Note : I created this AIP Quick Start Guide to accompany this post, and help make AIP as simple as possible for you.
If you’re experiencing autoimmunity, the Autoimmune Protocol could help you turn your health around. This Beginner’s Guide to The Autoimmune Paleo Diet will cover everything you need to know to get started today.
My first symptoms of autoimmunity started in 2016, when I developed a bald patch, later diagnosed as alopecia areata. That patch continued to grow for months until I found out about the AIP diet. After sticking strictly to the AIP diet for eight months, my patch filled in, and my overall health improved immensely.
It’s important for me to mention that while it seems benign, alopecia is a canary in the coal mine for other autoimmune issues. Yeah, it’s a major cosmetic inconvenience, but it’s also a possible symptom of systemic inflammation, more serious autoimmune issues, and intestinal permeability.
I’m happy to say in addition to the patch filling in, the AIP diet also helped with my chronic symptoms of depression, anxiety, brain fog, and constant fatigue. Gut health plays a major role in brain chemistry, and I’m certain that AIP continues to help me with both my gut and brain.
In short, the AIP diet has helped me tremendously, and I’m sure it will help many others too!
How AIP Works
The AIP Diet is backed by copious amounts of research, studies, and peer reviewed data. The science is astounding, and you can learn in depth by reading The Paleo Approach, by Dr. Sarah Ballyntyne.
How AIP Works
- Eliminates Common Irritants that are known to trigger immune responses. This allows your system to cool off and chill the heck out.
- Reduces Inflammation by focusing on nutrient dense, anti-inflammatory foods and removing inflammatory foods.
- Encourages Gut Healing by eliminating gut irritants, and adding in gut healing foods. Autoimmunity is always caused in part by compromised gut health, so this is crucial.
- Helps Reveal Which Foods Don’t Agree With Your System by adding eliminated foods back in very slowly over the course of a few weeks or months.
- Helps to balance out hormones by reducing inflammation, enhancing nutrient density, and cutting out things like coffee and alcohol (those are also eliminated because they irritate the gut)
The AIP Diet
Before you go any further, I made you an AIP Quick Start Printout Guide. This guide includes a very detailed list of listing all the foods to avoid and focus on with AIP. It’ll also give you some meal ideas.
The AIP diet is about getting rid of potential irritants, and adding in lots of healing, nutrient dense foods. After your symptoms clear up, add foods back in slowly to see if you have any reactions to them. Keep an open mind, and know that you can absolutely make this diet a part of your lifestyle for awhile.
AIP Permitted Foods List
- Any and all unprocessed proteins, seafood, etc
- Organ Meats
- Any vegetables except nightshades
- Any fruits (in moderation)
- Coconut Milk
- Fermented Foods
- Healthy Fats
- Healthy carbs come from yucca, squashes, plantains, & sweet potatoes
- Tigernuts (which aren’t actually nuts)
Some of my favorite meals are My Green Smoothie, Salmon & Veggies with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Shredded Beef Tacos on cassava or jicama tortillas, air fried chicken thighs on top of a big salad with plantain chips on the side….I could go on and on.
That’s part of the reason I decided to create this blog and get back on YouTube. This diet is going to help so many people, but it can be tricky if you don’t have a nutritional background like I do. So I’m sharing these AIP recipes.
Bottom line: The “allowed” list might look short, but the varieties of proteins, vegetables, and fruits are so vast. There are hundreds of foods that make up all the elements on this list. It’s definitely not as restrictive as it seems at first.
(Immune System Triggers & Irritants)
- Grainlike Seeds
- Seeds and nuts
- Spices from seeds or nuts
- Spices from nightshades
- Problematic sweeteners
- Chemical Preservatives or additives
- Artificial sweeteners
- Processed vegetable oil
How to Start
- Look through the list of approved foods from this printout, and stock up on groceries
- Batch cook twice per week
- Remove all tempting food triggers from your house.
- Don’t go out to eat for a few weeks, to avoid cross contaminants & cheating
- Bonus step, but if you can, organize your fridge. Here’s a step by step guide on organizing a healthy fridge.
What To Expect
More Cooking – AIP requires a good amount of cooking and meal prepping. You will cook most of the food you eat, which leads to…..
Better Cooking Skills – Eating out isn’t even enjoyable for me anymore because I’m such great cook now, I can make most things way better than a restaurant can, for a fraction of the cost.
Cravings – You might have a some cravings. But as time passes, your taste buds will change. Also, there is a healthy option for every craving.
Lower Energy – You might have a slight dip in energy. Cutting out coffee and grains will mean you won’t have that superficial energy. But this too shall pass, and you’ll soon have…
Balanced Energy – After a short time, your energy will balance out. You’ll notice you wake up feeling brighter and clearer, and you’ll feel sharp well into the afternoons. Yay!
Changes in Digestion – Your gut is going to heal, and your microbiome is going to change on this diet. That means bowel habits will change too. This will normalize in a few weeks.
New Ways of Socializing – Eating out isn’t practical when doing strict AIP. Socializing with loved ones in new settings will fill this gap. Things like taking a bike ride together, or going to a painting class can be even more fun than dinner.
Weight Loss – The AIP diet reduces inflammation, and improves digestion. It also helps with hormone health, cellular health, and is highly packed with nutrients. All of this will help your weight to stabilize.
Clearer Skin – Acne can be caused by food sensitivities or irregular blood sugar levels. By cutting out common allergens like dairy and gluten, you might notice a significant reduction in acne.
Reduction in Autoimmunity – AIP will allow your immune system to cool off. This let’s your healing mechanisms kick in, and return you to a healthy state. All the cooking and adjustments will be rewarded when your symptoms clear up, and you feel better than ever!
Think of this entire process as part of your metamorphosis into an even healthier, stronger, more vibrant you.
How Long Will This Take?
The answer to this is different for everyone. The good news is that the human body is a self healing machine! Healing is inevitable so long as you give the body what it needs, and get rid of anything that interferes with it’s overall health.
Many people start this diet and quit in the first month when they don’t see results. They say things like “I tried it for four weeks and noticed no improvement.” Healing takes time. Especially healing of the immune system. Healing the immune system means healing SO MANY different things; the gut, the brain, the nervous system, the endocrine system, etc. You’re healing YOUR ENTIRE SYSTEM.
All that said, you’ll probably start to feel better in a few weeks, and should have significant improvement of your symptoms within a year. My first, huge alopecia patch filled in after eight strict months of AIP. Subsequent patches I get from time to time fill in on average with four months of strict AIP. But everyone is different.
The answer to this also depends on your lifestyle, stress management, spiritual practices, and overall enjoyment in life. Try to enjoy life as much as you can. This will speed up your healing process. Stop doing things you don’t enjoy as soon as possible, and start doing things you do enjoy.
AIP Sample Day Menu
Breakfast – Smoothie & Smoked Salmon, Trilogy Kombucha
Lunch – Salad with Protein (protein leftovers from the night before)
Berries with coconut flakes
Dinner – Air Fryer Chicken Thighs
Roasted Vegetable Medley, Sauerkraut
Once your autoimmune symptoms have cleared up, you can start to reintroduce foods. To reintroduce things, it’s important to add them back in one at a time over the course of several weeks or months.
The reintroduction phase is a chance to learn which foods you should and shouldn’t eat. There are certain foods you’ll be able to add in with no problem. But there might be certain foods that just don’t agree with you right now. Wait a few more months and try again.
No matter what methods you are using to heal, know that your body is capable of harmony. Keep hope and faith, and above all else, stay peaceful.