When I first embarked on my original elimination diet, I felt incredibly alone. In fact, part of the reason why I started this blog was so that I could connect with others who were going through a similar process and looking to connect. Since then, the autoimmune protocol has gained incredible traction within the small communities of sufferers who have found the protocol helpful to their conditions. Countless autoimmune protocol lifestyle and recipe blogs have sprung up, along with more support groups and pages on facebook.
Through my involvement with these different communities, I have made many virtual friends who understand me in a way that many of my real-life friends and family members never will. They get the feeling of an autoimmune flare, how frustrating it is after seeing an unsympathetic doctor and how the thought of attending a holiday party induces panic. We can laugh about “emergency breakfasts” of sardines and avocado when our stash of frozen meat patties run out, or how greasy our hair is after trying “no poo” for the first time (thats no shampoo, not poop, people!). For the last year, being online has allowed me to be a part of this growing tribe of people who eat, act and think differently than all of the people I interact with every day. These friendships have kept me motivated to eat and live in a way that keeps me full of vitality, even when the stress of daily life almost has me worn thin. If you are trying this on your own and haven’t joined a group or connected in some way, I greatly suggest that you do so!
Are you ready to get connected online? Here is how:
-Get plugged in on the facebook pages. Mine can be found here, as well as The Paleo Mom, Alt-Ternative Autoimmune, Nutrisclerosis, A Clean Plate and Phoenix Helix. A lot of us autoimmune bloggers post compliant recipes, articles and reader questions that followers are welcome to discuss.
-Find some facebook support groups, specific to your condition with members who are open to using alternative therapies to manage their conditions. I help moderate both Hashimoto’s 411 and the Elimination/Provocation 411 groups, which are helpful for those with autoimmune thyroid disease. If there aren’t any groups for your condition, consider starting one! They tend to be private, and require a moderator to approve members before joining to prevent spam.
The Next Step
In the past few months, I have had the opportunity to meet some of these virtual friends in person. Turns out, some of the women I moderate the Hashimoto’s 411 group with also live in the pacific northwest, and I got the opportunity to meet them and become real life friends! I was also able to make it to the Ancestral Health Symposium this year, where I got a chance to meet a lot of other bloggers that I had been friends with online for some time. While having friends who support my lifestyle online has been really inspiring and helpful, meeting some of these people in person has really taken it to the next level and has me thinking about how important community is to this movement.
I recently decided to start the PNW Autoimmune Protocol Meetup Group to facilitate in-person gatherings for the growing number of locals I was coming into contact with. I want to get some of this online connection to spill over into real life, and get those of us who are eating this way together for small gatherings and potlucks where we can enjoy safe food with like company. While we have yet to have our first event, I imagine getting to connect with a group of people who have been going through the protocol is going to be very powerful and inspiring. It will also be a good way to make like-minded friends, share resources and hopefully inspire people to start smaller groups of their own with those who live close by (like a weekly knitting circle or tea). Right now, we have potlucks on the books for both Seattle and Portland in October. If you don’t live in the northwest and are interested in starting an AIP meet-up group of your own, I will gladly help you promote it! If there are enough groups, I could even start a directory and put the page on my site.
I love this move towards building a bigger community around the autoimmune protocol, or even just sharing the ways that those of us with autoimmune disease can live healthier. One of my goals going into the future, is facilitating more connection so that we don’t feel so alone.
Have you been able to connect with anyone also on the autoimmune protocol while on this journey? How has it helped or supported you?