About Me

How I Came To The Paleo Diet

Hi y’all! I am Tara Perillo.  I should probably start out by telling you, I am a displaced Cajun lady.  Although I was born and raised in Louisiana, I now live in Illinois, with my hubby and little dog, Giddy.  I am a certified herbalist, homeopath and yoga instructor.

Last year, I was diagnosed with lupus and gluten intolerance.  I knew I didn’t want to take the traditional medicine route.  Some of the side effects of the medications prescribed to me seemed worse than the illness itself.  I set out to heal myself in the most natural ways possible.  First, I tried going gluten free.  I felt a little better, but not great.

That’s when I stumbled upon the paleo diet.  I started The 21-Day Sugar Detox.  Once I had completed the detox, I knew I had found the answer to my prayers.

At around the same time, The Paleo Approach, by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, was released.  The Paleo Approach incorporated the autoimmune protocol or AIP.   I jumped right into it.  With the AIP, I was able to treat my chronic inflammation and knock it on it’s butt.  I haven’t looked back since. It’s become a true way of life for me.

One of the toughest things for me to deal with when I went paleo and specifically, on the AIP, was the thought that I would never be able to enjoy my favorite Cajun foods, from my childhood, ever again.  Some of the recipes I’ll be sharing in my post , will be my attempts to create those same foods, AIP paleo Cajun lady style. crawfish In fact, going AIP paleo to help heal my autoimmune diseases, Lupus, vitiligo, and plaque psoriasis, has brought me closer to my Cajun roots.  My grandparents, Ma and PaPa, taught me many years ago, to live off the land and sea.  My PaPa was a shrimper.  His boat was the Cajun Lady. That’s a photo of the Cajun Lady in the header of my blog.  He would trawl for seafood, which he would then sell, trade for other foods, or bring home to feed his family.  My Ma grew her own veggies, fruits, and herbs in her garden.  She also tended her own chicken coop, which provided eggs and meat.  They taught me how to live a fully sustainable lifestyle. Ma and Papa Unfortunately, over the years, I forgot how important it is to live that way.  My illness and AIP paleo has brought it back to me.  So, now I’m getting back to planting my own garden and eating local, organic, pastured, and grass-fed foods. Me tending to garden The paleo lifestyle has not only helped me in alleviating some of my symptoms; but, it’s helped me to reconnect with the lifestyle I was born to live. Ma with fish Well, that’s enough about me.  I don’t like writing about myself, unless it’s in relation to helping you.  If I can relate my experiences in order to help you, I can write for hours.  But, writing just about myself, is silly to me.  I’ll let the photos speak for me.

Me in PaPa's cap and shrimp boots.
Me in PaPa’s cap and shrimp boots.

 

Tara Perillo

Welcome all. I am Tara Perillo, herbalist, homeopath, yoga and fitness instructor, and healthy foodie . After successfully reaching remission of my lupus symptoms, through changes in my diet, exercise, and lifestyle, I wrote the ebook, Sickness To Fitness Quick Start Guide. I am also honored to have my paleo and AIP recipes featured in Paleo Magazine, Paleo Living Magazine, Shape Magazine Online, 85 Amazing AIP Breakfasts, The Paleo AIP Instant Pot Cookbook, and blogs by The Paleo Mom, Kris Kresser, Whole New Mom and many others. My focus is to help others become stronger in every facet of their lives. Join me to become stronger in health, mind, body, and spirit, together!

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28 Replies to “About Me”

  1. Love, love, love your blog. Of course, I’m purely prejudice. Tried going paleo, kinda went halfway but fell off the Paleo wagon. I will attempt again when timing is a little better. Love you big like the sky!

    1. Hi Eileen, thanks for your questions. Once in awhile I’ll feel the beginning of a lupus flare. It usually comes after I’ve suffered another infection, like a cold. When I start to feel joint pain or any other symptom, I immediately go on a full AIP diet. I don’t start reintroducing foods until my symptoms go away completely. Right now, I’m on a strict AIP diet. Hopefully, I can start adding back foods around Christmas.
      The level of your lupus and how much organ damage you have will pretty much determine how long you have to stick to a strict AIP diet. My diet is pretty rigid because I had some kidney and liver damage. But, when I’m fully AIP, I seem to heal quicker. I’m still a work in progress. But, the fact that I can get out of bed in the morning, happily, and not spend all day in the bathroom, is a testament of AIP’s power. I haven’t had to spend any time in the hospital since going AIP. That makes it worth it to stay on a strict eating plan.
      If you have any other questions, or need help with your transition, please let me know. I’m happy to help.

  2. So happy to find your site! My NOLA-native husband was recently diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and we’ve been eating strict AIP for 6 weeks. He feels markedly better, which has been amazing but we miss the Cajun favorites. Roux with coconut flour made my night! Can’t wait to check out your cookbook and eat Cajun while eating clean!

    We’ve made this a few time and it’s amazing. Making it for the game tomorrow night (leaving out the paprika):

    http://barerootgirl.com/nourish/2013/8/27/paleo-lemon-garlic-shrimp-celeriac-grits

    Beth

    1. So glad you found my site, Beth. It can be difficult to stick to strict AIP when you’re used to eating such flavorful foods. I refused to give up tasty foods. I knew there were other people out there struggling with the same need for flavor. I hope you and your husband enjoy my recipes. And, thanks for sharing one of your favorites. I will definitely check it out.

  3. HI,

    Do you think going Paleo would help photosensitive rashes brought on by Lupus? My daughter is 8 and has had an annular rash on her face off and on that they think is Subacute cutaneous lupus or Lupus Tumidus. Have you heard of anyone in the Lupus community that has had success with Paleo and eliminating the rashes and photosensitivity?

    Thank you,
    Michele

    1. Hi Michele. I too get the photosensitive rashes, usually on my face. Paleo, and especially since I started the AIP, has helped tremendously. My facial rash was one of the first symptoms to disappear after going paleo. I also make sure I use sunscreen by Aubrey Organics before going out in the sun. It doesn’t contain any of the harmful ingredients most sunscreens do.
      I hope you can get your daughter’s rashes under control. I don’t spend a lot of time out in the sun anymore. But, when I do have to be outside, I don’t worry as much as I used to. I really haven’t had a problem since going paleo. I think it’s definitely worth a try for her. You could try it for 30 days and see if she improves.
      Let me know how it works out. I’m always available to answer any questions for you.

      Thanks,
      Tara Perillo

  4. Hello, Tara! So glad I found your website! I also grew up on Bayou Lafourche, but live in New Orleans now. My younger brother is also a shrimper like your Pa Pa and has a boat named The Tootsie, named after our dad’s nickname for our mom. Thankfully, I don’t have Lupus, but I have started suffering from thyroid disease and Rosacea, so I am trying to get healthier and feel better by cleaning up my diet. The hardest parts for me of adopting a Paleo or AIP diet are not having much time or energy to cook at home, finding quick & easy AIP lunches at work & participating with my husband in an extremely active social life while avoiding all the delicious food here in New Orleans. I’m still educating myself, so I look forward to reading your recipes and tips for combating autoimmune problems.
    As they say back home on the bayou, “Si J’aurais du que J’aurais vit si longtemps, je m’aurais mieux soigne.” (If I’d known that I would have lived this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.)
    Your fellow Cajun,
    Sandra

    1. Hey Sandra! So glad you found me! I love getting to chat with fellow Cajuns! It’s so great that you’ve decided to clean up your diet to heal your thyroid and rosacea. It can be so hard to resist the amazing food there, in New Orleans. Have you checked out http://nolapaleo.com yet? There are listings to restaurants that serve paleo options, and tons of helpful tips about the paleo lifestyle. I’m actually traveling to New Orleans to visit my family at the end of this month. I’ll definitely be stopping by FARE to get some lunch!
      I think finding time to cook all of our meals at home is probably the hardest part of following the AIP diet. I try to get most of it done two days a week. Batch cooking has totally saved me. My slow cooker and instant pot don’t hurt either. I always have one of those two guys running! Once you start making it a habit, it becomes much easier.
      I’ll be posting from places I visit in New Orleans later this month. If you run into me, be sure to say hello.
      C’est vrai! I definitely would have taken better care of myself. But, we Cajuns sure know how to live our lives to the fullest!

  5. Hi, Tara,

    Tonight, after many hours and days of searching for individuals who have Lupus and have had success with the Paleo diet, I found your site. I, too, have Lupus and though I am not from Louisiana, I know about eating food with flavors, as I am from New Mexico. I am beginning the Paleo diet, but I can not make drastic changes in my diet, exercise, thinking, actually any aspect as it startles my system; thus, I have to make subtle changes. My Lupus has attacked my heart, and I have had two cardio-versions and an ablation on both chambers of my heart. I have struggled with Lupus since I was 28 and now am 51. Thank the good Lord, I was able to have two children before suffering multiple organ issues.

    I wanted to tell you how grateful I am to have read your comments about Lupus and autoimmune issues being individualized and that those of us with Lupus may not experience the same quick healing as others. As I stated, I have to take transitions slow and any quick or new changes, create disastrous issues for me, so thank you for your acknowledgement about expectations even when beginning the Paleo diet.

    I am praying that God allows me the strength and endurance to make this transition and experience a few more years of better health and the opportunity to enjoy my grand-babies. I am currently on prednisone and other Lupus drugs, as we well as heart medication to keep my heart beat and blood thinners (heart issues from heart inflammation). I have slowly added natural supplements and have eaten organic for the past five years; still working on deleting all sugar; my goal is total Paleo by August.

    Again, thanks for your site, I am going to try some of your lovely recipes this month.

    Take care, Peace and Blessings,
    Melody

    1. Melody, thank you so much for your comment. You really touched my heart. I am so inspired by story. One of the reasons I started eating paleo was to prevent lupus from attacking my heart. Your spirit is simply amazing. I’ll be praying that you meet your goal. Take all the time you need. I understand the shock that changes can cause to your body. Getting rid of the sugar will do wonders for you. Enjoy the recipes. Please be sure to let me know how you’re doing and when you reach your goal. You are a true inspiration.
      God Bless.

      Smooches,
      Tara

  6. So glad I found your site (got it from Instagram). I have lupus, rheumatoid arthritis & fibromyalgia – and I LOVE soul food. I am hoping your site can help me make the change, have tried before and failed. When I am having a flare I don’t feel like cooking and will go to a drive-thru and feel like I ruined everything for the rest of the week or month. Thanks for sharing your life with us and hope your site can help me stay on track.

    1. So glad you found me too, Susan! It can be hard to feel like cooking, or anything else, when you’re experiencing a flare. That’s when it’s easier to just do a bit of batch cooking. I have found my slow cooker and Instant Pot to be the most helpful appliances ever! I just throw in a bunch of veggies and a protein…and, bam…I have 2 or more meals. You can also freeze some meals for those nights you don’t feel like cooking. Once you get in the habit of eating to control your disease, you will find that your flares come about less and less. It seriously took me a year before I improved all of my numbers and repaired the damage caused by lupus. I know that seems like a long time. But, I would do it all over again to feel as good as I feel now. Lupus is no joke. You have to control it, before it controls you. I wish you the strength to keep with it. Please, keep me informed as to how you’re doing. I know you can do this!

      Smooches,
      Tara

  7. Hey love your sight and thank you for being so open with your life. I have to know how your Vitiligo has changed since AIP. I had it pretty bad as a kid and it sort of went way except a couple small spots. I have been doing AIP for 1.5 years for alopecia and never even really thought of it fixing my vitiligo only bc nobody ever talks about it.. Thanks for your time

    1. Thanks so much Stephanie! To be perfectly honest, AIP hasn’t really changed my vitiligo symptoms very much. It has helped with the progression; but, has not helped to re-pigment my skin. Only since I’ve reached remission with my other autoimmune diseases, have I started to notice a little re-pigmentation on my arms and face. I believe that ridding my body of constant inflammation has helped. I’m going to be experimenting with different treatments next year, to see if I can get better results. I’ll definitely keep you all informed. 🙂

  8. Just stumbled on your site. I have Lupus and Celiac and the Paleo has been amazing for changing health. So glad you are out there getting the word across. I also have a soft spot for Cajun food and am looking forward to trying out some of your tasty recipes!!!

    1. Hi Kiley, so happy to have you here! It’s wonderful that you’ve experienced great healing with paleo. You’ll definitely have to let me know how you like my recipes. Hope you like real, down-on-the-bayou, Cajun foods!

      Smooches,
      Tara

  9. Hi Tara!

    I’m in Illinois too!

    I have Lupus and Im debating AIP, i honestly don’t think i could give up my organic eggs, but where is a good place for me to start to learn about what it Strict AIP and what isn’t??

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Nicole! The best place for you to start is with my downloadable Foods To Eat and Avoid List. You can find it in the menu at the top of my site. That will give you all of the foods you’ll want to eat on the elimination phase of the AIP. I know giving up eggs is hard; but, it’s really necessary to be sure you don’t have an unknown allergy to them. That’s how I discovered I had an allergy to eggs from chickens fed soy. You can always reintroduce them later, like I did. The elimination phase is not easy. There is a reason for removing the foods though. Once you start feeling better, you won’t care as much about what you’ve had to give up. Good luck!

      Smooches,
      Tara

  10. HI, Tara!

    I have lupus, too. I tried a paleo diet once before and found that it caused problems for my lupus-weakened kidneys. Have you heard from other lupies with nephritis who’ve had luck with a paleo diet?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Mary Ann, sorry to hear you’ve had issues with the paleo diet in the past. I do have a friend, Deanna, with lupus and nephritis, who is also on the AIP. She’s had quite a bit of healing on it; and, has even successfully reintroduced many foods already. I’m not sure if you’ve tried just paleo, or the Autoimmune Protocol. When I did only paleo, it really wasn’t strict enough for me. Unfortunately, the paleo diet alone doesn’t remove many of the foods that give us problems. By removing those foods, on the AIP, I was able to finally heal. For me, lupus mainly attacked my digestive system, and lungs. Although I had some kidney involvement, it never was to the point of nephritis. You may want to give the AIP a try. Also, my friend, Deanna, had to have her medications re-evaluated when she was on the AIP. The dosage she was on was much too high, and was causing adverse effects because of her diet. Sometimes, when our bodies are healing, medications can halt our healing and cause additional symptoms to arise. Always work with your doctor when changing your eating habits. They can adjust your medications as you heal.
      Hope this answers your question.

      Smooches,
      Tara

  11. I have been blessed with being diagnosed with Celiac Disease and 3 months later autoimmune Hepatitis. High doses of prednisone and other immunosuppressive drugs in my future, which I completely understand their purpose. The celiac is what it is but I want to be one of those diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis that will successfully go in to remission and stay there. I believe that is where my diet will come in to play. I have been following a ketogenic low carb high fat diet for the past year but now with new diagnosis’ feel the need to switch up macros. My question is how to not gain weight eating so much fruit and veggies. Is their a macro for aip Paleo?

  12. I am in the early stages of being diagnosed with lupus…ANA panel negative, but so many other symptoms exist. Yesterday was the first time I had crawfish in like 2 years…a sad state for this Cajun girl. But me and my mom enjoyed the hell out of it. Dipped those wonderful bugs in my dad’s garlic rich dip ( I mention because I read garlic may not be good for lupus patients) had woken in morning with an achy throat and thought it was because I had to sleep on my back and likely snored all night the night. Felt tired and sore all day, but that has been the norm for months. But about 6 hours after having or crawfish feast, felt more like a cold was coming on…then I threw up (something I never do) and this morning I am even more weak and feel like I hit a brick wall with headache, severe congestion, deep cough, even more sore and fatigued…typical severe cold. The thing is that over the last 9 months, I am always getting a cold or flu. Could my crawfish feast have triggered a stinger reaction in my body? Making a cold/flu worse ir more frequent? Also, does anyone know if there is a lupus support group in Louisiana) north shore side?

    1. Hi Jennifer, sorry to hear about your impending diagnosis. It sounds like the crawfish may have brought on an allergic reaction, which sometimes feels like a cold or flu. Because your immune system is busy damaging your body’s tissues, it often begins attacking any foreign substance, including food intolerances. When my symptoms were at their worse, I used to have allergic reactions to shrimp, which I had eaten my entire life. I had all of the same symptoms you had. It wasn’t until I had been on the AIP for awhile, that I was able to add shellfish back into my diet. You’ll probably notice a lot more foods will give you symptoms. Unfortunately, your body just views many foods as allergens it needs to attack. The good news is, if you heal your gut and your symptoms with proper diet and lifestyle changes, you can usually add these foods back into your diet. I now eat whatever shellfish I want with no problem. I don’t know of any lupus support groups in Louisiana. I basically just join internet autoimmune support groups. There are several on Facebook, including https://www.facebook.com/groups/TPACommunity/. We also have a very autoimmune friendly community on Instagram. You can do some looking around to find a group that will work for you.
      I wish you great healing.
      Tara

  13. Hi Tara

    I have been following for a while in Instagram but this actually the first time I check your website. You are a truly inspiration! Thank you for open up your life and heart to all of us. I also have lupus and recently diagnosed with Nephritis. One year ago I tried Paleo diet and it did help but I didn’t really stick to it, only gluten free. Now that I got my kidneys involved I regret it, but well….I got back on the wagon this time with a different mind set and started with AIP on February. I was 100% compliant for 45 days. I did a few reintroductions and I feel fine so far. I’ve seen that you now switched to Ketogenic. Is there any particular reason you doing this change in your diet? I ask because I’ve seen some successful stories of people reversing kidney diseases and damage through Ketogenic diet. I wonder if is something I should consider too? How long did you stay in AIP before seeing improvements in your numbers? I love exercising but I am afraid I will over do and actually don’t help my body with healing? How did you exercise during your healing process?
    Excuse my English (is my second language and I am still learning)

    Blessings to you

    Grey

    1. Hi Grey, thank you so much for all of your kind words. I’m glad you you’ve been able to make some progress in your health with the AIP. I was actually on the elimination phase of the AIP for about a year before I started reintroductions. Improvements in my leaky gut took about six months. But, some of the other symptoms from lupus took a while longer. My numbers didn’t start improving until almost two years on the AIP. The biggest mistake I see people make, including myself, is to start reintroductions too early in their healing. Any time you have major organs being attacked, you really shouldn’t rush your healing. It takes time.
      I’m not sure the ketogenic diet would be good for you, at this point in your healing. In the beginning stages of ketosis, your body sheds lots of water, through your kidneys. This may cause too much work for damaged kidneys. Although you may benefit from a low carb diet, a ketogenic diet may be too taxing for your system, and actually slow down healing. If I were you, I would consult with your doctor before giving it a try. I would also ask about exercise as well. My thoughts are, you may want to stick with walking and some light weight training. But, I would definitely get the okay from your doctor first.
      Unfortunately, once you’ve been diagnosed with Nephritis, you really don’t want to stress your kidneys. I think you’ll start to see great improvements as you progress through the AIP. You definitely want to give it more time to work. Forty five days is really not long enough to see great improvements. Remember, it took me almost two years, with very limited reintroductions.
      I wish you lots of healing. I hope you find the same success I have.

      Blessings to you, as well!
      Tara

      1. Tara! Thank you very much for responding and for all your advices. I want to take things slowly this time. I’m determined to recover my health and my life. Please keep it up with your great work. I can’t wait to try some of your recipes!!

        God bless you
        Grey

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