How to Explain AIP to Family and Friends
Figuring out how to explain AIP to family and friends can be tricky…
Where to start?
How much to explain?
What will they think?
I started AIP in January 2018 after hitting my rock bottom and being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. Nothing about the autoimmune protocol (AIP) came naturally to me. As I fumbled my way around my kitchen, learning to cook and eat in a way to support my health, I also worried about what my family and friends would think.
While my husband did not understand the ins and outs of AIP when I started or why it worked, he had a front row seat to my rock bottom and supported my efforts in trying to get my life back. With that said, I did not try to change my husband or his eating habits, and we did face struggles as we learned to live with my autoimmune disease. You can read about our struggles and see my interview with my husband here. You can also read about my husband’s turning point in understanding AIP here.
As far as explaining AIP to other family and friends, I tried a number of different ways over the years and learned what works well and what does not.
How to Explain AIP to Family and Friends: Keep it Simple
I found that less is better. Some family and friends will be truly interested in learning more about AIP and how you are supporting your health. Others still love and care about you, but will not be as interested. So I found it is easier to keep it simple at first, and let them ask questions. In other words, give your family member or friend a quick overview and then wait for them to ask questions, instead of overwhelming them with all the ins and outs of AIP.
This is where I went wrong more times than I can count, especially as I felt so much better and wanted to shout from the rooftops to anyone who would listen, “HEY! There’s this AMAZING way of eating and living to help autoimmune disease sufferers feel better and let me tell you everything about it!!!”
I’ve since learned to play it cool, give a brief overview, and wait for questions. Some family and friends ask a lot of questions and act interested, and others ignore the situation entirely.
How to keep it simple depends on how close you are with the family member or friend, and how much they know about your health. One example can be:
“I found this awesome way of eating and living specifically designed for people with autoimmune disease, like me.” Then, you can either add on “I feel so much better already” or “I just started, but I am hoping it helps me find relief from my autoimmune symptoms.”
Then, give them a brief overview of what you eat…
How to Explain AIP to Family and Friends: Focus on What You Can Eat
There’s a long list of exclusions when it comes to AIP, which can be overwhelming. I found that when explaining AIP to others, if I started with what I cannot eat, I’d get looks of shock and hear exclamations of “what CAN you eat?!”
However, if instead, I simply explain what I CAN eat, I usually get nods of approval, and hear things that “that seems good,” or “more people should eat that way.” When I explain what I DO eat, I simply say “all kinds of meats, lots and lots of veggies, plenty of healthy fats like avocado and healthy oils, and fruits.”
How to Explain AIP to Family and Friends: Know What You Want to Say, and Practice It
There’s no doubt that you will be in situations where explaining how you eat and live will be important. Therefore, I encourage you to figure out how you want to explain AIP to family and friends, and practice it.
There’s no right or wrong way to explain AIP, so find what works best for you. It may take time and trial and error, but you got this!
Need some help or an idea? I have a free AIP elevator pitch with recommended wording that you can either use or get ideas from. You can download it here.
How to Explain AIP to Family and Friends: Be Confident
I found that when I explain AIP with confidence and a “this is how I eat, period,” it closes the door to others trying to get me to eat things I know will trigger my symptoms.
However, if you seem torn, uncertain, or wishy washy, you leave yourself open to being swayed by others. When family and friends know you are not going to cheat or budge, they will stop asking you to and will eventually stop making comments about it.
Remember When It Comes to Negativity: It’s Their Issue, Not Yours
Not everyone will give you a standing ovation and cheer for you when you explain you are taking your health into your own hands through AIP. Some will most likely be negative about it, or act like your autoimmune condition and AIP does not exist. I’d be willing to bet that their negativity stems from their own insecurities and issues.
Maybe they feel threatened that your new way of eating and lifestyle will not include them. Perhaps they feel you may start judging them for the way they eat and live. Or any other number of insecurities.
Just try to show your family and friends love and support, and that you are still you, and on your way to a healthier version of you!
Ask for Support
Something I wish I’d done from the get go when explaining AIP to family and friends is to ask for their love and support.
I wish I’d opened up more about my health struggles to family and friends over the years instead of being ashamed and trying to ask like I felt fine. And I also wish I’d opened up with them about my insecurities when starting AIP and asked specifically for support.
If you have family members or friends who are actively trying to derail your efforts to improve your health, I recommend have an entirely different conversation with them and consider setting boundaries.
Sending You Loads of Love and Support
Starting AIP can feel lonely and isolating. None of my family and friends heard of AIP when I started. Fast forward to a couple of years later, while I have many AIP reintroductions, I still eat differently than almost all of my extended family and friends, but it’s normal to them now. It’s just how I eat, and they’ve seen/heard about how much better I feel.
Something amazing happened…my mom, who also has Hashimoto’s, now cooks many AIP recipes and often eats AIP! It’s a more recent development, and I could not be more excited about it! So, you never know who will see your example and make changes in their life because of you!
Sending you lots of love and support.
I am cheering you on!