I tried, and failed, an autoimmune paleo protocol transition three separate times before finally, finding success and committing to the life-changing nutritional protocol. I'd love to see a study that identifies the number of tries it takes the average person to find success, I can't be alone in my failed attempts!
For me, the seemingly restrictive nature of the protocol wasn't the cause of my failed attempts. The protocol honestly doesn't make me feel deprived at all. I feel so satisfied with my AIP compliant meals.
So how did I finally rock my paleo autoimmune protocol transition?
Simple. 5 Steps of Preperation. Let's get to it.
1. AIP Research
During my first three (short-lived) attempts, I was focusing only on the “what not to eat” guidelines. During these unsuccessful attempts, I dove headfirst into the intense elimination diet; a diet that deserves much more time and attention than I was giving it. I didn't understand the research of why this protocol works to alleviate autoimmune symptoms.
I realize now that it's so important to understand why this protocol has worked to put so many autoimmune sufferers into remission, and that's because this knowledge provides assurance that the journey is worth it.
I recommend that my AIP health coaching clients and anyone considering trying out AIP, start by reading Mickey Trescott's The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook: An Allergen-Free Approach to Managing Chronic Illness. Mickey's book summarizes the dense scientific information that Sarah Ballantyne details in her ‘textbook', The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body, which I also highly recommend to anyone willing to devote a good chunk of time delving into the research behind the protocol.
2. Give AIP One Week (Start Short)
I learned a lesson from three failed attempts. Start out by focusing on one week. The autoimmune protocol recommends complying 100% to the protocol for 6-8 weeks before beginning the reintroduction phase. I realize in the grand scheme of things that 6-8 weeks isn't hardly any time at all to devote to something that can potentially have disease reversing effects, but in my world, 6 weeks was just too much for me to commit. Each time I started the diet, I would cave within the first couple of days as the thought of complying 100% for up to two months was just too overwhelming.
My suggestion: instead of looking at this as a long term thing, tell yourself that you're only committing to the protocol for one week. That's one trip to the grocery store. You'll already have planned out and shopped for a weeks worth of AIP friendly meals and snacks, the least you can do it stick it out for that long! By the end of the week, you'll likely be feeling the anti-inflammatory effects of the protocol and you'll want to continue. If you decide that it isn't for you, you don't have to feel like you failed. You stuck it out for your original goal – only one week.
3. Prep with AIP snacks and a Meal Plan
Have snacks on hand for when cravings hit or laziness settles in. Jackson's Honest Organic Sweet Potato Chips, Palm Oil Roasted Plantain Chips, and Toasted Coconut Chips are great pantry options, and I always try to have olives, crudites, and avocados on hand for savory, fresh, fatty snacks. I'll straight up eat spoonfuls of coconut oil when sugar cravings hit. Don't fear the fat!
Keep your fridge stocked with a variety of chopped produce, frozen meat, and bone broth for quick sautes, slow cooker recipes, and soups.
4. AIP Meal Plan
As Naomi from Picnik Austin (my home away from home) says, “We build our plates on five food groups: fish, meat, veggies, fruits, and fat.” Simple as that, right?
Every Sunday, I put together an intuitive eating meal plan for the week, and plan to make two grocery store runs throughout the week to get fresh produce. This made it so easy to comply with the protocol. With recipes already selected and ingredients already purchased, we didn't have any excuse to go to a restaurant! These were some of our favorite AIP friendly recipes that we included in our meal plans:
- Nightshade Free Marinara Sauce
- Dairy Free Cheese Dip
- AIP Matcha Latte
- Berry Collagen Protein Bars
- Homemade Sloppy Joes
- Mashed Cauliflower Breakfast Bowls
- Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
5. Find an AIP Support System
A support system is everything, the most important factor into successfully transitioning, and I urge you to find yours. If you don't have a physical support system, find a virtual one online. Bloggers and AIP coaching groups are all wonderful resources to take advantage of. Instagram is full of autoimmune protocol hashtags, and many of the ‘grammers have dedicated websites detailing their trials with the protocol. No excuses here, a support system is literally at your finger tips. Take my brand new AIP Facebook Support Group for example!
I'm lucky to have a supporting and loving husband who whole heartedly believed that AIP was the right choice for me. He invested in a crockpot for bone broth making and the aforementioned books (as well as a couple others), and he invested time into AIP-ing my favorite recipes – like our AIP Tzatziki sauce. By the end of my first week on AIP, James had started eating meat with me (we were pescatarians prior to starting AIP). On the second week he gave up IPA beers, and completely fell into his own AIP by the third week.
I can't tell you how important it is to have someone to help you fight cravings, to make you dinner when you feel uninspired, and motivate you to continue when you find out you've accidentally consumed canola oil. Support is everything.
I put together an ebook to help you transition to AIP like a total rockstar.
Want some help in rocking your AIP transition? You can have my free ebook containing protocol specifics, an enjoy + avoid list, a dining out guide, and even some (not so average) meal planning tips. Download your free copy below!
Photo Cred: The Urban Poser
I am so sorry to hear you are struggling. I did as well and it was extremely overwhelming to think of all the could nots at first. Hang in there if you can start small and make better food changes you will start to feel better but it may be a long journey! I have postpartum thyroiditis which is an autoimmune disease. I developed it 3 years ago and was terribly sick at first. I started by finding a functional medicine Dr who was able to help me figure out what to change foodwise and lifestyle changes after doing a complete lab panel and saliva test for hormones. Slowly as I have become gluten free, sugar free, completed whole 30 and now will start AIP I have lowered my antibodies in my blood and am hopeful that they will be gone by the time I do a 3 month AIP trial. Keep your chin up take it day by day and do not be discouraged by setbacks. You are worth it! Best of luck to you-B
I wanted to make sure this was working? I signed up with two different emails but the information never came through 🙁
I need help bad. I’m at a loss on what to do and I’m new at all this. I thought I was such a healthy person all my life and nothing could go wrong with my body. I was wrong :(. Ever since I had my last kid I developed HYPERthyroidism and it went away for 2 years almost. Now it came back. Now I’m noticing signs of something in my fingers that I looked up to be trigger finger I guess. Then when I told my doctor she said it sounded like rheumatoid arthritis. So I took a test to see if it is. I’m devastated because since I turned 30 or a few weeks before that all this started happening. I told myself turning 30 for me would be sad and devastating because I feel like I’m just going to get old have lots of things happen to me. I feel like I was right about that. I’m so upset and I don’t know what to do. I want to start a diet for my autoimmune disease and I don’t know where to start. I also want to start juicing.
I have had vitiligo by the way since I was a baby and this is the start of it all doctors say. Then I go to the doctors more often because of all these new things happening to my body and noticed I’m gaining every time I go to get a weigh in. That to me is even worse because I feel so fat. my self esteem is beyond low. Please help me start a new life to healing.
I have recently been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease and have heard wonderful things about the AIP elimination diet so decided to give it a try (just started). I was previously paleo so the transition wasn’t a huge deal for me. They say that when you start reintroducing certain foods back into your diet, you’ll get a reaction to certain ones that don’t agree with you and cause the inflammation. My question is, what type of reaction will I get to know that I need to cut that certain food out of my diet?
You mentioned you went from pescetarian to eating beef. Why the change? Was it lack of food choices on a restricted diet or something else? I’m strictly non-mammal consuming and am a little concerned about available recipes because everything I’m finding is very cow focused. I’m still searching for recipes that’ll work for me, but I noticed your comment about that and was curious as I’m prepping to dive into this.
It was less of a nutritional reason, and more of a lack of options reason. I wasn’t willing to eat fish multiple times a day to make up for the protein I was missing when I eliminated the grains, nuts, eggs, and legumes. I think it can be done, but it felt very restrictive for me, and I threw in the towel within a couple of days while trying “pescatarian AIP”. I started with a vegetarian AIP and lasted a few days, then tried pescatarian AIP, and finally went all in. It wasn’t until I did that I was able to stick to it.
I will say, I think fish is highly underrated in the AIP community. Wild caught fish is INCREDIBLY healing. Alaena Haber from Grazed and Enthused has a good assortment of AIP fish recipes. I think you likely see beef and chicken more frequently since sadly, those are the foods most people think they want to be eating. Fish is less popular for sure and blog aim to appeal to the masses.
If you feel like you have a strong relationship with food, I’d say go ahead and try an AIP pescatarian diet and see how you feel!
Hi!! Im interested in trying this because I’ve been having digestive issues and severe hand eczema. I think it’s related to stress and also diet. Im kind of a picky eater, so I’ve worried I wouldn’t survive paleo especially the restricted one, but I feel like it might really help me! Thoughts?
Anne Marie Garland
Hi Maggie, I personally experienced tremendous benefits from AIP, but I also experienced pretty profound changes to my health and hormonal balance by changing my diet from a low cal, low fat vegetarian to more of an elimination style Paleo diet. It was much easier of a transition for me, and it made it SO much easier to transition from that to AIP than it was when I was coming from the complete opposite end of the spectrum.
Without knowing where you’re coming from with your diet, I’d recommend looking into my Fat Focused Detox (which you can get for free in my sidebar), or even in my 8 week course (if you have the means to invest).
Anyone dealing with skin and digestive issues would benefit from a 5R approach to diet – Remove, Replace, Reinoculate & Repair, Reintroduce. I go through these in that Detox, and of course in my self-paced nutrition program. Then after you’ve worked your way through that, the AIP might not be such a shock!
Good luck, and feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions! firstname.lastname@example.org
These tips are so helpful! Thank you!
I hope they help you in your transition! It’d probably be a perfect diet to try in the neew year 😉