Oh, goodness!

Angie Alt: It took me about 11 years to get my diagnosis from the first onset of symptoms; which started shortly after my daughter was born. That’s also pretty common. Autoimmune disease; women are primarily affected by autoimmune diseases, and it’s not so unusual for the changes that come with pregnancy and childbirth to bring that on. So, not so unusual, but that’s when it started, in my early 20s after my little girl was born. And then it just kind of kept progressing, and I picked up some other friendly autoimmune diseases along the way; or not so friendly, I should say.

And then finally, in my early 30s while we were living overseas, my husband works in international development so we were living in West Africa; I started getting really sick. I started having a lot of the same kinds of problems that Mickey was talking about; most of this is the result of malnourishment as the intestine is damaged from celiac disease. So I started having a lot of neurological problems, lots of strange heart palpitations, terrible brain fog, numbness, tingling, the whole gamut. And that is really scary and not fun, but it was even more so in an environment that had just so little access to health care. We didn’t really know what was causing the problems, and it started to get sort of traumatic level scary. So I ended up going through three medical evacuations, and finally returned to the United States permanently to try to look for help, and I started seeing doctor after doctor. Most of them just told me I was stressed out {laughs}. And I was like; you’re right, I am stressed out, because I feel terrible and I need help! {laughs}

And finally, I was referred a GI doctor who recognized the symptoms, and she tested me, and diagnosed me with celiac disease, and I started the gluten free diet; just the traditional gluten free diet, which I’m sure lots of your listeners are aware of. But like Mickey, it didn’t help; in fact I got sicker. My antibodies climbed, and I started ending up in the emergency room pretty often with anaphylaxis level allergic reactions to other foods, even though I was eating gluten free.

So I was getting really desperate by that point, and I started doing a lot of research online, because I saw that the conventional medical system was kind of at the end of what they could offer me for treatment for my autoimmune conditions, and I came across what were the beginning threads of what became the autoimmune protocol, and I just jumped right in. I started literally overnight, and it was a big change, and it worked. And it worked so well that I decided to start blogging about it. And in that process, I met some other women; there were probably about 4 or 5 of us in the beginning that I could find in the whole United States that were also doing it, and Mickey was one of them. Eventually we merged our missions, and here we are.

Cassy Joy: What an amazing story! Man you girls are awesome. I’m jotting down some questions for you, but that’s really, really inspiring. 11 years. Of course you’d be stressed out! {laughs} Of course!

Angie Alt: Yeah, yeah. I was like; um, I don’t really need an antidepressant, I need to figure out what’s wrong with me! {laughs}

Cassy Joy: I just need help by golly!

Angie Alt: Yeah.

Cassy Joy: Oh my goodness, wow. And what a blessing to have found that in AIP. So tell me how the two of you have merged your worlds together, and what you're working on now.

Mickey Trescott: So two and half or three years ago; is that right Angie?

Angie Alt: Yeah.

Mickey Trescott: We kind of had this idea; you know we were both blogging on our own. Our blogs were very personal; our personal healing stories. We were actually hanging out together; Angie was self-publishing her book, and I traveled out to DC to meet up with her and just kind of help her get it off the ground, and we were both scheduling Facebook posts, and we were both like; oh, this is kind of weird that we both do the same thing. What if we kind of combined forces and did it together. Really what we were trying to do is exactly the same thing. Trying to inspire people and share good recipes that were compliant for the autoimmune protocol. So what started with this kind of little thought, we decided; well, wait a minute. If we actually put our heads together, we might be able to create something that just one of us wouldn’t be able to create.

So we had some brainstorming sessions, and we created what now is autoimmune-paleo.com. We just kind of joined forces, and wrote some awesome vision and mission statements, and kind of penned out what our core values were and really tried to provide a resource that not only provided information; really timely, accurate information for people with autoimmune disease, but also connect them and plug them into this community over social media and we have some different posts about people around the world sharing their kitchens and what works for them and all that kind of thing to just kind of take the pressure off of us having it be so personal, especially since we’ve both recovered and we’re not; you know, the ongoing story is not the same as kind of the healing story. We’ve got some great contributors.

From there, we were just super fired up when a publisher approached us about writing a cookbook, and we were like; hey, we’ve both written our own cookbooks, and there are like 6 other AIP cookbooks; did you guys not get the memo?

Cassy Joy: {laughs}

Mickey Trescott: But we are kind of doing this thing that’s a little bit bigger than just the food, and so we pitched them an idea for the Autoimmune Wellness Handbook, which is a book that they ultimately loved the concept, and they signed us up to publish under them, so we began the process of two years of writing this book that is really meant to be just kind of a starting place for people with autoimmune disease. I don’t know, Angie, maybe you can tell people a little more about the book.

Angie Alt: Yeah. I mean, it’s kind of a holistic look; holistic is just kind of a fancy word for all the pieces; whole view of how to approach living well with autoimmune disease. It’s really done uniquely from the perspective that you don’t need a guru or some specialist to be your guide on this journey. There is a lot that you can do on your own, and you can be in charge of choosing the players who come along side you; your doctors, etc. that help you make your recovery. So it’s just kind of like a lot of empowerment in a little package {laughs}.

Cassy Joy: I love it! Well then I have a question for you about the book; and this is a very unfair question, and when people ask me of Fed and Fit I didn’t have a great answer {laughs} but I think it’s a good one. If there was one take away, aside from the overall feeling of empowerment, but if there was one little nugget of information that you would want folks to tuck into their pocket to remember that you included in the book, what would that be from the Autoimmune Wellness Handbook?

Angie Alt: Are you going Mickey?

Mickey Trescott: Do you want to go?

Both: {laughs}

Mickey Trescott: How about you go first, Angie? {laughs}

Angie Alt: I mean, I think honestly I would go back to the empowerment piece. You can be in the driver’s seat, you can own your journey, and that by doing that you can kind of join this whole wellness revolution that’s going on out here with autoimmune disease. I think Mickey and I both came from really disempowered and really lonely spots, and I think most people with autoimmune disease begin there, and we are really fired up to show people that they don’t have to stay in that place.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah, I was going to say, just the fact that you can live better. You can live well with autoimmune disease. I think until recent times, autoimmune disease has been so deep and confusing. There really hasn’t been a lot of support, but now I just really want to show people with this book that A) it doesn’t start and end with your doctor. Yes, that is a big part of managing an autoimmune disease, and we talk about that in the book. We have a lot of information about how to talk to your doctor, how to pick out a doctor, where to find them, how to get them to work with your other practitioners; the difference between natural and conventional; that’s all really important. But that’s not the only; until now, that was the only way of managing an autoimmune disease.

Now, you have all of these tools of diet, and lifestyle, and this community support connection with other people. Just all these resources that people can connect with and use to live well, and we have tons of stories from this community of people that have had success, and yeah that’s really what we’re trying to share with people.

Cassy Joy: That’s really wonderful. Really, really beautiful, and really, really needed. As someone who; as a nutrition consultant, I’ve worked with a lot of folks that really do speak to that disempowered state of being, and feeling like there aren’t very many answers. And then at a first glance, an autoimmune protocol can seem a little overwhelming. So to have it laid out in a very approachable, logical, empowering to your credit, format sounds really wonderful, and very needed.

So speaking of finding a doctor; I know you said it’s in the book, and if folks want to read more, check out the Autoimmune Wellness Handbook. But do you have any, just a quick snippet of advice, for someone who maybe is at this stage of unwell, and they are trying to find; or maybe they’re trying to make a change in their PCP; primary care provider. How would you direct somebody on the path of finding the right doctor?

Mickey Trescott: So I usually advice people; I get a lot of questions about what kind of doctor do I need, but I think the more; the quality of what kind of doctor; not as in credential, but maybe as in their open-mindedness or their collaborative nature. That is the thing that you’re really looking for. So depending on your insurance, and depending on your issues, that can be anywhere across the board. Some people have not medically diagnosable issues; maybe they’re just feeling a little bit tired, that fatigue starting to set in; maybe they’re having some insomnia at night. If you go to a doctor, you know what they’re going to do. They’re going to maybe check your thyroid, they’re going to maybe give some sleeping pills. Unless that’s something that someone wants; which, some thyroid lab tests if they’re an open minded doctor would probably be a good thing. But for those kind of beginning, nonspecific symptoms, working with someone like a nutritionist or a nutritional consultant kind of like what we do, is a really great first line.

For people that have a serious, already diagnosed, autoimmune disease that needs regular monitoring and treatment, they really need to find that doctor that kind of has the credential to offer them whatever they need. So if they need a prescription medication; like I take thyroid hormone, so I need to work with a doctor that can legally prescribe that. I can’t really work with a nutritionist for something like that. But that quality; that listening, that open-mindedness, that collaboration I think is the foundation of anyone you work with. Because I’ve been able to talk to general MDs, NDs, functional MDs all across the board; I’ve been able to talk to them about some of these tests that are maybe not conventional, or maybe medication that isn’t conventional, and depending on who they are, if they’re willing to listen to you and help you out and be creative, that’s kind of what you’re looking for.

Cassy Joy: Yeah; and they’re out there. And I think that’s an important point to make. Because there are some folks listening right now who just; maybe they have never encountered a medical professional with, like you said, those credentials that are open minded and are collaborative. So just know that they are out there, it just might take some searching.

Angie Alt: Yeah.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah, and people might even find that their current doctors are collaborative or open minded; they just have never asked the right questions, you know. And I’ve worked with doctors where the treatment; like, originally my thyroid hormone was unconventional for the doctors that I was working with, but I was able to show them articles and research where people were talking about that natural thyroid and the ratio of T3 to T4; which are the thyroid hormones, and the medication. And I actually had a doctor that prescribed my medication that looked into it at my request.

So you never know. It doesn’t have to specifically be some fancy, functional medicine doctor. Sometimes you can go to your regular doctor and make a good case for what you’re asking for.

Cassy Joy: What a brilliant take on things. And at the end of the day, I really like to; we tout a lot that knowledge is power, and it’s ok to be an informed consumer, and it’s ok to be an informed patient and to walk in with research and don’t feel like you don’t have a right; just like Mickey did, to bring things up and offer other perspectives. Awesome. Well, that brings up another question; I’m curious about something you said. I think, Mickey, it was something that you said, about the distinction between ongoing AIP living versus just starting an AIP lifestyle. Is there a distinction that you can think of between the two; aside from maybe reintroducing, going through a reintroduction phase where maybe you might find that eggs, and nuts, and seeds are ok. But is there a mindset difference?

I bring this up because, like I said, I've worked with folks who follow an autoimmune protocol for a very strict point in time, for a very specific purpose, and they do well with it, but they have a hard time understanding how they can live well; which is the point of what y’all are doing with that, for eternity, so to speak.

Angie Alt: I think this..

Mickey Trescott: Yeah, go ahead Angie.

Angie Alt: I was just going to say, I think we kind of talk about this in the book. It’s kind of an ebb and flow. As you go through the process of kind of regaining your health after initially be down in the dumps with autoimmune disease, you’ll start to recognize things about your body and what it needs. You’ll start to kind of hear it talking to you better, and you’ll know more instinctively when are the times you can kind of basically unfurl the sails to give more sailing analogies. You can kind of let things be a little looser, and you can enjoy a wider variety of foods and really maybe take advantage of the reintroductions that you’ve been able to bring back into your diet. Have an extra glass of wine, maybe at a dinner party or whatever. And it’s fine.

But then there may be other times where you know that your body needs a little bit tighter controls; or you might even anticipate them coming. If you know you’re going to be, for instance, under a lot of stress at work, you may know that you’re going to need to be extra careful with your diet for a while; really, really mindful with your sleep, do lots of stress management stuff. You know, things to prepare your body so the chances of the autoimmune disease kind of flaring up and leaving you in misery are less likely to happen. It’s kind of learning how to do this dance a little bit that helps you maintain the balance.

Cassy Joy: What a fabulous perspective. And I think that’s a great takeaway for folks who maybe are not diagnosed or potentially suffering from an autoimmune disease. For example, when I’m working on a big work project, I will dial it back on my exercise because at the end of the day, exercise is a stressor. As many awesome benefits that come from it; I’m also not going to go and give a Crossfit workout my all four to five times a week; I’m going to dial back and I’m going to do more restorative yoga type practices and just get out and move and walk and do things that are less stressful that keep me moving. Because the total load is really what you’re focused on, in trying to really balance those stressors. So that’s brilliant; awesome, I love it. Love the answer.

Angie Alt: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: Ok, let’s see. Are there any other really big takeaways that you’re really excited to share with the world that are going to be in the Autoimmune Wellness Handbook? Like, just some stuff that you’ve been waiting to say and put out there, resource wise or some references, or even some recipes. What are some of the pieces of it that you’re most excited to share?

Mickey Trescott: You know for me, some of the lifestyle stuff has been really powerful in my own life, and I think that; you know, Angie and I pretty much share this experience of having diet be the thing that we talked about on our blogs and in our stories, but really, we were starting to nerd out about all of these aspects of life. Like, rest, stress management, movement, connection, and so it kind of feels like we’re taking a full circle look at kind of what we personally did to get well.

So I was really excited to have the opportunity to address those areas; because you know, for a lot of people, food is an easy thing to change. At least once you get a hang of it, compared to some of this other stuff, this lifestyle stuff that; you know, can go kind of against what people are used to in their culture and their jobs and their work stress and their families; the way they sleep, the way they move, all of that stuff is a little bit difficult. Like, going on a diet is a pretty common thing for people, so that was really fun. And specifically for me, the connection chapter.

So we talk about how connection to other people, and also connection with nature, affects people with autoimmune disease. And it might seem like something that’s a little bit out there, but especially in reference to nature. There is so much research about the effects of being in nature on the immune system. So they actually studied groups of people that would go to a camping trip in the forest, and they would see how their immune system was positively modulated. So for people who have autoimmune disease, this means it was brought more into balance. For a whole month after they went on a weekend camping trip in the forest, or something.

Cassy Joy: Amazing.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah, and that’s something that I’ve always felt this soul connection to, being in nature. It’s kind of why I left the city and I live in a more rural area. But to see that validated, and research, and be able to write about it, and be able to say to people; yes, going camping. You don’t have to pitch a tent; you can go glamping and stay in a cabin. But just being in nature and being mindful of that aspect can actually impact your autoimmune disease.

Cassy Joy: Fabulous. I completely agree; I couldn’t agree more. That’s wonderful. Really, really wonderful. Well, if you gals could remind us when the Autoimmune Wellness Handbook is going to be available where folks can find it, and then where they can find you?

Mickey Trescott: So the book comes out November 1; they can find us and the book at our website, http://autoimmune-paleo.com, and it will be on store shelves all over on November 1st. you can get it preordered on Amazon and other online retailers now.

Angie Alt: We also have a podcast.

Cassy Joy: {laughs}

Mickey Trescott: Oh yeah!

Angie Alt: It’s called the autoimmune wellness podcast.

Mickey Trescott: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: I heard something about that.

Angie Alt: Yay!

Mickey Trescott: That’s our brand new project; I keep forgetting we did it, but I don’t know how because it’s a huge amount of work, as you know. {laughs}

Angie Alt: Yeah, we just did one season, because we were like; this is a lot of work, and I don’t know if we can commit to this like all of our other friends in the community who, apparently, have their stuff together pretty well. Yeah.

Mickey Trescott: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: Oh you know, girls, I’m just flying by the seat of my pants. {laughing} That’s awesome. Well congratulations on the podcast, and especially congratulations on the book. I know; it sounds, it’s very obvious from just hearing the two of you talk it’s a labor of love, and I’m really thrilled, personally thankful that you’re putting this out there in the world and I’ve got a place to direct folks for these answers. So that’s really wonderful. I’m going to link to their website, their podcast, and of course their book in the show notes, so you can find all that information there as well as a full transcript of today’s show, so in case you miss something, you can scroll back through and you can read it! Thanks for joining me on the show today, girls!

Mickey Trescott: Thank you for having us.

Angie Alt: Thank you so much for having us.

Cassy Joy: Oh my gosh, you guys were perfectly in sync there. {laughs} You’re so welcome. The pleasure was mine; I really, really appreciate it and I know that a lot of listeners appreciate it as well. So thanks for joining me, and everybody we’ll be back again next week.

   

One Response to “Ep. 78: The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook”

  1. #
    1
    Dee Kafuraposted November 28, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    Thank you sooo much for this podcast!! I just recently started to follow you through your blog, snapchat, etc. Did I mention how I love how much love and joy that just beams from your smile and laugh you are just the BEST! I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis 6 years ago. I have been doing a Paleo diet for 6+ months, but still have RA flares etc. Last week I was thinking there has to be more for me to learn to use my diet to help with my RA. Low and behold I just scrolled through your podcasts today, and saw this one!!! I listened, and now I’m adding Micky and Angie’s podcast to my must listen list too!! Can’t wait to see what I learn. You are the best!!! XO Thank you!
    Dee

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