Top 5 Mistakes People Make on the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol

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Painting of a woman kneeling, with rays of light shining down

“In school we learn that mistakes are bad, and we are punished for making them. Yet, if you look at the way humans are designed to learn, we learn by making mistakes. We learn to walk by falling down. If we never fell down, we would never walk.”
~ Robert T. Kiyosaki

Not Committing 100%

In the paleo movement, people talk a lot about paleo perfectionism and how it’s better to follow the 80/20 rule, to take the pressure off and make the lifestyle sustainable. This means you follow the rules 80% of the time, and break them when needed. If you’re following paleo for weight loss or to tweak some minor health issues, this might work. Unfortunately, if you have an autoimmune disease, it doesn’t. During the elimination phase of the paleo autoimmune protocol, we have to follow the 100% rule, and I get it: that sucks. It’s a lot of pressure, but the stakes are high and the rewards worth it. The goal of the AIP is to help you identify which foods are increasing your autoimmune symptoms, and you need a clear baseline to do that. This is a science experiment with you at the center. Marriages with only 80% commitment don’t make it. Parents would never be only partially committed to their children. You are an amazing human being, and worth a 100% commitment to yourself and your health. And remember, the elimination phase doesn’t last forever.

Ignoring Nutrient Density

Healing diets focus a lot on removing foods from the diet that promote inflammation and exacerbate autoimmune disease. And it’s true that avoiding these foods is essential to healing. Our immune systems will stay overactive if continually triggered by food intolerances. However, there’s another side to this equation, and that’s the healing power of nourishing food. We need rich and diverse nutrition for our bodies to rebuild on a cellular level. There are specific foods that help this process: organ meats, wildcaught seafood, bone broth, healthy fats, and lots of fresh vegetables. A diet of chicken breasts and AIP-modified desserts isn’t going to get you there. If you haven’t started incorporating these superfoods into your diet yet, start today.

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Rushing the Reintroduction Process

The Autoimmune Protocol is hard to do. It’s restrictive and time consuming. For that reason, many people force themselves through the elimination period (barely) and then binge on all the restricted foods at once. Unfortunately, this nullifies the whole experiment. Remember why you’re doing this: you want to heal, and the AIP is a powerful healing tool when done correctly. It allows your body to communicate very clearly about the foods that are helpful vs. foods that are harmful. However, this communication happens during the reintroduction process. If you rush it, you miss that valuable information. Follow the tips in my reintroduction guide on how to take it slowly, and learn what your body is trying to tell you. It is absolutely the key to developing the personalized diet that is perfect for you.

Thinking It’s Just About the Food

Diet is a huge component in healing, but it’s not the only one. For example, did you know that sleep deprivation turns on inflammatory genes in your body, messes with your immune system, de-regulates your hormones, and is even being investigated as a cause of autoimmune disease? 8 hours per night is the minimum we need, but the Paleo Mom says 9-10 is even better. And here’s the catch: the sleep needs to be consistent, in order  for you to heal. You can’t have a bunch of short nights and then make up for it later in the week. Science shows that keeps the inflammation process going. If you have trouble sleeping, check out these tips on how to develop healthy sleep habits.

Stress is another important factor to consider. We tend to think the stressful areas in our life are out of control, but we often have more power than we’re willing to admit. Sometimes it’s making the tough choices necessary to remove the stressors. Other times it’s accepting what we can’t change, but changing how they affect us.  Meditation and EFT are two powerful tools for inner peace (and the autoimmune healing that promotes).

Not Getting the Support You Need

This is a tough one. Some of us are lucky enough to have people in our lives who are completely supportive of our healing journey. It’s much easier to stay on a healing diet if your family joins you (or at least doesn’t tempt you by bringing home pizza for dinner). The same goes for friends; many people have talked about so-called friends sabotaging their efforts, which can make your already difficult life, much harder.

I really don’t think you can do this alone, so that means finding the support you need to succeed. One way is to have the tough conversations with your friends and family which will hopefully get them on board. If not, reach out to others who are on the same journey. The internet is a great place for this. One of the reasons I started this blog was to join the global community of individuals walking this rare path. Let’s face it, most people with autoimmune disease want the medication and the junk food, with no desire to take an active part in their health. We’re the minority, and we need to help each other. Facebook has an AIP Recipe Group as well as an AIP Support Group. And there are also local meet-up groups worldwide.


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71 comments on “Top 5 Mistakes People Make on the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol”

  1. Hi. I have autoimmune encephalitis for which I was treated for over a year with IVIG and before that some HIGH side steroids (5,000mg per month for a while). My doctor says my inflammation is down and I’m in remission, but I was sick and undiagnosed for about 2 decades so I still have lots of debilitating symptoms even in remission (cognitive deficits, fine and large motor skill impaurments, pain, etc. ). Also, I’ve just found out I have chronic Lyme that was never diagnosed or treated. Is this diet helpful for someone like me? I’m very scared aND overwhelmed. My brain functioning and energy is so bad most of the time I fear I can’t handle this diet.

    1. Mary, yes this protocol is perfect for you. If you are feeling overwhelmed, I recommend the online class SAD to AIP in SIX. Health coaches guide you through the transition from a Standard American Diet to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol over a period of 6 weeks. The class contains 20 fellow students, so you have peer support along with professional guidance. It makes the process much easier.

  2. Julie Dodaro Folino

    Hello Eileen,
    I’ve been on AIP for about 8 months. I have been 100% except for 2 separate weeks of travel where I had some prohibited foods. Neither of which caused any issues. I feel great but have no improvement in the 1 symptom 1 was hoping to improve, my gait. I have recently started reintroducing and, just as you mention in your article, I have rushed in. So, I think I need to backtrack to full AIP and start reintroduction again. I am wondering if you can suggest a length of time before I re-attempt the reintroduction phase.
    Thank you

  3. Hi Eileen,
    Thank you for all your writings. They are so incredibly helpful! I have a couple questions.

    1) What do you think about lectins as an irritant for AI disease?

    2) I was told that bone broth stimulates Th17 immune system and that is bad for Hashimoto’s. What do you think of that?

    I have early stage Hashimoto’s and I’m trying to head it off before it gets worse.

    I have been on the AIP diet for 2 months. I felt much better after 2 weeks, but then had a flare of my 2 seeming symptoms (costochondritis and tendonitis) at the same time last week, after trying nondenatured whey protein (supposedly has no ability to cause a reaction-but definitely did for me).

    3) At the end of 3 months on AIP, how do I know if I need to do more trouble shooting?

    4) Do you have someone you recommend to help with that? For instance, Izabella Wentz’s consultants? Shannon Garrett? Someone at Paleo Mom’s? Any other drs who help via phone or Skype?

    Thank you!!!

    1. Hi JJ. It’s impossible to avoid all lectins since all plants contains them, but grains and legumes are the ones that tend to be more problematic and are automatically excluded on the paleo autoimmune protocol. Here’s an article, if you want to learn more:

      As for bone broth stimulating TH17, I’ve seen that theory circulate on the internet but haven’t met anyone who experienced an autoimmune flare caused by bone broth. Some people who have histamine intolerance don’t do well with bone broth, but that’s a separate issue altogether:

      Be careful spending too much time on the internet following all the theories that are out there. It’s a true rabbithole, and you can lose a lot of time and cause yourself a lot of stress. Stick with a few websites you trust, and then spend your free time doing things that bring you joy. It’s very easy to forget that we are more than our illness, and the lifestyle factors (sleep, stress management, social connection, movement, time outdoors, etc.) have just as big an impact as diet:

      If you would like someone to help guide your healing journey, I wrote an article about how to find a good functional medicine practitioner with links to more resources:

  4. Dear Eileen
    This world needs more people like you and Less of the careless General Practitioners that damage the lives of so many by not diagnosing people on time and or waiting till they can label a sickness and then start prescribing convention medication which causes more damage in the long run .
    Anyway, I know there is no straight Answer to this question but generally speaking , how long can it take to heal the leaky –gut and reverse the autoimmune condition.
    My husband was diagnosed with LADA and hashimoto’s
    Disease , we have been on a strict AIP diet for 4 month , antibiotics to kill bacterial overgrowth and are also taking LDN in conjunction which has promised to do wonders for Autoimmune.
    Thank you in advance for your time

    1. Hi Isabella. There is no way to cure autoimmune disease, so the goal is to maximize our health, seeking progress not perfection. That process is actually a lifetime journey, but ideally your husband should be seeing improvements in his health after 4 months. (That’s what reversing autoimmune disease means – improving symptoms and reclaiming quality of life.) If he’s not making any improvements after 4 months, I recommend working with a functional medicine practitioner to help troubleshoot, although it sounds like you’re already working with someone if you’re addressing SIBO and also have an LDN prescription. Patience is the key, and don’t overlook the mindbody angle. Stress management for both you and your husband is such an important part of a healthy life. I’m also going to suggest something that might surprise you, but if your husband isn’t taking medication, that might be necessary for his health. Many people with Hashimotos in the AIP community find they do best combining diet and lifestyle with medication. This isn’t failure. While the AIP will hopefully prevent further damage to the thyroid, depending on the damage done prior to diagnosis, thyroid support might simply be anatomically necessary. Many of us come to the paleo community with the goal of avoiding medication, but I think a better goal is to live a vital and healthy life, with all the tools at our disposal. Your husband is lucky to have you. Wishing you both wellness!

  5. Courtney Callahan

    I learned I had Celiac Disease in November. I went gluten free and still wasn’t feeling the best. After doing research, I found the AIP diet. I did great for the first 15 days and then ate chocolate. I go for weeks doing good and then cheat and eat something that is not AIP. I am not over weight and have lost 10 lbs since starting the diet. Some days I have an appetite that won’t go away and other days I do fine. I do not understand how I am still losing weight. Not sure if something else is going on. I tried to reintroduce eggs and peas after 6 weeks but was not successful. Feeling frustrated….

    1. Courtney, with celiac disease, the damage to your small intestine makes nutrient absorption difficult. Weight loss is common until your small intestine has a chance to heal. It’s truly important that you never cheat with anything containing gluten, or the healing won’t happen. It’s also necessary to complete the elimination period without cheats before trying reintroductions, or they’ll fail simply because your body hasn’t had the time needed to calm down its overactive immune system. In the meantime, I did a podcast with paleo dietitian Amy Kubal. We troubleshoot lots of problems, including too much weight loss, if you want to give it a listen: . Amy also works with people 1:1, if you feel like more support would be beneficial. Wishing you deep healing!

  6. Hi Eileen,
    I stumbled on your blog as I have been on the AIP 30 day reset for 3 weeks now. I successfully followed the GAPS diet for the last 15 months for terrible leaky gut, then about 6 weeks ago I thought I’d be healthier by making my own almond milk, taking a different probiotic and making my own yogurt (previously buying a natural non-homo yogurt which was fine for me).
    After I introduced these 3 new things, which I didn’t think were a big deal, I started to get symptoms such as eczema, extreme fatigue, irritable, nauseous, hot flashes and clammy, feeling like throwing up….
    I took those items out of my diet and the next day felt a lift of fatigue and less itching, but the gut symptoms are taking longer to lift. I also removed eggs, dairy, nightshades and nuts just to be safe (I tolerated these items fine prior to this flare).
    These past couple days I’ve had extreme muscle pain, headaches, sore, inflamed eye (left eye only – eye dr said it looks like an allergic reaction….symptoms have been going on for a month too). stools turned soft this morning, very rumbling tummy which wakes me up early AM.
    I am following the AIP reset diet closely. This past weekend I wanted to occupy my hands so i tried making fruit leather with different fruits, berries and honey. I made some pear and peach honey (as a syrup) and canned it for later. Tasted really good so there was some sampling. I felt fine on the weekend other than a little tired in evenings.
    Could the increase in honey/fruit intake (some with seeds) be reacting with me? I am not sure and feeling really frustrated. I don’t know what else to remove from my diet! I eat winter squash, meat and seafood, vegetables and fruit (applesauce, peeled fruits, banana), sauerkraut, use coconut or grapeseed oil for cooking, salt, pepper, fresh herbs, home made chicken broth (soup). *sigh* theres been some tears of frustration lately. Any ideas? Thanks

    1. Hi Maria. It can be incredibly frustrating to have symptoms with no known cause, and to get in a whirlwind of trying to connect it to a specific food. Usually, there are many different influences at play – like stress, sleep, environment, genes, infections, etc. – alongside the food. If you haven’t read my book yet, I recommend you start there. It’s called a Simple Guide to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol, and helps clarify the AIP for a lot of people, in a non-intimidating way. It looks like are still eating some foods not allowed on the AIP (grapeseed oil and pepper) and I’m guessing there are a few others you didn’t mention. Then, remember that healing takes time – 3 weeks on the AIP isn’t very long – and it’s not linear. That said, I realize you’ve been trying to heal with GAPS for over a year now, so you might be ready for some 1:1 guidance. I recommend the team at The Paleo Mom Consulting. They’re excellent at troubleshooting. Gentle hugs to you, Maria.

    2. Consider the almonds. Some people react to them. Also, If they are not first soaked and rinsed before making the almond milk, could be the phytic acid.

  7. Hi Eileen! I did something similar to AIP last year, and I felt the best ever. I then got into a Crohn’s flare this winter, and fell off the wagon so hard. I just started AIP about 3 weeks ago, and I have to cook all of my veggies and fruits (dried and chips are okay, but I usually don’t bother unless I have a long day out). I make an exception to the cooked rule with fermented sauerkraut and kombucha, and so far they don’t seem to bother me. Anyway, wow what a difference diet alone makes. My energy is so much better, I am sleeping less (that’s a good thing – I used to sleep almost all day), and My digestive symptoms have lessened. I started by eating the same foods every day, more out of convenience than anything. Yesterday though I had enough energy to cook several different things for the next few days, so I am hopeful that will change.

    One advice I may have for people who want to cheat, try not to think of eating a naughty food as some sort of reward. It’s kind of like the average person who diets to lose weight: if you “reward” yourself after losing 5 pounds, you are going to undo some of the hard work you put into. Maybe not all, but enough. One thing I learned last year was that it was okay to reward myself without food. I enjoyed walking, and made extra time for it. Same with mani pedis, buy/read some books, traveled,did some non food activities like bowling, going to museums, etc. See a sports game if your interested. There are so many things to look forward to if you’re willing to try something different 🙂

    1. Basmah, that’s wonderful that you’ve seen so much improvement in just 3 weeks! Thanks for sharing your story, and your tips for healthy rewards. Those are all great ideas. So much about transforming our health is transforming our mindset.

  8. Hi Eileen, I am full AIP (newbee – a month) but the only thing thing I include which is not is oat milk for cups of tea – I am intolerant to coconut. It is pure, organic, just oat base of 10%, no preservative etc. Do you think this minimal amount of non-compliance could have an impact on my healing? I am feeling rather deprived on the diet and a nice cup of tea makes all the difference! I have alopecia so its difficult to monitor any affects. What are your thoughts on this.

    1. It’s tough to say, Elizabeth. Ideally, you would eliminate that for 1 month and then reintroduce it, so that you have a sense of how your body reacts. I know a lot of people reintroduce gluten-free oatmeal successfully, but not everyone. I know that alopecia tends to be a delayed response, so it’s not a good barometer of food reactions. But most people have other ways their body talks to them during the reintroduction process: digestive issues, headaches, brain fog, insomnia, etc. (if the reaction is negative.) A coconut-free AIP-friendly alternative to try would be tigernut milk.

  9. The 100% is so hard! Duh! I am so freaked and depressed about it! I am very ill with several auto-immune and other issues…and broke! I am whining hear, I know, but after 35 years of chronic illness, and full body pain equivilant to being in “transition” during childbirth, I am suffering. I am in bed 4-5 days per week. No energy. I was 100% for 6 months, as far as staying on diet. However, since I only have about 4 hrs per day of any kind of energy, I couldn’t keep up with the demand of preparing all the foods from scratch, and making sure I made broth, fermented foods, etc. I am only able to stand or sit for 30 minutes at a time without increased excruciating pain. Plus, I have cognitive impairment, so trying to organize everything and stay on track is overwhelming. I am telling you this because the idea of needing to be 100% in order to heal is so discouraging!!! You mean one little bite, or not enough broth, and I loose all the benefits of being close to perfect!?! So discouraging! I know that is not your intent, but to an extremely sick person, on disability, no resources to spend on “coaches” to help you fine tune your program, I’m ready to check out just “checking out”. BTW, my 6 months of perfecting resulted in no improvement in any of my symptoms. I had already stopped eating wheat, and that had reduced my water retention, so that was good. I’m sorry to be a complainer. I would like to start again, but I need a mentor to guide and encourage me. In my previous “life” I was a person that was up-beat and an encourager to others. I’ve been trained as a nutritionist and a psych nurse, and a teacher for developmentally disabled, but haven’t been able to work for 16 years.

    1. Oh Ruth. First of all, a big hug is coming your way. Autoimmune disease is overwhelming on its own, and I known that tackling a healing protocol from rock bottom is incredibly hard. You’re not alone in that feeling. Have you joined the AIP Support Group on Facebook. I think that might be a wonderful first step, to help you feel less alone and get some peer-to-peer advice from people walking this path with you. You can mentor each other. To answer your question, we all can only do the best we can. That said, eating off-diet foods on any kind of regular basis does act as a real obstacle to healing. I know it’s not fair! It’s just how the inflammatory response in the body works. We need to stop triggering it in order to heal. However, if the diet feels too overwhelming right now, you might start with the mindbody connection. That has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect as well. I recommend listening to my podcast interview with Donna Jackson Nakazawa. As a psych nurse, I think it might really resonate with you. Wishing you wellness in every way!

      1. Eileen,
        I do thank you for your kind response. And, no I have not yet connected with the support group. I will do that, and also will check out the interview you suggested. I am aware of how our bodies are so affected by our “states of mind” and even hold memories of any past trauma. I could use a re-fresher on that, so thanks. I’ve been “stuck” and in some fear about starting up the auto immune protocol again. Mostly because I keep thinking that if I am loyal to the 100% process, and then make even 1 small slip, I would be undoing weeks or months of effort. Then, I read here from you , “eating off diet foods in any regular basis does act as a real obstacle to healing” . So, am I over stressing? In no way am I looking to slip on a “regular basis”. I’ve been interpreting needing to be 100% as if one taste or small bite of something off diet every month or something as enough to throw off all the progress. I fear I’ll make one small slip and I will reverse all my progress. Or what if one day I use a whole teaspoon of maple syrup rather than a half, or 3 servings of fruit instead of 2…get my meaning? Due to that, I’m afraid to start again, knowing I am “weak” at times when tempted. I’m sure that sounds neurotic! Is that interpretation of 100% accurate? I thank you ahead of time, if you are able to help me with that part of my dilemma. And again, thank you for your kindness.

        1. Hi Ruth. This is such a good question. I think there’s a fine line between 100% commitment and AIP perfectionism. This post is mostly speaking to the people who are only 80% committed to the AIP, eat off diet pretty regularly and wonder why they’re not improving. That doesn’t sound like you. Having a little extra fruit or maple syrup to satisfy a sweet craving once in a while won’t hurt you. Making desserts a primary part of your diet however, would. See the difference? As for your other questions about eating a little something off-diet once/month. Instead of doing that, I recommend being strict AIP for 30 days and then going through the reintroduction process instead. That way, you’ll learn which foods you can safely eat and which ones you need to keep avoiding. For me, I got eggs, chocolate and white rice back, along with all the fruit-based and seed-based spices. I can also have 1-2 glasses of wine a month with no problems. That felt very freeing! I also learned I needed to avoid dairy and nightshades 100% because even a small taste would put me in pain for a couple of weeks to a couple of months, depending on the severity of my reaction. That’s not something I’ll risk even occasionally. Does this make sense? And if you’re not ready to do the diet again right now – if it would add too much stress to your life — wait until you feel calmer about the idea. Because stress is an autoimmune trigger, and you already have more stress than you deserve. That’s why I think it’s fine to work the mind-body piece right now and wait a while before returning to the diet. You’ll know when you’re ready.

          1. Yes, you have clarified my concerns beautifully, and I thank you for it. I have developed much respect for your knowledge and your compassion as I have read what you have offered on your site during the past year. I appreciate your ability to share “the truth” about what one needs to do to move towards healing, yet you speak it “with love”. Thank you!

  10. I did look into it and I don’t have problems with all sulfur rich foods or with sulfur based medications. I do have issues with other foods that are not high in sulphur. I didn’t share the entire list because of time limitations. Coffee is the worst for me but there are others. I just wanted to make a point that just because a food is AIP safe, it doesn’t mean an individual won’t react to it. Bodies are all so different (and fascinating).

  11. I’m wondering if something you increase eating when you go AIP is a food intolerance or sensitivity for you. Just because foods are AIP ok doesn’t mean you and I (or others) won’t have a reaction to them. I’ve known people who have reacted to lettuce, to broccoli, to fish, to sweet potatos. I’d recommend looking at what you eat when you go on this diet and trying to eliminate them one at a time for a couple weeks and then challenge them by having a serving for two consecutive meals and waiting three days to see if you react. From the sounds of it you’ll know it. I had to go to rice, chicken, and veggies for a couple of weeks and then challenge foods from there one at a time. Because we knew I didn’t react to rice or zucchini or chicken (I had been so sick I lived off it to get better) that’s how I started. Same thing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for two weeks, then added carrots, then added sweet potato, then added peas,….worked through vegetables first then on to other proteins and fruit, nuts seeds. Oh, I tested eggs early because I missed them so much we thought they were likely a culprit. They weren’t (thank goodness). It’s laborious but it helps you identify what might be the problem. After I eliminated them, then I did the AIP with no problems but I avoid broccoli, cauliflower, kale, mushrooms….. I have a list that I react to other than the usual gluten, dairy, and soy which are murder for me. I wish you the best of luck.

  12. Hi, I could really do with some guidance. I am on my 3rd try of complete compliance on the autoimmune paleo diet, as each time I follow it, after about day 5 I have trouble sleeping so give up. I am currently on day 9 and have had barely any sleep for 4 nights so am thinking of giving up again. I eat plenty of healthy carbs, fats, protein and calories. It’s frustrating as I’d really like to stick with it but my mood is dropping and I can barely function – not helpful when I have an interview in a couple of days and have to work, etc. Do you have any advice on this? Usually I sleep really well, it’s just affected when I try this diet. Many thanks in advance.

    1. How strange. I’ve never heard about that before, Becky. I wonder if your body is going through some kind of detox? Maybe try taking Epsom Baths before bed or drinking some Natural Calm Magnesium until your body makes the transition? If that doesn’t work, I would check with a functional medicine practitioner to find out what’s going on. Sometimes a negative symptom like that can actually be diagnostic for gut pathogens or parasites, and a well trained practitioner can make some educated recommendations.

  13. I’m on my first week of AIP and have had only marginal success, even though I’ve been 100%. I tried baking muffins with coconut flour, and my stomach is all torn up. Also used the powdered stevia in the raw, which is supposed to be okay. Coconut oil, coconut milk, and coconut butter are fine, so what’s up with the flour? I think it’s the flour. It’s so bad I can’t go to sleep!

  14. This is so right on. I feel I’m meticulous about my diet, but I’m still staying up til midnight with homework , housework and watching tv. I needed this to remind me how important sleep really is!

  15. Thank you for these reminders-I find this information to be very overwhelming and have worked with a functional medicine doctor to help maneuver through it. Do you know by any chance if I took a food sensitivity test and neither nightshades or Dairy came up on that… Can I still consume it moderately or am I still to completely avoid it. There seems to be little information on this and I am not sure where to research.

    1. Hi Kristen. Sadly, food sensitivity testing isn’t very accurate. Every test contains some false positives and false negatives. An elimination diet is considered the “gold standard” as an accurate way to know whether you can or can’t tolerate a certain food. Stick to strict AIP (no dairy/no nightshades) until you are ready for reintroductions, and then use my guide to do them correctly. Then, you’ll learn how sensitive you are to dairy and nightshades, truly.

      1. Thanks! I have completed many elimination diets without much progress which was i did they testing – simply out of frustration and to see if i could get any answers, I’ll keep trying – thank you for your reply.

  16. I am overwhelmed with wonderful information and writing in this paleo world. My heart fills up with warmth because you’ve managed to get out of the quick sand of being almost prosecuted for not agreeing with pharmaceutical appiroach. I have much inspiration but absolutely need more basic help to get started. I’ve been’diagnosed’ with MS but almost all cognitive disability results. I don’t even agree with the diagnosis …but truly need some healthy help to have the strength to disagree. I am overwhelmed with the good & bad of such enlightened education.
    Please help me get to the simplistic tools to jump/leap in. I’ve had much experience finding effects of food …but cognitively need help with day to day plan (on tight budget)
    Business development/communications has been my speciality, I want to use this gift to change what is seen in health … but I need help getting there (like a color by numbers way 🙂

    1. Hi April. There’s a program starting soon that I believe will be perfect for you. It’s called SAD to AIP in SIX, and it’s a guided online group class, helping you transition from a standard american diet to the paleo autoimmune protocol. Everything from grocery lists to meal plans to emotional support is provided, and it’s only $80. Here’s a link to more information: . I know the group leader personally, and she’s an amazing health coach.

  17. Can we talk about the 100% really quick? So first time around I successfully reintroduced a few things and then binged and sabotaged myself. I’m starting again, but thought that it would be fine to keep in the stuff I successfully reintroduced. Do you agree? Also – I’m going on a family vacation in two weeks. I’ve worked everything out of my diet except spices that are day in sausage or salad dressing. Do you think it’s okay to take them the rest of the way out after vacation just to keep things more manageable with others?

    1. Hi Stephanie. Yes, I think you can keep in the items you successfully reintroduced. As for the spices, that’s up to you. If you want to wait until after vacation to remove them, you can absolutely eliminate foods in stages. But after vacation, I recommend eliminating the spices too and then be 100% strict with your protocol for at least 30 days before doing more reintroductions. Have a wonderful vacation!

  18. Thanks so much for this, I feel really inspired and supported by your blog! I’ve been on the AIP for 20 days and am surprised to find im loving the food and enjoying extending my cooking skills. Im on my own so don’t have the issue of getting family on board, but am finding it hard to negotiate socialising with friends when there is an expectation to relax and just eat whatever, have a glass of wine etc etera. So far I’ve been negotiating this by not going out much, which isn’t good, so if anyone has any tips for working around this without having to give a whole speech to my friends I’d appreciate it.

    1. Salana I’ve had similar issues with well meaning friends and family sabotaging me. In the end I realised that the power lay completely with me. Instead of saying “I can’t have that” I say “I don’t eat/drink that anymore”. A few other sentences I’ve found helpful are “yes I’m missing out- missing out on gut pain, bloating, joint pain, aching muscles and brain fog.” “Yes. For me it is worth it.” “Please feel free to eat/drink whatever you normally do. I respect your right to choose what you put in your mouth,lease respect mine”. “Yes a little bit does matter. If I was allergic to penicillin would you ask if I could have a little bit?” “Actually my diet is healthier and more varied now than when I was eating whatever I wanted.”

      When people see you’re serious about this but you’re not trying to change anyone else then I find they usually become more supportive even to the point of including me in the decision making re where to go to make sure there are alternatives all of us can have.
      Feel empowered to make good choices and done apologise or feel guilty for looking after your remarkable self. Xo

  19. I have been on the aip diet for two weeks and not feeling any better. I just saw the comment about spirulina and chlorella. They are both in the brand of kombucha I have been drinking. I drink one a day. I haven’t gotten to the point of making my own yet. I have noticed that I do feel bad almost immediately after consuming one, but assumed it was a die off reaction. I am so glad I saw this!

  20. This is such a wonderful post and so true. You summed it up well. I wished the people I help would truly understand the factors you mentioned. They would wish they adhered from the very beginning and regret wasting their time. Thanks for this article!

  21. Hi Eileen,

    Reading this post was just what I needed today. I’ve been very ill with a Crohns flare (I believe it’s stress induced) and I try to follow a strict AIP when I’m in a flare, but when I’m feeling “better” I do the 80/20 rule for sure (the 20 % is usually rice four, rice pasta, nightshades, and some other gluten free grains). It’s such a vicious cycle. I just have to get it through my thick skull that if I stay on a healing diet 100% of the time the stress won’t break me down like it does because my body will be strong, ready, and less burdened by the bad foods. I am just loving all your support AIP/autoimmune related posts. I so appreciate all your wisdom and advice.

    Big Hugs,

    1. Oh Amber, I’m so sorry you’re having a flare. I think we go 100% when we’re ready, and it sounds like you’re getting close. There’s a grief process in giving up some of those favorite foods, but when the reward is a flare-free life, it’s so worth it. Gentle hugs to you, my friend. May your flare pass quickly.

  22. Thanks so much for this information, Eileen. I’ve been so careful to be 100% compliant with the elimination, but not so good about the bone broth/organ meat/etc, and I’ve been at this now for 10 months but still flaring with awful itching and skin lesions. Apart from that – the reason I started the AIP! – I feel pretty great. My arthritis is way better, I’ve lost weight without worrying about it and my energy level is so much better too. But the flare-ups frustrate me. A good friend who has been wonderfully supportive is frustrated on my behalf(!) (I guess I’ve been kind of miserable this past week), and now is urging me to ditch this approach and try following Joel Fuhrman’s program. I studied that and was very influenced before I started learning about Paleo and AIP which made even more sense to me. But now my friend is suggesting I’m lacking something I need – like beans – and I should be eating less animal protein.
    It seems like I’m at the spot where I should enlist the help of a nutritional therapy consultant. But omigod how do I figure out who to see?? I don’t want to get more confused. Is there any direction you can suggest for that??
    In the meantime, I’m taking your other suggestions to heart -> bone broth etc. and I definitely need the stress relief and sleep improvement. Loved the information about emotional therapy with tapping linked above – thanks so much for that.

    1. Hi Barbara. It sounds like you know exactly what areas to improve. Increase the nutrient density and healing foods. Get a handle on sleep and stress. Those factors alone might be the key to stopping your flares. I noticed a dramatic reduction in my inflammation when I put myself on a regular sleep schedule. Here’s a quote from the Paleo Approach: “Let me be clear. Dietary changes aren’t effective in isolation. If you don’t address lifestyle factors as well, it won’t matter how ideal your food choices are.” Sarah (Paleo Mom) deals out the tough love we need! My other advice is to look into your sugar consumption and also a possible intolerance to yeast. For skin conditions, those two factors frequently play a role. As to where to look for nutritional help, I trust Mickey (Autoimmune-Paleo) and Katy (the Paleo Nurse). They both know the AIP very well and know how to help people troubleshoot. Thanks so much for writing. Don’t give up! The fact that you lost weight, have more energy, and your arthritis have improved are all signs you’re on the right path.

      1. Thanks so much for your help, Eileen! I’m concentrating more on the sleep and stress relief now, and the possibility of yeast intolerance. Yikes -> vinegar and berries and fermented food – all very much in my day-to-day diet. Thanks, too, for the links to Mickey and Katy.

  23. great article! But i wonder what is 100% i have found that my pills contain sorbitol, manitol and even potatoe starch, and my porbiotics contain traces of dairy. I really need them… but does this mean that i am not 100% ?I am also very fodmap sensitive and keep falling off the wagon when i socialize. But no more! thank you for the pep talk!

    1. i think you answered your own question! When we eat foods that we know trigger our sensitivities, we aren’t committing 100%. As for the pills, look for alternatives. There are definitely allergen-free probiotics available, and talk to your pharmacist about options for allergen-free prescription medications. These small changes might make a really big difference in how you feel, and you deserve to feel great!

  24. Interesting info on sleep! I know it’s important to good health, but didn’t realize a lack of sleep messed with so much. Thanks for all the good info you have faithfully shared at the Healthy Tuesday hop, Eileen. I’ll miss your joining in!

  25. I really appreciate your response and your concern. Yes, I have been with several different doctors over the past 12 years. It has been quite a journey. I hoping there will be an end to it in the future.

    1. Hi Cathi,
      I read your responses here. This may be a shot in the dark but your comments reminded me of me.

      Have you been tested for IgG antibodies? I did a test of over 200 and found I was allergic to carrots and pineapple. Both allowed on AIP. In addition I’ve become sensitive to other things like peas on the AIP. If you haven’t done this it might help.

      When I started juicing I realised afterwards that I didn’t get as much pain. Eating any solids triggers terrible pain. My stomach is in such a bad state of health. So maybe it’s the type of food you eat – e.g. solid foods over more mushy / liquid ones?

      Do you have fibromyalgia? I’m Hashi with IBS. One thing I do use on the AIP which is ‘banned’ but then I’m not gliadin (gluten) sensitive – just wheat sensitive, is hemp powder. Hemp (obviously not the drug version) is the highest protein in vegetable format and is legendary for aiding in healing. I find my tummy does better with it than without it. As does my joint pain.

      I have huge issues with sleep too. I’ve found eating less protein in the morning so a green veggie juice in the morning helps. I add hemp, chlorella, spirulina, berries and coconut milk for its nutrients and oil too. At night I have a dense meat broth. Eating food groups this way around through the day helps me to sleep. If I mix it up and have carbs later on – I don’t sleep.

      I’ve read in weight loss material that your body learns to ‘expect’. And routine helps with this. But I’ve never seen it linked to AIP or gut healing (it may well have been I’ve just not seen it). I wonder if when your body is uncertain about what you’re going to eat and when it will get the food, it slows healing down – or stops it? My own experiences with my terrible gut have made me think about this but it seems possible that with routine doses of food, it should allow healing to progress. Just a thought.

      Best wishes to you Cathi for your health and healing journey. xx

      1. Thanks for sharing your suggestion, and hopefully Cathi will find them helpful. It highlights how individual we all are. For example, green juicing increases pain in a lot of people due to the high oxalate content, and chlorella and spirulina are immune system stimulants that make some people’s symptoms worse. Also, a lot of people find carbs before bed helps them sleep rather than keeps them awake. So, we’re all unique snowflakes! This isn’t meant to be criticism of what you’re doing at all. Just an example of how troubleshooting can be complex, which is why I recommend people work with a nutritional therapy practitioner when it’s time to troubleshoot. For anyone else reading this thread, my recommendation is to stick with the AIP for 3 months before troubleshooting, because it can take that long to start seeing improvements, and for many people, further modifications aren’t necessary.

  26. I’ve got to say that what you say is true for most people, but I have been doing what you say for over two years now, and I still do not have good sleep and I still have pain in my body. Not as bad as it use to be but it’s still there. I also have to say that I do not eat any starches or sugars for exception of occasional Honey and that’s. I also was not eating any nightshades up to about a month ago. So, unless it takes for ever to heal. I’ve done and have not cheated. And you need to think about those out in the group that are like me and still not completely healed, maybe better but not perfect. I pretty much excepted the fact that I may never completely be relieved from pain. BUT I’m not going to feel guilty, because of what you say that I should be healed, when I’m doing everything, I’m suppose to do. Unless there is another unlying problem like hestimines or something else that requires me to eliminate more foods out of the paleo diet. I’m doing all that I’m suppose to do. So, please realize there is more than just what you are saying. Sorry, I just had to right this, because I’m tired of feeling guilty that I’m doing something wrong. But that’s what you article makes me feel like. It may be the truth, but it’s not the whole truth. Sincerely, Cathi Gross

    1. Cathi, I can tell you’re in pain and that influences every experience you have. I’ve been there. I’m sorry you felt like this article inspired guilt. This article actually never said you were making any mistakes. It’s just a list of some mistakes people make. I’m sorry you felt attacked; that was never my intention. This blog is about encouraging people, not discouraging them. Autoimmune disease is never anyone’s fault, and sometimes healing is a tricky journey, and it sounds like yours is. At this point, I highly recommend you work with an expert in the field, if you aren’t already. Here’s an article full of resources: Personalizing Nutritional Healing for Your Specific Needs

      1. Hi Cathi,

        I’m sorry you are struggling so. I did so for many many years. I think the quote at the beginning of this article pretty much sums it up…we have to fall down to learn to walk and with diet, we have to try many things before we get it right. You are incredibly determined from the sounds of it.

        I thought I would share a bit of my experience in case it might help you. Nothing I changed mattered. Ok, some things helped. Adding Iodoral helped, Vitamin D helped, dropping gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, corn and more….the gluten, dairy, and soy helped as did eliminating sugar and starchy anything…and fruit. But those were incremental improvements and I had great pain, difficulty moving, gut issues we just shouldn’t go into in public, and it affected every aspect of my life. I got lucky (and it really was either luck or divine providence…whatever you believe, because I had no idea what I was doing). While trying to do a heavy metals test (cuz when you feel that bad you try anything), I learned my doc had just shut down (because THAT was great timing…). The only other doc I knew of who did that was in town gave me the test and when the results came back (through the roof) and I started chelating I came down with shingles (because life wasn’t rotten enough)…and ended up back in her office. Six weeks later another round of shingles… Not fun. And I told her something was very very wrong… Our meetings had been superficial up till then with me needing a metals test, being given chelators, and addressing shingles. When we sat down and did some work, it turns out I have long term Chronic Lyme and associated coinfections. The coinfections, Bartonella and Babesia particularly (there are others), affect the gut. It was not an easy path and things got worse before they got better but….treating Bart and Babs (We’re on first name basis now), helped SO much. I also treated the Lyme (Borrelia) and other coinfections but I’m thriving now. Growing stronger, I eat paleo because I feel better on it. So, you are right. There are so many factors that come into play that diet alone cannot fix. Without some low level antibiotics, a bunch of herbal concoctions, homeopathics, etc, I would not be doing as well as I am. I do not remember ever getting a tick bite. Never had a bullseye till just before treatment. Still, in looking at my records, we can clearly identify that I was symptomatic and seeking treatment for 33 years before I accidently stumbled into her office. If this continues, you might go to a Lyme Literate Doctor. Your regular doc will be dismissive. To find a Lyme Literate Doctor near you, go to: In the upper right corner is a ‘contact us’ link. Write them giving your location and they will send the name(s) of the LLD’s nearest you. I don’t know that you have it but it’s something to rule out and your mainstream doc cannot rule it out. No training and they were taught it’s rare and doesn’t exist most places. Best of luck. My hat is off to you for all you have tried and are trying. I hope you find your answer….

      2. Hi Eileen, I don’t think your article inspired guilt at all. I think people who feel guilty often do so because they know they have something to be guilty about. I’m not trying to be judgemental but I’ve met hundreds of people with autoimmune diseases who say they are strict, only to find out that they occasionally chat with alcohol, cheese, grains, gluten, soy, etc. So is she really being 100% compliant? Maybe…but maybe not. I have compassion for the woman who wrote this to you, but maybe there are triggers in her supplements? She sounds angry; maybe she needs to work on the emotional component of it? As your article states, diet is just one complement. I had to completely change in order to experience real healing progress and am still trying to figure out the missing pieces of the puzzles, of which stress and anxiety are biggies. I thought I was going to die twice in the past three years from autoimmune flares and a severe adrenal crash. But I’ve discovered how resilient my body is. And if this woman understood how a healing diet and lifestyle work, it’s that it takes time to reverse symptoms. I’m nowhere near where I want to be, but I will NEVER EVER give up because I’m angry that I haven’t made more progress; in fact, in only makes me MORE committed to my healing. Peace and blessings!!

    2. Cathi, you are not without commiserators here! How brave of you to be so open and honest. My story is similar (2 years AIP) and through testing found I have crazy high methane SIBO. I’m dealing with it now and when I’m on antibiotics (prescription and botanical intermittently under a doc’s care), I achieve a deeper level of healing. SIBO is a battle and so I can’t say I’m all healed, but I know I’ve found the culprit.

  27. Such great points! I think have come to terms with each of these- not all at once but slowly through out my AIP journey. As I’ve realized each one, my healing has benefited that much more. Thank you for posting!

  28. Very timely article. I’ve been really frustrated with not feeling 100% lately. And if I’m not giving 100% then I won’t feel 100%. Going to pull up my AIP Cookbook and start the 4 weeks over again today…not cheats. Thanks for the inspiration. Any suggestions on a group or way to keep accountability with someone else while doing it? I find it’s a lot easier to do that but I don’t have very many friends with Hashimoto’s to do this along side of me.

  29. Thank you for this post, Eileen! I laughed at your analogy “Marriages with only 80% commitment don’t make it.” Your experience & wisdom, (& your willingness to share it) is such a tremendous contribution. Thank you!

  30. Good timing for me to get these reminders! I plan to do restart this program strictly again after I read Sarah’s book, The Paleo Approach. In my case, I believe I may still be reacting to something that’s allowed on the AIP, and she said her book will have suggestions on how I can track it down. I have the added complication that some of my required medications include dairy and unspecified starches!

    I’m partial AIP now. My biggest problem has always been the reintroduction, as you said. It’s so hard to follow that slow, step-by-step process when it’s time to start reintroducing foods, but I’m determined to do it properly this time!

    My sister and I live together, and I’ve been very fortunate that’s she’s extremely supportive. She doesn’t have any significant health issues, but enjoys eating Paleo. However, she finds the AIP too restrictive and frustrating. We normally cook and share our lunches and dinners together, so this will be a challenge for us.

    Before I start the full AIP again, I plan to sit down with her, carefully explain what I need to accomplish and the full timeline that may be involved, and see if we can brainstorm together how we can make it work for both of us – whether we continue to share most meals, or eat more separately, or a combination.

    I’m also working on trying to stabilize my sleep. At least half my nights, I’m getting 8-9 hours sleep. Yea!

    Thanks for sharing all these resources! I find them very helpful.

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