About the Post

Author Information

I am a New Zealand registered nurse and nutritionist (Grad Cert Sci: nutrition, Massey Univ). I am a Certified Zone Instructor, and have worked teaching Zone diet principles to hundreds of clients over the last 10 years. More recently after finding that eating Paleo food choices was the "icing on the cake" health wise, I have become a Paleo enthusiast and teacher. Follow me on twitter @juliannejtaylor

My 30 day strict alcohol free auto-immune paleo diet

I’ve never done this before – 30 days of strict no alcohol paleo eating without cheats. Yes I tell people to do it – but I’ve NEVER done it. I have been strictly gluten free, low dairy, low nightshade paleo for about 2 years. I have a few small cheats here and there – something with sugar, chocolate, rice bread, icecream. Oh and then there is that glass (or 2) of wine every night. (Awesome NZ wine, current favourite Pino Gris!)

Despite the cheats, a paleo diet has been almost miraculous, no more PMS, menstrual pain, or constipation. Stable blood sugar, no more reactive hypoglycemia, stable weight, good energy levels, and importantly for me – no more auto-immune joint swelling and pain. I combine the paleo diet with a tweeked Zone macro-nutrient ratio – it’s what works for me. Protein at each meal, low to moderate carbs and a bit of fat.

However I do have a dodgy thyroid, (Hashimotos) and my Raynauds continued all through last winter – my fingers look a lot like this after a trip to the supermarket in winter, fortunately when I get back to my warm house my hands return quickly to normal.

My gym – CrossFit Auckland is running a 30 day Paleo Challenge from 1 – 30th July. With a points system, and a daily checklist. This paleo challenge is what I recommend people do – strict dairy, legume, grain, sugar AND alcohol free. (Like the Whole30 Paleo challenge)

I’ve never been alcohol free, or 100% dairy free. And given that auto-immune problems are my issue – I have never done a strict auto-immune paleo diet. That is NO nuts, nightshades or eggs.

A great opportunity I thought! Could I improve my thyroid? Would my Raynauds diminish? What about a month without my own personal crutch (who doesn’t have one they feel they couldn’t do without?) – that evening glass of wine?

So July 1st I started a strict auto-immune paleo diet.

As I imagined the wine was the toughest. Not that I have much, nor do I like to get the slightest bit drunk, it really is a psychological habit more than anything. For the first few nights, I so missed it. I noticed something else interesting – I had a much greater need for evening carbs. My dinner usually consisted of some protein, lots of salad and non starch veggies and a glass of wine. Without the wine I needed some starchy carbs. And something to drink to replace it. We are in the depths of winter – I find ginger and lemon tea works. (Anyone who has a real winter would laugh at an Auckland one – it never gets below freezing, and day temps are around 50 – 59F i.e. 10 – 15C).

Interesting thing about alcohol is that it once metabolised by the liver it forms acetyl-CoA – this is then free to enter directly into the citric acid cycle. Thus it provides energy to cells much like a carbohydrate. So when you remove alcohol and the additional sugars found the wine, I didn’t feel sated until I’d eaten some starch to replace it.

Our paleo checklist also includes about 1000mg EPA+DHA per day, drinking 2 litres, getting 8 hours or more sleep, and exercise (CrossFit). Pre and post workout meals, and regular meals – 4 per day. (I tend to skip meals!)

It’s day 20, so far I’ve had no food cheats. Even going out to dinner, although challenging- both times to Asian restaurants making sure there were no grains / legumes in the dishes I ordered.

As an aside one of the dinners was with acquaintances we hadn’t seen for a couple of years. The last time I had dinner with one particular woman we talked about diets, and I suggested she try being gluten free after a string of symptoms suggested to me that she was gluten sensitive. To my surprise she told me that since that day she had been gluten free and it changed her life, no more gut issues, better energy, sleep and health.

I guess you are wondering if any of this made a difference – has it been worth it? Well to my surprise my Raynaud’s is hardly there at all. No white fingers at the supermarket! None at the gym handling cold kettlebells, none hanging wet washing out. Amazing. What has changed? I’ve had no nuts, no nightshades, no eggs, no dairy and no alcohol. I’ve increased my carbs, anecdotally I’ve heard some women’s Raynaud’s gets worse on paleo – my guess is a very low carb diet exacerbates it. I’ve also increased exercise – I’m doing 4 x CrossFit a week, up from 2. (And recovering really well and feeling great) I’m eating regularly and taking fish oil daily (fish oil is known to make a difference – although it didn’t previously for me) The other thing that is probably helping is daily magnesium, I’ve taken it sporadically in the last couple of years, but now daily. Magnesium levels drop in women with Raynaud’s and it is a recommended supplement. (I take Healtheries Magnesium Chlelate, 2 tabs at dinner – helps give a deeper sleep as well) It may also pay to take extra anti-oxidants for Raynaud’s especially secondary, vitamin C and selenium were found to be deficient in this study, where Raynaud’s was secondary to systemic sclerosis.

26th July update; Today for the first time I had a Raynauds attack after spending a lot of time holding chilled food. Strange I thought. Until I looked back at my day – I’d had nothing to drink or eat for 6 hours (just being busy and not noticing). Sure enough dehydration is a common trigger, and skipping meals I’m pretty sure is too. During this paleo challenge I’ve been drinking more than I normally would – not allowing myself to become dehydrated (until today). Is this yet another reason why it’s kept at bay?

I’m getting a thyroid test next week and will update you on that.

And I guess you are wondering if I’m losing weight. Well no – but size – yes a little, but then despite the fact I’d like to see my abs, I’m not needing to lose body fat. I’m almost down to my leanest where I can fit comfortably into my “skinny” dress. (The one that got uncomfortably tight after my mindless eating episode)

Oh- and the other question I get is – if you don’t eat grains, legumes, dairy, eggs, nuts and nightshades, what the hell do you eat?

Here we are then – a sample day:

First thing – hot chocolate! 1 teaspoon of pure cocoa powder in hot water, and about a tablespoon of coconut cream added. (I use coconut cream without the thickeners like guar gum as they don’t agree with me and they are legume extracts. Ayam and Gata coconut cream are additive free)

Cup of coffee – espresso with coconut cream

Breakfast – either fresh salmon cooked, or meat reheated. Plus fresh fruit – banana if I’m going to the gym or berries and a kiwifruit if not.

Post workout – 1/2 banana or some sweet potato, and cold meat

Lunch – usually late afternoon – left over dinner reheated plus salad. Or chicken liver or salmon cooked with a bit of reheated starchy veg like kumara, pumpkin, sweet potato or yams, and mesclun salad with homemade olive oil / balsamic dressing.

Dinner – any kind of meat, last night it was lamb roast, (I’m a lazy cook) I just put everything in a roast dish. Lamb, red onions, parsnip, pumpkin, sweet potato, beetroot, courgettes, carrots etc. When cooked I have a bit of everything, plus a big salad.

My protein portion is about 100 grams at each meal, 1/2 for a snack.

Drinks – water, fruit teas, cocoa and 2 coffees.

I’ve worked out I get roughly 70 grams protein (that’s 1.4 grams per kilo body weight)

About 70 – 100 grams carbs (that’s 1.4 – 2 grams per kilo body weight)

And I have no idea how much fat. But I’m not heavy handed with it. Firstly I don’t feel great with a ton of fat and secondly I put on weight if I eat too much.

Even though I’ve got 10 days to go – this has been well worth the extra effort to be super strict, to try a strict auto-immune version and to discover the added benefit of diminished Raynauds.

Would I recommend you try this? YES – cheats and a half-arsed attempt at paleo will not give you the full benefit of a strict trial.

You may also be interested in

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

42 Responses to “My 30 day strict alcohol free auto-immune paleo diet”

  1. That’s really interesting, Julianne. I have just challenged myself to do thirty days alcohol and dairy free, similar to the Whole30, which I recently finished (more or less) successfully, and feel better for it. Haven’t attempted the auto-immune paleo diet though … maybe I will give it a go. Like you, I found that evening glass of wine very hard to give up. I managed it, though!

    July 20, 2011 at 9:38 am Reply
    • If you do the auto-immune version – I’m really interested to hear how you find it – if you get any additional benefits.

      July 23, 2011 at 3:07 am Reply
  2. I have MS and have gradually gone from Primal to Paleo from fall 2009 until now. I have had no dairy for 3+months. Giving up eggs and nuts would be hardest to go all in but I may give it a whirl. I hardly drink anymore, so that would be easy. Eggs are just so healthy/handy that they would be hard to drop. Unless I started eating more steak!

    July 20, 2011 at 10:54 am Reply
    • Have you given up nightshades? If you do a full on auto-immune paleo let me know how it goes.

      July 23, 2011 at 3:08 am Reply
      • I very rarely have white potatoes and never have peppers or tomatoes. Dropping eggs and nuts would be difficult but then again I said that about dairy and I have not had any for over 3 months now.

        July 23, 2011 at 11:26 am Reply
  3. I have Raynaud’s also, may have to give the auto-immune paleo a try when it gets cold out! Mine has improved a lot with age, but numb feet in winter is bothersome :(

    July 20, 2011 at 2:17 pm Reply
    • Do you take supplements – some people swear magnesium makes a big difference

      July 23, 2011 at 3:09 am Reply
  4. Good luck! Enjoy this delicious food!

    July 20, 2011 at 2:44 pm Reply
  5. Wow! I’m impressed, and I really do need to stop drinking (2 a night), if just to prove that I CAN…
    My fingers and toes do that in cold weather too (and my nose!) – it would be really nice if that stopped…

    July 20, 2011 at 7:08 pm Reply
    • I didn’t think I could give up – but the added motivation of a whole group doing it made the difference – there are about 35 of us at the gym doing strict paleo.

      July 23, 2011 at 3:10 am Reply
  6. Thank you so much for doing this post! It is awesome to see yet one more example of how going strict paleo PAYS OFF! I was digging for information on Paleo and Raynaud’s and found your post and it is very helpful! Thanks again and keep on blogging!

    July 20, 2011 at 9:47 pm Reply
    • Thanks, I’ve just updated it a little – I think there are a number of things that have contributed, including moderate rather than low carb, fish oil, magnesium, no alcohol (maybe), auto-immune paleo, regular meals.

      Once I’ve finished the 30 days – I will add back things that I think are less problematic. Like eggs. I will keep alcohol minimal though – I really don’t need it – not even socially, to my surprise!

      July 20, 2011 at 9:51 pm Reply
  7. I’ll be very interested to see what you find out when you start adding foods back in, and (hopefully) find out which of them triggers which problems.

    You should start a betting pool. Is it the magnesium? Is it the nuts? Is it the nightshades, the dairy, the wine?

    JS

    July 22, 2011 at 7:47 am Reply
    • I was thinking about that – I guess the only way to find out is to add one in at a time. I think wine might be first, especially as I’ll be going to AHS.

      I’m going to add in some ginkgo biloba too http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12710841.
      I still get it Raynaud’s a little – but it’s slight compared to what it was last winter.

      July 22, 2011 at 8:33 am Reply
  8. Susan Morgan #

    My heart fell when I saw that eggs and nuts were on the no-no list for auto-immune. Maybe I’ve read that before, but I clearly didn’t internalize. I have been regular paleo for six months and have had huge improvements with rheumatoid arthritis and IBS stuff. I’m a real believer. But things seem pretty tenuous. A few pieces of good chocolate or even sugar-cured bacon, and I’ve got sore joints the next day. But my main paleo food groups have included eggs and walnuts, so maybe I need to bite the bullet and try it without them for, gulp, 30 days. The question is, how much salmon can I eat?? Not easy getting good grass-fed beef here in Alaska.

    July 22, 2011 at 8:35 pm Reply
    • I can relate – I have often thought it would be a great idea to do a strict auto-immune paleo and giving up eggs, cream in my coffee and alcohol were the sticking points. However, the idea of not having them was bigger than the reality. I actually hardly miss any of them. Not such a big deal after all. The first week was the hardest for wine, but no big deal now.

      I highly recommend anyone with auto-immune issues to embrace this for a month – just to see if it makes a difference.

      Re salmon – see the post with the omega 3 and 6 contents of food- A daily serve would be fine. Omega 3 around 3 grams a day has shown to be beneficial for rheumatoid arthritis. Just make sure you eat plenty of food with anti-oxidants in it to keep the omega 3 stable in your body. Personally I take a little extra vit C and E

      July 22, 2011 at 11:13 pm Reply
      • Susan Morgan #

        Good to know the idea of doing without eggs might be worse than the reality. The truth is, they and walnuts, almond butter and pumpkin seeds have been my staples since I started paleo in February. The fact that I’m so crazy about them always struck me as slightly worrisome. I think it was Dr. Lendon Smith (who wrote books about healthy eating decades ago) who used to say if there’s some food you have to have every day, you’re probably allergic to it. I’ve been fine without nightshades, though, so going to go all the way for 30 days. I’ll report back! Thanks for your post.

        July 23, 2011 at 3:52 am Reply
    • marilyn #

      we get grass fed beef, lamb, bison, yak, also pastured chicken and also ostrich delivered to our doorstep by ups. find a grass fed meat farm closer to alaska . Look on the web site eatwild.com and click in your zip code–you will get a map closer to you with markers for all the grass fed farms. I know ther are places in Colorado that have beef lamb and yak and bison—You can e mail or call them and ask if they deliver to Alaska—you might have to pay an additional delivery fee for the flight–but we’ve had deliveries from ups from texas farms to nj and a flight was included and we did not pay exorbitant fees. Also if a farm delivers to the entire usa this should include alaska. there is even a grassfed farm company that is based in hawaii.

      February 16, 2012 at 1:40 pm Reply
    • marilyn #

      Hi again susan morgan—there are 72 grassfed farms in washington state, which would be the closest usa sta to alaska—get that list brought up on eatwildl.com—reaad about each to see if they sell what you want and if they deliver–and just go down the list leaving e mails for all that qualify asking if they will agree to deliver to you in Alaska. I know many of these places do not want to deliver to a foreign country, but since you are in the united states they just fly it to you so there shold be no problem. The distance from washington state to alaska is shorter than that from slnakers grass fed farm in powderly texas to our home in nj–so I do not see why it would not be possible I looked at the web site of 1 of the 2 meager grassfed farms in alaska—it did not look good–the only non cookled meat was to order a side of beef. so I guess you have to go with washington state. good luck. I’ve been on a paleo diet for 2 years. All my health problems disappeared—exscept i still need meager bp meds–however greatly lower than when I started–but my very poor health has become superlative health–much to the shock of my doctors—who said “I do not know how this happened , but keep doing it–btw what are you actually doing?”– and spent an period of time copying down my description of the inclusinos and exclusion of the diet, the exercise, the qi gong etc. I also have autoimmune components to a thyroid problem and gluten intolerance. So your computer efferts at the eat wild search is very well wortht it.
      Good Luck

      February 16, 2012 at 1:57 pm Reply
    • marilyn #

      Hi Susan again—I just mentioned this to my hasband—and he said you should try Slanker’s He is sure they deliver to alaska. They deliver lall over the USA (to land connected to land) they do not deliver to Hawaii. look on their website (they are in texas and we’ve used them–excellent—if you order over their internet the meat price includes the delivery fee–so for a long distance this is actually cheaper) , Also look for grassfed meat farmers in the Canadian province adjacent to Alaska.

      February 16, 2012 at 2:02 pm Reply
      • Thanks Marilyn

        February 16, 2012 at 6:30 pm Reply
      • Susan Morgan #

        Thanks very much for all the info, Marilyn. In the time since I wrote the first note I have found some grass fed beef here, from Eel River Farms (which is in Washington, I believe). A local health food store gets the beef delivered and then cuts and grinds it. It’s delicious! I admire you staying on paleo for two years. A few months ago I started worrying I was losing too much weight on it, so added in various foods and my eating habits got progressively worse. I’m currently eating way too many (delicious) gluten-free snickerdoodles, for example. They may not have gluten, but have plenty of sugar and who knows what else. Popcorn and chips have also been a problem lately. And, surprise! My joints have been really sore, and I’ve even had swelling, which had disappeared for months. So I need to recommit. Thanks again for your suggestions. I’ll check them out.

        February 16, 2012 at 6:43 pm Reply
  9. Colin #

    I recently started no sugar for a limited period and was already on the “Whole30 Paleo challenge” except for a little alcohol. Currently it is no carrots, no pumpkin, no sweet potato, and no parsnips as well as the obvious no fruit, no grains, no alcohol. Celeriac would probably be the only ‘starchy root vegetable I am having. No fruit has been the most difficult to give up. I am already no nightshades which means no tobacco chewing, no goji berries, no tomato sauce on the pies or pasta I am not having, etc, No legumes of course. I have just started soaking nuts but increased the amount since starting no sugar. Game, fish, beef and mutton complete my meals. I don’t avoid eggs but never have them however eat poultry including the skin. I haven’t seen any locust in the market but I would prefer them to chicken. My ‘cheats’ are a hot drink of raw cocao made with only water and olive oil on steamed vegetables or fresh salad..
    Since starting ‘no sugar’ a few weeks ago I have slipped into having yoghurt which I hadn’t had for a long time. It would be difficult to give up the olive oil but maybe if I give up yoghurt and nuts I will see what auto-immune Paleo is about.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:43 pm Reply
    • I miss tomato sauce too!
      I find I feel better with a moderate amount of carbs, and the starchy root veggies. I like the “sweet spot” theory where we feel our best with a certain amount of carbs at each meal. Enough to elevate blood sugar a certain amount, but no more.
      Nuts being a seed have anti-nutrients like most seeds trying to protect themselves from digestion. Macadamia are interesting – less anti-nutrients as they have an extremely hard shell for protection. My number one recommended nut is macadamia – it has the least omega 6 and the majority of it’s oil is mono and sat fats.

      July 25, 2011 at 8:21 pm Reply
  10. Julianne – how selective are you about fruit? Do you prefer the lower carb ones? I’ve just started a Whole30 so I’m interested in the results from your group. Thank.

    July 27, 2011 at 2:20 am Reply
    • I haven’t really made a big deal about fruit amounts. I recommend starchy veg over fruit because it is all glucose rather than fructose / glucose. I usually tell people to stick to about 2 serves a day – no more and have berries. Personally I have about 2 serves a day, I like a banana when I go the gym, and usually have a kiwifruit as well. I don’t so much focus on lower carb – rather on the amount. I find whole natural fruit and starchy veg dont mess with my blood sugar the same way refined grains and sugar do, even if the carb amount is the same.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:53 am Reply
  11. Looks like I’ll be joining you for a whole 30. I’m recovering from something from the depression/bipolar spectrum and it was going great until I started eating junk again. Although thankfully I don’t seem to be bothered by nightshades. Lack of potatoes would make me feel much sadder.

    Good luck on yours.

    July 29, 2011 at 2:56 pm Reply
    • Yes try the whole 30! I feel really great, so pleased with how it has gone. Let me know how it goes for you and your brain!

      July 29, 2011 at 11:15 pm Reply
  12. That Raynauds is crazy! Looks dangerous. I used to have poor circulation and just my finger tips would look like that, but changing my diet eliminated it. It’s so great you’re feeling well. Sounds like you’ve pinpointed a few things that were holding you back – not a surprise about alcohol. I never feel as great and little symptoms crop up when I drink often, even if it’s just a little bit.

    July 31, 2011 at 3:58 pm Reply
    • I do still get Raynauds a little – the other thing that is not recommended is coffee – I haven’t cut that out.
      Do you drink coffee?

      My Raynauds has never been dangerous – I get white fingers (or toes) but it never goes to the next step – blue. And it resolves to normal when I get into the warm, so I’ve never had permanent damage fortunately

      July 31, 2011 at 8:37 pm Reply
  13. Louise #

    Do you have a link to the auto-immune version? I’m on Day10 of changing my diet to paleo; I’ve been generally using the Whole9 30-day guidelines, but they allow eggs and nuts. I’ve got CFS and very mild Reynaud’s as well, so I’m quite interested in your results (I’ve also just begun taking a calcium-magnesium supplement regularly, so hopefully those 2 changes combines will help).

    Thank you for posting the example of your menu plan!

    September 8, 2011 at 7:12 pm Reply
    • Hi Louise, the auto-immune version
      Standard version – no legumes, no grains, no dairy, no nasty vegetable oils.
      Auto-immune – no nightshades, no nuts or seeds, no eggs, no alcohol.

      Eat – meats including organ meats and bone broths, all seafood. Low omega 6 pressed vegetable oils like olive, avocado and coconut. Vegetables and fruit including peeled root vegetables.

      October 2, 2011 at 5:12 am Reply
  14. Randle #

    Julianne, it looks like Raynaud’s when accompanied by connective tissue disorders (like RA, Sjogren’s, Scleroderma) is more serious and needs to be monitored closely. Then, it’s not just related to thermoregulation … the more serious form tends to be associated with systemic scleroderma … where you can have skin ulcers and problems with internal organs like esophagus and the GI tract. If you have puffy skin (or very shiny, velvety skin) and GERD or constipation problems, then they need to be watched for connection to a latent autoimmune disease. Raynaud’s eventually leads to systmic scleroderma in some people, so being on guard for autimmune markers seems necessary. I’m afraid I may have secondary Raynaud’s related to scleroderma. The symptoms fit me to a tee.

    October 2, 2011 at 4:29 am Reply
    • Hi Randle, it sucks having an auto-immune disease. I often wonder where I would be now had I not eaten Zone diet then paleo for the last 16 years.
      Do you currently follow an auto-immune paleo diet?

      October 2, 2011 at 5:13 am Reply
  15. jaimewoody #

    I’ve been reading your blog and really learning a lot! I have been trying to eat this way going on 3 weeks now, but have had “cheats”, so appears to be time to get serious! I have MS and suspecting Hashimoto’s also, but since I’ve no insurance, I am self-diagnosing and treating! I have been a Zone girl for 13 years, but in the last year I’ve struggled to get any weight off and in fact gained 12 lbs in 6 weeks over last winter. I’ve worked very hard with kettlebell intervals to get all 12 off, but no more will budge. I have many hypothyroid symptoms and decided the Paleo-zone is my ticket. I am only struggling with the nuts. I am an almond girl and am looking into getting some coconut in there instead. I instantly lost the last two lbs. since changing my diet, but your carb comments seem to be my ticket. I have been hungry for lack of enough of them I think, so I will eat more and see how I feel. Just wanted to say thanks! -Jaime

    October 3, 2011 at 7:43 pm Reply
    • You’re welcome, let me know how you go.

      October 3, 2011 at 9:33 pm Reply
  16. Aoife #


    This is Dr. Wahls detailing her recovery from MS using a Paleo style diet though I think it differs a little from Cordain’s autoimmune diet. Very interesting!

    December 16, 2011 at 11:21 pm Reply
  17. Samantha #

    I too have Hashimoto’s and Raynaud’s so your story is very interesting to me. How did thd rest of your challenge go? What happened with the raynaud’s? Also, once the 30 day challeng was over, did you reintroduce eggs or nuts back into your diet, and if so, to what effect? I want to try autoimmune paleo, but know I couldn’t eat that way lifelong. I have been eating paleo for weeks and that is manageable, but no improvement to my conditions.

    February 15, 2012 at 5:33 pm Reply
    • I have gone back to eating eggs, and minimal nuts, mainly just macadamia.
      I did a follow up post on my results. I am also trying the Wahls diet with lots more vegetables at the moment. So far my sleep (which was pretty good anyway) is even better. Very solid 8 hours sleep, go back to sleep easily if I wake.

      Check out Dr Kharazzians thyroid book – I found it really useful – maybe even get in touch with a practitioner, who can help http://thyroidbook.com/blog/

      February 15, 2012 at 8:25 pm Reply
  18. Kim #

    I’ve read in some other places that cocoa and coffee should be avoided on the autoimmune diet. I’m confused because there seem to be discrepancies out there. Should I just try cutting them out and then reintroducing them slowly after a month to see how I do? Also, regarding potatoes, I’m assuming sweet potatoes aren’t considered a problem like white ones are? Thanks!

    November 20, 2012 at 6:10 am Reply
    • Yes – some do think that coffee and cocoa could be a problem – they are seeds after all.
      It would pay to do a trail without all seeds including those and re-introduce them.
      Tubers are fine, like sweet potatoes,
      Potatoes are part of the nightshade family and have specific anti-nutients that can contribute to leaky gut and inflammation.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:32 am Reply

Leave a Reply