Starting the AIP can be ALL kinds of difficult! Where to start? How to prepare? Helpful tips. I am covering it all in this article, along with sharing my own experience with starting the AIP.
Starting the AIP: Approaches
There are a couple of different approaches to starting the AIP, each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks.
The Quick Start Approach
The quick start approach is simply going all in at once. Meaning, you pick a day to start the AIP, and you go for it! You eliminate all of the foods on the “exclude” list simultaneously.
A benefit to this approach is it’s a quicker start to AIP, so theoretically you will find relief from your autoimmune symptoms faster.
Drawbacks to the quick start approach include:
- It can feel overwhelming to eliminate all “exclude” foods at once.
- If you are addicted to sugar and caffeine, your body will go through the withdrawal all at once, which will most likely be physically challenging.
The Ease Into It Approach
Another option is adopting the AIP in stages. In other words, you pick a day to start, and choose one or two food groups to eliminate, one at a time, until you’ve eliminated everything on the AIP exclude list. For example, maybe the first week you eliminate dairy, then the next week soy, then the week after gluten, and so on.
When adopting the AIP in stages, you can tackle what you consider your easiest elimination first and build to the most difficult. Or vice versa.
One benefit of the “ease into it” approach is eliminations may feel less overwhelming. It also may give you more time to adjust to learning to cook cleanly.
One drawback to the “ease into it” approach is that it may take you longer to find relief from your autoimmune symptoms since it will take you longer to reach the elimination phase.
Starting the AIP: Bio-individuality
In my mind, there is no right or wrong way to start the AIP.
Starting the AIP is not going to look the same for everyone. It’s incredibly important for you to consider your life and what works best for you. You are incredible the way you are! Please do not try to do things the way someone else did them if that does not work for you.
To be successful on the AIP, it’s important to recognize we are all bio-individuals. What works best for me may not work best for you, and vice versa.
Avoid the comparison game. Just do what works for you, and trust that you know what’s best for your situation!
Starting the AIP: Preparation
While preparation is important, I encourage you not to prepare to the point that you never feel ready to start the AIP.
Preparation is wonderful, but not necessary. I started the AIP the day I learned of it. I started it with zero books read, zero courses taken, zero AIP recipes, zero AIP cookbooks, zero food prep, zero pantry cleaning, and zero understanding of just how life changing the AIP can be.
I simply held a printout of foods I should eat, and foods I should not eat. That’s it. I took things one day at a time, and I kept it super simple.
With that said, I am not recommending doing nothing to prepare to start AIP. I am guessing I made my AIP start harder than it needed to be.
Looking back on my experience, I do recommend a few things prior to starting the AIP:
- Communicate with your spouse and loved ones. Let them know what you are doing, why, and how they can support you. Lovingly set new boundaries. Remember they love and support you, and want you to feel well. Your loved ones may feel threatened by your new lifestyle and food choices. They may not want anything to change, and they may feel judged. Love them through it, and communicate as much as possible. I also highly recommend increasing the physical love and connection during the process (snuggling, hugging, kissing, you name it). Both you and your man need the connection.
- Remember the AIP is not just about food. Do not forget to address the AIP lifestyle factors. Work on improving your sleep, reducing your stress, getting out in nature, connecting with others in meaningful ways, and moving your body. As much as the way we eat matters, the way we live our life matters too!
- Optional: Understand the science behind autoimmune disease and the autoimmune protocol. I invested in this amazing resource a few weeks after starting the AIP, and it truly strengthened my resolve. I also recommend using this book and this book as reference guides to understanding how to live well with autoimmune disease and for AIP tips.
- Think about any changes you’d like to make in your kitchen. Do you need to clean out your pantry? Do you need to make sure no non-AIP foods are in the house? Do you need to look through some AIP recipes or cookbooks? Do you need to meal prep and freeze some meals? Do you need any kitchen tools, gadgets, or utensils?
- Dig deep and figure out your “why.” Why are you really starting AIP? Do you want to have the energy to go after your dreams? Are you longing to travel again? Would you give anything to feel well enough to cheer your son on at his baseball games? Do you miss taking your daughter on girls trips? Are you missing date nights with your man? Do you simply want relief from your autoimmune symptoms and nothing else? Get clear on your why. Write it down. Post it on your mirror. Cling to it with all your might. Your why is going to get you through your hardest days when you feel like giving up. Your why is going to give you the strength to stand back up again when you feel like you’ve been knocked down. Your why is going to help you succeed on the AIP.
- Last, but not least, take a DEEP breath, and enjoy the journey. Your life is about to change! It may be one of the hardest changes you’ve been through, but lean into the difficulty and trust that it will get easier. It will. I pinky promise. It just takes time. If you get through the initial period of difficulty, the AIP can help you get you back. Not the old you. The best version of you yet!
Starting the AIP: Emotional Tips
These tips may or may not apply to you, but I share them based on my own experience:
- Consider if you use any non-AIP foods as coping mechanisms. If so, try to find healthier coping mechanisms to replace them. Ideas include taking a relaxing bath, cranking your favorite song, slow dancing with your man, reading a book, getting outside, meditating, or even screaming into a pillow.
- Consider seeking professional help from a trusted therapist or emotional healing coach to address any emotional trauma or emotional healing needs. Some questions you may ask yourself include: Do I eat unhealthy foods to make myself feel better? Did I experience childhood trauma that I have yet to work through? Are there foods that are harming my health that I cannot imagine living without? Do I feel unworthy of feeling well? Do I love myself?
If you struggle with unhealthy coping mechanisms, emotional eating, sugar cravings, or feelings of unworthiness, please know you are not alone! I experienced and felt those same things! Those things are hard to get through. However, working through them is worth every effort, and will help you be successful on the autoimmune protocol.
Starting the AIP: My Experience
I am often asked how I started the AIP, so I recorded a YouTube Video about my experience with starting the AIP:
Starting the AIP: I am Cheering You On!
I am standing up and cheering you on SO loud as you embark on your AIP journey!
I am not going to sugar coat anything…it is going to be ALL kinds of difficult. However, it will also be ALL kinds of worth it!!
Remember that taste buds change, habits take time to develop, cravings will subside, and most importantly…nothing tastes as good as your wellness will feel!!
Please know, you CAN do this! You ARE strong enough! And I am sending you lots of love, and BIG hugs!!
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