My Experience with the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol

My Experience With the Paleo AIP | Phoenix Helix

“I wish for you a lifetime of eggs.” ~ Colleen Michaels

Where I Started

I shared part one of my story back in January when I started this blog. I talked about the onset of rheumatoid arthritis, my choice of the GAPS diet for dietary healing, and the results of that diet, which were profound. But after 5 months on GAPS, I plateaued in my progress, so I decided to try the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). It’s now 9 months later, and here are the results:

Excruciating daily joint pain flares Moderate flares a few times per month No flares
Extremely stiff mornings & evenings Semi-stiff mornings Barely stiff mornings
Intense daily pain Mild daily pain No daily pain
Weather affects joints Weather affects joints Weather no longer affects joints
Pain interrupts sleep Sleep OK but get sore after 6 hours Sleep deeply and long most nights
Exhausted Normal energy High energy
Disabled in many ways Functional but weak Getting stronger every month
Couldn’t exercise at all 15 minutes on the exercise bike and gentle stretching Long daily walks, weekend hikes, gentle strength training
Road trips are painful Road trips cause stiffness Road trips are comfortable
High doses of painkillers daily 1 Aleve tablet morning and night 1 Aleve tablet morning and night

Food Reintroduction Results

The AIP is an elimination diet, where you avoid certain foods for a minimum of 30 days and then reintroduce them, one at a time, to test for food intolerance. Here’s what my body had to say:

  • Eggs: I reintroduced egg yolks first, and then whole eggs. I had no reaction to either one and happily included them back into my diet.
  • Chocolate: I reintroduced cocoa next because I missed it, and I believe we all need indulgences, even on restricted diets. Luckily, my body responded well. Note: I made homemade chocolates to be sure there were no hidden ingredients or cross-contamination issues.
  • Nightshades: In this category, I decided to reintroduce nightshade spices before the vegetables. I made some taco burgers and ate them two days in a row. I had a huge reaction. My whole body became tender. I felt like I was 90 years old; all movement hurt. The pain made sleep difficult, and it took a couple of weeks before my body returned to baseline. I didn’t risk trying nightshade vegetables, since I reacted so strongly to the smallest amount of spice. They’re out of my diet long-term.
  • Dairy: First a confession: I never removed ghee from my diet. I felt like I was giving up so much already. However, I removed all other dairy, and chose to reintroduce grassfed butter first, fully expecting to eat it without a problem. Results? I got a huge stye on my eye, flared in two joints, got constipated and had PMS during my next menstrual cycle (something I hadn’t experienced since starting a healing diet.) A wise woman would have stopped there, but I had been told that: (1) goat’s milk is different from cow’s milk, (2) raw milk is better than pasteurized, and (3) fermentation makes it easier to digest. So, once I felt normal again, I made some raw goat’s milk kefir and had a couple of smoothies over two days. I flared in two joints again, felt stiffness bodywide, got 2 more styes (smaller ones), and my PMS that month was out of control. So, for my body, dairy is dairy, and it doesn’t like it! If any of you are surprised that dairy affected my hormones, I was, too. I knew that conventional dairy had hormones added, but I didn’t realize that raw milk naturally contains 28 different hormones. I was reminded that dairy is meant to be consumed by baby animals who need those hormones to grow. Their affect on me as an adult human was quite different. Dairy is out of my diet long-term.
  • Nuts: My reaction to nuts was more subtle. If you read my article on reintroducing foods on the AIP, I talk about 2 phases: (1) Eat the food at least 3 times within a 24-hour period. Then stop eating it, and monitor your body for the next 3 days. If you have no reaction, that food is potentially safe for you to eat. (2) To confirm this, eat a little bit of this food every day for a week, and monitor your body again. Food intolerance seems to come in two forms: either a strong reaction (like with the nightshade and dairy paragraphs above) or a cumulative inflammatory response (where you slowly feel worse the longer you eat the food). This was my experience with nuts. I took a couple of months to test them thoroughly, trying nut flours vs. nut butters vs. toasted nuts vs. soaked/dehydrated nuts vs. different varieties of nuts. I really like nuts, and was hoping I’d find a type that my body loved! What I discovered was that, to my body, a nut is a nut. If I just eat a small amount for one day, the reaction is so minor I wouldn’t notice. However, if I eat them daily, I develop insomnia within the first couple of days, digestive discomfort midweek, and increased joint pain by week’s end. So what does this mean for me? Whereas I’m acutely intolerant to dairy and nightshades and will avoid them altogether, I’m only moderately intolerant to nuts. As I continue to heal and my digestion improves, I expect to be able to eat nuts more comfortably. For now, though, I’m avoiding them.
  • Seeds: My reaction to seeds was very similar to my reaction to nuts, but milder. I had no digestive distress at all. With seed butters and soaked/dehydrated seeds, it took 4 days of daily consumption before I noticed my joints becoming more sore. With raw or toasted seeds, I noticed increased tenderness on day one. So, there’s more nuance here. I would say I am only mildly intolerant to seeds. For that reason, I include soaked/dehydrated seeds in my meals occasionally for some extra crunch and flavor, but I don’t make them a part of my daily diet. However, this will probably be the first group I’ll be able to eat again without trouble.
  • Extras: I voluntarily added a few extra restrictions to my autoimmune protocol. I removed citrus because I heard that some people with RA react negatively to it. I removed pork because many people claim it’s an inflammatory meat. It turns out, for me anyway, they were wrong.  I was able to reintroduce both successfully with no inflammatory response.

Emotional Experience

When I started AIP, it was hard. During the elimination phase, I felt deprived, and a little pissed off that I had to do it. However, I really wanted to feel better, and within a few weeks, I started to notice improvements. So, obviously at least one of these foods was problematic for me. My hope was that it would only be one food, so I was looking forward to the reintroductions with optimism. My original intention was to do the elimination protocol for 2 months before reintroducing foods, but at the 6 week mark, I found myself getting angrier at my food limits, bored with my food choices, and resentful that the joy seemed to have been sucked out of my kitchen. I even started craving standard american junk food, something I hadn’t craved since starting a healing diet. I was afraid that I might binge and set myself back. I was also afraid that my emotions themselves would cause my joints to flare. I had experienced that in the past, and I didn’t want to create a situation where it would happen again. Elimination diets are usually done for 30 days, and I had set my own 2-month goal randomly. So, I started reintroductions after 6 weeks.

The reintroduction phase ended up being an emotional rollercoaster. With each reintroduced food, I had high hope that I would be able to eat it without trouble. Every time my body reacted negatively, I grieved the loss of that food, and I also had to deal with the symptoms of the reaction itself. Meditation was an important part of my daily routine. I discovered that you need a lot of patience for the AIP process; it usually takes many months to complete the reintroductions, and if you rush things, you blow the whole experiment by introducing too many variables at once.

The other aspect of the rollercoaster were the positive emotions I experienced: a deep gratitude to have such clear communication with my body, and the joy of feeling better and better the longer I was on the autoimmune protocol. By the last reintroduction (which for me happened to be dairy), I wasn’t grieving at all any more. I just wanted to be done and know which foods I could eat and which I needed to avoid. During the elimination phase, I gave up all these foods based on a theory. By the end of the reintroductions, it was no longer theoretical. It was very practical. I had reintroduced some foods successfully and happily, and the ones I could no longer eat gave me very clear reasons for avoiding them.

I read an interview with Michael J. Fox, where he talked about his Parkinson’s disease. This quote reflects how I felt at the end of my AIP experience:

“There’s an idea I came across a few years ago that I love. My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance and in inverse proportion to my expectations. That’s the key for me. If I can accept the truth of ‘This is what I’m facing – not what can I expect but what I am experiencing now’ – then I have all this freedom to do other things.”

What Symptoms Remain?

I’ve come a long way, baby. In the summer of 2012, I didn’t know how I could make it through each day. When I re-read part one of my story, my eyes filled with tears. It was such a painful and terrifying time in my life, and I’m so glad it’s in my past. In contrast, I feel good now on a daily basis, and every month I regain an ability I had lost. But I’m not yet symptom-free:

  • When I walk and hike, there is occasional tenderness in the balls of my feet. It’s not to the level of pain, but it’s no longer that glorious “taking my feet for granted” that I felt before developing RA.
  • While my hands no longer hurt, and I’ve regained grip strength, I have two fingers that have restricted range of motion. As I’ve healed and my inflammation has lessened, other joints in my body have returned to full range of motion. Will that happen to these joints, too? I don’t know; time will tell.
  • My joints aren’t as strong as they were pre-rheumatoid. The heavy lifting, crossfit phenomenon that’s so popular in the paleo community, is beyond me. However, I can do gentle strength training, and that suits my personality better anyway. I can get up and down from the floor easily now, when prior to AIP, that was painful. But when I do yoga, certain poses like plank and downward dog put too much pressure on my joints to be comfortable.
  • I tried recently to go off the small dose of Aleve I’m taking. Unfortunately, within 2 days, the inflammation ramped up to an uncomfortable level, so apparently I still need this medication. The good news is that I don’t need any steroid or immunosuppressant medication, and my NSAID dose is less than any prescription, and smaller than any dose that has been connected to leaky gut. Some day, I hope to no longer need it, but I haven’t yet reached that day. (Read this article for my perspective on NSAIDs and the autoimmune protocol.)

What’s Next for Me?

The holy grail for me is full remission – turning my rheumatoid gene back off again. I’m not there yet, but I am managing my symptoms very well, and it feels like deep healing is happening inside my body. I’m very grateful to feel this good.

My plan going forward is to keep doing what I’m doing. On GAPS, I plateaued in my healing. On the AIP, I haven’t. Every month, I improve. And that’s in spite of the fact that during the autoimmune protocol experiment, my body kept getting spiked with inflammation as I reintroduced foods to test for tolerance. This is a necessary part of the process, because it’s how you communicate with your body and really understand why certain foods need to be avoided. However, the Paleo Mom says, “If you continue to eat something that you have an allergy or sensitivity to, it is very difficult for your gut to heal and for your immune system to deactivate.” Now, that I know what foods to avoid, I’m looking forward to my healing progressing without interruption.

I also have options for future experiments if I plateau again, which are listed on the Autoimmune Protocol page. There are also more supplements I can try. But I think healing through diet mostly requires time and patience. Dr. Terry Wahls (who is in the process of reversing her MS) says that autoimmune disease takes years to develop in the body, and  therefore takes many years to heal. As long as you’re improving, you’re on the right track.

My Experience With the Paleo AIP | Phoenix Helix

This is me, hiking again, after a year of healing. That’s bliss in my smile.

AIP Series

I’ve written a series of articles to guide you through the autoimmune protocol, step by step. It includes FAQ, mistakes to avoid, book reviews, and more. Click here to see the whole list.

Special thanks to Nicole of Eat This Poem, for the opening quote that starts this post. I read the poem on her website the very week I was reintroducing eggs, and as it was the food I missed the most, the timing was perfect.
This post is linked to the following blog carnivals:
Whole Food Friday, Fight Back Friday, Healing with Food Friday, Natural Living Monday, Fat Tuesday, Healthy Tuesday, Traditional Tuesday, Allergy-Free Wednesday, Waste Not Want Not Wednesday, Gluten-Free Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Wellness Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, Paleo Rodeo,

164 thoughts on “My Experience with the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol

  1. You are so inspiring and I really need to keep in touch with you. I do pretty good on aip but not enough. We are in monsoon season here in AZ which comes with lots of humidity and pain. It must be I need more strength to stay away from certain foods. I did start to feel better and got pissed off because my life isnt fair. And when its hot and I try to hard to please other family food issues I got frustrated and lazy. im in tears now as my pain is at you middle pain you decribe boarding higher. Im tired and no body understands myissues and I fudge on food choices.

    I just tried naltrexete(sp) the LDN did not work for me at all it helped with pain but caused anxiety and panic. Not where I want to go anytime soon.

    Thank you for all your posts and I will start my 30 days over. I have not gone back to nuts added my fresh backyard chicken eggs who are fed a special diet ( God forbid I give them nasty food!!) Lol but I have slacked on added ingredients to foods and I now am a complete mess again. Thanks for this post while im up reeling off the LDN that my body hates and feeling sorry for myself for letting go of a strict AIP. This was well timed post THANK YOU! Any advice please share. 8 have strong desire just get lost in real word . Tomorrow is a new day♥♡

  2. Thanks SO much for this wonderful article.It was exactly what I needed to start my day today.
    I have been on AIP for 6 weeks now and like you,feeling like I was wanting to binge yesterday.
    I had some dairy free chocolate and it didn’t lead to a binge but today I am not feeling the best.
    I was very interested in your dairy information as I have not had any pms since starting and now,after seeing what happened to you,I will not be re-introducing it at all.I am quite content to not have dairy in my life other than ghee.
    I wish you all the best in your continued recovery.
    With Metta

  3. Wow, the results from your experiments with your own health are astounding. While I don’t have these issues I’m sure your posts will help anyone who does. Yay, for keeping cocoa in your diet. :)

    I dropped by to tell you that your method of making sauerkraut is catching on big time around blogland. It’s the freshest, best tasting kraut we’ve tried, and we’ve tried a lot of sauerkraut. Thanks, again, for sharing with your readers.

    • I love that sauerkraut! To be fair, I couldn’t have written that post without the tips from Lea (Nourishing Treasures) and Kim (Nourishing Gourmet). The blogger network is such an amazing resource; we all learn so much from each other.

      • hi eileen, i am so blessed that God is using you to give hope to many like me suffering autoimmune disease mine is somewhat rheumatoid or lupus like disease which is still undiagnosed due to zeronegative results i had. I really would like to heal this journey for me is too long i wanna leave long life to look after my kids .my question is that what do you normally eat daily if you adopted a strict AIP diet? If its not so big deal can you please enlighten me further about your diet?

        • I have a post that shows some sample menu plans, with links to recipes. It includes two sample menus for the autoimmune protocol: What Do I Eat? Also, I host an AIP Recipe Roundtable every week where bloggers share AIP-friendly recipes. If you subscribe to my blog by email, you’ll always get notified of that event. Just visit my blog’s home page and fill in the subscribe box that’s located either in the right sidebar or footer, depending on your computer. I hope that helps!

  4. Thanks for sharing! I needed to read this today as I struggle with the AIP. It’s been less than a week and I’ve already had a few melt downs. I feel like ALL of the joy has been taken out of my life but reading your story and progress is giving me hope to power through. I hope one day I can inspire others to do the same.

  5. Thanks for continuing to share your story, Eileen. I too have RA, and your story is so inspiring to me as I press on with AIP and have similar ups and downs like you have. The amount of detail you go into is extremely helpful for your readers. Thank you, and keep up the good work!

  6. Thanks so much for this detailed account. It’s really helpful and inspires me as I get back on the strict AIP track. I really appreciate your willingness to blog.

  7. This story made me cry. It’s so full of hope for me. I know I need to do AIP and see if that helps my semi-diagnosed set of symptoms. I’ve been Paleo plus potatoes for a year this November. I did better but plateaued. I have been waiting for the holidays so I could have my beloved mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I was thinking I’d have to give them up completely forever and I forget that AIP can be used as an elimination diet. I needed to read this. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Moonie. I understand your desire to wait until after the holidays, and that’s totally OK. I started AIP in January as well. There’s something about the new year that seems to support fresh starts.

  8. I loved reading your story, and I especially love the way you tracked and recorded your symptoms and results. That is so helpful in making your efforts and your healing more visual, and gave me a great example to follow for tracking my own progress. Thank you!

  9. Fantastic article and congrats on your success. A great resource to share with family and friends who just dont ‘get it’! haha. Ive done something very similar and am in re-introduction phase. My experience is different than most AIP’ers and I’d like to share it for some perspective.

    The one thing I found to be a cumulative reactor was coconut. And for those new to AIP or considering it, it is the cornerstone of AIP food.
    So unlike most, AIP did not allow for bettering of symptoms, just worsening with the what I like to call “coco coma”. This made me so heavy and brain fogged I literally had days where it took hours to get up and go to the bathroom. AND it took me 5 weeks on AIP to figure out that the much praised healing coconut was actually the one food making me ill.

    Why mention this?
    Because like any diet you need to do your research first and check your expectations at the door. I did the first but not the second and was emotionally distraught where I needed not of been. Many people had done very, very well on AIP. But its not for everyone and I had invested so much (financially and emotionally) into it being my ‘I finally found it!’ cure.

    AIP is challenging, frustrating and for some very healing. And at the very least it will give your gut time to rest and rebuild and you can finally have some answers about what you are really sensitive to. One of mine has turned out to be eggs and I never saw that coming! Nor did I expect that going back on to dairy (dariy based probiotic and a weekly decaf with milk) has made me feel so much better.

    So take your time, enjoy the often frustrating process, join forums and get to know your body.

    Best of luck in your healing everyone!

      • I also was wondering about coconut (it is a ‘seed’ officially, after all). I’m about to start 30 days AIP for antiplatelet antibodies. I think I’ll take out coconut for the 30 days. It’s going to be veges, fruit and protein, yup.. that’s about it….

        • Coconut is considered a fruit and is allowed on AIP, and it makes AIP much easier by providing you with a variation of oil, butter and milk. Just eat it in moderation, because it’s detoxifying. Sometimes people go a little crazy with it on AIP and eat too much and feel bloated or fatigued as a result – hence the coconut coma Tanya mentioned. I just want you to know that you don’t need to eliminate it altogether.

  10. Hi Eileen,

    We’ve bumped into each other a few times online because of your great recipes, but I just read your story Part 1 and Part 2. Thanks so much for taking the time and effort to share your experience!

    My husband has celiac disease and psoriasis, and I can identify with the grieving process of not being able to enjoy certain foods together. Along with the grieving though is the health we BOTH enjoy from the changes–it’s definitely worth it. For him because he’s healing, and for me not only because when he feels better so do I, but because some of the changes have markedly improved my physical health and energy levels.

    I’m impressed with your diligence to carefully reintroduce and document responses and to share what works for you medication-wise. We haven’t tried a GAPS or strict autoimmune protocol, but I’m definitely going to look into these.

    Thanks again for sharing, heartfelt congratulations on your progress, and may you continue to improve and “remiss.”

    • Hi Eileen. Yes, I follow your blog and love your simple recipes, too! I didn’t realize your husband had autoimmune disease, and I’m so glad that diet is helping him, and you by extension! Food is such a powerful thing. Thanks for your kind wishes. I wish the same for you both.

  11. OH my I have read part of your story before, and my son sent this to me saying not sure if I told you about her or not, but wish you would try AIP. Ironically he has crohns and doesn’t eat great all the time but is doing well. I have been diagnosed with OA ( back, knees( waiting for one replacement which I don’t want),left foot, right ankle and both thumbs. My dr also figures fibromyalgia which i don’t know as much about. I have been off work for 2 years and no hope of going back to what I was doing, long term care nursing work – not wht the hernaition and degeneration in my back. I am at present reading a book called MELT method which sounds too good to be true but interesting and worth trying. I have eaten paleo for a few months then slowly regressed. I also went to a ND who had me go gf, sugar and dairy free. and did find less bloating but not a great deal of change pain wise… that was for 3 months then I slowly started to cheat with sugar.
    So back to the drawing board… how bad do I want to get rid of the pain, ache, tiredness… guess that is what it boils down to. Thank and you are doing awesome.

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  13. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful experience! It helps the rest of us know that there is hope with persistence & patience. I think that’s the hardest part of the healing. I know for myself I expect instant changes when in reality it is time that heals. Many blessings for healing to all!

    • While there is the occasional overnight miracle, the rest of us have to take it one step at a time. The good news is, you can go very far that way! Thanks for your kind words. Healing wishes to you as well!

  14. Hi, Eileen!
    I was very impressed by your story.
    I have a couple of questions I would like to ask you.

    Do you know if this specific protocol is specific for certain conditions or if it can be used to heal a variety of problems?

    Did you have any digestive issued prior to that?
    I’m asking this, because I’m thinking to go on GAPS/SCD/other healing diet to try to solve my PCOS/endo. Such a diet would be a very big commitment (of course, I would not like to cheat) and I do not have digestive issues/chronic pain, so I will not be very motivated in being 100% compliant to such a restrictive diet.
    This protocol seems easier and shorter, I’m already gluten, dairy and refined sugar free, on limited grain/legume/other sweeteners intake and I avoid all sort of processed meats, so the transition would not be too difficult. I love eggs and nightshades, though so I’m sure I’ll miss those.

  15. Good job! That is wonderful that you are able to control the symptoms through what you eat (or don’t eat!). How hopeful that you may be able to “turn the arthritis gene off”.

  16. I am so thrilled to have run across your blog. There is a strong family history of RA that shadows my thoughts every time I have a flare of a variety of joint pains. My mother’s experience was the most rapidly progressing, severe instance that her rheumatologist had treated. The treatment ultimately killed her. The drugs suppressed her immune system so much that when she fell ill with a fungal lung infection, her body couldn’t fight it off. I wish she had known what we know now about leaky gut and the necessary dietary changes we need to make to improve our health in general.

    While I am being monitored by a Rheumatologist due to ongoing symptoms, I have not been diagnosed. But, most recently, I have decided that even if I were diagnosed, I do not want to feel pressured into using conventional medicine protocols for treating it. I will continue in my ongoing practices to improve my diet, exercise, and stress relief in an effort to improve my whole body health and hopefully avoid the pitfalls of such a ravaging chronic disease (or others).

    It’s nice to hear about others’ successful journeys … it keeps the rest of us motivated. :-)

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Cathy. I’m so sorry to hear about your mother. I’m also impressed with you, that you’re ready to make changes before hitting a crisis point. That’s awesome!

      • Thanks for the work you do here, Eileen. I’ve already benefited from your writings and resources I’m led to through your blog. Dr. Wahls’ TedX talk was an eye opener. :-)

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  18. Hi Eileen, great post! Thanks for that. I have been on paleo aip since Sep 5th (about 3 weeks), but I still have like once a week flare up (I don’t know why) and when that happens I need to increase my Celebrex 100 to twice a day. I tried to be off Celebrex at all but like you said, then the inflammation came back worse. I guess I just have to be patient. Your post just encouraged me again. Many thanks! Btw I also like one of the commenters here doesn’t feel so good with coconut oil and coconut flour in use.

    • Hi San. Thanks for writing. Be gentle with yourself and your expectations. You’ll get there, but it takes time. It helped me to focus on progress, rather than perfection. It still does, actually! If you don’t keep a symptom journal, I recommend it. When progress is slow, sometimes we miss it, but your journal will document the change.

      • Thanks, Eileen. I read your post at Paleomom and downloaded symple on my iPhone to record my symptoms and factors. thanks for your tips! I have not been recording as typing on keyboard is painful when my wrists are swollen, the same with writing with pen. Now that I have symple, I have been updating the doc in a breeze.

  19. I am going to reintroduce the AIP to my regime. I did paleo for long while then slowly started “cheating” then went to naturopath who said no gluten , dairy or sugar. Did great then again it is the sugar that gets me. I have osteoarthritis and mild fibromyalgia but the osteo is in a lot of areas. What I want to know is should I just go cold turkey from a gf, dairy free diet to AIP or slowly do it, eliminate all the offending things and then as suggested re introduce them. I think I can handle eliminating all but the eggs, so thought if I got rid of the nuts, seeds and nightshade ( nuts and seed are more in my diet than the nightshade, well tomatoes lol), then see how I do and then eliminate the eggs. I know it is how ever anyone wants to do this but I am very anxious to do it right, yet know I have to be able to sustain this for long enough to see. SO thankful for your breakfast ideas and the recipes. YOU have done so wll.

    • Cindy, it’s perfectly fine to personalize this protocol in a way that makes it manageable for you. So, give up the rest for 30 days and slowly reintroduce each of those. Then see how you’re feeling before deciding about the eggs. One note though: you mentioned you are gluten-free. The paleo diet also excludes all grains, legumes, soy, corn and refined oils permanently, because they are all inflammatory foods. The autoimmune protocol is a separate temporary experiment to test for food intolerances. So, if you want to rid your body of inflammation, I recommend that you go full paleo first, and try the autoimmune protocol later if needed.

  20. I am wondering if you’ve ever tried low dose naltrexone and what your results or thoughts on it are. I’m trying to get in to see a doctor who might prescribe it for my RA. Doing paleo aip right now with some good results, but still not enough to say I’ve found the answer.

  21. Whoa Eileen you really are an inspiration! I love your smile in the last picture. It has been some journey but now you know…you’re completely in touch with your body and that in itself is huge. I am so happy for you…be well!

  22. LIGHTBULB moment! thank you so much! I am day 55 on AIP, but, I have struggled with dried fruit… ANYWAY, I suspected RA, b/c of the pain I have in my hands…. now i know beyond a shadow of a doubt I have RA…. it’s in my feet!!! I have called them bunions, and they probably are, but ….. i also have excruciating pain in the balls of my feet after prolonged standing or the wrong shoes…. but, truly it’s beyond painful and you mentioned the balls of your feet, I googled…and sure enough! THANK YOU!!!!!!

    • Hi Hope. There are tests your doctor can do to diagnose. I hope for your sake you don’t have it! If you do, I hope the AIP works for you like it did for me.

      • Really I should have clarified. (the reason I was soooo excited is that the pain in my feet and hands can get so bad, i’m only 38 and the reason I got so excited was that there is RELIEF in sight. I don’t likely have to live the rest of my days in pain :) ) I am actually in the process of ruling out any other autoimmune diseases… like you said, they usually come in pairs. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s end of September…that’s a tricky one b/c NO ONE wants to dx it….. they just want to tell you that you are perfectly fine, here is some thyroid meds and I don’t know why you are still can’t lose weight, your hair is falling out, you have terrible mood swings, very bad PMS, and your stomach hurts all the time. To them there is no way it’s all connected. (maybe I shouldn’t get started) I’ve been head down nose to the internet ever since the diagnosis! the Auto immune protocol is going to give me quality of life :)
        anyway, I stumbled on your blog and I love it! Thank you Thank you again!!!

        • I understand. Solving the mystery is the first step to healing, and there’s nothing more frustrating than doctors blowing you off. Have you also been tested for celiac? I’ll be posting a Success Story interview with Angie Alt next week, and she had a lot of your symptoms (hair loss, mood swings, pms, and stomach pain, with celiac as the root cause.)

  23. I am pleased for you in lessening your RA. I find it inspirational that there is a way out. I also have RA and tried the Full GAPS diet for about 3 months and stuck to it most of the time. In the beginning I felt great Motivated and full of energy but then I started to get sore and was really sore when I decided it might be eggs as I was eating alot of them. Went to a GAPS practitioner and went on the Intro. Have been on that 1 month and very disheartened I havent improved at all. Initially the pain lessened but then built up and only got worse. Have been reading about too much histamine in system and Gaps is very high histamine diet. Did your pain get worse before it became better. Do you have any suggestions for me. Thank you

    • I’m so sorry your pain has worsened. Healing is often a winding road, but it’s no fun going through the rough patches. We’re all different, but the autoimmune protocol helped me more than GAPS did (as you can see in this article). The GAPS introduction diet introduces nuts, eggs and dairy pretty quickly, all of which can be problematic for people with autoimmune disease, and it doesn’t officially limit nightshades at all, which is a huge trigger for most people. After the holidays, I recommend giving the AIP a try. It’s hard, but worth it. You’ll find lots of resources on my blog to help you (see the links above for all my articles in the series), and the cookbook I reviewed can be a great guide to help with menu planning. I also recommend relieving your pain as needed. There are some wonderful supplements out there, and NSAIDs have their place. I’m not a believer in going cold-turkey off those. Gentle hugs to you, Angela.

    • For more information on histamine issues, see Along with numerous articles, she has 2 cookbooks that might be of interest: Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-Histamine Cookbook and Paleo Low Histamine Cookbook.

  24. Sp heartening to here someone has had success with the AIP diet to reduce RA pain. I have been on the Lymes low inflammation diet for about six months but could not progress past satge 1. I started the AIP diet one week ago but keep getting flares with increasing intensity. I suffer the pain mostly at night when trying to sleep. It is a ‘migrating pain’ that rack my whole body and wakes me up until I reposition myself to find relief. Could to much fruit be setting me back?

    • Hi Marg. I’m so sorry you’re in pain. I know exactly what that feels like. My thoughts are (1) you need to control your pain, or it leads to a cycle of worsening pain. If you’re not on pain medication, you might consult with your doctor and get a prescription. (2) Healing takes time, and a week is too soon to feel improvements from the AIP. It’s common to continue to have flares during the healing process. As you improve, the flares will become less intense and less frequent, but it’s not an overnight success. It helps to adjust your expectations. That’s also why I believe pain relief during the process is important. I don’t believe fruit is the cause. Wishing you healing.

  25. Hi- I tried to do GAPS and we were successful with cutting everything out but not successful with adding in all the fermented and cultured items. Then I ran out of my progesterone, then got put on antibiotics and everything went downhill from there. With my feeling ill and travelling the diet went out the window and of course I feel worse than ever. My drs have said they believe I have an autoimmune disorder but all tests come back showing I don’t.
    My question for you is should I try GAPS again or just go straight to the AIP? Do you think you would have had as many benefits if you just did the AIP?

    • I wasn’t ready mentally to do AIP at first, but I think it was more effective for me in the long run. The healing foods which are stressed in GAPS & AIP (like bone broths, etc.) are important, whichever diet you choose. If you feel ready to try the AIP, I say go for it!

  26. Hi Eileen,
    I’m Megan, and I was diagnosed with RA WHEN I WAS 17. I was put on immune suppressents a d steroids, but I continued to have sever inflammation. I then when gluten free at 18 which gave me relief, but after a while pain came back. I then got sever inflammation in my ankle that lasted a year, so I did aip for for 30 days and transitioned paleo. This help rid my ankle from the inflammation, but then I began experiencimg wide spread muscle fatigue, and pain in my right knee. It has been 8 months of paleo, and while I’ve regained muscle strength my knee is still inflamed.
    I’m just wondering what your thought are, and if it normal to react that way to going paleo. Should I just go back to being strictly AIP?

    • First of all Megan, you are awesome to have started addressing your condition with nutrition so young. When you transitioned from AIP to paleo, did you take a few months to carefully reintroduce foods to test for food intolerances, or did you just jump right into full paleo? It sounds to me like some of the regular paleo foods are inflammatory to you, which is why you’re still experiencing pain. Most people with autoimmune disease can reintroduce some foods, but not all – at least not right away. I recommend doing strict AIP for 30 days, and then follow the instructions in my reintroduction article to see which foods might be triggers for you.

  27. I’m going to assume that the autoimmune protocol is extended to beauty products. I hadn’t even thought of it, but I just looked to find that my shampoo, conditioner, and body wash all contain soy. Do you have any recommendations?

  28. Thanks Eileen.
    The only thing I still eat that aren’t aip approved are spices Like paprika, cayenne based hot sauce, the occasional nut flour (like once a month), I don’t do tomatoes I know I react bad to them. So maybe no nightshades?
    I like you opinion in the “blood type diet” I when to see a nutritionist/holistic doctor and he had me cut out chicken and pork aswell as fruit. I have put fruit back into my dietbthough b/c I began losing too much weight. The picture above is rather old. What your opinion, is it unnecessary?

    • Ooooh, I did the same thing. I gave up the nightshade veggies but kept eating the spices thinking, “How could such a small amount hurt me?” I learned that the spices are potent! When I gave them up, my flares stopped altogether. I recommend removing them from your diet 100%, and that includes packaged meats and deli meats. They usually contain paprika. As for the blood type diet, scientific studies have proven it to be false, so feel free to eat as much chicken/pork/fruit as you like. :-)

  29. Thanks so much for you advice. I can’t help but get a little discouraged at times, but I just know that I can heal, and that I will hit remission. I’m going to do aip again, I let you know how it works out.

    • When you get discouraged, remember how far you’ve come! Healing is definitely a journey, rather than a quick fix, and trial/error seems to be a necessary part of the process. I believe you’ll reach that finish line, but I’m already impressed with the healing you’ve achieved! Gentle hugs to you, Megan.

  30. Hi Megan!
    I’m on AIP too and I removed removed what I thought was everything but I had
    Joint pain and mild fatigue , I realized I was using black pepper for seasoning and that was it
    I removed it.
    Few days later I was much better.
    A small thing makes a difference .
    Thanks Eileen for all your knowledge .
    You are the bes.

    • I appreciate you thoughts, it always seem that it the little things I over look. I will have to learn to cook without spices.. but it will be worth it to be able to function fully again!

      • I use ground ginger and clove, chopped onion and garlick
        My plates taste delicious but remember we are uniques
        Everybody with different food intolerance
        I know you will get better.

    • Just to be clear, black pepper’s not a nightshade. Although there are some people like Diego who don’t tolerate it, that’s much rarer than nightshade sensitivity. So, you can test this two ways. You can remove the nightshade spices only and continue to enjoy the other spices, only removing them later if you don’t see results. Or you can remove all spices for 30 days, and then reintroduce them by category: fruitbased first, seedbased second, and nightshades last. Here’s a list for your reference. If you choose to remove all spices, herbs are always safe and a great way to add flavor your food.

  31. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I’m 2-weeks into AIP and feeling about how you described at the 6-week mark (bored, resentful, and feeling like there’s NOTHING to eat), so I was looking for inspiration for the day, and you provided it. I’m already feeling so much better physically that I know I just need to beat this emotional hurdle. Thanks again!

  32. Eileen,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story and for your patience with all of us who are still at the stage of seeking answers/relief. As I’ve commented in other posts, I am currently taking MTX, Humira and Meloxicam (NSAID). I tried removing the NSAID on week 3 of AIP, but the pain and swelling intensified to unbearable levels, greatly limiting my mobility in only a few days. I’m back on the NSAID, and have had some relief. I’m now on day 33 of the AIP, but have not experienced improvement from the symptoms I was experiencing on Day 1. I have read that for the reintroduction period, one should wait until one’s AI symptoms have improved. When you reintroduced after Week 6, were you already feeling better? I am trying to be patient, eating nourishing foods, practicing gentle yoga/meditation and taking daily walks when the weather is tolerable (I am from Ottawa, Canada and this has been an unbearably cold winter!). Thank you, Eileen!

    • By 6 weeks, I had stopped flaring, so that gave me a clear baseline for reintroductions. Are you keeping a symptom diary? If not, I recommend it. It’s human nature to focus on what’s still wrong, instead of the things that get better, and we can miss the subtle improvements sometimes. I write a paragraph every day about how I’m feeling. I just use a word document – nothing fancy. And then once/month I look back over my progress. Personally, I don’t improve day to day, but every month I get a little bit better, and that’s still happening. It’s really empowering to see the changes, even if they’re slow and steady ones.

  33. Thanks Eileen. This is very helpful. I probably don’t sound patient, but I really just want to understand as much as possible. I am no longer finding AIP difficult and am happy to keep it up. My body feels good, but my joints (so far) do not. I’ve been keeping track of things on a weekly basis (a once/week check in), but I see how daily can also be helpful. I’m trying to focus my attention now on range of motion exercises/yoga and meditation, and just being present.

    • It sounds like you are totally on track, and those are very wise practices to support your healing, Karen. Thanks for sharing.

  34. Hi Eileen,
    Thanks for the encouraging story. I developed severe RA soon after my second baby was born and experienced lots of joint damage. In the last year, I have had tremendous success with Bikram yoga in regaining my mobility. For example, I hadn’t been able to bend my index fingers for 3 years, and now I have a full range of motion. Same with my elbows, which couldn’t straighten for years and are now completely normal. Could go on at length about all the different joints Bikram yoga helped me regain strength and mobility. I have done other types of yoga, but nothing has worked my body back systematically like Bikram.

    • Wow, that is wonderful Christine. I’m curious how you managed that without experiencing pain. When my RA was at its peak, even gentle stretches would cause my joints to flare. Are you in remission?

  35. Congratulations on your healing progress! I started paleo about 2 years ago for lupus. I stupidly started reintroducing non-gluten grains and beans and nightshades because I was mad at the diet and my rheumatologist told me that if I recovered without the drugs, I must not have lupus after all. (Whoa.) She was wrong, and I recently learned it’s affecting my kidneys, liver, and adrenals. I’ve been on AIP for about 6 weeks, and my body also gives me strong signals when I try to indroduce things it doesn’t like.

    A note about your two fingers that you’re still waiting for full range of motion on: my lupus attacked my nervous system, resulting in severe pain everywhere, and when the pain subsided, I was left with numb finger tips and toes. Over the months, the feeling came back, except for the fingertips on my left hand. After almost 2 years, even though my diet wasn’t perfect, I woke up to pain in my left fingertips, and then it went away, but the feeling came back!

    You are right–healing is a slow process, but if you give it enough time, miracles do happen!

    Good luck to you and to everyone who posted here and who finds your blog in the future.

  36. One more thing: I can’t take NSAIDs (very allergic–I’ve heard that they can contribute to leaky gut, too), but I use fairly high doses of curcumin, which is an anti-inflammatory. It was key in relieving my pain early on. High EPA/DHA fish oil relieved all pain–even the back pain I’ve had since I was a teenager. It took about 3 weeks to start seeing the results from those, but curcumin and fish oil are an amazing combination.

    • I take those supplements as well, and they allowed me to reduce my NSAID dose. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to replace them altogether. Thankfully, I tolerate my miniature dose very well. It’s fascinating how different everyone’s body is. I’m very glad for you that you are pain-free.

  37. Hi eileen! I wrote to you earlier this month about the struggles I’ve been having on paleo. If you remember, I did aip for 30 days then I switched to paleo for almost a year. I was frustrated that although I saw a little improvement I WAS still dealing with daily inflammation in my right knee. I WAS at the end of my rope and considering going back on medication (which never worked on me).
    Anyways, I’m so happy that I talked to you it’s been two weeks on aip and the inflammation in my knee has finally show improvement! I’m moving around so much better. I now know that it was the spices I was using! Looking forward to being fully functional again. Just had to share with you the news.
    Thanks for what you do, you given me so much hope that I will beat this disease.

    • Thank you for reporting back! Isn’t it amazing how a small amount of nightshade spice can cause that much inflammation? That was a learning curve for me, too! I’m sooooo glad you’re feeling better.

  38. When I read this, I just kept thinking, Praise God!!! I hope you are still feeling well! This post was written a while back, but I just now found your blog! You are a great writer!

    • Thanks, Casey! The beautiful thing is that every month, I improve a little bit more. Here’s a post I shared on Facebook today:

      “Sometimes it’s the unexpected moments where we notice how much we’ve healed. I went for a hike yesterday and took a tumble on some loose rocks. I banged my knee, ankle and wrist. Two years ago, my rheumatoid inflammation was so high that hiking was impossible for me, and a fall would leave me gasping with pain. Not only that, hitting any joint even lightly would guarantee it to flare that night. What happened yesterday? I got up and kept hiking, felt a little sore for a few minutes, then felt back to normal, and there was no flare at all last night. I don’t recommend falling as a test of health – I need to work on my clutziness obviously! But I’m so grateful for the difference between then and now. Healing Happens.”

  39. Good evening,

    I have been on quite a journey, and this evening it has led me to you :)

    Quick question as to GAPS and AIP, please. For you personally, did GAPS provide a sort of healing foundation which was then greatly enhanced by the AIP protocol? Or looking back would you say GAPS perhaps wasn’t right for you and that AIP would have been a better starting point? I’m essentially weighing the value of GAPS for me. From a blog I had been following, the protocol seems too demanding of a person’s energy, and void, at least in the beginning, of the more alkaline ph foods that my body seems to crave in terms if raw green juices, etc. (For example, in the first many months of my healing journey I could not digest any raw vegetables or juices, but now I can.).

    Thank you for any input.
    Best health and best regards to you,

    • When I did GAPS, there wasn’t a lot of information available about AIP, so GAPS was a good gateway for me. It taught me about leaky gut and the importance of nutrient-dense foods like bone broth, fermented foods and organ meat. I also found it to be less restrictive than the AIP, so it was a good first step. (I did the GAPS Intro. diet very briefly and focused more on the Full GAPS diet.) Now, information about the AIP is very thorough, and includes recommendations for nutrient-dense foods. If you feel ready for the AIP, I say go for it. Keep GAPS in the back of your mind to pursue only if you don’t see results on the AIP. GAPS is great for people with starch intolerance or SIBO, but if that’s not you, there’s no need to do it.

  40. Thank you for sharing your story. I have really needed to read someone else’s emotional experience, as I am struggling to do full AIP for the past 3 months. I’m about 80/20 paleo, and the days I’ve succeeded in staying on AIP, I feel so much better. I know it will take a while to heal, as I’ve been struggling a good 15 years and each pregnancy seems to leave more difficulties. I seem to spend more time reading blogs with recipes, and have a very hard time not giving in. Your ideas about keeping a journal I hope will really help me. I have hidradenitis suppurtivia, multiple allergies, sensitivities, among a few other skin and GI issues, at age 34. I keep thinking tomorrow is the day I get on AIP and stay on. I look forward to reading more on your blog because it seems really tap into the emotional side and strategies for this that I need. I might just post some of the quotes all over the kitchen, as I try to bring my family towards a more primal at least lifestyle (my three year old son is like a twin of mine symptom wise). Do you have a best tip (or post) on what to do when you feel like you will cave into a non AIP craving? I want to heal…I want to be healthy for my kids?I wish I knew someone else doing AIP! Thank you for listening. Love your blog, thank you for all you do.

    • Hi Michelle. I’m glad you reached out. It can be really helpful to connect with others online who are doing the AIP – you can help keep each other strong. Here’s an AIP recipe group on Facebook: . And here’s a community forum the Paleo Mom started (not connected to Facebook): . My best advice to stay AIP is to remove the temptations. Clear your house of the foods you can’t eat, and start visiting AIP recipe sites instead of the others. There are lots of them out there, but here are a few: Autoimmune Paleo, Meatified, A Clean Plate, and Enjoying This Journey. Also, are you on Pinterest? There are lots of great AIP recipes shared there every day. Start with my page, and then click to see the pages I follow. All of them have an AIP recipe board you can follow, too.

      Most of all, believe in yourself and focus on the goal. No food is worth feeling bad. The AIP was really hard for me at first, but it’s become a huge blessing in my life, because I feel sooooooo much better. You can, too!

      • Thank you so much for that enouragement. Your tip to focus on AIP recipes is helpful, and I’ve found some snack foods that my children will enjoy too, as we are trying to move the rest of the family to at least primal. Some of those sites are new to me, and I will definetly review them. Thanks again!!!

  41. My family does not do well with dairy, but I am trying ghee. I just wanted to ask if you are still doing ghee without any problems even though you are not doing any other dairy? I have been trying to heal autism, allergies, and other autoimmune. We are so limited with our food right now, it is frustrating, I would hope ghee could be healing fat we could use.
    Thank you for any input you can give.

    • Perfect timing for this question. I am just now giving it up for 30 days and reintroducing, to make sure. However, I can tell you that I haven’t flared in over a year, eating ghee almost daily. It’s an incredibly nutritious fat – full of easily digested short chain fatty acids, and if it’s grassfed ghee, it also has vitamins A, D and K2. Look for the brands that are certified allergen free. Here are two of them. The more expensive one is cultured, which is supposed to be even healthier: Purity Farm and Pure Indian Foods

  42. Thank you for your response. I look forward to see if there is any difference after your 30 days off of ghee. Please let me know. I know for me I have been experiencing more moodiness, but not sure if I can really relate it to the ghee. Only been using it for a about 2 weeks. I guess I will have to take it back out for awhile and just see. I hope it is not the ghee. I usually have eczema flare ups on my hands, and that has actually improved since eating ghee.

  43. Hi eileen,
    I totally over did it on sugar yesterday made paleo moms plantains pancakes, and I ate them twice yesterday with maple syrup. They were so good, but one in morning and again before bed was probably a bad idea. and I woke up with a flare up. Do you react this way with sugar?

    • Hi Meg, Are you able to eat eggs ok? Just wondering if it could be the eggs. I can eat maple butter from the jar, literally, and the maple doesn’t seem to bother me. Of course, we’re all individual :)

      • Oh the pancakes don’t have eggs. They are just mushed up or blended plantains and some cinnamon. I think the flare up was def because of the maple I completely over did it.

        • Hi Meg. Too much sugar tends to make my stomach rumbly, but doesn’t affect my joints. Too much starch, however, definitely goes to my joints. So, for me, plantains are a problem. However, if you can normally eat plantains just fine, sugar is probably your trigger, so eating less is wise. I hope your flare passes quickly. They are no fun!

  44. Hello,

    I was wondering how you are doing with your 30 days off of ghee? Have you introduced it back yet? I decided to take it away again for a few weeks, and try again. It has been a few weeks, so I just bought a jar, and hesitating a bit. I know dairy makes my children and I feel very irritable. And when I was eating ghee last month, my PMS symptoms were pretty bad. Right now, it is that time of the month again, and I am experiencing much milder PMS. One of my autistic sons started hitting his head again when I introduced ghee, something I have not seen in awhile. And my 4 year old, who has lots of allergies that causes eczema and asthma for him, eggs being very high allergy, seems to have broken out with eczema around the time we introduced ghee. Because his allergy to eggs are so high, I have never tried any other dairy with him except ghee. He does very well on the AIP. I came across an article on an Arevedic website that actually uses ghee for treatment of autism. Do you think one can go through a healing crisis with ghee, and then symptoms get better, like one might go through if they are adding healing foods like kombucha or water kefir? I have read articles about kombucha and skin rashes like eczema where the rash gets worse when drinking kombucha, and one usually thinks they are reacting to the kombucha, but rather it is a healing crisis that just gets worse before it gets better. My 4 year old son did have more of a healing crisis with kombucha, rather then a reaction, because now he can drink Kombucha and water kefir without having an eczema breakout. But can that be the same with ghee I wonder, whether the healing crisis be rashes, headache, or irritability, or a reaction to ghee?
    I am having a wonderful time going through your website. I really enjoyed the article on starches. I came upon this article at just the right time. My family started with GAPS/SCD with a huge leap in autistic symptoms getting better, but my children with more allergy symptoms, I was not seeing as much progress. I found paleo, then paleo AIP. But the starches like sweet potatoe, plantains, white rice with bone broth, all the starches my family loved adding into our diet, I was starting to see a gradual regression, my brain fog got worse, my two autistic kids, one became increasingly angry and aggressive, the other who seems to draw to help him organize his mind, started drawing less, and instead of objects and people, he just scribbled lines on paper much like a 2 year old. So I went back to the lower starches accepted on the GAPS, plus added in daily doses of coconut oil that apparently helps with ketone levels without severely restricting the carbs as in the ketogenic diet, The my brain fog is better and hoping it will continue to improve, the angry aggressive behavior has calmed down considerably, and my child is drawing again. So for right now doing a GAPs AIP is doing well for everyone. I had to really limit the fruit too, as it seems we do poorly with fructose absorption. How are you with fruit? I have six children and it has been one nerve wracking adventure to balance all our needs. I sure hope there is healing that is taking place in the way we eat, as opposed to always just keeping the symptoms down. It feels like a constant struggle.

    • I think you’re doing an awesome job balancing the needs of your family. I couldn’t be more impressed! It looks like you and I are dietary twins, doing best with a combination of AIP and GAPS. As for fruit, I do fine with it in moderation – usually having 1-2 pieces a day. If I binge, that’s a different story.

      I’ve been off ghee almost a month now, and I’ve decided to wait a little longer before reintroducing. Because I stopped flaring long ago, any improvements I feel from removing ghee will be very subtle, and my thought is the longer I’m off it, the stronger the test will be when I reintroduce. I really missed it in the beginning, but I’ve started sauteing veggies in duck fat, instead of steaming them and topping them with ghee, and that tastes just as delicious. That’s an interesting question about the healing crisis and ghee. My gut feeling is no – it’s not a fermented food that shifts your gut bacteria, so I think a negative response is a simple sign of food intolerance.

  45. Well, I introduce ghee back into the family’s diet a few days ago, and I hate to say it, but it is a no go for ghee. My moodiness returned, as well as my kid’s moods, regression in autism, some skin irritation, and more stuffy running noses. I am bummed! After several attempts of reintroducing ghee and having these same effects I have to conclude ghee just doesn’t work for us. I guess it is not surprising considering these were the symptoms that we had, but even stronger, when we were eating other dairy foods several years ago. I have to admit, at this moment, I am feeling a bit envious toward the people who can tolerate ghee even though they cannot tolerate any other dairy, but I will get over it. We have gone a couple of years without even ghee and find duck fat, lard and coconut oil tasty. My main concern with wanting to introduce ghee was to make sure we are getting enough fat soluble vitamin A, D, and K. We eat liver, sardines, and I introduced just eggs yolks a couple of months ago to all except for my 4 year old who has too strong of an allergy to try with him, but everyone else seems fine. And I make a point for us to get in the sun. Do you eat eggs? What foods do you eat for these vitamins? Any other foods you can recommend? I hope whenever you try to introduce ghee back into your diet you will see good and positive results! Thank you for all your responses.

    • Thanks for sharing your results. I’ll be curious about my own and will keep you posted. To answer your questions, I can eat eggs and seek out pastured for the best vitamin profile. Like you, I eat organ meats and seafood every week, which are also nutrient-dense sources. One more source that many people recommend is fermented cod liver oil.

  46. Pingback: Éxito con el protocolo autoinmune - Eileen (artritis reumatoide) | La Chica Paleo

  47. So pleased to have stumbled upon your blog and to read your story. It’s encouraged me to keep going although I don’t see immediate healing in my journey with the AIP diet.

  48. I am so glad to have come across your site and to have read about you and your story. I have been on several AIP sites, all are helpful and informative. I want to especially thank you for yours. What you say and the information you share is very helpful, but what I truly appreciate is your peaceful pace and the hopefulness you share. Even though I am feeling a bit freaked out and overwhelmed by a new diagnoses to add to my list of AI conditions, and I wonder if and when I will find any reversal or restoration of health after 34 yrs of seeking alternatives and trying various protocols, I feel encouraged and comforted by what you say and how you say it. Thank you.

  49. I have been told I have RA. I chose not to take any medication and have done an elimination diet to control my flares. To reduce inflamation I take batswallia and msm 1000mg for pain. Make sure it ia a good quality product. Both of these have really helped me to function normally and they are both natural. They also have a batswallia cream that really works well.

  50. Thank you for sharing your story. I am about to embark upon (another) 30 days of AIP and this was just the inspiration that I needed. Thank you for taking the time to talk about emotions! I totally identify with feeling deprived and pissed off!! And grieving the foods I cannot have. I have been struggling with these emotions SO MUCH that reading your post feels like a virtual hug!
    I messed up on the reintroductions last time, seeing your experience will help a lot, hopefully I will be more successful this time.

  51. Hi Eileen,
    I just wanted to say a huge thankyou for all you do in the autoimmune community. Yours website has a wealth of information and your blogs are fantastic. I have been following AIP for nearly a year now and have started to re-introduce foods so great timing on the e-book! I have ankylosing spondylitis and have found the AIP to be excellent in significantly reducing my symptoms (similar to your experience), although I still know it is there in the background at times. Wishing you all the luck in your continued journey.

  52. I would like to know if you ever reintroduced ghee back into your diet and how it effected you if you did, or maybe you are not missing the ghee that much and you are still not having it in your diet? I wrote you a post several weeks ago, and let you know that my family tried ghee, hoping it would be OK, and sadly I felt we could not even tolerate ghee, so just curious on your experience. We are very similar as well, in that, my family does well on a AIP, SCD, but can be so restrictive. I personally can be satisfied with eating different variety of squashes, carrots, bananas with brown spots for starchier carbs, but not so much for my kids. Having children on the autistic spectrum, a lower carb diet, such as SCD has proven affective, but together with limited carbs on the SCD, food allergies and intolerances to certain foods, that is why the AIP, and the pickiness of my children’s taste buds, I want to make sure they are getting the nutrients they need from a variety of foods. What so you do for variety? Thank you. Jodi

  53. Hi Jodi! My kids eat AIP suppers with me – for breakfast they like their eggs! We use the internet to find recipes for variety – this website especially! I do monthly meal plans. They often get tweaked through the month, but ensure that we get in lots of seafood and variety each week. The kids have to at least try everything and the meals that go over well with both are often repeated month to month. Good luck!

  54. Pingback: Finding Your Perfect Diet-Part 6 - Family, Home, and Health

  55. Hi. I am interested in starting the AIP and am nervous about it. I’m considering seeing an allergist first to see if they can give me a heads up, so to speak, about what foods I might react negatively to. I’m curious if anyone has used an allergist for help before beginning this journey.

    • Hi Deb. Unfortunately, while they sell tests for food intolerance, they are notoriously inaccurate. An elimination diet (like the AIP) is the only way to accurately assess food intolerance. For that reason, even allergists call it The Gold Standard. I understand it’s a little intimidating to get started, but it’s also really empowering to get to know your body so well and see it start to heal.

  56. Hi Eileen,
    Thank you so much for your inspiring website. I have learned so much from reading your posts and also from comments by guests. Your sense of humor is appreciated.

    I was just curious about any symptoms you may have had during your initial AIP journey. I started my AIP on January 12th and have not cheated (not knowingly anyway). Around day 3 and 4 I started getting some throbbing headaches with fatigue and also again today. I’ve tried to take it easy and get good sleep, and have not introduced anything new in my diet that would cause a new reaction. Could this be a healing crisis? Has anyone experienced these symptoms?

    I started AIP due to my hypothyroid (Have not found antibodies in my lab work so don’t think it’s Hashimoto’s), adrenal fatigue and chronic constipation.

    On a positive note, my skin looks great, I sleep well, feel calmer, my cravings have subsided (I discovered AIP friendly replacements) and I’m starting to lose belly fat. I’m also enjoying trying new recipes and I’ve never been one who loves to cook.

    Thanks for your feedback!

    • Hi Kerry. Sometimes a headache can be detox, sometimes it’s hormones, sometimes it’s blood sugar. You’ve made a big change to your diet, so it makes sense that you’ll have some minor reactions here and there as your body adjusts and begins the healing process. Headaches and fatigue are especially common if you transitioned from a high-carb diet (they call it the carb flu). Make sure you’re eating enough protein and fat at every meal (that will balance the blood sugar). And enjoy safe starches every day as well, to keep your carb levels at a feel-good level. I’m glad to hear about all of the positives you’re feeling already: better sleep and feeling calmer in just a little over a week. That’s wonderful!

      • Thanks Eileen, very wise advise. Next time I get a headache, I’ll remind myself of the miraculous healing my body is going through.

  57. I’m so thankful I found your blog. I was diagnosed with APS in 2006 after I had bilateral PE’s after a car wreck. After a year on blood thinners, I went back to my regular life. In 2009, I had another episode after I delivered my second child. Now I am sentenced to a life on the blood thinners. It’s not the most fun I’ve ever had, but it was ok. Last year saw the onset of my 2nd autoimmune disease and something needs to be done. I started noticing pain in one joint in March 2014. It slowly progressed and in November I was diagnosed with RA. It seems once I did get the diagnosis, the progression accelerated. I am fearful of continual progression almost as much as I am of the medicine with it’s side effects (side effect featured this week – constant headache). I had decided that I would do some research into AIP and start at the beginning of 2015. Well, it took a little longer on the research – I wanted to make sure that I didn’t rush into anything and then get overwhelmed and quit. I am starting tomorrow. I know it’s going to be hard, but I want to be able to do all the activities I love. Thank you for sharing your story. I needed to read about someone that has the same issue as I do. It gives me hope that maybe it will help me, too.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your story, Dawn. You were wise to wait until you were ready. We all have that moment. Be sure and take advantage of all the resources available. If you’re on Facebook, here’s a great online support group. And be sure to follow the AIP Recipe Roundtables for fresh recipe ideas every week. Wishing you deep healing!

  58. Hi. I have RA and I’ve been on the AIP diet for a bit over 2 months now and the last month has been FODMAP too. My joint pain has not gotten any better during this time. In fact it has gotten worse since I started this diet. I only had flares in a few joints before starting and now quite a lot more of them are inflamed. I have tried to rotate my food but that did not help. And then didn’t eat any starches for a few weeks and it didn’t help. I don’t know what to do anymore :(

    • Hi Rebecca. My heart goes out to you, because I know that kind of pain, and you desperately want it to go away as soon as possible. After two months, you are right to do some troubleshooting, but it could be a lot of different things. Some ideas: (1) Are you focusing on nutrient-density – not just the foods to avoid – but the foods you need to eat, in order to heal? (2) What’s the stress level in your life – stress affects autoimmunity as strongly as food. (3) Are you on any medication? Because nutritional healing takes time, many people do need medication during the transition. Don’t feel like a failure if that’s true for you. Work with your doctor to provide you with the meds you need to be comfortable, and you can reduce your dose as you improve. (4) Are you taking any anti-inflammatory supplements? They can help. (5) The flip side of that is to carefully check the ingredients on all of your supplements (and medications) to be sure they don’t contain non-AIP ingredients. (6) Have you done any tests to see if other health issues are interfering with the healing process? I recommend working with someone 1:1 to help your troubleshoot and determine which tests might be most helpful. I recommend Katy Haldiman or The Paleo Mom Consulting. They both know the AIP inside and out. Gentle hugs! I hope you find answers soon.

      • Thanks for replying! I think I haven’t eaten enough recently. I have lost 6kg since I started this diet(my BMI is 19.7 now) and not so nutrient dense because of the FODMAP. I’ve had quite a lot of stress because of my work. I haven’t taken any medication for about 2 years (I took Hydroxychloroquine(?) for a bit over a year before). I’m taking a lot of supplements (vitamins, probiotics and turmeric etc.). I haven’t done any tests but I’m thinking of doing a heavy metal toxicity test.

        • Hi rebecca i hope mind me interjecting, but your experience sounds very similar to mine! I do feel like AIP is the right path but there can be complications. I when aip and got terribly sick. My belief is that the i as going through sever detox that exasperated my RA. I was losing a large amout of body fat too, which i hear realses a lot of toxins that the body was trying to protect you from. So with more weighloss more toxins being relised. I think staying on RA med will protext your body during this process of toxin release. Also drink lot of water and eat food that aid in elinating tozin from the body. Nutrient density is also vital to healing. Good luck if i hope anything i say is helpful. Im glad i stuck with AIP because now that my detox is over my RA is finally more in contol. ive had 1 flare up in 3months and it was a accidental nightshade intake; the flare only last 2 day. Eileen id love to hear what you think! I know everyone had a different experience.

        • Hi Rebecca, if you’re looking into testing, heavy metals isn’t the top test recommended. Generally speaking, a paleo diet will clear those slowly and safely over time (chelation is very dangerous for people with autoimmune disease). Instead, practitioners usually look for infections or gut dysbiosis as the most likely obstacle to healing. Check out my recent podcast called Functional Medicine 101 where she talks about which tests are the most helpful.

    • Hi Mike. Everyone has a different tolerance for aleve. Some people can handle high doses; some develop ulcers at low doses. I only take a small dose, and I’m just one person, so I can only speak to my own experience. I tolerate it very well. However, it’s the combination of diet/lifestyle/supplements that allow me to keep my dose so small. If I needed high doses, I would consider immunosuppressants, although they carry their own side effect risks, and ironically both can affect the stomach lining. The goal is to reduce our need for medication as much as possible. Some people are able go completely med-free. Some cut their dose in half. Some have the barest minimal need after doing this protocol. Any reduction in medication is a cause for celebration.

      • I agree :) Before AIP I was able to be pain free with taking 100mg of Nimesulide (I’m not in US, it’s banned in US). every 3rd day. I hope to minimize it back to once a week (On a first year of my RA I had to take it only once per week). :(

  59. Eileen, thank you for all info you put in this (and all other posts). :)

    I noticed that your original post is from 2013. How are you now? Any new progress? I hope that you are pain and drug free at this moment :)

    • I’m holding steady. I’ve done a number of experiments with both food and supplements, which have led to minor improvements, but not enough to eliminate my need for that small dose of Aleve. I think it’s important for me to be honest about this, because so many “success stories” are either short-term snapshots or they omit any talk of remaining symptoms. That’s why the interviews I do on my blog and my podcast are so detailed. I want to show the whole picture. Perfection isn’t the only definition of success. I am 95% better than I was. With that tiny dose of Aleve, I live an active, full and pain-free life. I have experienced no setbacks and haven’t flared in over 2 years now. I still have never taken steroids or immunosuppressants. I remain very grateful for the healing that has taken place, and I’m now working with a functional medicine practitioner to see if we can get at that last 5% of inflammation. Healing’s a journey! Thanks for checking in, and your well wishes.

      • It is very encouraging to see you only need two Aleve. I can’t wait until that I just need two Aleve. I am VERY grateful I can walk again. I could not go very far without excrutiating pain the next day.Do you feel your pain the same day as you eat the off-limit food or did you feel it more the next day? I feel it more the next day. Any supplement you would not do without?

        • Mimi, I’m like you – I usually feel a food reaction the next day. As for your supplement question, my favorites are Saventaro (which helps regulate the immune system) and Super Bio-Curcumin (anti-inflammatory). I take them both on an empty stomach for the strongest benefit. To my knowledge, the Saventaro is AIP-friendly. The Curcumin has a little bit of rice flour in it, but I tolerate it fine – I just thought I should warn you, in case you don’t do well with rice.

  60. I found your blog today and I am looking forward to reading it. I have had RA for five years, and I noticed when I cut out grains, sugars, dairy beef and nightshades I improved. My labs went from scary to normal. For example, sed rate 65 to 19 but it took me year. Hemoglobin 8 to 12 , CRP 685 to 119 and it is still dropping . I still have pain, but that is due me fudging with poor food choices, I still eat some stuff I should not, but it is not a big amount, but I should really stop.Two things that also got better were my knees, they were swollen for years and I had them drained at least ten times and cortisone shots 8 times. Now the past 6 months NO PAIN in the knees, and mu nodules are disappearing. However I still have migrating joint pain in my jaw, r.foot, two toes, wrist and thumb and sternum. But I am much better. I know I will surf and run 3 miles again, I just have to believe this RA will not beat me. By the way, I tried MTX, Orencia, Humira and they do not work as well as this protocol. Remicade worked well for two infusions but then I had a critical reaction to it, it Doubled my blood pressure, scary, I had to go the ER for the day. Glad you are feeling better, that is great, you are an inspiration.

  61. Thank you for your story. I’ve been on AIP with no real restriction of FODMAPs as of yet. Was diagnosed with RA in January. Im really considerating adding the restriction because I’m about 3 months in and still not seeing great improvement in pain yet. I need meloxicam nearly every other day. How long did it take you to feel pain relief? I’m 30 years old with mild to moderate RA. Thank you!

    • FODMAPs aren’t necessarily connected to RA pain at all. Rather, they’re connected to Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) which causes digestive symptoms. I don’t recommend going low-FODMAP without getting tested for SIBO, because you might end up restricting your diet for no benefit, and we want to eat the least restricted diet possible. When it comes to troubleshooting, look to this list and see if any of these apply to you: Top 5 Mistakes People Make on the AIP. If you’ve got all of those bases covered, it would be a good time to work with a functional medicine practioner and get some basic testing done, to see if there’s something else going on in your body interfering with healing. I recommend The Paleo Mom Consulting.

  62. Thank you so much! I’ll definitely do that. I do have other coexisting autoimmune diseases as well. One that seems to be really activated by my eczema is vitiligo. Have you ever talked with anybody who found that this diet helped with the repigmentation of their skin? Thanks so much for all your great info.

    • I haven’t known anyone who achieved repigmentation, but I have known people who were able to stop the progression (no new spots). Stress and sun are apparently big triggers – so watch those closely.

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