Learn my top secrets on how and when you should start an Autoimmune Diet, aka the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), and grab yourself a free AIP ebook to help you rock your AIP transition on the first try.
Last Monday I celebrated not only the completion of my first week on the Autoimmune Protocol diet (this is AIP round #3 for me), but I also celebrated my golden birthday. I turned 29 on the 29th, and instead of a night out filled with pasta, wine, and a face full of birthday cake, I was indulging in nightshade-free thai lettuce wraps and AIP-friendly Key Lime Pie Parfaits. And let me tell you, not an ounce of gluten, dairy, or chocolate, was missed.
Sure, I could have waited to start my round #3 autoimmune diet until the day after my birthday. If I'd have made that decision, I'd have celebrated my birthday with more of a “standard American” menu, and then jumped right into the new diet in the same way that many others have before me… with a wine, cheese, and chocolate hangover.
Had that been the case however, I'd likely have been miserable enough on the first day to completely throw in the towel before I even got started – seriously, who wants to meal prep when they're hungover?
In this hypothetical situation, I'd spend day 1 of my new autoimmune diet looking at my calendar trying to determine which day in the future would be a more “ideal” start date.
In trying to determine a more “ideal” start date (one which didn't include any major holidays, birthdays, or anniversaries)… well, this is when the story get interesting. I have two weddings in September, another in October, a music fest weekend, and a weekend vaca. Then I'm looking at Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas; next thing you know, I'm waiting to start in January what could have been finished in November. (facepalm)
I think you know where I'm going with this. There is always going to be something happening in your social life that will make sticking to your dietary morals difficult. So you just have to start.
How and When You Should Start an Autoimmune Diet
This blog post is going to share all the details you need to determine how and when you should start an Autoimmune Diet, including:
- determining the “Ideal Start Date”,
- the steps to take to set yourself up for success, and
- the complete guide to transitioning into the autoimmune diet like a total rockstar (my free ebook!)
Keep on reading to snag all the tricks this health coach has to share on starting an Autoimmune Diet and sticking to it like a total rockstar.
1. When is the “Ideal Start Date” for your Autoimmune Diet?
The ideal time to start a new dietary protocol, like the Autoimmune Diet, is now. Don't overthink it, and don't wait for a proverbial opening in your calendar. If you do, you'll likely find that there is at least one upcoming event happening that will prevent you from complying with the diet. Birthdays (yours, your besties, your coworkers), anniversaries, holidays, etc. will be happening literally every single month.
At some point you have to decide that the higher priority is your health, and not the foods you'll potentially indulge in during the inevitable celebrations that will be happening.
2. Pick a start date, about a week out, and commit to it.
I've found the best success stories come from my clients (and myself for that matter) whom take a week to mentally, emotionally, and physically prepare. Each time I've witnessed a successful transition, it has been when the person planned their start date at least a full week in advance. My own personal transition from a gluten free, paleo diet to an Autoimmune Diet wasn't any different. Success happened only when I planned in advance.
I attribute this to the amount of preparation that can happen when you give yourself 7 days to start. You can make sure the people you spend the most time with are on board by talking with them beforehand. You'll also have time to clean out your pantry, meal plan and grocery shop, join a supportive AIP Facebook Group, create an AIP focused Pinterest board, and most importantly, prepare mentally and emotionally.
3. Tell your friends, family, and coworkers what you're doing.
Oftentimes my clients avoid telling their friends/family/coworkers about their new dietary decisions. If you can relate, think about your reasoning for why you would do that. Is it out of fear you'll be shamed you fail? Or maybe you worry your friends will judge you for trying yet another diet.
Keeping new dietary decisions from your friends inevitably leads to uncomfortable conversations when you're all out at happy hour and the waitress brings out a basket of chips and salsa, or when they surprise you on your birthday with your favorite cheesecake.
It's important to have the support of those with whom you spend the most time. After you've selected your start date for the Autoimmune Diet, you need to tell them you're starting a new healing, dietary protocol as a means to manage your autoimmune disease.
4. Ask your family & friends with if they're “willing to support you”.
This seems like such a simple gesture, but it's so important that you ask your family, friends, and coworkers if they're “willing to support you”. Despite the love our friends and family have for us, they can very easily sabotage our dietary efforts even if they don't do so intentionally!
Now the phrasing here is important, as the word “willing” has recently been described as the one word you can use to become irresistibly persuasive. According to this article, “If you ask someone, ‘Are you interested in mediation?' they might say yes or no. But if you ask them if they're willing to mediate, that requires them saying something about the type of person that they are.”
It's easy for friends and family to unintentionally guide you back into your old dietary habits, since food is one of the very strongest ways we connect with one another. Yes, the types of food you share with them may change, but the connection you share to your friends and family doesn't have to.
We can still connect with our loved ones, surrounded by food and tradition, but only if we ask for their support beforehand. To make this happen, you'll want to specifically ask your loved ones if they're willing to support you in making the upcoming events (happy hours, family dinners, birthdays, holidays) AIP friendly for you. You can help to make it an easier transition by sharing an AIP Pinterest board with them so they can easily navigate and find tasty and compliant recipes they can share with you.
5. Find your motivation by educating yourself.
Many people will experience relief from their autoimmune symptoms as soon as they implement the dietary and lifestyle within the Autoimmune Diet protocol, while others will need to wait weeks to feel any changes. The lucky ones who notice the benefits right away will often find that to be motivation enough to stick to the protocol with 100% compliance. Those whom need a bit more time to feel the affects of their diet will likely need another motivator to keep them following through with it.
Here's what to do.
- During the week of prep (see #2), do some research on the how and why this protocol actually works.
- Make a list of “in a pinch” meals and snacks.
I've linked below to some of my can't-live-without resources for anyone following the Autoimmune Protocol.
The Paleo Approach by Sarah Ballantyne is the bible for anyone following the Autoimmune Protocol. This is a dense resource (it's larger than many of my former college textbooks!), but I'd imagine you can find the answer to any question you may have, including the basics: why AIP works to heal the gut (and why that's important!) and how to eliminate and reintroduce the foods.
The Healing Kitchen by Alaena Haber and Sarah Ballantyne has AIP compliant recipes for some of my all time favorite non-AIP foods. You'll find several different recipes for AIP-friendly pizza (the garlic chicken pizza is amazing!), as well as to-die-for Sangria recipe. You'll also find a quick “guide to AIP” at the beginning of the book. If I could only choose one, this would hands down be my first AIP resource to purchase.
6. Before you go, download your free ebook!
Want some help rocking your AIP transition? Grab my free ebook, Autoimmune Rockstar! This resource contains protocol specifics, along with an enjoy + avoid list, a dining out guide, and even some (not so average) meal planning tips. Download your free copy below!