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