Choosing a Different Path from Everyone Else
The Paleo Autoimmune Protocol is a challenging diet under the best of circumstances. But when you’re the only one in your household following this diet, and you’re surrounded by foods you cannot eat, how do you manage? Today, I’ve invited three people onto the podcast to share their experience with us. They all have autoimmune disease. They all went AIP to improve their symptoms and maximize their health. And they’re all making this work in non-paleo households. We talk about everything from avoiding food temptations, to eating safely in a gluten-filled kitchen, to blending your dietary needs with those of your friends and family.
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- Intro (0:00)
- Thank You to Our Podcast Sponsor: Shop AIP (2:21)
- ShopAIP sells AIP-friendly spice lines from Primal Palate, KC Natural, Herbamare, and Paleo Powder. Just because nightshades are off the table doesn’t mean food has to be flavorless! These wonderful companies have our backs.
- An online store, where everything sold is compliant with the elimination-phase of the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol. Shop AIP sells a wide variety of products, including protein bars, AIP-friendly spice blends, cooking and baking ingredients, snacks, non-toxic skincare, and more.
- If you’re a first-time customer, use the code PHOENIX for 10% off your order. Purchase here.
- Meet Our Guests (3:41)
- Julia has Ulcerative Colitis (UC) and Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC). She was diagnosed in December 2017 during her sophomore year of college, when she was 2500 miles away from her family. Her first symptom was bodywide itchiness so severe she was unable to sleep. Then she suddenly lost 30 pounds. She was exhausted, depressed, and frightened. After many doctor appointments, she received her autoimmune diagnoses. The UC was behind the weight loss, and PSC was interfering with her liver’s ability to detoxify, causing bodywide itchiness as toxins built up in her bloodstream and her skin. At the time of her diagnosis, a family member who was a naturopath recommended AIP. She’s now been following the protocol ever since and has been able to wean herself off medication, while improving her health at the same time. Most of her lab values are now normal.
- Sonrisa has Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, and Ocular Rosacea. Her symptoms began 15 years ago, following a bout of appendicitis and post-infectious IBS/SIBO. In spite of many visits to healthcare practitioners over the years – both conventional and alternative – she received very few answers and no effective solutions. At her worst, she was suffering from pain, fatigue, digestive issues, weight gain, severe menstrual symptoms, anxiety, depression, and uncertainty around what she could and couldn’t eat. She turned to the AIP in 2016 after learning that some SIBO infections involve an autoimmune response in the gut. The AIP not only improved her symptoms, but also taught her how to listen to her body and look for answers within, instead of seeking solutions from others. She fought for further testing and eventually received her autoimmune diagnoses. Self-compassion and trauma therapy have also been an essential part of her healing.
- Erin has Hashimoto’s and Chronic Lyme Disease. She developed Hashimoto’s after the birth of her second son in 2009 and actually received a diagnosis pretty quickly. She was referred to an allergist at the same time and discovered she had the top 5 food allergies. She was put on medication and told to avoid those foods, which she did, but she didn’t feel better. Eventually, she gave up the special diet because it didn’t seem to make a difference. By 2018, she was so tired she spent most of the day in bed. She had daily pain, including excruciating headaches and continued weight gain. In 2018, she saw a functional medicine practitioner who diagnosed her with chronic lyme disease and potential mold issues as well. That’s when she decided to go AIP. Within weeks, her pain lessened, her energy increased, and her mindset improved dramatically. She also took a break from Facebook at the same time, and removing Facebook from her life allowed her to turn inward and pay attention to herself instead. Now, almost a year later, she’s back to the athletic endeavors she used to love. She also changed her medication to Armour, which was much more effective for her than Synthroid. (Resource: Thyroid Health podcast.)
- How Julia Stays AIP at College (22:23)
- Her autoimmune health crisis caused her to take a semester off, and she doesn’t want to have to do that again. So, she prioritizes 4 things above all else: the AIP diet, sleep, exercise, and getting mental rest. Everything else is secondary.
- Julia was always health-conscious and gravitated toward health-conscious friends. So while she is the only one who eats AIP, her friends are supportive, especially the ones who saw her health crisis. For new friends who question her choices, she has an honest conversation with them about what happens to her body when she doesn’t take care of herself. She isn’t afraid to share “the gory details.”
- Staying AIP requires self-advocacy. When her friends invite her to a restaurant, she calls the restaurant in advance to find out if they can accommodate AIP. When she and her friends cook together, she plans the menu with their input, rather than the other way around.
- When she lived in the dorms, she shared a community kitchen with 25 students who were eating a Standard American Diet. She dedicated one cabinet for her AIP food (and kept it locked). Before cooking, she cleaned the kitchen to remove all traces of gluten cross-contamination. She got in the habit of batch cooking on Sunday mornings when the kitchen was empty, to minimize how often she needed to clean.
- College dining halls sometimes offer programs for people on special diets. Meet with the manager or head chef, to see what’s possible for you. There might be certain foods that are always available, and they might even be willing to make an AIP meal a few times per week.
- If you need advice or advocacy, talk to the resident assistant at your dorm, your academic advisor, and/or the staff of the wellness department on campus. Support is available.
- Batch cooking resources:
- Thank You to Our Podcast Sponsor – Paleo on the Go (34:07)
- A frozen meal delivery service, 100% of their menu is compliant with the elimination phase of the paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP). They have over 5o items, including entrees, side dishes, broth, AIP-friendly bacon, and desserts.
- Use the code PHOENIX for 10% off your first order.
- How Sonrisa and Her Husband Blend Their Dietary Needs (35:26)
- When Sonrisa told her husband she was going to try the paleo autoimmune protocol, he was supportive but he was also very clear that he wasn’t going to eat that way. So, they talked about how they could meet both of their needs.
- They both batch cook separate foods to freeze in individual portions. That way, they always have something to eat if the other is craving a meal they don’t want or can’t have. Some of the things her husband batch cooks are rice and beans, so he can add some quick additional sides to their shared dinner.
- Her husband also has a variety of condiments and toppings available to add to his meals. So if they’re having taco night, they’ll both eat the meat and vegetables, but her husband will put his on a tortilla and add sour cream, cheese, and chiles. Sonrisa will eat hers on a cabbage leaf and add homemade AIP guacamole.
- Her house is 100% gluten-free, because her husband has gluten sensitivity as well.
- The hardest thing for Sonrisa is when her husband makes homemade cookies. She always associated sweets with rewards, but her body doesn’t do well with any sugar now – even natural ones. It’s been a mindfulness practice for her to disconnect the emotional craving from the food. It helps her to reframe these “comfort foods” as “discomfort foods”, because they have the opposite effect on her body now. Nettle tea also helps alleviate her sweet cravings.
- How Erin Feeds Herself and Her Family (46:29)
- When she told her family she was going AIP, her husband was supportive of whatever would help her get better, and his health improved on the diet as well. Her 6-year old was a pretty healthy eater naturally. Her 9-year old prefers foods like white bread, white rice, scrambled eggs, and peanut butter, so that’s been challenging. Her 16 year-old has a job and a license and has been using his extra money and freedom to buy his own processed foods, which she accepts as part of his teenage experience.
- Like Sonrisa, she tries to bridge her family’s needs by serving an AIP main course, with additional sides and toppings for them. She’ll also start cooking a dish with salt and no other spices, and then partway through the cooking process, pull a serving for herself and her husband, and season it differently than the seasoning she adds for her children’s portion.
- Erin doesn’t like leftovers herself, but her children love spaghetti and casseroles which batch cook and reheat well. So, she batch cooks these recipes for her children. It makes dinner easy on nights when they don’t like what she’s cooking. It’s also an easy way to feed them in advance and enjoy a quiet dinner occasionally with her husband.
- She’s also made some simple ingredient switches that her children don’t even notice. For example, when she makes Sloppy Joe’s, she makes it with nomato sauce, and her children can’t tell the difference. She serves their portion on a bun, and serves hers on a baked sweet potato. She’ll top theirs with cheese and hers with shredded cabbage for some nice texture and crunch. On stir fry nights, she kept the soy sauce jar but replaced the contents with coconut aminos.
- White rice was a trigger food for her – one that was very difficult to avoid eating when it was in the house. So, she kept it out of the house at first, until she became accustomed to the diet and started seeing improvements. Then her mindset shifted. She no longer saw the AIP as restrictive, but rather as a path to health. At that point, she no longer minded serving white rice as a side dish for her family, because she was no longer tempted. When it comes to trigger foods, ask for you what you need. It’s natural to need to avoid them in the beginning. For Eileen, her trigger food was pizza, so she asked her husband to eat that in restaurants rather than bringing it home.
- Erin also shifted her mindset to stop focusing on the foods she couldn’t eat, and instead start focusing on eating all the AIP foods available. She’s been able to create a wide variety of flavorful meals.
- Don’t beat yourself up if they have a minor slip and eat something they shouldn’t. It’s not a failure, so much as a learning opportunity. As you begin to see how food affects your body, you’ll be tempted by those foods less and less.
- Paleo AIP Food Reintroductions (1:00:54)
- The AIP has 2 phases: the elimination phase and the reintroduction phase. We don’t want to give anyone the false impression that the elimination phase lasts forever. When you’ve seen clear improvement in your symptoms, you can begin the reintroduction process and personalize your diet for you.
- Outro (1:02:08)
- I met all of today’s podcast guests through Instagram. You can follow me @Phoenix.Helix. You can follow Julia @AIPCollegeKitchen. You can follow Erin @UnapolageticallyAIP (and Erin has a blog as well.) Sonrisa has a private account, so you can’t follow her, but that’s a nice reminder that you can join Instagram to get inspiration without posting your life publicly.
- Eileen (your podcast host) is the author of multiple books, written to help people thrive with autoimmune disease. Learn more on the Books Page.
- If you like this podcast, follow or subscribe through your favorite podcast app. You can also subscribe to Eileen’s biweekly newsletter.
- Check out the entire archive of podcast episodes.
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