Where I started

I found my way here a year ago. I had just seen a rheumatologist about debilitating pain, swelling, and stiffness in the finger joints of both hands. It had started 10 months earlier, a few months after hurting my right hand in a bike accident. It got so bad my hands were unusable every morning. And it was getting worse, with stiffness and swelling lasting longer each day.

While waiting for test results, I went searching. When I learned about the NSD a light bulb went on. I had already given up dairy and grains, having linked them to my rosacea and severe knee arthritis. But I had always felt I was missing something. I would still have painful days that I was sure were food-related but I could never pick out the pattern. I don't think I would have ever figured out starch on my own.

I started NSD the next day. Within days I felt better. And 2 weeks later, my finger stiffness and swelling were almost gone. And so were a bunch of other symptoms I had thought unrelated: sharp tendon pains in my knee and groin, pain in my neck and upper back that often came with brutal headaches, throbbing pain in my left hip, and overall body stiffness, especially in my spine. My skin improved, my mood improved, my energy levels soared. It was an amazing turnaround in the dead of winter, when i usually feel my worst.

The early days: very low starch tolerance

Still, the first month was tough. Finding a truly starch free diet was hard. Apple juice, nuts,  mushrooms, carrots, collards, cabbage - these all tripped me up at first. I would think I'd had a good day, only to wake the next morning in pain. I was frustrated. I lost weight I didn't want to lose. But I eventually landed on a base diet of eggs, meat, zucchini, and leafy greens like spinach and chicory, and slowly added from there.

I used www.cronometer.com to track my daily starch intake. I quickly discovered that I could eat up to 2 grams of starch and generally be ok. But starch levels can vary, so I took iodine everywhere. 

After a really bad week of accidental starching, I tried a short water fast. I definitely felt better. But I hated every minute of it. Definitely not for me.

The protocol: 'weed and seed'

After a month or two, I got the hang of it. Pain levels hit 0-1. But I wanted lasting change, so I started a 'weed and seed' protocol: 6-8 weeks of proibiotics alternating with 1-2 weeks of herbal antibiotics (berberine, goldenseal, oregano oil, peppermint oil, etc.). I don't tolerate regular probiotics - I break out and get constipated - so I take soil-based probiotic like Prescript-Assist.

After several rounds and faithful NSD, I now find I can tolerate a little more starch. If I eat a single high starch meal, it's only a mild reaction, if that. And now I can regularly eat very low starch foods, like carrots and winter squash, which had previously been a problem. My tolerance is up to about 5 grams a day now - a modest improvement but one that gives me many, many more choices.

Sticking with it

I've read enough success stories to believe that starch tolerance can improve with strict NSD. I want to be that person. Someday.

In the meantime, my weak spot is Christmas, and this year was no exception. Cheese, crackers,  bread, cookies: these dominate my holiday landscape, especially at work. So like most years, I indulged. I was in major pain. And I have not bounced back quickly. I've been back on a strict NSD for weeks now, and while my pain is back down to a 1-2 most days, it's not gone. My finger joints still hurt to the touch. My neck pain and headaches persist. But I'm not worried. It's amazing knowing that I can control this. A few more weeks and I expect I'll be my usual 0-1, mostly pain free state.

Despite this gleeful leap off the wagon, I'm not back to where I started one year ago. My pain is a ghost of what it used to be. And my stable of starch-free recipes (which I will continue to post) is growing. I eat a healthy, balanced diet, and I'm able to exercise more, and longer, than before I started.

I continue to follow my protocol. I've been taking gelatin lately to undo the damage I did during the holidays. Otherwise, I take no meds or supplements, except for a very occasional NSAID for my worst headaches.

I'm really happy with my progress and where I'm at. NSD has been a life changer. My sincere thanks to everyone here at KickAS for making this possible. I am eternally grateful for your insight, advice and support.
Suspected USpA. HLA B27, xray, u/sound, blood tests all -ve. Ancient history of plantar fasciitis, SI joint pain, knee arthritis. Recent history of tendinitis, neck pain, debilitating finger pain and stiffness (especially mornings). No diagnosis, no meds.

2010 - stopped eating dairy
2012 - stopped eating wheat
2014 - stopped eating all grains
Jan 2017 - discovered NSD - 98% improvement in symptoms, continually amazed by my results, wish I'd found kickAS sooner