Back in August, I shared some of the questions I am most often asked about my nutrition and the autoimmune protocol (AIP). It has been a number of months since then, and I have received many more questions about the way I eat. I decided to open up and share the questions I am most often asked, and how I respond.
Are you still on the autoimmune protocol (AIP)?
Yes, I am now in the reintroduction phase. I am taking reintroductions at a snails pace – mostly on accident. I am happy eating the way I do. I feel fulfilled, so I simply forget to reintroduce new foods.
How long were you on the autoimmune protocol (AIP) elimination phase?
Over 10 months. Most people are on it for 30-90 days. I tried reintroductions a couple of times, and it did not go well. I tried again at 10 months, and it went beautifully.
What foods have you successfully reintroduced?
Green beans, green peas, egg yolk, black pepper, with more in progress.
Do you plan to stay on the autoimmune protocol (AIP)?
Yes, I plan to follow an autoimmune protocol template with reintroductions. I will continue to listen to my body and make changes as needed.
Have you kept off the 15 pounds you initially lost at the beginning of this year?
Yes. I weigh myself once a month, at the same time of month and I fluctuate between 1-2 pounds. Some of the weight I lost was muscle, so I am hoping to gain muscle in the coming months and years as I add strength training back in to my life.
What is the weirdest thing someone has said to you about the way you eat?
“I know you’re not eating food right now.” My reaction teetered between laughing hysterically and giving a dissertation about just how much food I eat. I eat more food than almost anyone I know volume wise, but it is all clean and whole foods. I eat three complete meals, and snacks as needed. This person assumed that because I lost weight, and keep it off, I must not eat.
What does one of your typical meals look like?
Most of my meals include a protein, vegetables, a fruit, and a healthy fat. At least two of my meals include a starchy vegetable like a sweet potato.
Do you ever miss your old favorite unhealthy foods?
I can honestly say no. It took me months to get here, but I do not miss the flavors because whole foods taste amazing to me now. I also do not miss how terrible I used to feel after eating unhealthy foods.
As I write this, I am in Hawaii and was having a conversation last night with my husband about this. Here we are in this tropical paradise, and I do not miss my old favorites – the poolside nachos, and shaved ice with macadamia nut ice cream. I am physically sensitive enough that one serving would physically hurt my body for days, if not weeks. Nothing tastes as good as my wellness feels.
Do you feel deprived?
I do not. I have new favorite foods that are clean and healing. I feel fulfilled.
Do your husband and kids eat the same way?
Yes and no. My kids are homeschooled, so they eat many of the same meals I eat, but I add a non-AIP food to their meals most days, like gluten free bread, rolls, or a paleo muffin. The exception is breakfast. My family eats traditional breakfast foods. I eat mostly lunch and dinner foods for breakfast. I also keep non-AIP easy meals for them on hand, like organic soups and gluten free rolls, for when my husband and I go on dates. My kids are both gluten free for different reasons that I am sure I will share at some point. My husband eats dinner with us, which is AIP, but he has no diet restrictions. He does eat mostly clean and healthy.
Does your husband support you?
Yes. He is on my team, and is my biggest cheerleader. He is proud of the difficult changes I’ve made, and that I’ve found wellness. One of the best choices we made in the beginning of this journey was to invest in the Paleo Mom’s AIP Lecture Series. My husband would watch it with me. Learning the science behind autoimmune disease and why I felt better eating this way led to his unwavering support. If you do not want to pay for the lecture series, Dr. Ballantyne’s Paleo Principles book is another great resource!
How do you handle parties and gatherings?
I pack my own food. To me, parties and gatherings are about being with loved ones and enjoying their company. I can still do that.
What about eating out?
I learned the hard way to be very careful about eating out. There are some aspects to eating out that I did not think about at first. I now know to ask things like, what oil the food is cooked in, is the food topped with butter, and is the meat pre seasoned?
I look at the menu and mix and match a protein and sides, then modify them as necessary. I look for meats that can be grilled with no oil or butter, and that are not pre-seasoned. I also look for steamed veggies. I live in California, and most restaurants happily accommodate food allergies and modifications.
Do you stick to the autoimmune protocol while traveling?
I do. I want to feel my best so I can enjoy every moment. It can be tricky to figure out how to do it, especially when flying somewhere, but I look at it as a mystery to solve. Some mysteries take longer to figure out, but I have always been able to find a way.
Do you think everyone should eat the way you eat?
No, I do not. I believe in bio-individuality, and that what my body needs may look different than what your body needs. With that said, there is science behind what happens in the body with an autoimmune disease, and why the autoimmune protocol helps.
I believe that two people with the same autoimmune disease may have different dietary needs. Even if both follow the autoimmune protocol, one may be ready for reintroductions quicker than the other. One may be sensitive to certain foods on the protocol, while the other is not. I can not emphasize enough the importance of learning how to listen to your body, and recognizing when an adjustment needs to be made.
Do you stick to the autoimmune protocol to a “T?”
Yes and no. Yes, meaning I do not “cheat” or eat foods off the protocol unless I have properly reintroduced them. No, meaning there are a few foods that are allowed on the protocol that I do not do well with so I exclude them. Some I have been able to include again over time, and a couple others I seemed okay with months ago, I exclude now. I listen to my body.
How do you know what foods on the protocol you do not do well with?
Experience. Months of eating clean, and paying close attention to how I feel after eating certain foods. In time, I identified patterns. It took time and patience. In the beginning, I felt so bad physically, I stuck to the protocol and gradually started feeling better. Once I felt better, I was able to trouble shoot when I did not feel well, and identify if it was because of something I ate, doing too much physically, stress, or sleep.
Are you saying if I just change the way I eat, I will feel 100% better?
Not necessarily. For me, nutrition was a huge key to unlocking wellness, but I also addressed gut issues, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and lifestyle choices. I learned to better manage stress. I also make sure I get enough sleep, and work on sleep quality.
With that said, I believe you will feel much better as you eat clean, whole foods. I simply also recommend working with your medical team, a functional medical doctor, or a naturopath to identify any specific needs your body has.
What is your biggest advice for someone new to the autoimmune protocol?
Take it seriously, and commit to stick to it for a period of time. You may be very sensitive and one non-AIP meal a week may derail your efforts. To see if it truly works for you, give it a real shot. Also, identify and heal any unhealthy relationship you have with food. Offer yourself as much love and support as possible, and communicate your needs with your family and friends. They love you and want you to feel better. Let them know how they can help. Last but not least, buckle up. It is going to be a bumpy ride at first. Understand and embrace the difficulty.
How do I get my husband to stop eating junk food?
You don’t. This is your journey. It may not be his. Trying to get your husband to change his behavior will most likely cause you more stress, him more stress, and more stress in your relationship. Stress causes dis-ease and will most likely make you feel worse physically. Focus on you. Love and accept your husband the way he is. Chances are, if left alone, he will see your example, and make subtle healthier choices over time.
Let me know if you have any questions that I did not cover. I am happy to answer them!