Paleo Autoimmune Protocol

Guest Post by Stephanie

This guest post was written by Stephanie, a busy mom of three and blogger at Aroma Mama. For practical health and wellness tips and more about the AIP diet visit her blog here.

The Paleo Autoimmune Protocol

You may be familiar with the Paleo diet, but have you heard of the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol? It’s called AIP for short.

I eat a modified AIP diet, but I didn’t start there. It was a journey over the years to find the food that makes me feel my best.

I started taking more control of my health almost a decade ago when I started with an elimination diet. As a result of the elimination diet, I learned that I couldn’t tolerate gluten, dairy, and sugar.

Inflammation went down and fat melted off when I first started on a gluten, dairy, and sugar-free diet. To make up for all the foods I had to give up, I began to bake daily with alternative ingredients and loved it.

I was baking with various gluten-free grains or nut flours, maple syrup or honey, and almond milk. Within the year, I  found that I was not tolerating those foods anymore and I started to gain weight by eating them.

After that, I switched to a Paleo diet and felt pretty good. I had a healthy baby, but following the pregnancy, I began to have more autoimmune symptoms.

I met with a functional medicine doctor to get to the cause of my food sensitivities. Of course, my food issues stem from candida and chronic leaky gut. I found even eating healthy foods were contributing to my health issues.

Ongoing food sensitivities are a common finding for someone with chronic leaky gut. It’s a hard balance of avoiding the foods that make you sick and also needing to eat a varied diet. I would say that is my biggest struggle.

The benefit to eating an AIP diet is the foods are all nutrient-dense. Nutrient-dense foods have many vitamins and minerals that support the body.

So that is my journey to a modified AIP diet in a nutshell.

What is AIP?

AIP stands for Autoimmune Protocol. It’s a diet that many people go on as a last-ditch effort when they suffer from a chronic autoimmune disease. The acceptable foods on the AIP diet are calming to the immune system. The immune system is out of sorts with an autoimmune disease so the AIP diet lets it calm down and the goal is to recover.

The Paleo Autoimmune Protocol is like the Paleo diet, but without:

  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Nightshades (i.e., tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, goji berries)
  • Spices from seed (i.e., black pepper, dill, fennel, nutmeg, and celery seed)
  • Alcohol
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Sweeteners (except honey and maple syrup in limited quantities)

AIP has a focus on nutrient-dense foods like organ meats, seafood, and vegetables.

The AIP diet allows honey and maple syrup in small quantities. Although, some doctors have their patients go off natural sweeteners for a time.

We need to tailor the diet to our individual dietary needs which are a modified AIP diet. If you know several people on an AIP diet, each person’s diet will look different. This happens by monitoring our symptoms to figure out which foods we can add in and which foods we need to cut out.

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Struggles on an AIP Diet

It’s hard to stick to an AIP diet for a long time because it’s so strict. When I stick to the AIP diet, it takes a lot of time to prepare fresh food and buy fresh produce. Also, going out to eat and traveling while staying true to the diet feels impossible.

I’ve heard from many people on the AIP diet that they go through a period of depression or cry due to the strict diet. Also, bouts of frustration that we can’t eat what we want without significant setbacks.

To keep my sanity, I follow my diet to 90/10, and on vacation mode, it’s 80/20. 90/10 means I follow my diet 90% of the time and 10% of the time I eat non-AIP foods like brown rice or quinoa.

I have modified my diet to add in foods that make me feel good even if they aren’t AIP approved. Also, I have to leave out some of the AIP approved foods that cause me symptoms.

Some people can get excellent results from an AIP diet in weeks. Then, there are some like myself that need to stay on a modified version of the AIP diet for life.

Benefits on an AIP Diet

The AIP diet is strict, but I have a sense of peace knowing that I’m doing my best to take care of myself.

When I stay faithful to my AIP diet, I do okay. I’m able to keep pace with my busy lifestyle as a work at home and homeschooling mom. When I veer too far off my AIP diet, the symptoms I’ve worked so hard to recover from just come back. As a result of experiencing this yo-yo effect, it’s easier now to follow my diet because I know it’s helping me.

Even though my diet doesn’t allow me to eat a vast variety of foods, the foods I do eat are nutrient-dense which provide me energy.

If you’d like to find recipes for the AIP diet, visit the AIP recipes section of her blog, Aroma Mama.

About Stephanie and AIP

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