Episode 16 of my collaborative project with Rory Linehan of The Paleo PI and Petra Chambers-Sinclair of BiohackU – two of my favourite peeps in this corner of the health caper world – is up and running!
The three of us all hail from different corners of the globe, and have very different life experiences, but we share both a friendship and passion for seeking health through an holistic approach. The intention behind our podcast is to seek out and interview others who share the same goal – and hopefully impart what we learn and have a little fun along the way. We hope you’ll join us!
Emma is a certified health coach who has used the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) to mitigate the symptoms of her three autoimmune diseases – rheumatoid arthritis, hyperthyroidism, and Lyme Disease. She has a particular interest in providing pragmatic support and guidance to those with families who are dealing with autoimmune issues and food allergies, and she’s also my business partner at Conscious Autoimmunity.
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Introduction to the Healing Protocols: the global edition
Jo: Welcome to Episode 16: Interview with Emma King
Rory: I’d love to know a little bit more about you and your history, what healing protocols you have tried. I know that you’ve done the AIP but, maybe you’ve done something before that, and what was the catalyst for you to use diet and lifestyle changes to improve your health?
- I originally got glandular fever (or mono, as it’s known in the U.S.) when I was 15 years old. I was out of school for three months. The following year, I came down with what was then diagnosed with chronic fatigue, or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME, in the U.K.), and I in a really bad way. I was bedridden. My dad used to have to carry me downstairs in the mornings.
- I remember as a kid, going to the doctors, and them testing me every week – blood tests, trying to work out what was wrong.
- My mum blended prescribed food into baby food, and that was all I ate and suddenly I started to feel better. They did some food testing, and wheat and dairy and other things were a problem for me. So we took those out with this particular diet, and I started to get better.
- I was gluten-free, and then, I moved to Paleo, just after my daughter was born in 2008. I was then diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
- In 2013, I started the Autoimmune Protocol, and the rest is history. I honestly believe that without it, I wouldn’t be active at all.
- My diagnosis of Lyme Disease actually happened as a result of me doing some research, due to a tick that my daughter got bitten by, and me thinking, “Wow, that sounds like everything that’s wrong with me.”.
Jo: Is Lyme Disease recognized as an issue in the U.K.?
- It’s being recognized more and more. There are quite a few high profile celebrities who come out in the last sort of 18 months highlighting how Lyme Disease has impacted them.
- I know that there were warnings this summer about Lyme-infected ticks being in Richmond Park, in London.
Rory: That the medical community hasn’t recognized that ticks in Australia may carry Lyme Disease. I know that a lot of Lyme sufferers in Australia have found it difficult to get treatment as a result.
We have heard you were quite debilitated as a kid before you got on this diet. I’m interested in that gap between – when you started feeling better and your college years; and when your health started kind of getting out of control again.
- The gluten and the dairy slipped back in once I started to feel better. If there was any form of illness going around, I would come down with a chronic version of it. So, if there was a throat infection going around, I would end up with strep throat. If there was flu going round, I’d be out for a week. My immune system was not in a good place.
- When they diagnosed me with rheumatoid arthritis, one of the reasons I went the Paleo route was because I knew that having an immune-suppressing drug would just be a recipe for disaster for me, especially with a newborn child.
Jo: Can you share a little bit about your story, with regard to AIP, with us?
- I was one of these people that went Paleo fairly easily, but struggled to go full AIP. I reached out to a health coach myself. My coach helped me move through the phases of eliminating the additional food, such as the nightshades, nuts, and seeds. What I really needed was that cheerleader in my corner.
- As a single mum, living in a foreign country, I didn’t have a lot of support support, so a health coach was really important to me. I had already looked at how [00:11:30] I could potentially help others as a result of already going gluten-free, and Paleo. A lot of friends and colleagues had asked me, “Can you help me?”, and I didn’t feel like I wanted to just give them my experience. I wanted to have some scientific data behind everything, and wanted to be qualified in the recommendations I was making.
- As a result, becoming a health coach was very natural.
Joanna: So, as a single mom living in a different country, having that line of support became invaluable?
- Yes, it was a lifeline.
- Building relationships with the wider healing community has been a true lifesaver for me.
Rory: You mentioned that one of the reasons you sought out the health coach was to really have that community and that support aspect. Given that both you and Jo are health coaches, could you tell people when it might be useful for people to get a health coach?
- For me, it’s really if you really don’t know where to start, and you need help transitioning from a standard Western diet.
- It can be overwhelming to transition a family. It can be overwhelming to transition a child, when the rest of the family doesn’t want to eat that way, and I have experience with that. When you don’t know where to start or when you’re stuck is really a time to reach out to a health coach.
- (Jo): Making diet and lifestyle changes can be a very lonely experience. Having somebody in your corner, who gets it, can become very important. It’s always easier for us to be successful when we have some accountability, and a framework from which to work, rather than just trying to manage everything at the same time. That’s where health coaching comes in. It’s the bridge betweenyour doctor and you – working with you to implement change in a transitional process that you can stick to. It’s just like a PT, but in a health coaching form.
Rory: I’d love to hear a little bit more about Conscious Autoimmunity, and the programs that you have over there.
- We run two programs. The first – AIP Reset – we’ve been running for just over a year
- AIP Reintros is launching it officially on the 1st of February.
- AIP Reset is a supportive online community program that runs for 30 days. It’s a support group to help people who have perhaps fallen off the AIP wagon or need some additional support.
- It’s been, really, it’s been so fascinating, working with such a wide range of people, who’ve joined us globally. I mean, we’ve had people from Barcelona, and New Zealand, and Australia, and from the U.K., and people from the U.S. Just having the global experience in our groups has been really powerful.
- (Jo) There is a shared experience with these participants that come together. We have a number of participants who come back, if not every AIP Reset, then every other AIP Reset, and that’s been wonderful, as we see how their healing experience has developed. S
- AIP Reintros is one of the reasons that Conscious Autoimmunity was born. Jo and I recognized that there was so many resources for the elimination side of the protocol. Other than Eileen Laird’s reintroduction guide, there really wasn’t any support for the reintroduction of foods. It’s a very personalized process.
- We run this program across 30 days. It’s not a program where we’re going to be saying, “Okay, this week, we’re reintroducing cheese.” It is a program where we’re guiding people on how to know when it’s right to reintroduce foods; when is the time, and what needs to be in balance, for that to happen. In general, it is a really empowering program, to help people manage that personal journey, of reintroducing foods.
- (Jo) For me, that is what AIP reintros is all about. It’s about personalizing the AIP reintros process, in a very supportive environment, while managing the lifestyle aspects.
Rory: We all know that the AIP is an elimination diet and that it isn’t meant to last forever. I’m interested what reintroductions you’ve had.
- I started my reintroductions after nine months of being on the elimination phase. I was able to successfully reintroduce, first, egg yolks, and then, egg whites. I reintroduced chocolate, even though that’s Stage Four, I just jumped in there, because I need the chocolate.
- I have reintroduced coffee, and eggs. I have also dabbled with a number of other reintroductions, which I’m not able to have on a regular basis, but I can have if my lifestyle is balanced. I’ve had the odd gluten-free beer. I’ve also reintroduced some nuts andchickpeas (garbanzo beans in the U.S.)
- If my stress levels go out, one of the things that I need to do sometimes is just reset. That’s where I found it to be a really powerful tool, the AIP Reset.
- (Jo) I completely agree with Emma – my diet is affected by other lifestyle factors. When everything is going well, and my sleep is aligned with my stress management, and I’m getting outside in the sun, and I’m getting some gentle movement, then I have a diet that is very focused on whole foods and traditionally prepared, so – not processed. I steer clear of packets. I read the ingredients. I do spend time to soak and activate nuts, so that I’m making them all bio-viable. I do find is that sugar is a big problem for me
Joanna: One thing that we have discovered in the 15 episodes undertaken is that navigating the spiritual side of health seems to be an unexpected factor with all of our guests. For some people, spirituality is religion, for others, it’s meditation, and for some, it’s just improving their consciousness, and their mind-body connections. Can you share with us any form of spirituality you engage in and how it supports you?
- I am one wherever I am around water. That is a really calming place of tranquility.
- I also have found a lot of peace and calm by doing morning pages, which is a concept called The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron.
- I also take time for massage.
- It’s really become an essential life skill that I’ve had to really work on.
Rory: We ask every guest two of the same questions. The first is: committing to any sort of healing protocol does take a lot of work. What would be your very best advice to somebody who’s just starting out?
- Don’t overthink it. Doing the best you can with what you have, because what you don’t want to do is stress yourself out over the fact that you’re doing this. That’s actually counterproductive. Being gentle with yourself, and taking things slowly and phasing yourself into this, and not trying to compare yourself with others, just being happy with what you’re able to achieve, in that moment, is probably the best advice I could give.
Joanna: The second question that we always ask is, who has been the most influential person for you, as you have pursued your healing protocol lifestyle?
- One goes without saying: Sarah Ballantyne, and the work that she’s doneis at the core of everything that I do, and everything that I teach as a health coach.
- My functional doctor, Dr. Paul Mikulski, of ProActive Natural Medicine, in Chicago. He’s been such a phenomenal resource for me in testing and understanding what’s been going on with my bod
- Then, I have to say Jo. We built our business at first without even meeting each other. Then Jo traveled to Chicago, for us to really flesh out our business plan. The trust and support and value in your core values has just been powerful. It’s so important to find people who understand your crisis, your journey, and be there, too, and have the same viewpoints. And I think it’s rare when you find those people, and then, you can build a business with them. That, to me, has just been, a fantastic value add to my life.
Rory: Where to find Emma and the Conscious Autoimmunity programs online
To learn more about Emma, check out her website (with me!) at Conscious Autoimmunity where you can learn more about her story, coaching programs, recipes and articles.