Christine Boyd, after interviewing physician and author Amy Myers, M.D., reports on her own four-week trial run on “The Myers Way Diet.”
Recently I had the privilege of interviewing functional medicine physician and author of The Autoimmune Solution, Amy Myers, M.D. (See “Autoimmune Solution: Can Cutting Inflammatory Foods Prevent or Reverse Autoimmune Symptoms?” in our Dec/Jan 2016 issue.)
In her book, Myers details a four-pronged plan—rooted in the tenets of functional medicine—to reduce inflammatory symptoms and even reverse autoimmune symptoms. She contends that her plan, dubbed the Myers Way, can turn the immune system around to support itself rather than attack the body.
Virtually everyone notices some improvement on her plan, she says, with the caveat that someone like herself who no longer has a thyroid (it was ablated long ago) won’t ever be medication-free.
Myers makes the argument that the plan can benefit just about anyone—anyone who doesn’t have too much inflammation. As a celiac, I’m a prime candidate for her 30-day plan.
Thankfully, I haven’t had regular celiac symptoms since going gluten-free. So when my husband and others asked what I was expecting to get out of this, I couldn’t give a specific answer. But I remember back when I was first diagnosed with celiac disease and I stopped eating gluten. Almost overnight, my bloated stomach eased, my energy came back, and I started feeling really good. I had no idea how bad I’d felt until I felt great. Maybe the same thing would happen on the Myers Plan?
There are four parts—called pillars—to the Myers Way. The first, and arguably the most important, is the dietary overhaul. In a nutshell, the diet is similar to a Paleo approach, with a few more restrictions. In addition to restricting sugar, grains, dairy, soy, and caffeine, The Myers Way also restricts eggs, legumes, and nightshades. (Dozens of recipes to get you started on this meal plan are included in the Autoimmune Solution.)
The remaining three pillars focus on healing the gut (I started up a probiotic regimen), reducing exposure to toxins (I borrowed air and water purifiers from my friend Stacy) and, lastly, reducing stress. With our house on the market and an impending move, I’m pretty sure I didn’t address the last pillar at all.
So here’s how it went:
Myers Diet Week 1
Mornings without coffee are tough. After three mornings with hot green tea in steamy late August, I decide to allow myself some decaf coffee with a splash of unsweetened coconut milk. It’s a small cheat but I think it’ll help keep me on track. Most mornings, I’ve relied on Dr. Myers’ breakfast staple—turkey patties and sweet potato hash. It’s a very tasty and satisfying morning meal, but it’s time-consuming to make. I prepped the patties ahead so I can heat and eat but I end up finishing the extra sweet potato hash because I’m a snacker and I’m having a hard time finding quick snacks on the plan.
So far, I haven’t noticed any change in how I’m feeling. Dr. Myers says some people notice an improvement in as little as one week. But given that I was already gluten-free and eat very few grains, I wasn’t expecting to notice a big change immediately.
Myers Diet Week 2
This diet is getting a little pricey. My daily trips to the store for organic fruits, veggies, and chicken have made a dent in my wallet. And I cheated—twice. My husband, who didn’t realize lima beans (my fave summer veggie) weren’t part of my diet, picked up a bag at the local farm stand. After shelling and cooking them with my daughters, who also love them, I sampled a few. Before long, I’d eaten half the bowl. Worse, they were cooked with real butter (I’ve been using coconut or olive oil).
The second time I cheated, I was stuck in traffic and, starving, I grabbed my emergency stash of cashews. Once you cheat a little, it’s hard to hold the line. Later that week I found myself diving into one of my all-time favorite snacks, a fruit-and-nut Larabar. As for how I’m feeling, I actually had some insomnia this past week. My husband blamed it on hunger (I’m actually not hungry despite what he may think) but I checked Dr. Myers’ book and she mentions some people experience sleep troubles early on in the diet. It’s part of a detox process, she writes.
Myers Diet Week 3
I’ve found some really good recipes in The Autoimmune Solution book. My favorite is the Coconut Chicken Curry. I made it without all of the spices in the recipe (I had only cumin) but it still turned out delicious. I’m now doubling my favorite recipes so I have more food on hand for quick meals and snacks.
Because everything is prepared from scratch, the plan is very time-consuming. The one time we ate out in the past three weeks, I brought my entire meal and asked the restaurant staff to heat it up for me. (I used to do this when I was first diagnosed with celiac disease a decade ago; how times have changed!) I’m certainly eating better than I’ve ever eaten in my life. But I haven’t noticed any other changes. The insomnia seems to have passed.
Myers Diet Week 4
School’s back in session for my kids. I thought I’d have more me-time to cook (and eat) in peace, but I’ve been swamped with grabbing last-minute school supply trips, meetings, and parent-volunteer commitments. So I’ve been cheating with more Larabars (not the chocolate or peanut butter varieties).
My swimming partner asked me if I’d lost weight—I never weigh myself but I think she’s right. I’ve got some extra room in my jeans. Otherwise, I haven’t noticed any other major changes in my health these past four weeks.
That said, I’m happy about the dietary improvements I made. I used to eat a lot of sugar. Dr. Myers was right when she wrote that a strawberry or apple tastes so much sweeter once you’ve kicked the M&M habit. And I don’t miss dairy as much as I thought I would.
I plan to keep up a Myers-ish diet—but I’m going to add back eggs and nuts. Who knows? Maybe four weeks wasn’t long enough for me. Stay tuned.
Christine Boyd is Gluten Free & More‘s health editor and senior medical correspondent. Based in Baltimore, she writes frequently in print and online about the gluten-free lifestyle and has covered such subjects as gluten’s role in migraines, anxiety, infertility, and thyroid conditions, among many other topics.Originally posted February 2017