Today we have a returning guest, Erika Schlick. Erika is a Lyme Warrior that used food to heal her Lyme. She is a paleo cookbook author that created Wandering Palate, and has a consulting practice and cooking show called Trail to Health. In today’s episode we’re going to talk to her about what she does to stay in remission and how clean food and managing stress are important factors towards keeping your immune system working. To get my detox for Lyme checklist, go to lyme360.com/detoxchecklist.
Mimi: Erika, thank you so much for coming back on. You were one of my first guests when I started a while ago, almost a year ago, so I’m excited to have you back on. So, for anybody who doesn’t know, you can go back to my first podcast, first couple weeks. We did a podcast with Erika then, but we wanted to catch up and see what you’re up to. So, how have you been?
Erika: I’ve been really good. Been really busy, even though despite COVID, not really being able to leave our house too much. But yeah, I’ve been focusing on creating a lot of content for my blog, which has been really fun. I’ve been doing over 150 TV appearances since COVID started from my own kitchen, which has been amazing to have been able to pull that off. Been working on making lots of healthy recipes for the blog. I’m actually interested in eventually starting a podcast as well. So excited to be back on yours, and yeah, things are good. I’m ready to see my friends again, but it seems like things hopefully are coming to an end soon.
Mimi: That’s great. Now, when you cook for your TV, is that all original recipes?
Erika: Yes, they’re all the recipes either from my cookbook or on my blog.
Mimi: Wow. That’s impressive, that’s impressive. So, how have you been feeling?
Erika: I’ve been feeling really good. As long as I don’t get gluten. You know, the gluten still really takes me down. Having celiac disease is challenging. Ironically, since COVID started, I’ve actually found that I kind of am getting glutened a lot more. There’s a lot of packaged foods that are gluten-free, and brands that I’ve trusted for a while, all of a sudden I’m finding that they have gluten, or I’m having a gluten reaction to it. Unfortunately, due to COVID, the FDA has changed some of their labeling laws, and so brands can source ingredients from different vendors without updating their labels. They might be sourcing something made in a facility with wheat and things like that, so it’s been really challenging, navigating that. Getting glutened is the absolute worst thing for me, but as long as I don’t get glutened, I feel really good.
Mimi: Now, what kind of symptoms do you have when you have gluten?
Erika: I get all neuro symptoms, so I don’t get any digestive symptoms. After having Lyme, it’s so challenging to have neuro symptoms again. I get really bad brain fog, I get some occipital neuralgia with a headache in the lower left side of my head. Just a lot of fatigue and joint pain. It lasts seven days and it’s pretty interesting. It’s seven days exactly to the time I ate gluten, so I get glutened up lunch Monday at noon, the next Monday at noon, all the symptoms just kind of disappear. It’s really bizarre and it’s been like this since I went gluten-free, so…
Mimi: Wow, so you’re saying it lasts seven days?
Erika: It does.
Mimi: But it happens immediately?
Erika: Yeah. Usually, as soon as I get glutened I can start to feel some tingling back in the back of my head, and I start to get really tired. I take a nap, which I’m not a napper whatsoever. So, if I took a nap, I know I got glutened for sure.
Mimi: Oh my gosh, that’s crazy. So, what else do you do to make sure you don’t relapse? What other kind of…
Erika: I do a lot to take care of myself. I sometimes still feel like I’m on a little bit of a health treadmill just to make sure that I stay in remission and stay healthy. Diet is a huge one, and we talked about that in great length in my last podcast, of people want to kind of get my diet philosophy and what kind of things I eat healthy. Self-care also is very important. Especially with COVID, I feel like everyone’s under a lot of extra stress and a lot of uncertainty. So, making sure to take time for yourself, whether that’s a hot bath or sitting in your sauna, or just taking some time for yourself to do something you enjoy I think is really important.
I do a lot of supporting things for my immune system too, so I do usually get IVs still pretty regularly; not every week or anything like when I had Lyme. But I like to do a 10 pass oh so maybe every two to three months just to kind of keep my immune system really healthy. If I feel a little drained or under the weather, I’ll get a vitamin C or some Glutathione, and just things like that to really, really support my immune system and keep it healthy. One of my other favorite ways to stay in remission and stay healthy is the thymus. I love peptides. I’ve been really into peptides, so I use BPC-157 orally just to kind of keep inflammation down and keep my immune system healthy, and I love to do thymus. Every quarter, every four to six months, maybe I do a round of thymus. I feel like that really, really helps my immune system as well. So, it’s not as much a full-time job to stay healthy and stay in remission. I don’t have any Lyme symptoms, I don’t have anything that I’m kind of chasing after. It’s more just to be proactive to make sure I don’t get back to that dark place that we all know so well.
Mimi: No, I know, and so the peptides, you do them orally? You don’t use them…
Erika: The BPC I do oral, but I do the thymus as injections.
Mimi: Every day?
Erika: No, no, no. The thymus injections I do… When I do a round I do about two injections a week and I space it out over about six weeks.
Mimi: I know, because I was doing those peptides every day, twice a day, and it just-
Erika: You can do that, yeah. There’s a different Thymosin, Alpha and Beta, that you can do as a daily injection. I don’t know.
Mimi: I was doing that and I just-
Erika: It’s a lot.
Mimi: It was just too much, getting just stabbed every day, right?
Erika: Poked all the time, I know, it is hard. So, yeah, that’s why I like the other one, because it’s twice a week. I find that it works really, really well for my body.
Mimi: Now some of the peptides are hard to get, right, because the FDA took…
Erika: You can find a lot of them orally now too. I actually have some oral thymus. I don’t find it works as well as the injection thymus, but it’s good to have kind of as backup support. It’s a lot easier to take a supplement or a pill than it is to have to do the injections every day.
Mimi: Right, right. Do you take any supplements on a regular basis?
Erika: I have been because of COVID, just to kind of keep myself a little bit more healthy. I’ve been doing vitamin C and zinc and fish oil, but I go through phases. Sometimes, if I’m feeling a little more rundown or have a lot of work stress or a lot of things going on, I might supplement, just to kind of keep my body up a little bit more, and then, other times, I go weeks to months without taking anything, because I’m just kind of over it. I do take the BPC every night, I do take zinc every night, and then, the only other thing I take religiously on a daily basis is my thyroid, since I have Hashimoto’s. I do take T3 to keep that under control, and that’s just kind of a daily thing that I do. But I don’t know if I’d count that as a supplement.
Mimi: Have you been able to add back in your alcohol, or any other things that you have had to take out?
Erika: Absolutely, yeah. I mean, I’m pretty resilient now to foods. I had over 60 food allergies at the peak of Lyme, and I had maybe a handful of foods that I’m slightly sensitive to now. Chilies I used to have an EpiPen for, I was so allergic to them, and I can actually eat food with chilies now, which is so crazy. There is no little bit when I’m eating it, because I’m just like, wow, I used to be so allergic, and now I don’t have a reaction, but that’s been pretty cool. And then, yeah, alcohol too. I try to stick to lower sugar content things just in general. I really like Dry Farm Wines.
I used to be really, really intolerant to wine, especially red wine. Red wine would just give me the worst headache, give me the worst kind of hangover. Even if I just had a couple sips I would wake up really groggy and just not feel good, and I don’t know if it’s the mold or the sulfides or the sugars, or what it is in there, but with Dry Farm Wines I’ve been able to drink red wine again, and it’s been so amazing. They test all their wines for mold and mycotoxins and things like that. So, I can’t drink California reds. The same stuff comes up for some reason, but French and European reds I tend to have less issue with, and then the Dry Farms have been life-changing. I’m like, oh, I can drink red wine again.
Mimi: How about the hard alcohol?
Erika: I do mezcal. I like mezcal with lime juice and some sparkling water. I mean, I wasn’t a huge hard alcohol drinker before.
Mimi: See, I love mojitos.
Erika: Mojitos are good. Actually, you know what, I have been having some of them lately, and I’ve been fine with that too, so…
Mimi: Yeah, or I add the vodka instead of rum. That’s what I meant. That’s my drink.
Erika: Champagne is always my weakness.
Mimi: Have you been able to have coffee?
Erika: Yes, I drink coffee every day. I never actually fully gave that up.
Mimi: Now you do?
Erika: I did actually do green tea for a little bit in my Lyme journey. I did give up coffee for a bit, but again, I think it really has to do a lot with the mold, so I’m very sensitive to molds. If I’m in an environment with mold I can tell right away that I’m kind of foggy-feeling and groggy, and try to get out as quickly as possible, take binders, and try to do things to not be affected by it. With foods too, that was one of the things I learned on my journey, is I really got into the Bulletproof Diet, not because of all the fats and things like that, which I think are good, but not everybody can tolerate that. But what I really like about them is they look at foods and what toxins and molds are in foods, and it can be in certain fruits. It can be in coffees, it can be in grains and things like that, and cutting all those foods out for a while really, really helped my health improve. Now, to this day, even with coffee, I only drink mold-free coffee or mold-tested coffee. I have had really bad experiences drinking just random coffee and feeling very sick from it, so I stick to just the mold-tested coffee and only drink that.
Mimi: I know. There’s so many things to think about, right?
Erika: I know, keep track of. It’s exasperating.
Mimi: But you know what I was talking about with my doctor because I’m almost celiac, she said, but I think a lot of these sensitivities are caused by the Lyme and everything that we’re going through. So, by not having that, once you cut those back, then you’re able to kind of add other stuff in.
Erika: Exactly, and I think once you heal and your gut heals and you kind of lower than constant inflammation and attack that your body’s just going, hey, why are the… Once you kind of heal a lot of that and take those things out for a little bit, then you’re able to add things back in slowly and see how you react to them. It may not work now, but in six months you might be able to tolerate it again too, so I think it’s good to, as you’re healing, always kind of test things again and see how you’re doing with it.
Mimi: So, what else do you do? Is there any other advice that you can give people as far as to stay from relapsing?
Erika: I think stress management is a huge one. I noticed if I am really stressed out my body depletes very quickly. I had a little bit of a rough patch at the end of last year. We had a really big project with a really crazy deadline, and my stress levels were super high and I was not working out as much because I didn’t have time. I wasn’t sleeping very well, because my mind just couldn’t shut off, and I got pretty sick afterwards. It wasn’t COVID, it wasn’t Lyme, but it was some kind of cold or flu that kind of wouldn’t go away. I think I actually ended up reactivating some EBV for a little bit, because it was kind of like that tired and kind of unmotivated feeling. I did a lot of IVs and things like that to kind of get myself out of it and back to my good baseline, but I couldn’t believe how quickly it happened; how just about a month of work stress just depleted me so much.
Erika: So, now as I’m getting back into the swing of things and getting busy with work again, I’m trying to really make sure I take time to get some exercise in, make sure I sleep, and kind of quiet my mind before I go to sleep, just so that I can really rest and things like that, and try to take better care of myself. So, I think that’s a big one that people don’t notice, and it can be stress from work, it can be stress from some kind of accident or some kind of trauma, or losing a loved one, especially right now with everything going on. So, being really conscious of that and taking care of your energy and kind of allowing your body to reset and relax I think is critical.
Mimi: Now, do you either subscribe to a meditation practice or DNSR, I think it’s called, or you know-
Erika: DNRS? I haven’t done the DNRS. I’ve heard a lot of good things about it and I’ve actually been considering trying it for my gluten reaction because it’s just so severe and consumes so much of my life and depletes me so much. I feel like it’s a big time commitment, so for me, I haven’t had time to do it.
Mimi: I know, I actually bought the program, and it’s a big time… I’m like, okay, I almost need to go away for the week and sit and do it. I almost wish I went [crosstalk 00:12:59] away to do it, and I bought the online program. I’m like, I just got to just focus on it. But I know a lot of people that got better from it than-
Erika: Yeah, I’ve heard a lot of success stories, which is making me want to be interested, but again, it’s like finding the time to do it, you know?
Mimi: Maybe you and I should just go away somewhere and just sit at a hotel and do it together and be like… Because then it’s like we’re both doing it and we forced each other.
Erika: Yes, I need an accountability buddy to do this with.
Mimi: Yeah, exactly, because I really want to. It’s literally on my to-do list every day, like starting… Oh, well. I’ll do it just fine.
Erika: To answer your question, I mean, I learned TM, so transcendental meditation, and I do try to do that. Again, that’s kind of a big commitment. It’s supposed to be 20 minutes twice a day, but it’s not really 20 minutes, because it takes some time to settle in, take some time to come out, so it’s an hour a day. So, I’ve been trying to do… After that kind of little EBV flare exhaustion period, I had a really strong gut instinct that I needed to do more of that, so I’ve been trying to integrate that. I actually find biofeedback in HRV training to be awesome for me. It’s a little bit more active, which works well for my mind instead of just trying to kind of not think for a little bit.
Mimi: What is that specifically, HRV?
Erika: So, HRV is heart rate variability, so it’s when you try to get your breathing kind of in sync with your heart rate and you kind of lower your heart rate so it’s not so-
Mimi: Is that like the heart map, the machine that is… Do you know what I’m talking about?
Erika: No, I don’t know what that is.
Mimi: It’s called heart map, and it’s this little machine you put your finger on and it turns red or not, depending on if your heart rate is-
Erika: Is fast? Yeah.
Mimi: … in sync with your breath.
Erika: Yeah, that sounds like it could be similar. So, HRV is really great. It kind of feels like an active form of meditation, actually kind of that feeling I get when I do TM, where I’m really relaxed and kind of like my nervous system feels like it’s resetting. I can get that with HRV. That’d be more active than that-
Mimi: Is that an app or a program?
Erika: So, I worked with a practitioner pre-COVID to learn it, and so we figured out what my ideal breath rate was, and then, it’s kind of just a practice. So, with her, it would be a screen and kind of almost like video games that you’re kind of controlling with your breathing in a way, and it had a little sensor to monitor your heart rate. I just saw a new product that’s like an app and product that you can do it at home that I was actually really interested in checking out, but there are also apps you can use, so you can do apps that kind of monitor your heart rate and your breathing so that you can do it that way. I trained with her for a long time, because it took me a while to really get the hang of it.
Erika: So, now I feel like I’m to the point that if I feel stressed I can kind of drop into that breathing pattern and I can feel myself kind of resetting if I feel really anxious, or I like to do it sometimes before bed to help my brain just kind of unwind and calm down just to kind of reset, and CBD too. CBD has been a lifesaver for me for sleeping. Especially if I get glutened, I get super bad insomnia, and we all know without sleep your body just doesn’t recover well, it’s just going to keep getting kind of drained and worn out. So, using that to really just kind of quiet my mind so that I can sleep. I have an Oura Ring, and it’s interesting, the days I do take CBD for sleep my sleep stats are so much better than if I don’t, and it’s like, I think it just allows my body to kind of relax a little bit more to a level that I can’t get myself to because I’m [crosstalk 00:16:22] so tired.
Mimi: I love that Oura Ring too. That Oura Ring is great. So, for anybody who has sleep issues or they want to know, it grades your day. You wake up and you have kind of a grade of how you’re ready for your day.
Erika: How you recovered in your sleep, yeah, and how much you should push yourself, and if you should take it a little easier that day. So, I think it’s good. I mean, you can drive yourself crazy using all these tools and metrics, but I think the more kind of information you have, it can help you just be more conscious of how you feel and how your body’s doing without having to do labs all the time and things like that.
Mimi: Right. I would love to just talk a little bit, just for the people who didn’t listen to your first podcast, just a quick thing about your book and your TV show.
Erika: Yeah, absolutely. So, my book is called Wandering Palate, and it’s a 28-day meal plan of travel-inspired paleo recipes. I’ve got a lot of recipes on my blog as well that are free, but kind of the whole premise of my food is it’s very simple, it’s very clean. I try to make it as simple as possible for you, and before Lyme, before I was celiac, I used to do a ton of traveling and could just eat whatever I wanted. Obviously, that is very different now post-Lyme and celiac disease, so I really wanted to take some of those recipes that I had in my travels and really recreate them to something that was delicious, but healthy and used healthy fats and healthy ingredients to make you feel really nourished, but also not deprived from what you were eating. That’s kind of the premise for my book. I’m working on my idea for my second book that I hope to start working on here pretty soon, which is exciting. And yeah, I’ve been doing a lot of press for my book, so since COVID started I mentioned I’ve been on over 150 TV shows, which has been just so awesome, and I had always wanted to kind of start working on video content and creating cooking videos and things like that, and I think I’ve made 40 different videos at this point that are up on my YouTube channel as well too, kind of showing people how to make my recipes.
Erika: So, try to put a lot of energy into creating that kind of content, and so much starts with food. Food is just such an easy thing that we can do, whether we’re sick or not, to nourish our bodies and find out what foods work with our bodies and things like that. It’s something that everyone can incorporate into their lives and use kind of as a starting point. So, yeah. Diet is definitely a critical piece to me staying healthy. I eat super clean. I eat most of the recipes in my book and on my blog all the time if I’m not doing something super simple for lunch. So, yeah, I mean, everything is healthy, simple, nutritious, and tastes good.
Mimi: That’s great. I always like to ask everybody this. If someone were to call you, a friend were to call you and tell you that they just were diagnosed with Lyme, what piece of advice would you give them right off the bat that they could do starting today at home?
Erika: I would say definitely find a Lyme doctor, obviously, that you’re comfortable working with that’s someone that’s going to have the approach that you want. For me, I didn’t do any antibiotics, and I wanted to work with someone that wasn’t going to push antibiotics on me, so being comfortable with your treatment route. And then, I would definitely say diet is such an important one to start with. So much of our immune system is in our gut, cutting out those inflammatory foods. You might be surprised, there might be symptoms that you have that it’s so easy to blame Lyme for all the symptoms and all the issues that you’re having, but some of it could be a food reaction. Some of it could be something that’s inflaming you, and you’re not even aware of it because you’re just eating it every day. So, doing an elimination diet, I think, is critical if you have a chronic illness. I think it should be one of the first steps. Clean that out. You might have so much relief from doing that, and then you can kind of start to chip away at your other symptoms.
Mimi: It’s true. I even look back in the past couple months. I’ve been having a really hard time for my health, and the times I have been feeling better are the weeks that I just literally just eat vegetables, raw vegetables, and then, all of a sudden, kind of everything goes away and you’re kind of like, okay, and then you just do… I don’t even add back many things. Literally, at this point, it’s gluten-free bread, that must be triggering it, or it’s just random things. But it took me a long time to realize, even though I did go to school at IIN, right, so I should know the nutrition, but it’s hard to give up food. It’s really hard.
Erika: It is, it is.
Mimi: Because you just keep telling yourself, “I don’t feel well, so just a little piece of chocolate is not going to matter,” but for anybody who’s listening who’s not cleaned up their diet, you’re not going to get better until you clean up your diet.
Erika: And it may seem like the end of the world when you’re doing it. You may be like, “I’m never going to eat these things again,” or, “I’m only going to be able to eat eight things.” At a certain point I was on a rotation diet and I only had eight foods that I could eat, and I was just like, this is insane. Am I going to be like this forever? But I started feeling better, so I almost didn’t care that I could only eat those eight foods, because when I stuck to them I actually felt so much better that I started kind of noticing it, and then, as I healed, I’ve just kind of been surprised. Sometimes you might accidentally eat something that has something in it that you were sensitive to, and you’re like, oh, it didn’t affect me anymore, and then you try it again and you’re like, wow, I think I can eat this again. I don’t add in all those inflammatory things all the time as a regular basis. I’m pretty much mostly paleo kind of keto style diet, but it’s nice to be able to have a gluten-free treat on occasion, or when you’re traveling. Indulge in something that you wouldn’t normally buy or make at home, but kind of enjoy yourself and not feel sick from doing it. That’s the most important thing.
Mimi: So, two things. You don’t usually have gluten-free treats?
Erika: Not really. I don’t really have much of a sweet tooth, so for me, it’s easy.
Mimi: Wow. I’m jealous.
Erika: I am much more savory. I like lemon and salt on everything that I eat is my thing. I’m all about steaks and tomatoes and herb sauces and things like that, but there’s a restaurant here that we’ve been ordering. They have gluten-free fried chicken, it’s organic, but I’m like, I haven’t had fried chicken in 10 years until we discovered this place, and it’s so good. So, we kind of overindulged on that over the holidays [crosstalk 00:22:08] like-
Mimi: Yeah. What’s that called? What place is that?
Erika: It’s called Birdie G’s, here in Santa Monica, and it’s so good. I think I just kind of overdid it, because I’m like, it’s been 10 years since I’ve had something like this. It’s savory, so for me, I’m like, that’s my weakness, is gluten-free savory.
Mimi: What were the eight things you were allowed to eat?
Erika: Let’s see. It was beef, fish, chicken, cucumber, lettuce, broccoli, I think. It was super random [crosstalk 00:22:38].
Mimi: For anybody who has not done a food test, I mean, I did an extensive food test, and everything I love that I thought was healthy I couldn’t eat [crosstalk 00:22:47] like kale. I eat kale morning, noon, and night. I would have drinks in the morning, whatever. Allergic to kale. Everything. I was going down a list: avocados, kale, coconut.
Erika: I feel like of me what happened was it was all my favorite foods that I thought were good for me that I was eating a lot of it, and I think something just kind of blew up in my body one day with Lyme. It was just a day of a Lyme surge or something, and it was like, whatever was in my body at that time, my immune system just kind of started attacking. I felt like I was [crosstalk 00:23:16].
Mimi: But I don’t think our body likes eating the same thing every day. I think you’re supposed to rotate it every four days or…
Erika: No, you’re supposed to rotate. That’s why when I did this I was doing an allergy immunotherapy, and so you had to do a rotation diet where you ate it one day, and then you didn’t eat it for a couple days, and then you could eat it again, and it was like, I have eight foods that I’m supposed to rotate, these eight foods? I’m just like-
Mimi: Just have water, it’s just easier. Water, water, water.
Erika: Can I just have a plate of ice?
Mimi Oh my gosh, that’s so good. Well, thank you so much for your time. This has been great.
Erika: Yeah, thanks for having me.
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