The answer is right here

Every day I am messaged by alopecia sufferers asking for a cure. In the past I would avidly respond, keen to share my experience of the AIP paleo diet and any other health tips I could offer. Today I no longer preach the same message. The truth is nobody wants to hear the answer I give now. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not negative. In fact it’s beaming with positivity and healing guidance; it’s just not the easy answer.

I’ve come a long long way with my health and I would attribute that to multitude of factors. When I began my healing journey I took an 8 week course of steroids to heal the inflammation in my bowels – a symptom of Crohn’s disease. The effect of steroids is not specific and in my case they could have also encouraged the regrowth of hair following alopecia areata, another autoimmune disease. I can’t say for sure, but it’s possible. I maintained my remission from both Crohn’s disease and Alopecia Areata with a paleo diet for 9 months and during this time I practised yoga, meditation and learned to become a calmer person in general. I thought I was cured. Medically, I was.

Despite these efforts my hair began to fall out again around the 9 month mark. This was before I had fully reintroduced foods and reverted to a standard gluten free diet. I couldn’t understand why. It couldn’t possibly be food. I wasn’t stressed either! I wasn’t suffering from Crohn’s and my gut was perfectly fine. Why? Why was alopecia back to haunt me? I had already decided that I was ready to eat a normal diet again and I wasn’t about to go back on that decision for some hair loss.

The appearance of the bald patch was incredibly slow yet persistent. I even developed additional patches. During this time I came to the realisation that there is far more to disease than gut integrity, diet and drugs. We bang on about mind-body balance but how many of us really step back and look at how our emotions are running the show? Despite “not being stressed” and having a “healthy” body, I realised how unhappy I was. But why was I unhappy? It was an ominous question with an elusive answer.

I had to dig deep and it wasn’t pretty. I’ll never forget there was one night I was so angry with myself I couldn’t sleep. There was this critical drivel was playing over and over in my mind about how I wasn’t good enough. It terrified me. I’ve never been depressed but the strength of those feelings was so overwhelming that I leapt up from my bed gasping for breath. I had to do something. I had to let go of this pain. I never normally write a diary but I grabbed a book and wrote a vow that I would never be so cruel to myself again. I had to be my own mother, be kind and treat myself as I would others. I would never be so hard on anyone so why on earth was I torturing myself this way? I then noted all of the things I was grateful for and made promises to love myself. I drifted off into a deep and peaceful sleep as soon as I closed the diary.

Following this episode a friend of mine coincidentally recommended a brilliant self-help book by Jen Sincero; You are a badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life. I came away feeling TOTALLY LIBERATED. Holy shit had I been putting a lot of pressure on myself to basically, not be myself. I am awesome. Why wouldn’t I want to be me? I can be and do whatever the fuck I want so why am I still following everybody else’s crappy path and being such a people pleaser. Oh man. THIS is key. There’s really something to be said for this kind of thinking and although it would be absolutely vital to my behaviour going forward, I was fully aware that there were old wounds that I still needed to heal. I hadn’t entirely found the root cause of my illness. I was totally bent on uncovering it so I followed up with another book that Jen refers to for inspiration, You can heal your life by Louise Hay.

Louise’s book is a fantastic guide to reconnecting with yourself and she highlights the connection between disease and its counterpart emotional cause. The most essential takeaway from this book is the absolute necessity to truly and wholly love yourself. That doesn’t mean being a big-headed narcissist. It means recognising your idiosyncrasies and weakness and being ok with them. It means helping yourself to improve or deciding that it’s what makes you unique and use it to your advantage. Or quite simply, deciding not to give a fuck. Personally, I like the latter. Just as importantly, you need to stop giving a fuck about your hair. Have you ever thought that maybe alopecia could be your greatest test to overcome? Something that will actually force you to let go and be yourself for real?

I’ve been putting all of this into practice and would you believe it, my hair is all growing back! No diet. No lotion. No steroids.  It could just be part of the natural ebb and flow that is typical of AA but I believe I’m getting a hold on it. I’m not perfect, managing the way I think is still a hard task but over time it’ll get easier and I’m certain that alopecia will be a distant memory but also a stark reminder of the power of our own minds. I’m not saying that everybody with alopecia has exactly the same root cause but I’m pretty sure you’ll find that there is something that is psychologically holding you back rather than physically. I don’t care what you say about how you don’t give a damn about anything, how you’re totally yourself and how you think you’re awesome, if your hair is falling out for no damn reason, I’m pretty sure you’ll find the reason is you.

Stella x

P.S. I would just like to explain that I no longer answer questions regarding alopecia because I receive so many emails, it’s too much for me to answer them all. I also firmly believe that it’s important to switch off from thinking about alopecia and get on with life. I can quite easily forget I have AA (which definitely encourages regrowth) but if I have to spend every day writing messages about alopecia it will forever be at the forefront of my mind and not the distant memory that it should be.


I’m taking a break

Hi Everyone!

You may have noticed I’ve been quiet these past few weeks and probably will be for a while. As much as I love helping you all, it is becoming very difficult for me to sustain the blog while working full time and studying to become a Nutritional Therapist. I’ve got lots of coursework and exams on at the moment and I’m trying to use all the time I’ve got outside of my job to work on all of this. Living with autoimmunity is not just about eating well, it’s also about managing stress levels, finding time to rest AND play.

I’m just taking some time out at the moment to refocus and not overstretch myself so I won’t be answering any private or public messages for a while.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for any kind of AIP information, other blogs and AIP recipes, please check out this awesome resources page over at Autoimmune Paleo. 

Best of luck with your healing journey! I hope to be back at the end of the summer. x x

A fresh start – I’m finished with AIP

I’m finished with AIP. In fact, I’m not even eating ‘paleo’. Over the past few months I have been experimenting with all kinds of non-paleo foods such as grains, pseudo-grains, legumes and dairy and I’ve concluded that the paleo diet no longer suits my needs. Before I get into details about how and why, let me just be clear that I am not dismissing or rejecting the benefits of the AIP or paleo diet. Clearly AIP has helped me tremendously to recover from both a Crohn’s flare and Alopecia Areata, but now that I have regained my health I personally believe that AIP no longer serves its purpose for me, particularly because it is limiting my health in other ways.

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AIP in the U.K. - Tesco | Whole Earth Life

AIP in the U.K. – Week 3: Tesco

Hello hello! Welcome to week 3 of the AIP shopping in the U.K. series. If you missed the first two weeks you can find them here: Week 1: Waitrose and Week 2: Sainsbury’s.

My local Tesco is absolutely enormous so the choice there is endless. I may even have to include a second post just on fruit and veg ideas! Remember of course that some of these items can be purchased in other stores and sometimes they’re on special offer so if you can, try not to limit yourself to your local – shop around!

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AIP in the U.K. - Sainsbury's | Whole Earth Life

AIP in the U.K. – Week 2: Sainsbury’s

Thank you all for your great response to my first UK supermarket post – Waitrose. It’s so great to know that you find this stuff helpful! This week I’m sharing some favourites from Sainsbury’s. Some of these items such as the coconut flour, yo yo bears and cauli rice you can find in other stores like Tesco so please don’t feel limited to Sainsbury’s, you may even find them on offer elsewhere, but I’m sharing these to give you an idea of what to look for and to prove that you don’t have to shop on amazon for AIP items.

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Review: The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook | Whole Earth Life

GIVEAWAY: The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook!

Remember I said a UK version of Mickey Prescott’s book ‘The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook’ is being released on 7th April? Measurements all in metric this time!

Well I have one copy to giveaway to somebody in the UK!!
 All you need to do is leave a comment below and like Whole Earth Life on Facebook . I’ll be announcing a winner at 10pm UK time on Wednesday 6th April.

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AIP in the U.K. - Week 1: Waitrose | Whole Earth Life

AIP in the U.K. – Week 1: Waitrose

Hello! Welcome to my new regular post to help people following AIP in the U.K. There are so many blogs out there for our U.S. friends and plenty of guidance on where to find compliant foods but nothing for us folk across the pond. I want to show you that you don’t need to shop in fancy health stores to find things you can eat; our big supermarkets have a lot to offer too. Each week I’m going to hunt down five AIP foods from each store including Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, ASDA, Tesco, Morrison’s and Aldi. I’ll be looking for a range of items – something sweet, something to snack on, convenience foods or unusual fruits and vegetables to try. I’ll include one additional paleo reintroduction for you to consider because I think it’s important to remember that AIP isn’t forever.

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Review: The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook | Whole Earth Life

Review: The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook + UK release!

Starting the Autoimmune Protocol  

FINALLY! You’ve found a potential solution to your autoimmune disorder. You’re taking control. You’re going to change your diet. You’re going to embrace everything and the idea of it is already making you feel better! You then look at the food list, take a wander around the supermarket and it suddenly dawns on you. Holy crap. What am I going to eat today?!
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Cinnamon and Maple Breakfast Hash | Whole Earth Life

Cinnamon and Maple Breakfast Hash (AIP, Paleo, Coconut-free)

I am seriously excited about this recipe. Breakfast can be one of the hardest meals to adapt to on AIP because it is so drastically different to the usual cereal, croissants, toast or eggs that we all love so dearly. I learned to get over this pretty quickly and make friends with avocado, asparagus or leftover dinner first thing in the morning but it hurts when the smell of your family’s sweet cinnamon porridge wafts over you.

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Moroccan Roast Chicken Thighs | Whole Earth Life

Moroccan Roast Chicken Thighs (AIP, Paleo)

With carrots, swede, sweet potatoes, orange juice and sultanas!

I think I might be obsessed with chicken thighs. I laugh at people who choose the breast piece – they’re missing out on all the juice and flavour!! I first developed this obsession a few years ago through my love of indian food. So many of the recipes I followed or restaurants I ate at used thigh meat and discovering just how tender and flavourful it can be was a culinary epiphany. No turning back.
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