Last night I was honored to be part of a panel discussion on the topic of balancing conventional medical treatment of autoimmune disease with a paleo-based approach to diet. Regular readers of this blog already know that I spent many years (almost two decades!) treating my Crohn’s disease with medication and surgical intervention before beginning to eat a gluten-free paleo diet just two years ago.
I have had great success with these dietary modifications, but managing my illness is a constant work in progress and I continue to see conventional medical doctors (MDs) and also continue to take a couple prescription medications, including an advanced biologic. I know that there are people in the online “paleo-sphere” who are able to discontinue medications, or never begin taking them in the first place, which is is great if it works for them. But I fear that when people hear this, they will think that they must choose one approach over the other or that they are some how “failing” at paleo if they need to stay on their prescription medicines. That’s why I think it is important to be open about my medical treatment and also to share what I have learned from years of navigating the health care system.
Joining me on this panel were fellow bloggers Samantha McClellan of Sweet Potatoes and Social Change, Angie Alt of Autoimmune Paleo, and Tara Perillo of Paleo Cajun Lady – all of whom deal with autoimmune diseases and have used the paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP) to help themselves heal and manage their condition. You can watch the broadcast recording here:
I loved being part of this conversation and learning from my friends! We talk about a wide range of topics, including how we each balance conventional medicine with diet, what our relationships with our MDs actually look and feel like, and tips for finding an MD who will respect your decisions (as well as advice for dealing with ones who are less enlightened).
My favorite take-home point was this: You are the expert on your body and only you can make the ultimate decision as to what is best for it, but remember that your doctor has expertise and years of experience with disease and human functioning that you do not have. The best possible situation is one where both of you respect and consider the expertise the other has and bring it together to craft a treatment plan that works for YOU.
NOTE: In the video I talk about my experience with clostridium difficile (c diff) and using a fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) to treat it. You can read more about that here.