Chances are, if you are reading this, you’ve at least heard of the Autoimmune Diet, also referred to as the AIP Diet. Maybe you’ve pinned some info (you can follow my board here) or even spoken with your doctor about it. I’ll be the first to admit, there is a TON of information out there and it is easy to understand if you are feeling overwhelmed or confused about just how to get started with the Autoimmune Diet.
If you know anything about me, then you know that I like to think practically. Giant, sweeping lifestyle changes are just not my thing. Below, you will find my “version” of getting started with AIP. It is how I “practically” applied the Autoimmune Diet into my life. It isn’t perfect. I’m not perfect. If you are looking for a practical approach to starting AIP, then you are in the right place.
What is the Autoimmune Diet?
CliffNotes version of the Autoimmune Diet is that what what you eat (or don’t eat) contributes or detracts from the level of inflammation in your body. For example, sugar has been scientifically proven to cause an inflammatory response from your body. Therefore if you want to lower the inflammation levels in your body, don’t eat sugar.
Inflammation equals flares equals pain equals damage and on and on we go. One part of the evil, ugly roots of autoimmune disease is inflammation. The first part of the Autoimmune Diet is the Elimination Phase. In the Elimination Phase, you avoid these foods for 30 days (up to 90 days) then slowly reintroduce foods, one at a time, and monitor your reactions.
How to get started with the Autoimmune Diet
Step 1: Focus on what you CAN eat
Being honest, the list of what you can’t eat is much longer than the list of what you can. The list is mainly focused on grass-fed meats and vegetables. So, what you want to do is check out this complete list (below) and pick things that you would “normally” eat. Either print the list and highlight your choices or use my organizer, and jot down your favorites.
It is all too easy to get overwhelmed and discouraged by all the things that you are not “allowed” to eat. Trust me, I’ve been there. Focus on what you can eat so you are less likely to feel deprived.
Step 2: Start small
Pro Tip: Do not go home and throw out everything in your fridge and pantry. Many times, we start changes in our diet like we are shot out of a cannon then quickly lose the fire and determination to follow through. I can’t stress this enough, the Autoimmune Diet is a lifestyle, it is not a quick fix or an all or nothing approach to living. Make changes that make sense for you.
For example, I highly suspected that dairy (sadly) and gluten would be a very inflammatory food for me. So I started there. I started small which made it much more likely that I would be able to sustain the changes that I made in my eating habits.
Step 3: Make a plan
You know your body best, to get started with the Autoimmune Diet, choose how you would like to go about making changes. If you have a plan in place, then you will feel more in control of the changes you will make.
For example, think about who will be doing the plan with you. As a mom with chronic illnesses, it seemed highly unlikely that I would be making several different “meals” for dinner. Simply put, I refused. When I first tried the AIP diet, I wasn’t so smart. I made my food, their food, and everything in between. (Insert a MAJOR face palm moment here!)
When you make your plan, think about the following questions:
- What time commitment am I willing to make to cook or prep meals?
- Will the whole family be included?
- Will you make a monthly plan for meals, or weekly plan?
Step 4: Focus on how you feel
I love losing weight as much as the next person and believe me, it is super tempting to get on the scale everyday and track my progress (or lack thereof). But (and I can’t stress this enough!) really try to focus more on how you feel before and after you eat each meal.
If you want to be super-cool, keep a food diary and track your symptoms based on what you eat. Doing this allowed me to see very clearly that there were certain patterns related to what I ate and how I felt. You don’t have to go crazy with this (unless you really want to).
Stick a paper on the fridge, make a note in your phone, create a section in your planner, or even find an app (Check out the MySymptoms app). Either way you choose, focusing on how you feel will allow you to reap the benefits of the Autoimmune Diet and help motivate you to stick with it.
Step 5: Stick with it
Remember, the AIP diet is not meant to be a one-size fits all approach to healing your body. Your body did not reach this level of inflammation over night, nor will you be able to “calm” your body’s inflammatory response over night. It only works with consistent choices made over time.
If you are interested in further reading about the “scientific” benefits of following the Autoimmune Diet, check out this article.
Here are some of my favorite resources for “All Things AIP Diet”
- The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook
- The Autoimmune Protocol Made Simple
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