My biggest challenges when starting AIP were overhauling my mindset surrounding food, learning how to eat AIP on the go, and adopting the AIP lifestyle.
Starting AIP is one of the hardest things I’ve done, but learning how to overcome my biggest challenges? Worth every effort! Adopting the AIP diet and lifestyle truly felt instrumental in my autoimmune wellness journey!
Starting the AIP Challenge #1: Overhauling my mindset surrounding food.
Prior to starting the AIP, I relied on packaged food and take out on busy days, or days when I felt particularly unwell. The number of those days increased over time, and the idea of eating only fresh, real, whole, AIP foods felt daunting to me! I remember looking at my “foods to include” list and thinking, “HOW am I EVER going to do this?!”
In addition to feeling overwhelmed by trying to think “outside the box,” I also had a habit of at least one weekly cheat meal/cheat day. Meaning, I tried to eat pretty well most of the week, but when it came to Friday night date night? All bets were off! Many weeks, Friday cheat night spilled into Saturday also.
Finally, I tended to be an emotional eater. Stressed? Happy? Sad? Excited? Depressed? Angry? Elated? Whenever I felt deep emotion, no matter the emotion, I reached for a comfort food. I found emotional eating, and AIP did not go well together, in my case. Somehow reaching for fresh veggies just did not feel the same as reaching for mint n’ chip ice cream.
Quick Mindset Tips (what helped me):
Finding and holding on to my “why.”
Meditation: 5-15 minutes per day of deep breathing.
Focusing on what I CAN eat, rather than what I cannot.
Gratitude: writing down 3-5 things I am thankful for every morning.
Calling it out: when I started to feel the urge to emotionally eat, I would say it out loud first. For example, “I am feeling really depressed about my situation so I am going to eat this whatever.” Usually “calling it out” brought to my attention that emotionally eating is only hurting my health, and snapped me out of it.
Dreaming big: I started AIP at my rock bottom when I could not do much. As I rested, many times I dreamed up things I wanted to be able to do again, and pictured myself doing them. This strengthened my resolve to stick to AIP through the difficulty.
Starting the AIP Challenge #2: Learning how to eat AIP on the Go.
Within weeks of starting the AIP, I saw my symptoms improve, and I started to rebuild my life and my daily routine. Sure, I still needed rest, but gone were the days of needing to be in bed or on the couch most of the day. As I became accustomed to taking the kids to daily activities again, going on date nights again, and started planning trips, I faced a new challenge. How could I stick to AIP on the go, when traveling, eating out, and on date nights?
Quick Tips that Helped Me
Planning Ahead: I cannot emphasize planning ahead enough, and being prepared in case a kids’ activity runs longer than expected.
Packing my own food: I purchased glass snap ware and Thermoses, and learned to pack my own AIP meals and snacks wherever I went. I also learned to carry AIP snacks with me at all times, and bring plenty of clean water.
Parties/Holidays: I learned to lovingly communicate my health situation to loved ones and to bring my own food to parties and holidays. After several months, some my amazing mom and mother in law even started cooking AIP options for me at family parties and holidays, which felt like a dream! If you need help explaining your health situation to loved ones, here is a FREE AIP elevator pitch.
Eating Out: I learned the hard way that successfully eating out on the AIP can be very difficult. I do not recommend eating out when starting AIP, but if you choose to, I encourage you to take an AIP allergy card with you to present to the server, chef, or manager. You can download a FREE AIP allergy card here if you do not already have one.
Traveling on AIP: Traveling on AIP can be very tricky, but is possible. I’ve traveled several ways on AIP, and written a number of blog posts with travel tips, which you can read here: Cruising on AIP, and more.
Starting the AIP Challenge #3: Adopting the AIP Lifestyle
AIP is not just about nutrition, it also offers lifestyle guidelines such as sleep, stress management, movement, getting out in nature, reducing toxic exposure, and connecting with others.
As if wrapping my head around the nutrition side of AIP did not feel hard enough, let’s add AIP lifestyle to the mix! I will say as much as I feel the AIP diet helped me, I feel adopting an AIP lifestyle helped me just as much!
Quick AIP Lifestyle Tips that Helped Me
Giving myself permission to take time to rest.
Taking things one step at a time: not trying to change EVERYTHING at once.
Finding ways to improve my sleep.
Communicating with my husband and asking for help.
Realizing how much better I feel when I do take time to enjoy nature.
Learning to love and accept myself exactly the way I am, imperfections and all!
Finding my tribe of online autoimmune sisters on Instagram and through my website (thank you for being here)!
Switching up my self-care, beauty, and household products to non-toxic alternatives.
Setting boundaries on our schedule and prioritizing time as a family, including meal times.
Cutting back on activities when possible to allow for more family free time.
Learning to laugh again.
Sending You Loads of Love and Support
Starting the AIP can feel daunting, but I want you to know you are not alone. I felt the same way when I started, and I can assure you successfully navigating the AIP IS possible. The AIP truly felt instrumental to me learning to live well with autoimmune disease!
I am truly excited for you and your AIP journey! While you may wonder if you can even do it, I have no doubt that you can! I am cheering you on SO loud, and sending you loads of love and support! You SO got this!
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