Friday, January 5, 2018


B E A U T Y   B I T E S  |  A U T O I M M U N E   P R O T O C O L   &   B A B A G A N O U S H
A primer on the Autoimmune Protocol, my re-introduction experience, & an Ottolenghi-inspired Babaganoush recipe. . .

s long as I can remember or at least for a couple of years, I have been on a full fledged Autoimmune Protocol. This is a dietary protocol that's prescribed to those who suffer from autoimmune illnesses, those recovering from chronic illness, or those who face chronic pain such as arthritis or Endometriosis to quell their symptoms. 

This is because the foods that it calls to eliminate are foods that are inflammatory or more noticeably so for those who have compromised immune systems and, equally importantly, digestive systems that are sensitive as a result. You can read more about AIP in my upcoming book or purchase the book Autoimmune Protocol book here.

If you're not familiar with my story or are new to The Thirlby (welcome!), I went on this protocol initially due to inflammation caused by malnutrition from my decades-long past history of Anorexia nervosa during which I also was diagnosed with autoimmune issues. You can read part of my Narrative here & here.

I was already eating grain-free when I began the protocol but it calls for eliminating nuts & seeds, eggs, nightshade vegetables & nightshade spices from the diet. I followed the protocol strictly (and painstakingly) for months until I began reintroducing everything but nightshades. I remember I would try a smidgen of a nightshade spice then curl into joint pain reminiscent of that of an 80-year-old arthritic

It was just this past month that I was finally able to reintroduce not only nightshade spices but nightshade vegetables back into my diet. I flat out had a nightshade fête every meal: give me all. the. tomato & aubergines dishes. darn sweet peppers. spices. paprika. all. the. red. hot. peppery. shit! Douse me in ghost peppers until I shrivel up, die, and then come back as a ghost to haunt your kitchen cupboard for your hot sauce.

I went on this protocol initially due to inflammation caused by my decades-long history of Anorexia nervosa & autoimmune illness.

And this time, I was unsurprised by how I felt fine. One of my big indicators is my running performance. I suffered for over a year from tendonitis—inflammation of the tendons—in both of my knees from high-impact sports. Following my reintroduction, I was able to run just as is, if not better. My pain didn't return.

I contribute this to three things. One is palpably the healing I initially experienced with the Autoimmune Protocol. Second, I sealed up my digestive system and continue to support it through my digestive protocol

Thirdly, and most importantly, I changed the Narrative I had towards my autoimmune illness and my body. I was incessantly approaching my body from a place of fear: "What would happen if I ate this?", "How would my body feel?", "Would my pain return?" The Autoimmune Protocol is a healing diet but only so for a temporary period of time, at least in terms of following it strictly. Having followed an autoimmune protocol for too long and depending on it, I had taken an anti-inflammatory approach to an anti-me one. 

I had taken an anti-inflammatory approach
to an anti-me approach.

Re-introducing nightshades was, in essence, re-introducing myself to my bodyJust as sugar pills can cause a placebo effect on our bodies, so can how we feel towards certain foods affect how we feel consuming them. The same applies to said "indulgences," too. If we emotionally feel awful about having eaten dessert or "indulged" in it, we will physically will do so, too. Part of a healing diet is also inherent in what we emotionally feed ourselves in our approach to our food and body. Food can be medicinal and so can pleasure. In an alteration of the Hippocratic phrase, let food by thy pleasure and pleasure be thy food.


  • 3 large aubergines, totaling about 2 pounds
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 5 tablespoons (75 ml) Extra Virgin Olive Oil plus more to drizzle
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons each chopped parsley & mint
I. As suggested by David Lebovitz, poke toothpick holes into the aubergines. Then, turn a gas burner or grill to medium heat and place the aubergines directly on the fire.

Turn them occasionally with tongs until tender and cooked, about 40 minutes. Wrap in foil for fifteen minutes when ready.
II. Alternatively, use the broiler setting in your oven and cook for about an hour, turning the aubergines every fifteen minutes.
III. Work with one aubergine at a time and cut each open in half to scrape out the flesh into a bowl, discarding the skin. If you have a salad spinner, Ottolenghi recommends using one to exract any extra moisture from the flesh at this point.
IV. Add the garlic, lemon juice, and salt & pepper to taste to stir vigourously until a paste forms.

V. As you stir, slowly pour in the olive then the tahini. Stir until the mixture becomes pale and creamy.

VI. Garnish with the chopped herbs and drizzle of olive oil. I love serving this with yucan crunch.