AIP Diet For Beginners
Let’s talk about one of the best ways you can cope with your autoimmune disease or chronic illness – diet! When you have an autoimmune disease, dealing with the symptoms of your specific disease(s) can really put a damper on day-to-day life. From avoiding environmental triggers to dealing with those pesky flare-ups, managing your autoimmune disease can get super overwhelming. Believe me – I’ve been there, and I know the feeling.
When it comes to coping with any autoimmune disease, nutrition can play a very important role. In fact, many foods, such as dairy and gluten, are well-known for being common triggers of many different diseases. Some types of foods can trigger full-on attacks, while others just worsen your symptoms. Either way – it’s always best to avoid foods that trigger negative reactions.
In light of this, many victims of autoimmune disease have turned to the autoimmune protocol (AIP) diet to help them identify and cut out trigger foods. This diet is the key to finding out as much as you possibly can about your disease, starting with which foods cause a negative reaction in your body. While the AIP diet is not a cure for autoimmune disease, this diet is excellent for reducing autoimmune symptoms and helping people live a much happier and healthier life.
So, what is the AIP diet, and how does it work? If you’re a beginner, I’ve totally got you covered. Let’s go over everything you need to know to start this diet so that you can reduce those symptoms and start reaping the benefits of proper nutrition as soon as possible.
AIP Diet For Beginners
What Is AIP?
According to Healthline, a reputable medical information site, “the AIP diet is a diet that aims to reduce inflammation, pain, and other symptoms caused by autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), celiac disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.”
When you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system attacks the body’s healthy cells instead of attacking malicious cells. This is an especially common occurrence in the thyroid and, of course, the gut. In fact, without a focus on your gut health, your autoimmune disease could eventually lead to serious gut issues such as severe stomach pains, chronic diarrhea, and leaky gut syndrome.
So, when it comes to managing autoimmune conditions, gut health is extremely important. Thus, the AIP diet focuses on cutting out any and all foods that negatively affect your gut health. And even more importantly, it focuses on replacing this bad food with nutrient-dense foods that promote healing of the gut.
In addition to relieving autoimmune symptoms and promoting healthy eating, this diet has many other benefits. These include:
- Restoring gut health
- Replenishing healthy bacteria in the gut
- Improving digestion
- Learning more about your disease
- Reducing inflammation throughout the body
- Helping you lose weight (but only if you want, of course)
How AIP Works?
As you can see, there are many benefits to trying the AIP diet. Similar to the popular paleo diet, the AIP diet can have a major positive impact on your overall health. But, how exactly does the diet work? Let’s dig a little deeper.
Cut’s Out Trigger Foods For Immediate Relief
Do you ever have severe stomach aches or bloating after eating certain foods? Well, when we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be really hard to identify what food exactly triggered this pain/flare up. However, there are some common foods that tend to cause discomfort more than others.
The AIP diet aims to cut out any and all inflammatory foods. By doing this, victims of autoimmune disease will experience immediate relief from stomach pains, diarrhea, and immune triggering inflammation. Foods to immediately cut out include dairy products, gluten, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, nightshade vegetables, and eggs. Also included in this list is alcohol, coffee, oils, food additives, refined and processed sugars, certain medications, and any other food known to cause inflammation.
Helps You Figure Out Which Foods Are Actually Triggers
Everyone is affected by their autoimmune disease in a different way. Thus, figuring out which foods are particularly triggering to you is one of the first steps you can take to better manage your disease. The good news is, that the AIP diet is specially designed to help you do this.
The AIP diet has two major phases, the elimination phase, and the reintroduction phase – both of which we will discuss in detail a bit later. For now, let’s talk about how the reintroduction phase can help you figure out which foods are triggering you. Basically, you will reach a point in this diet where you will begin to reintroduce some of your favorite foods back into your diet. But this time, you are reintroducing it as a sort of test. A test to see if this food causes you discomfort or not.
If it does, you will, of course, eliminate this food altogether. If not, you can reincorporate this food back into your diet worry-free. Thus, you will have learned which foods are triggering and which are not.
Promotes A Healthier Diet
The AIP diet focuses on eating healthy, nutrient-dense foods. These foods, in general, will promote a much healthier diet overall. By incorporating more fruits and vegetables, you will begin to feel much better due to the simple fact that you are eating a more nutritious diet. Plus, eating a nutritious diet is the first step toward reducing flare-ups caused by inflammation or lack of necessary vitamins and minerals.
It Helps You Lose Weight
When it comes to losing weight with an autoimmune disease, the process can be very hard and very frustrating. But, did you know that some of the weight you may be struggling to lose could actually be added weight from inflammation? It’s true!
This means that just by cutting out inflammatory foods, you may lose a little bit of weight right off the bat. Then, as you continue to eat a healthy and nutritious diet (as prescribed by this diet), you may continue to lose weight. For some, a simple change in diet can be way more effective than even the most extreme exercise regime.
And speaking of exercise regimens, you must always be careful when exercising with an autoimmune disease. Depending on your disease, extreme exercise can cause serious muscle and joint pain and fatigue. This, I learned the hard way.
If you’re struggling to exercise with your autoimmune disorder, check out my blog on the do’s and don’ts of exercising with Hashimoto’s. While this article is specific to Hashimoto’s, many of the tips I included can be applied to almost all autoimmune conditions.
When you begin this diet, the first step is to cut out all inflammatory foods. As well as all foods that contribute to an imbalance in gut bacteria. This is called the elimination phase. For victims of autoimmune disease, this phase will provide immediate relief from some common autoimmune symptoms. You can expect less stomach pain, reduced occurrence of flare-ups, easier bowel movements, and way less bloating.
Earlier, we listed common inflammatory foods that are commonly eliminated from this diet. But, for good measure, we’ll list them here again. Foods to cut out in the elimination phase include, but are not limited to:
- Dairy products
- Nightshade vegetables
- Food additives
- Refined and processed sugars
- Certain medications
- Any other inflammatory foods
During this phase, you will also start to incorporate foods that are fresh, healthy, and gut-friendly. Foods to incorporate in this phase include:
- Minimally processed meat
- Fermented foods
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Bone broth
- Organ meats (kidney, liver, etc.)
The length of this phase will vary from person to person, depending on the disease. In general, most people will stay in this phase for 30-90 days. In most cases, you will begin to see and feel noticeable differences in your overall health in about 2-3 weeks.
Eventually, you will begin to reintroduce some of your favorite foods that you originally cut out in the elimination phase. As mentioned earlier, every single autoimmune case is different. This means foods that are triggering to you may be totally fine for someone else, and visa versa. Thus, in order to make sure you’re not cutting out your favorite food when it might be totally fine for you, the AIP diet includes the reintroduction phase.
The key to this phase is reintroducing foods one at a time and in small amounts. As you go through this process, be sure to complete the full process for each food before starting with a different food. As you reintroduce foods, you will begin to see patterns in your diet. You will see which foods are actually triggering and which are totally safe to consume.
When you’re ready to start reintroducing foods, follow these steps:
- Choose one food to reintroduce and choose your testing day. Plan to consume a small amount of this food several times throughout the day. Then, plan to avoid this food for 5-6 days after your test day.
- Consume a small amount of your chosen food. Wait 15 minutes.
- If you show no symptoms, eat a larger amount and then reevaluate how you feel after 2-3 hours. Oppositely, if you show symptoms, end the test immediately and do not consume this food again.
- If you continue to show no symptoms, repeat step 2 several more times throughout your testing day.
- Avoid eating this food again for 5-6 days. If you continue to show no sign of inflammation or other symptoms, you can feel free to incorporate this food into your diet as often as you’d like and start testing your next food. If you have any symptoms in this 5-6 day period, do not consume this food again.
With so many benefits, the AIP diet is definitely worth the try!
When it comes to coping with the symptoms of an autoimmune disease, it’s best to leave no stone unturned. If you find that foods are a common trigger in your life, I, of course, highly recommend giving this diet a try. At the end of the day, whether or not this diet drastically reduces your symptoms, it will not worsen them. Worst case scenario, you will have learned more about your disease, started a much healthier diet, and maybe even lost a little weight.
Wondering where to begin? Start by making some ultra nutritious meal plans based on the healthy foods mentioned above. Then, make your shopping list, prepare delicious and healthy meals, and most importantly – stick to it! As with most things in life, this diet will take some time to kick in and really start making a difference.
And with all that being said, I encourage you guys to drop any questions, comments, or concerns you might have in the comment box below! I look forward to seeing what you all have to say and getting back to you as soon as possible. Until next time, wishing you guys the best of luck as you learn more about your disease.