Why I am Going on the Autoimmune Protocol Diet

Why one food writer decided to try out the AIP (Autoimmune Protocol Diet), and what her quick results were on the diet. -- The Nourishing Gourmet

I have a sweet deal right now, as I don’t have to cook dinners, and still get to sit down to a homemade dinner every night. I happen to have a teeny tiny little kitchen that feels almost impossible to work in at times. Why would I start a very strict diet? Do I just love putting myself through difficult trials of life? Am I bored?

None of the above.

For those of you who have followed my blog for a while, you may remember that I have been dealing with iron store issues (I still follow these rules for giving my body the best chance of absorbing iron.)  And those have been ongoing. Iron transfusions made me feel like a million bucks, but the problem is that I still don’t absorb iron well, and have to cycle back to doing iron transfusion every year or so.

There are an overwhelming number of reasons this could happen – everything from thyroid issues to gut issues, to parasites, to mineral imbalances, to heavy metals. Some of which we’ve been able to scratch off the list – others not yet. So I don’t know what causes this issue for me. But because of a history of antibiotics and some gut issues, we know that healing my digestive system is a priority regardless of whether my iron issues are directly related.

Facing iron transfusions yet again, and then having some issues with my last iron transfusion, we decided it was time to try something more drastic again to see if we could help heal my gut. For those who have struggled like me with low iron stores, you know how horrible it can make you feel. While all of us handle it differently, I have experienced the deep fatigue, aches and pains, and brain fog that comes with it. It’s not fun, and it can take over your life until you get your iron stores back up again.

Now let me be clear. We don’t even know for sure whether my iron issues are related to my gut issues, but it seems like a decent place to start. And helping my digestion has it’s own benefits regardless, so it wouldn’t be a loss regardless.

With that in mind, I decided to do a two-week trial for the AIP diet last month. I wanted to see if 1) I could keep up with the work. 2) Whether it caused any “die off” for me – I am nursing right now and I prefer not to heavily “detox” when nursing. I didn’t expect to see any noticeable difference in how I felt during the testing time. It was more testing my ability to keep up on all of the cooking in a very small kitchen.

The result of my two-week test

Within the first day, my digestion was improving. Within the first couple of days, I noticed a change in my body feeling less bloated, and I felt an increase in energy. I’ve found that while the diet can’t cure what ails me (my iron stores) right away, that it takes the edge off as I feel like I have more energy and less digestive issues when on it. It’s been very worth the bother, so our two-week trial just kept going!

What is the AIP diet?

The AIP diet is a stricter (generally temporary) paleo diet that removes foods that can be harder to digest, causes inflammation (for some), or could cause issues with the immune system. Sarah, from The Paleo Mom said, “It is very simply an extremely nutrient-dense diet that is devoid of foods that irritate the gut, cause gut dysbiosis and activate the immune system.”

Foods off the AIP diet: Eggs, Gluten, Grains, Nightshades, Coffee, Nuts and Seeds, Alcohol, Gluten Cross-Reactive foods, Emulsifiers and gums, limited fructose, non-nutritive sweeteners, and NSAIDS.

Some people choose to stay on the strictest form of the diet for 6-8 weeks, and start adding in foods slowly. Others choose to stay on the diet longer, seeking deep healing for issues that have been going on for a long time. Others view it as a permanent diet as any cheating brings back symptoms.

AIP Resources

I will be blogging more about this topic in the future, but meanwhile I wanted to share some quick resources (Amazon links are affiliate).

Sarah from The Paleo Mom has a wealth of resources on her blog, but her book, The Paleo Approach , is wonderfully thorough, and a sort of AIP bible.

I’ve also been using her new cookbook, The Healing Kitchen, quite a bit!

The Curious Coconut blog also has a wealth of AIP recipes on her blog.

Where I’m at on the diet

I started the diet during the crazy, crazy holiday season (because I was desperate). I knew that I wasn’t following all of the “rules”, but was just trying to do my best during the busy season. Now that life is a little more routine again, I’m going to go back to the beginning, and reboot it, following everything strictly, and then go from there.

I’d love to hear from you. Have you tried the AIP diet?

P.S. Recipes featured above:

 

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

Comments

  1. Beth says

    Excellent timing! I just made the decision to recommit to Paleo again and if that doesn’t resolve my joint pain and other issues, I plan to try the AIP. I had added back rice and some dairy, but after feeling like I had been ‘glutened’ when I know I wasn’t exposed, I realized all the pain and frequent flu-like symptoms had crept back in more and more often.

    Looking forward to awesome AIP recipes from you! Yay!

  2. says

    I just started AIP about 2 weeks ago to try and put my psoriasis in remission. It’s hard sometimes. I’m almost afraid to say this out loud, but I might be seeing slight improvement……

  3. Casey says

    I read your blog all the time, but rarely leave comments, although I think your wonderful! I went on the aip diet almost two years ago. I came from the fast food kind of life so it was a huge change to me! I slept like a baby while on it, but still struggled with nausea. I initially went on it, because I had a rash that went undiagnosed by all doctors. Sadly, the diet didn’t heal the nausea or rash, but the rash ended up being from lavender oil! I was told by a MLM it couldn’t be the oils. Looking back, I think I was still eating things that, although good foods, were not good for me like an over abundance of plantains, yucca, and coconut! I think it’s a great healing diet though! I stopped when I got pregnant with my daughter. I was so sick the whole pregnancy that I couldn’t cook and could barely eat. She is now 10 months and I think of going back on it, but I am not great with cooking and it was so limited that we could barely leave the house. I got really depressed, but if I decide to do it again, I hope to do it with a joyful and thankful heart. Good luck! Please keep posting about your journey on the aip. Thank you for sharing all the information you share. Your gifts from God are amazing and I love that you share!

    • says

      Yes, EOs can cause skin issues! So glad you figured it out.

      And I entirely understand why it could seem depressing to be on the AIP diet if you can’t enjoy life! For me, because I started it in such a busy time, I depended on buying some pre-made foods to get by for some days (like sweet potato chips fried in coconut oil, and the one Epic bar that is AIP-friendly) So that helped me get to all of the holiday fun without being stuck in the kitchen all the time!

  4. Shaz T says

    Hi Kim, I have done the AIP 3 times now. I just restarted 4 days ago. I suffer from severe and debilitating ME/CFS. Through AIP I have been able to determine what foods I am sensitive to ie trigger inflammation. I realise now I should have just stayed on it the first time! I also benefit from keeping my carbs very low. There are only a few conditions where this is scientifically warranted – MS and ME being two of those.

    The other times I have been eating AIP it’s seemed very strict. Interestingly though, this time it seems very simple – eat good quality meat, veggies and/or salad. Intuitively now I include healthy fats in each meal and stay away from nuts, night shades, eggs, all grains etc.

    The new Healing Kitchen cookbook has been a God-send for me. I also have to cook for 4 very hungry fellas (my hubbie and my son). Plus the severe fatigue, dizziness etc greatly limits the time I can spend in the kitchen. The ME means my brain functioning is impaired so I’m loving the shopping lists, menu plans and easy recipes.

    The AIP is the ONLY intervention that has had an effect on my brain fog and energy. I pray I experience the same benefits again this time around!

    Thanks for the great writing!

    • says

      Thank you so much for sharing! I love the Healing Kitchen too. And yes, it is so helpful to figure out which foods are triggering inflammation. I think there may be one or two foods on the AIP diet that I should cut, but I am hoping to reintroduce some foods off the strict AIP diet at some point in the near future, so that it will balance out the restrictions. 🙂

      It’s great that it helped you with your brain fog! I think it’s helped mine a lot too, interestingly enough.

  5. Debbie says

    Hi Kim, I’ve been following you for years, though have seldom commented on anything. I have had gut issues for years and am constantly looking at how to heal… (long story, a journey!) I went back on GAPS this Fall, and at this point, pretty much am living on chicken stock, gently cooked meats, egg yolks (never the whites for me, personally) no dairy at all, even switched to ghee, gently cooked vegetables, mainly carrots… I’m not that interested in following GAPS to the letter, just figured the stock/broth would help me heal.
    I am looking forward to hearing about your journey on AIP. I’ve casually looked at AIP and am very interested in it. I know you didn’t do well with GAPS, I did very well a few years ago on GAPS, but this time, change and healing have been slow, although I have had some better days with a little more energy this past month which has given me hope. Those of us with gut issues know this is a journey. I am almost 56 and am still hopeful that I will heal my gut, although I feel as though I will always have to be strict and mindful of what I eat. Thank you for sharing!

    • says

      Debbie,

      It is such a journey! I agree with you, and it can take so many steps to figure out what works well for you. I considered trying the GAPS Diet again, but decided to go with the AIP for a variety of reasons, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think that the GAPS diet isn’t a good option for many still. I hope that both of us continue to heal!

  6. Annie says

    I went on the AIP about two years ago to deal with a postpartum flare of Hashimoto’s. I felt amazing. My tummy became really flat, my digestion was amazing, I slept great and I woke up in the morning with energy for the first time since having the baby. I think I was able to maintain it for about two months and then as it came close to summer I just found that I couldn’t get out of the house and maintain the diet – I felt like I was chained to my kitchen. I agree with the commenter above – such a restrictive diet started to feel depressing, even though physically I felt great. I’m glad I did it and I’m glad I have it to go back to, but it definitely isn’t a long-term diet for me. I actually just had a really nasty cold virus and nothing was helping it go away, so I briefly went back on AIP (for about three days) and my cold finally went away. It’s an amazing tool!

  7. says

    Hi Kimi… Mickey and Angie’s site is my favorite for AIP.. http://autoimmune-paleo.com/ I’ve used it to heal leaky gut… I have Mickey’s cookbook, which is delicious.. but also beautiful! Hope you find some helpful resources for your journey. Keep at it… you will get better.

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