Yesterday morning I drank my coffee (sweetened with cream and sugar), and munched on my toast with peanut butter, and reflected on the fact that it was the last time I would be eating all of these things for a few months.
After thinking seriously about this I might have drunk a second cup of coffee for good measure.
What is the AIP Diet?
Today, hubs and I are starting the Autoimmune Protocol diet. The AIP diet works to address autoimmune illnesses by cutting out potential allergens, and inflammatory foods and healing your gut through lots of quality meats, seafood, fermented food, and veggies. We will be cutting out all grains, soy, dairy, nuts, nightshade veggies, and processed foods.
I first heard of this diet when my Mom and sister went on it this past spring. Watching them go through the process sparked my interest, but we probably never would have given AIP another thought if it hadn’t been for my hubby’s eczema.
Why We Are Starting the AIP Diet
Saia has struggled with eczema for the past several years. This year, we decided to get rid of it once and for all. He went to the doctor multiple times, and was prescribed a new type of cream and antibiotics every visit. He would go on the round of antibiotics, and we’d apply the cream daily. His eczema would begin to fade, and would almost completely go away. Then as soon as we ran out of the prescription cream, the eczema would be back even worse than before. We originally thought it was something fungal he caught on the wrestling mat, but our most recent doctor believed it to be a type of eczema.
After all these frustrating doctor appointments, I finally took matters into my own hands, and begin researching eczema. I looked at many gruesome pictures of eczema (don’t ever google eczema on image search, just don’t do it!) and figured out which type of eczema he appears to have. Then I began reading blog after blog about people who had found relief from this skin issue. To my surprise, I found dozens of women who had been through the same ordeal we had. These women had also taken their loved one to the doctor, been prescribed prescription creams and antibiotics, and had never received any lasting relief.
Over and over again I read in every one of these stories that these women had discovered the key to healing eczema was addressing the health of the gut through diet. Specifically through the AIP diet.
I presented my findings to my husband, and we decided to take a break from all the antibiotics, and instead commit to AIP for the next three months.
We gave ourselves a week to eat up all the non-AIP foods we had in our fridge, and I began researching foods like I never had before. I made a list of all the new types of foods I needed to add to my pantry, and printed off recipe after recipe.
Unfortunately, I burnt out before we even began. I was sitting on the couch, reading three books, scribbling notes, and trying to decide how to stretch our budget to include the three hundred dollars worth of AIP food. My husband looked over at me, pulled me out from beneath the pile of research, and told me to keep it simple: meat, seafood, and veggies. A few fermented foods. Don’t overcomplicate it. Don’t over research it. Small steps at a time.
I deleted about two-thirds of the fancy paleo food I was going to order, I stopped reading every single AIP blog, and I one action step at a time.
Book I Read
My Mom lent me The Paleo Approach by Sarah Ballantyne. This book is so easy to read, packed with useful information, and Ballantyne encourages you to make changes as slowly or as quickly as fits your lifestyle. This grace-filled approach to AIP helped me to take a deep breath, and not obsess over every single item in my grocery cart. I am looking at purchasing a copy of The Paleo Approach Cookbook as well.
Purchases I Made
While I did not buy everything on my list, I did make several significant purchases to help ease the transition.
Coconut Aminos: we LOVE our soy sauce in this household, and I knew we would be making lots of stirfrys. Since we can’t have any sort of tomato-based sauces I figured it was important to get this sauce that was on the approved list. You can find it on Amazon, but it is about half that price here.
Coconut Milk (guam gum and bpa free): all things coconut are encouraged on this diet (which makes my Polynesian hubby happy). The problem is that most coconut milk cans are often lined with bpa, and use guar gum as a thickener. BPA and guar gum are both linked to a whole list of healthy issues. I fell down the coconut milk rabbit hole of learning everything wrong with most cans of coconut milk, and I began to go a bit crazy in the head. This is about the time hubs found me gnashing my teeth on the sofa. It would be best if we could all move to Hawaii, and just eat fresh coconut every day, but for those of us in land-locked states the next best thing is to either make your own coconut milk by blending up dried coconut or buying these cans of coconut milk which are both bpa and guam gum free. I opted to order the cans, although, since they were still over two dollars a can I think I am going to be exploring different options in upcoming weeks.
Beef Gelatin (for gummies, and jello): Bone broth, and gelatin is one of the four pillars of the AIP diet. Everything I read touted the benefits of drinking broth daily, and eating as much gelatin and collagen as possible. This grass-fed gelatin was pricier than I would have preferred (you can get it five dollars cheaper on Thrive Market if you have a membership), but I decided that this was super important for healing his gut, and so I went ahead and ordered it. I already have some super cute molds (legos and bears!) ready to go, so I am excited to begin experimenting!
Coconut water: Saia tends to drink Gatorade every day, and I needed some sort of a replacement for that. Coconut water is pretty expensive locally, and I was pleased to find it on Amazon for over a dollar less per bottle! I started doing a ton of research on coconut water as well (heaven help me!), and discovered the dark underbelly of the coconut water world. In the end, I ordered the brand we usually drink and tried not to think about pasteurized vs. non-pasteurized, young coconut vs old coconut or any other debates I discovered on the good ol’ web. Let me tell you, there is no consensus on anything coconut. Oy.
We also went to our local grocery store, and loaded up on wild-caught seafood, carbonated water, and tons of veggies (especially leafy greens, sweet potatoes, plantains, and squash). We already have enough grass-fed beef and organ meats to get started. I got my kombucha going again, procured some water kefir grains, and got enough cabbage to make some sauerkraut.
My Recipes for this Week
Last night I made some plantain chips. I also mixed up some guacamole with just avocados, lemon juice, salt, and garlic powder. I am so glad I didn’t buy the super expensive plantain chips at the store, because this recipe was incredibly easy, and very delicious.
We are supposed to eat organ meats 4-5 times a week, and so I have some chicken livers thawing in the fridge. I plan to make my Mom’s bacon/liver recipe tonight.
All my other recipes for this week are on my new AIP pinterest board. They include spaghetti Squash Chow Mein, Raspberry Tea Gummies, Garlic Naan Bread, and Turmeric Pork Skillet.
It Has Begun…
We have officially begun the AIP diet, and I really hope it provides the relief and answers we are looking for!
Have you ever been on the Paleo or AIP diet? Do you have any healthy eating tips?