AIP DIET JOURNEY - PART ONE
So your looking into starting the Autoimmune Protocol Diet or AIP, what next?
Before I started my AIP diet I had so many questions regarding it, how long? why? how will it help? is it hard? The list just went on and on - luckily, I was able to find a great book to help me on my journey through The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook (you can also find the link for this on my SHOP page). But I also thought it might be helpful for me to share my journey on the AIP diet for others who are thinking about beginning or are about to begin.
The root cause of all autoimmune diseases and some immune dysfunctions is the same: our wonderful immune system, which is supposed to protect us from invading microorganisms, turns against us and attacks our proteins, cells, and tissues instead. Which proteins, cells, and tissues are attacked determines the autoimmune disease/ immune dysfunction and its symptoms. In Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the thyroid gland is attacked. In Rheumatoid Arthritis, the tissues of your joints are attacked. In psoriasis, proteins within the layers of cells that make up your skin are attacked. However, the root cause is generally the same. The Autoimmune Protocol, typically abbreviated AIP, is a powerful strategy that uses diet and lifestyle to regulate the immune system, putting an end to these attacks, flares and giving the body the opportunity to heal.
Firstly, let me start off by saying the AIP diet is not for the faint of heart, but I suspect that if you're looking down the road of AIP then you probably feel so crap majority of the time you're willing to try anything no matter how difficult to make yourself feel even slightly better... much like I was.
Essentially the Autoimmune Protocol places greater emphasis on the most nutrient-dense foods in our food supply, including organ meat, seafood, and vegetables. And the Autoimmune Protocol eliminates foods that have compounds that may stimulate the immune system or harm the gut environment, including nightshades (like tomatoes and peppers), eggs, nuts, seeds, and alcohol.
The goal of the Autoimmune Protocol is to flood the body with nutrients while simultaneously avoiding any food that might be contributing to disease/ dysfunction (or at the very least interfering with our efforts to heal). It is an elimination diet strategy, cutting out the foods that are most likely to be holding back our health. After a period of time, many of the excluded foods, especially those that have nutritional merit despite also containing some (but not too much) potentially detrimental compounds, can be reintroduced woohoo.
SO HOW DID I FIND DOING THE AIP ELIMINATION DIET???
I found it hard, I'm not going to lie one bit. I am from Melbourne and I am the biggest foodie (typical Melbournian right!) - I live for weekend brunching and delicious dinner catch ups with friends. Which I had to pretty much cut out for the full 3 and a bit weeks I was on AIP, mainly because it's too difficult to find something to eat that you don't have to cut half the meal out of and sort of depressing having to do that and have people look at you weirdly or like your the worlds biggest pain.
Not even joking, I tried to eat out once when I was away in Lorne - not only did it take me trying four different place to eat to find one semi suitable, then I had to alter my meal 3 times and when I got it, it still wasn't right and I spent the majority of my lunchtime pealing batter off my fish and wanting to cry into my salad whilst my patient friend laughed at me... RIDICULOUS right!!
I also went through a small phase towards the end of the first week doing the AIP diet where I had a few strange body reactions which were caused from my body detoxing - nothing that was worse than the allergic reactions, lack of appetite, bloating and nausea I had been getting beforehand so it didn't phase me too much.
Here are some tips to help with your journey on the AIP diet which I found really helpful for me:
- Meal prep is EVERYTHING!! I am not even exaggerating, you have to remember there is only about 20% of food you can and are allowed to consume on the AIP diet which means that 90% of the places you go or are at won't have things for you to eat, most things will have something in it which is on your NO GO list. So make lunches and dinners for the week and bring them with you wherever you go so you can actually eat food.
- Give yourself some VARIETY and get creative, just because your extremely limited with what you can eat in no way means your meals have to be boring and bland. Try and keep the meals you like and substitute what you can't have with things you can... check out my Turkey Pesto Zoodles recipe, that's one of my favourite foods which I made an AIP friendly version of.
- Stick with the BONE BROTH, seriously do it even if its only twice or three times in a week it actually helps to heal your gut. Which if you are looking at the AIP diet your gut will need all of the help it can get, the best thing I found was to try all three types of bone broth, Chicken, Lamb and Beef and pick your favourite and stick with that.
- COCONUT anything is life, particularly coconut milk ice cream. I wouldn't take myself for a sweets person by any stretch. I am more of a cheese and biscuits savoury kinda gal - however, whilst on AIP I needed to be able to treat myself with something so that I felt like I was still eating like a semi-normal person and trick my brain into thinking my diet wasn't hell restrictive. So the best thing I found was coconut milk ice cream, on AIP you can consume all things coconut so your safe, its diary and gluten free and you can still get it in yummy flavours like Chocolate, Mango etc... My personal favourite is Over the Moo chocolate (again you can find this in my SHOP page - delicious!!
Happy AIPing loves, stay tuned for part two coming soon x