Yesterday I officially began the autoimmune protocol (AIP for short). I spent the weekend preparing and also “saying goodbye” to (aka eating) some of my favorite foods that I can’t eat for a little while like eggs, all grains (gluten or no gluten), nightshades (tomatoes, white potatoes, eggplant), nuts and seeds, all dairy, coffee, and chocolate). Yowza. What a list right?
You’re probably thinking- are you out of your mind?! Why would you do this?! But the truth of the matter is, I’ve been dancing around doing AIP for months. I’ve always known it might be something I have to do, but who wants to admit that and go through with it? Not me. I already eat a fairly “restricted” diet (no gluten or dairy, no legumes) and I just flat out refused to “eliminate” anything else.
[I put restricted in quotation marks because while others might see it that way- I don’t feel that way about it- it makes sense to me, feels right to me, and makes me feel best- but to the outside world, eating hardly any grains or dairy is a big deal. And I put eliminate in quotation marks because I don’t necessarily have any rules in place not to eat grains or dairy. If I want them- I have them in moderation. But on the whole I try not to eat them on a regular basis because of how they affect my body and digestive system.]
But after several ventures on my own- doing things close to AIP that are less intense (like Whole30), and not seeing a difference AND now finally finding and working with a holistic health doctor here in DC- I’ve come to the conclusion that this is something I need to do.
My new holistic health doctor has confirmed a few things I already knew about my body- there is serious inflammation going on in my body most likely due to a food intolerance + my adrenals (responsible for creating and releasing hormones- cortisol and adrenaline especially) are struggling big time. My adrenals are naht happy. They’re just constantly pumping out cortisol (awesome). And my ovaries are pretty much doing nothing. They’re not functioning- just hanging out in my body. Her assessment was the final push I needed to start the AIP.
With her help and guidance + my know how of cooking food + my will power to commit to the AIP + acupuncture and acupressure treatments… I’m hoping to finally heal and really fix these issues. I finally feel like I’m on the right track to good health.
I’m sure you’ve gathered at this point that the AIP is some sort of restricted eating lifestyle- and you’re right, it is. What is the AIP exactly? I’ll explain it briefly, but I highly recommend checking out this site if you want to know more. Dr. Sarah Ballantyne is ridiculously smart and amazing.
The AIP is a way of eating that helps to heal the immune system by decreasing inflammation throughout the intestinal tract. I don’t necessarily have a major food allergy (immediate reaction to eating particular foods), but I definitely have developed food intolerances (sort of like a delayed reaction- inflammation caused internally throughout my digestive system, being itchy- getting rashes) that leave my body in a constant state of stress. My body is constantly in fight or flight mode- even if I don’t feel it mentally.
Committing myself to eating the AIP way for about six weeks- and then reintroducing foods after the six week time period- will help to zero in on what is actually causing my body to freak out.
Another major aspect of the AIP is eating foods that are extremely nutrient dense and healing for the body. I’m consuming a lot of collagen/gelatin, bone broth, vegetables of all colors, cooked cruciferous vegetables, wild caught seafood, pasture raised and grass-fed animals, and various supplements. And I’m not consuming things that may cause my adrenals to freak out (like alcohol and coffee).
I already eat fairly close to the AIP way, but I was only halfway there before starting it yesterday. I’d be lying if I were to say that its not scary to eliminate eggs, nightshades, nuts, and seeds. And even reliquishing the freedom to eat grains or dairy when I really wanted them? Rough. I can’t even have cumin- coriander- nutmeg- ANYTHING from a nut or seed. It’s intense.
It’s a lot. It’s not easy. But I know I can do it. Yes- right now I can’t have all those things. But I keep reminding myself of all the things I can have. Amazing things like, brussels, rhubarb, avocados, sweet potatoes, bananas, beef, seafood, watermelon, cinnamon, all things coconut, kombucha, fresh herbs like basil + mint + parsley + dill, garlic, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, broccoli, olive oil, chicken, shallots, kiwis, mangos… need I go on?I know I can do this because if my health really matters to me at all, I have to do this. I’m just considering myself lucky that I don’t have a more serious condition and that I’ve found a way to take care of myself in a way that will allow me to live a happier life.
I know I can do this because while although this isn’t easy, it isn’t hard. With all of the crazy things going on in the world and all of the bad things that could be happening to me but aren’t- changing my diet for six weeks and not eating certain things is a cake walk. Like I said above, I consider myself lucky that this is all I have to endure. There are so many worse things out there and I am blessed to be in the situation I am. I’m privileged to be in this situation of choice.[In my Mediterranean Paleo Cooking cookbook, they give modifications for every recipe if possible to make them AIP friendly- it’s so cool. I love the recipes in this book so I feel grateful that Caitlin, Nabil, and Diane took the time to figure out how to make all of them work for people with different dietary restrictions]
I know I can do this because I work at a grocery store that really does care about quality. It definitely helps my situation to work there and be surrounded by all of that goodness. And to be able to afford it to boot.
And lastly, I know I can do this because I think I’m in a mental place where I can handle it. It doesn’t feel triggering of disordered eating thoughts or anything. It feels purely clinical and for health. I can still eat plenty of delicious foods that I love in whatever amounts I want so it’s fine. And to be honest, whenever I feel nervous or anxious that I’m “restricting” myself and can feel my brain sliding into a negative tail spin- I might just have to bend the rules of the protocol and take care of myself (eating a little bit of high quality chocolate or nibble of dried fruit before bed). I know I can make this thing work for me.
So here we go. Only 4-8 weeks. I haven’t decided how long I’m going to commit to this just yet. But I’ve started. It’s official.
I promise to share how I’m eating- what I’m eating- and recipes related to AIP. This whole experience will definitely help me to get more creative in the kitchen so I’ll be sure to put out there anything awesome that I create.
Here’s to hoping that the one thing I believe- that food can be medicine- holds true and my symptoms lessen and I start to truly feel better.
At this point- going into the AIP is worth a shot.
I’m not sharing all this with you guys for a round of applause- for you to think she’s so brave doing this. I’m sharing this because for as confident and willing as I am- I am nervous. I am a little stressed about it. I am a little sad. I’m sharing this to connect with anyone else going through something similar. I’m sharing this to hold myself accountable. I’m sharing this to feel less nervous and more sure of myself.
I’m sharing this because it’s real life for me right now and a big part of keeping it wicked healthy- is keeping it real. And I promise to always keep it real.
All these thoughts have been living in my head for a while now so this all makes perfect sense to me. But if you’re confused or think I left something out and you have questions- let me know! I’d be more than happy to chat about anything.
Keep it wicked healthy.