In this post: learn why anyone would actually willingly cut out a bazillion foods while doing the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol (AIP Diet).
There is NO Way I'm Giving Up Pasta
I clearly remember the day back in 2011 when I read a blog post about how grain-free diets could help reverse and heal food allergies/sensitivities and make someone feel much better physically. It definitely intrigued me… but when I actually thought about what that would entail – no pasta, no bread, no pie crust! – I scoffed and said “heck no”.
Ok, maybe I used stronger language than that 🙂
The point being, it all sounded great in theory but actually removing foods I loved was so far out of my scope of comprehension that I dismissed it.
Until my son got random allergies to walnuts and cinnamon that he hadn't had before, and I had a miscarriage. THEN I decided that maybe we should look into this diet thing.
OK, Maybe We'll Try This Diet Thing
We did the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) Diet and both felt better. He could eat cinnamon and walnuts to his heart's content and I stopped having the extremely annoying brain fog that I'd suffered from for years.
It was then that I realized that there was merit to this whole food heals thing and we've been mostly grain-free (mostly Paleo) ever since.
But there's a difference between eating Paleo, where you can still have tomato sauce, scrambled eggs, and Paleo twinkies and eating a strict elimination diet where you can't have any of those things.
The Autoimmune Paleo Protocol
In 2014 I did the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol (AIP diet) after I realized the 80/20 spirit of Paleo where 80% of the time I ate Paleo and 20% I ate whatever the heck I wanted didn't work so well for me. I had discovered I had Celiac Disease, so all that gluten I'd been eating had been making me sick. I also learned I had Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and late stage adrenal fatigue.
- Hashimoto's Thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease where your own body attacks your thyroid tissue. Flares of this disease mimic initial symptoms but also can be really strange symptoms as well, and include things like: heart palpitations, chronic fatigue, dry skin, cold hands and feet, hair loss, brain fog, gas and bloating, inability to articulate, insomnia, frequent colds, etc
- Celiac Disease is another autoimmune disease where your body attacks your intestinal tissue – and can also attack your brain and skin tissue – when you eat gluten.
- Adrenal Fatigue is a condition where your body either produces too much or too little of the stress hormone cortisol, which then cascades into other hormones not working correctly. A typical sign of this is if you feel very tired in the afternoons and have cravings for salt and/or sugar. I was in the late stages of this where I could not function after 2 pm (literally would come home and take a nap on the couch or just sit, unable to play with my kids).
Doing the AIP Diet in 2014 did wonders for my healing and after that, I felt better than I had in over 15 years. I then went onto regular Paleo for the next several years.
The main idea of AIP is that you remove all the problematic foods for most autoimmune disease sufferers (ones that cause inflammation and ramp up the immune system) for a period of time (usually 30-90 days), then you slowly reintroduce the foods you removed one at a time. Some of the things you remove are nuts, seeds, coffee, chocolate, and eggs. Yep, restrictive! If you want to know more about what AIP is, check out my What Is AIP post.
A Hashimoto's Flare
I typically eat Paleo on a regular basis, but this year I just had a lot going on personally so my priorities kind of shifted away from eating well. I ate a lot of corn and dairy, which I believe are foods that my body might get confused with gluten and cause my body both inflammation and increased immune response. An increased immune response is NOT what you want when you want to prevent your body from attacking its own tissue.
The result? I had one of the worse Hashimoto's flares I've had in a long time, as well as a lot of adrenal fatigue symptoms creeping back. A flare is the reoccurrence of disease symptoms and activity. I wrote a post about Hashimoto's Flares and how to deal with them if you want to know more about them.
First I Did a Whole30
If you've been following me for a while, you'll know that I did a Whole30 a month ago, which is a strict no-sugar and no-treat version of Paleo first for this flare. I tried this because a lot of times it's just a matter of regulating my blood sugar and getting away from the corn/dairy/other inflammatory foods and I feel better.
This reset helped me a lot, but I still felt there were some things that needed to be fixed and I didn't quite feel FANTASTIC. So I knew I still had some inflammation going on and most likely still had a leaky gut (considered to be a requisite for autoimmune disease, a leaky gut, also known as increased intestinal permeability, is where the cells of the intestines become damaged and let food particles and other things into the bloodstream and ramp up immune response).
You can see all about what I did and ate, including lots of videos, for the Whole30 in my Whole30 Series.
Time for the AIP Diet (Again)
Since I still had some healing to go, that's why you find me here, doing the AIP Diet this time.
It's not a decision to be taken lightly, but it is so SO effective at healing a leaky gut, reducing inflammation, reducing symptoms of autoimmune disease, and stopping disease activity from happening.
Honestly, I think that last part is the biggest reason I am doing it. For years I had been told I had “hypothyroidism” and to just take a thyroid hormone replacement, but that didn't stop any of the disease from happening. It just made me feel “better” (not a ton though). My body STILL attacked my thyroid. So when I'm having a flare I know that there is definitely some disease activity happening and I must stop it.
Other reasons why I'm doing it:
- So many of you asked me to! You loved how I detailed all I was eating and doing during the Whole30 that I had such a response to do the same for AIP
- I am working my way to getting my AIP Coaching Certification and learning SOOOO much about the science behind how certain foods and compounds in foods affect people with autoimmune disease and after reading that it was kind of a no-brainer to stop eating them for a while to heal
- Once you have one autoimmune disease you are much more susceptible to more, so since I already have 2 I don't want to add to that…
- wanted to completely heal any leaky gut I have and help my immune system to calm down so it can actually fight colds and viruses – I got a lot this winter!
I always start one of these diet efforts by filling out a symptom sheet. I write down EVERYTHING that I'm feeling – no symptom is too small. This serves several purposes:
- Provides a record of what I'm experiencing so I know if the diet and lifestyle changes have made a difference after time has passed
- Provides motivation when you don't want to continue and you see that you've gotten rid of some of the small stuff
- If you're working with a medical practitioner or health coach, it allows you to easily share and express how you feel
Here's my symptom sheet for this AIP effort:
The Vlog of What I ate for AIP Days 2-4
Throughout this entire AIP journey I'm vlogging about my experience. In this video I share what I ate for days 2-4 so you can get an idea of what kind of food and recipes are involved. I do talk about why I'm doing this AIP as well.
(Can't see the video? Watch Why I'm Doing AIP)
*I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
What I ate:
Day 1 – (see the rest of day 1)
Dinner: Kalua pork (pork shoulder cooked in the crockpot all day with salt and bacon) (recipe by NomNom Paleo ) with pineapple chunks, over mixed greens and cauliflower rice with some guacamole (minus any cumin) and plantains that were baked in the oven at 400 F for 20 min. Quite tasty and filling! (guac recipe was from the Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook)
Breakfast – roasted some sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and apples last night while dinner was cooking and then threw on an apple sage sausage patty I had made and frozen during batch cooking last week. Served this over arugula with some blueberries and strawberries. The peppery-ness of the arugula really made up for the fact that there’s no black pepper in this dish. I also didn’t have any sort of dressing/sauce because I just mixed everything together. Also served it up with a glass of homemade kombucha.
Lunch: leftover kalua pork dish from Dinner Day 1
Day 3 –
Breakfast – same as Day 2
Lunch – leftover curry and flatbread
Dinner – Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry from the Paleo Healing Cookbook by Rachel Bryant
Day 4 –
Breakfast – a roasted acorn squash with coconut butter, cinnamon, raisins, sea salt, and mace with kale (coated in olive oil, sea salt and lime juice and topped with fresh blueberries) and two slices of US Wellness Meats sugar free bacon.
Other posts in this AIP Series