Strict AIP Isn’t Meant to Last Forever — What A Personalized AIP Looks Like (Guest Post by Eileen Laird)

This post contains affiliate links. Click here to see what that means!

In order to support our blogging activities, we may receive monetary compensation or other types or remuneration for our endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

That being said, we only promote authors, products, and services that we wholeheartedly stand by!

I’m taking a break from blogging this summer as I focus on my move, but in the meantime I have some great guest posts on various topics lined up from the autoimmune community. This post is by Eileen Laird, who blogs at Phoenix Helix.

Eileen Birthday.jpg

MISCONCEPTIONS

That’s a picture of me on my birthday, eating a paleo chocolate cake. Yes, the cake included eggs and cocoa, so how can I be AIP? The answer: I started AIP 12 months before and had successfully reintroduced eggs and chocolate.

When I first researched the paleo diet and learned that it was a lifestyle, not a quick-fix, of course I was disappointed. Who doesn’t want a quick fix? Then I saw the AIP (also known as the paleo autoimmune protocol), and thought, ‘Are you kidding me?! How can I eat such a restricted diet forever?!’ I misunderstood:  I thought that since the paleo diet was a permanent one, so was the AIP. I think a lot of people make this mistake. The AIP is actually an elimination diet, designed to be temporary. It removes common food intolerances, allowing the inflammation in your body to calm down and healing to begin to take place. Once you see clear improvement in your autoimmune condition, the next step is reintroductions. It’s a slow, careful process, where you test each food on the AIP, to see if it’s good or bad for you. Everyone’s different in which foods they can reintroduce, but almost everyone can expand their diet in some way, and a diverse diet is both more enjoyable and more nutritious.

A lot of the AIP bloggers, myself included, offer our blogs as resources for people going through the elimination phase of the AIP. That’s the hardest menu to navigate, especially when you first make the switch. A lot of your standard meals are no longer an option, and it helps to have guidance on the foods you can eat. A side effect, though, is that many people think we are all still strict AIP. It’s not true. None of us are. So this article is designed to show you what life on the AIP looks like long-term. There are certain aspects that are forever, like eating nutrient-dense foods and prioritizing a healthy lifestyle. When it comes to the food restrictions, though, it’s all about personalization, and finding the diet that is best for you.

  • Sarah Ballantyne: The author of The Paleo Approach, the blogger behind The Paleo Mom, and the leading voice of the AIP community. She has an autoimmune skin condition called lichen planus, and she began experimenting with the AIP in early 2012 (which inspired the research that eventually became her book). She went strict AIP in the Fall of 2012 and began her reintroductions a year later. She found that egg yolks and cultured ghee actually made her feel better, so they are now a regular part of her diet. She can also eat seed-based spices freely. Some other foods she can enjoy in small portions once or twice a week (but not daily) are: chocolate, nuts, seeds, egg whites and coffee. The biggest thing she learned is how much her lifestyle affects her food tolerance: “When I am working late nights (like while finishing the cookbook) or my stress level is unusually high, I find my tolerance for all of these foods diminishes and I have to go back to square one (and frustratingly, that’s when I crave these foods more). My healing really sped up when I learned how to meditate, go to bed earlier, and support my circadian rhythms (by spending time outside during the day and wearing amber tinted glasses in the evening). For me, my healing journey has been just as much about lifestyle as it’s been about food.”
  • Mickey Trescott you all know well. She blogs here at Autoimmune-Paleo and is the author of the Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook. Her AI challenges are Hashimoto’s and Celiac. If you follow her on Instagram, you know she’s been able to reintroduce foods, because she often shares photos of her expanded meals. She eased herself into the AIP in late 2011. She tested some reintroductions after a few months, but found that for the most part, she needed more time to heal. At first, she could only tolerate seed-based spices and limited soaked nuts and seeds. The longer she was on the AIP, the more she was able to reintroduce. Now, 2 years later, she can eat the following foods occasionally: all nuts and seeds (except cashews and peanuts), soy-free eggs, fresh legumes (green beans and peas), some nightshades (potatoes and peppers), white rice, and alcohol (wine and hard cider). She limits herself, enjoying nuts/seeds/eggs a couple of times per week, and the rest of the foods a few times per month. Otherwise she eats strict AIP the majority of the time. She finds if she overdoes any of the reintroduced foods, she doesn’t feel her best. When I asked her what lifestyle change had the biggest impact on her healing, she answered, “Sleep!”
  • Eileen Laird: I’m the blogger behind Phoenix Helix and the author of the guide, Reintroducing Foods on the AIP. With the goal of reversing rheumatoid arthritis, I began the AIP in January 2013. I began my reintroductions just 6 weeks later, but I had been paleo for 6 months before that, and did the reintroductions very slowly over 5 months’ time. I am able to enjoy all of the Stage 1 Reintroduction Foods daily: egg yolks, fresh legumes, fruit-based spices, seed-based spices, seed and nut oils, and grass-fed ghee. I also do well with whole eggs, white rice, and homemade dark chocolate. Once or twice a month, I enjoy a glass of wine, and I save nuts for special occasions (like a pumpkin pie with a nut-based crust on Thanksgiving.) If I had to pick the one lifestyle change that impacted my healing the most, I would say meditation. When I was flaring, it was the one thing that could give me peace; it didn’t remove my pain, but it did soothe my sadness/anger/fear, and that was a huge gift.
  • Anne Angelone: A functional medicine practitioner and author of the Autoimmune Paleo Breakthrough. Her AI challenge is ankylosing spondylitis, and she started strict AIP in 2012 and began reintroductions 6 months later. She can now enjoy the following foods daily: nuts, seeds, coffee, cocoa, and seed based spices. When I asked what lifestyle change had the biggest impact on her healing, she said exercise: yoga and swimming specifically, and the more she heals, the greater her strength and endurance.
  • Jo Romero: The blogger behind Comfort Bites and the author of the e-book Simple AIP Comfort Food. She turned to the AIP in July 2013, to heal her psoriasis, and started the reintroduction process 30 days later. She can now eat fruit-based spices, seed-based spices and whole seeds daily, egg yolks once a week (but not egg whites), white rice once a week, cooked tomatoes once a fortnight (but can’t tolerate raw), goat cheese once a month (but no other dairy), and nightshade spices once a month. She also enjoys dark chocolate on special occasions, but doesn’t eat it regularly, because she finds it causes sugar cravings, and too much sugar makes her psoriasis flare. Here’s what she says about the power of lifestyle: “By far the biggest lifestyle change that accelerated my healing was managing stress. I went to see a counsellor to learn mindfulness techniques, took up yoga and I make sure I get half an hour purely to myself every day, just to sit and relax. It’s not much, but it has made a HUGE difference.”
  • Whitney Ross Gray: The blogger behind Nutrisclerosis. You can tell by that name that she’s reversing MS. She started the AIP in 2010 and went through the reintroduction process a year later. She now enjoys all spices (fruit-based, seed-based and nightshade), but avoids nightshade vegetables. She adds egg yolks to recipes for their nutrient-density, but avoids whole eggs. She’ll eat seeds in a recipe, but doesn’t seek them out for snacks, and the only nut she eats are brazil nuts (for their selenium). She enjoys white rice daily, dark chocolate once or twice a week, tequila once or twice a month, and the occasional gluten-free baked good as a special treat. When it comes to lifestyle, she agrees with Mickey, naming sleep as absolutely essential.

TIPS FOR PERSONALIZING THE AIP FOR YOU:

  • Wait until you are ready for reintroductions. As you can see in the examples above, the timing is different for everyone. You want to see clear improvement in your autoimmune condition first. This does two things: it shows that healing is taking place, and it gives you a baseline to test your body for reactions to inflammatory foods. How you feel mentally/emotionally makes a difference, too. If you’re afraid of reintroductions, postpone them until you’re ready. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the AIP and are close to cheating or bingeing on non-AIP foods, go through the reintroduction process instead.
  • Do your reintroductions slowly and correctly. The reintroduction process can actually be harder than the elimination phase, because it requires such patience and focus. The most common mistake is rushing the reintroductions, muddying the results. I wrote my reintroduction guide to help. This is where your body communicates with you, which is empowering and important to your healing process. You want to do it right.
  • Learn what you can eat daily vs. occasionally vs. not at all. The reintroduction guide includes a two-stage reintroduction process. Some foods are immediately inflammatory, and we need to avoid them altogether. Some are mildly inflammatory, which only becomes clear when we eat them daily. Some are neutral or even positive, and it’s a joy to incorporate them back into our daily diet.
  • Don’t give up. If at first you aren’t able to reintroduce many foods, try again in 6 months. Often, the more you heal, the more foods you will tolerate. Mickey is a great example.
  • Notice and celebrate how far you’ve come. So often, we focus on what is still wrong, that we discount all the healing that has already taken place. This applies to the foods we can and cannot eat, but even more importantly to our health: the abilities we lost that we have started to regain, and the negative symptoms that were disabling that have started to disappear. Living in a space of awareness and gratitude is a healing place. It feels good to body and soul to mark the milestones.

PARTS OF THE AIP ARE FOREVER

Let’s look at that picture at the top of the post again. I look pretty happy right? Who doesn’t love cake? However, that’s not my daily life on Personalized AIP. That was a special occasion, worthy of the sugar overload, and I savored every bite. Daily life on the AIP is meant to nutrient-dense, and no matter how long you’ve been on this diet, your body is never too full of nutrients. When reversing autoimmune disease, we need to provide our bodies with the best building blocks possible, and that means incorporating seafood, organ meats, fermented foods and a wide variety of vegetables into our meals every week.

We also need to pay attention to that all-important lifestyle piece. While food is foremost in our mind, because we’re learning about food intolerance, lifestyle is equally important. Poor lifestyle choices can make our autoimmune disease flare just as fast as poor food choices. So get enough sleep every night, focus on reducing stress, incorporate joy and relaxation into your day, get outside in the fresh air and sunshine, try meditation or something similar, and find a way to exercise that supports your health. All of this is essential to healing, now and forever.

About Eileen Laird

Eileen Laird of Phoenix Helix has been living the paleo lifestyle since June 2012, reducing her rheumatoid arthritis symptoms by 95% without any steroid or immunosuppressant medication. Merging straight talk with inspiration and information, Eileen strives to help us all live the autoimmune life well! She believes in the power of symbolism: the phoenix represents our ability to transform; the helix represents the power we have over the expression of our genes. In addition to her blog, she hosts the only paleo podcast dedicated to autoimmune healing. She also hosts a weekly AIP Recipe Roundtable, is the author of the e-book Reintroducing Foods on the AIP, and you can find her on Facebook and Pinterest.

53 comments

  • […] That’s a picture of me on my birthday, eating a paleo chocolate cake. Yes, the cake included eggs and cocoa, so how can I be AIP? The answer: I started AIP 12 months before and had successfully reintroduced eggs and chocolate. A lot of the paleo autoimmune bloggers, myself included, offer our blogs as resources for people going through the elimination phase of the AIP. That’s the hardest menu to navigate, especially when you first make the switch. A lot of your standard meals are no longer an option, and it helps to have guidance on the foods you can eat. A side effect, though, is that many people think we are all still strict AIP. It’s not true. None of us are. Today, I’m guest posting over on Autoimmune Paleo, about what life on the AIP looks like long-term. Sarah Ballantyne, Mickey Trescott, Anne Angelone, Whitney Ross-Gray, Jo Romero, and I all share what our diets look like after one to four years of healing. I also share tips on how to personalize the AIP for you. Click here to read more. […]

  • Piff says

    This couldn’t be a more timely post for me! Thank you so much, Eileen (and Mickey). I’m coming up on the last week of my 60 day trial of AIP (which I initially extended from 30 days). However, I have been a bit apprehensive to start the reintroduction process even though I MISS chocolate (who knew – it wasn’t something I thought I ate all that much of or was particularly fond of before, but it’s the primary thing I’ve longed for). I bought Eileen’s reintroduction book about a month ago and I’m glad I have it for when the time comes for me to start that process, but this post reaffirms that I don’t need to start until I’m really ready.

    I have Ankylosing Spondylitis, Ulcerative Colitis, Multiple Sclerosis, Psoriasis and PCOS. I saw a huge improvement in the first 2-3 weeks of strict AIP; I went from debilitating, spirit-crushing pain and burning all over my back, wrists and knees to no burning at all and only occasional pinches in a very short time. But then the healing slowed way down. It’s still noticeable though – I have definitely have good days and bad but if I look back over the past few weeks, there has been a clear upwards trajectory. The first month and a half of AIP I REALLY struggled with fatigue (maybe my body missing carbs, maybe the MS flaring up), but I’ve been back to normal in the last couple of weeks. Additionally, I’m still figuring things out, e.g.: I only recently figured out that it is probably my Vitamin D supplement that was giving me 80% of my nasty headaches, not the MS. Also, I suspect that yeast and I may not get along so good so for now I have also eliminated my beloved Kombucha. I’ll stay doing strict AIP until I’ve gotten to know myself even better (and further distanced myself from my sugar addiction) and will keep posts like this in the back of my mind to give me strength when I’m feeling weak. Like all my favorite gurus, I’ll be able to reintroduce some things eventually. Just not yet.

    • Alison says

      Thank you for this. I am currently on the GAPS diet for rheumatoid arthritis and someone mentioned to me that I should also try AIP. It seemed pretty overwhelming for me to additionally cut out more foods when I already have cut out so many. This article was very helpful for me to see that it won’t be forever. I do think I rushed through the intro stages of GAPS a little too quickly and missed some signs that I should have paid better attention to. I had a week where I felt better and then I started feeling worse again, but it was so hard to tell whether it was caused by foods or other factors. I need to go through these blogs and find some better breakfast and snack ideas that don’t include eggs and nuts.

      Since you also have RA, I had a question for you about medication. I’m currently taking methotrexate, though I stopped the NSAIDs when starting GAPS intro. I am just afraid of going off the methotrexate before I have healed some because I am terrified of the pain I felt before starting it. I’m also worried that I won’t be able to care for my children or do all the cooking I need to do if that pain comes back. Do you think I can still get some healing while taking the drugs and then after feeling better go through intro again? Or do you think I won’t get enough healing while still putting those poisons into my body?

    • Thanks so much for sharing your journey. I love how you are paying attention to the less dramatic improvements in your health. We can miss those sometimes, but they are the cornerstone of healing. And you are absolutely right – there’s no rush to reintroduce. You will want to do it at some point, but waiting until you feel ready is wise. Gentle hugs to you.

    • Kathy says

      Wishing you all the best!

    • Vicki says

      Thank you, I was suspecting kombuccha might be a problem, I didn’t know it could be, I thought fermentation meant it was a healing item. Maybe not for me or right now.

  • Alaena says

    Fantastic article Eileen! I haven’t reintroduced many foods since January but I can tell my body is still healing. Hearing others’ progress makes being patient so much easier 🙂

  • Kathy says

    Thanks so much for your blog posts! I’ve been on AIP for about 7 weeks. I have good days and bad days. Some days, I’m sure everything is looking up and others I feel like I’ve taken so many steps back. I’m not bothered by the food changes so much as I was on paleo for two years beforehand. I’m actually enjoying my food more now – it seems my taste buds have woken up and come truly alive. No, it’s just the bad days when my Hashimotos symptoms take over my life. Could it possibly be the nitrates in bacon? I still eat bacon and it seems to follow after eating it.
    As far as lifestyle changes, strangely, when I have more sleep, I feel worse. I find on the days when I have about 7-8 hours sleep, I feel good but on the days when I have about 8-10 hours sleep, I feel horrible. Of course, the symptoms may be unrelated to my sleep patterns and something I ate. The lifestyle change that makes a huge difference in making me feel better is sunshine. It really is my healing balm at the moment!
    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Kathy. I love that you are enjoying food more than ever now. If you suspect bacon, the best thing to do is remove it for 30 days and then reintroduce. If your body reacts negatively, you’ll know it’s a problem food for you. If you reintroduce it seamlessly, you can go back to enjoying it again. And I totally agree about the healing power of sunshine. I’m soaking up all I can myself! Thanks for mentioning it.

    • Tasha says

      Hi Kathy,

      I have self-diagnosed myself with Hashimoto’s based on elevated TPO antibodies. I have the same issues with sleep. If I sleep less (around 6 hours), my “head” symptoms are better….less brain fog, clearer thinking, less dizziness, less headache. If I sleep longer, my brain doesn’t work – almost feels like my brain can’t wake up when I sleep for longer durations. Good to know I’m not the only one where the more sleep I get, the worse I feel.

      • Diane says

        I experience something similar, but when I go several days feeling “fine” on 5 hours of sleep per night, I think there may be a negative reason for it. I think it’s my adrenal issues, and cortisol kicking in to keep me revved up…which will be really bad, long-term. It also could be my Hashimoto’s swinging to “hyper” and again, being a negative symptom even while I’m feeling good. It’s just not normal to do better with less sleep. The few times I get enough sleep, I find out what it’s like to feel *really* good, but unfortunately I haven’t yet disciplined myself to do it consistently.

        By the way, my brain fog went away almost completely after several months being gluten-free. Mentioning that “just in case.” And all of this is just to give you more options to consider if you haven’t already. =)

  • Laura says

    I have been paleo for about two years and AIP paleo for about a year. I have celiac disease and arthritis. Oh and I am always trying to manage SIBO too. I have tried reintroduction but always tend to go overboard and eat too much of the once restricted foods. One question I have is when to try introductions the right way. I know I need to wait for my autoimmune symptoms to get better but how much better and which ones?! For example, my joint pain is way down (hooray!!) but I still have lose stools (but currently not much other GI symptoms- ie. not much gas and my bloating is way less as compared as to what it used to be). I am thinking about trying introductions of some foods (and NoT go overboard this time) but I keep thinking – do I have to wait until I have solid nice looking poop?! Sorry for so much bowel comments! 🙂

    • Hi Laura. If you’ve been on the AIP for a year, I think it would be good for you to try reintroducing the Stage One foods at least. As Sarah said, some of those actually made her feel better. Egg yolks and grassfed ghee are especially nutrient-dense. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find that expanding your foods actually helps your digestion. If not, it’s time to troubleshoot beyond AIP, seeking a nutritional consult for potential gut infections. I recommend my e-book to guide you through reintroductions (I know that sounds self-promoting, but the guide really does help you do it right. The link is in the above article.) And I recommend The Paleo Mom Consulting if you need some 1:1 troubleshooting. Mickey is one of the the health coaches: http://www.thepaleomomconsulting.com/ . Whatever you decide, thanks for sharing your journey, and I’m sending warm wishes your way for continued healing.

    • Alysson says

      Laura, I have a question similar to yours. I have Hashimoto’s and possibly celiac disease (but I gave up gluten before being tested).

      My fatigue is better (as long as I eat enough carbs and enough calories), as is my malaise and my insomnia (but unfortunately, I rely on Klonopin every night for sleep). However, my constipation hasn’t budged. I have been thinking I should start reintroductions only after that improves considerably.

      An alternative medicine practitioner has recently identified that I have fungal, bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections. So maybe I should clear those first and maybe then the constipation would improve and maybe then I should try reintroductions? I don’t know.

      One thing I do know is that I am feeling increasingly deprived. I started easing into the AIP in late February, and it feels like a very long haul so far.

      • Hi Alysson. If you feel tempted to cheat or fall of the AIP, then it would be better to start the reintroduction process instead. I felt the same as you when I was strict AIP, and reintroductions helped me in two ways: (1) I was able to successfully reintroduce some foods, which took away the feeling of deprivation (and the rebellion that was building in me). (2) When my body reacted negatively to a food, it became very clear why I needed to avoid it. It was no longer a theory, but a direct message from my body, and that made it easy for me.

        That said, you don’t want to do reintroductions at the same time that you’re fighting infections. There are too many variables there. You might experience symptoms related to die-off, and think they are food intolerance reactions, or vice versa. So, if you can wait to do your reintroductions until you finish the infection healing protocol, that would be best. In the meantime, I host an AIP Recipe Roundtable on my blog every week, full of great recipes to fight that deprivation feeling. The link to my blog is in the above article. Past roundtables have included everything from waffles to nachos to AIP-friendly condiments. We have some creative cooks out there!

  • heidi says

    Should a person with autoimmune disease be gluten-free for life, or is that something that can also be reintroduced?

    Great article- encouraging!

    • All of the paleo autoimmune leaders agree on this point – never to reintroduce gluten. However, as we heal, we may not react as strongly to accidental exposure, which makes eating out less stressful, so that’s something to be optimistic about.

  • meg says

    Great post! I’m doing an AIP Whole30, as more of a “cleanse” our a reboot. I’ve managed to get most of my issues under control… and I’m hoping this will help me with the lingering ones! I think I’m sensitive to nightshades, so that could be a key!

    • I’m so happy you’ve seen progress. Good luck with your reintroductions, and even if you find that nightshades are a trigger, it’s so important to your health to know.

  • Barbara says

    Back at the holidays in December, I very cautiously tried re-intoducing a few of my old faves – coffee and then chocolate – and seemed to do fine. I was initially determined not to consume either of them daily, and to keep them separate as treats. Initially it seemed okay, but gradually I found myself compromising this plan and gradually increased consumption of both treats to part of my daily diet. My symptoms (multiple skin issues starting with psoriasis but including other bizarre lesions and eczema, too) may have worsened again, although my arthritis remains less than before AIP. So of course I know I’ve overdone it and need to back off.
    But the thing that really strikes me is that I actually feel addicted to those triggers. I just feel I should totally eliminate both of them for a while, but it’s actually a struggle, and I find myself CRAVING a coffee fix late in the afternoon or evening when there is NO WAY I can do caffeine and expect to sleep well. And then there’s the chocolate craving . Well, I know I can eliminate these again, and have stopped the chocolate but haven’t stopped the coffee yet – setting my quit date soon.
    I’m just curious if others have had that addiction sort of reaction to trigger foods. There’s plenty of foods that I love and enjoy that are AIP compliant, but that don’t make me feel like a junkie.

    • Hi Barbara. I’ve heard both Sarah and Stacy mention something similar on their Paleo View podcast – that certain foods are harder to control than others, and sometimes (especially stressful times) it’s easier to just cut them out altogether. Alison Golden writes about this very well in this article: http://paleononpaleo.com/abstaining-type/

      • Jessica McKee says

        I reintroduced coffee, and if eaten daily my gut gets upset. but now that I’ve reintroduced it I am finding myself craving it more often (including times I never would have drank it before: evening & night. I had this problem last time I cut out nut butters (peanut butter & sun butter) before AIP. I could not resist it, would always eat more than 2tbsp, & would always have an upset gut in the end.

  • raw says

    Thankyou for the article. I’m considering starting the protocol and have to admit this has eased a lot of my fears. I have sle lupus, sjogrens, reynauds, ankolysing spondylitis, tendinitis, neuropathy, fibromyalgia and me. I have a question about medication. I’m on steroids, plaquenil, lyrica, as well as an anti depressant, and nexium for gut relief. Can you notice the differences – improvements during elimination, then be aware of the effects during reintroduction- whilst on medication? Wouldn’t the medication mask or alter the results? Thankyou

    • Yes, many people do the AIP alongside their medications. In fact, this is what’s recommended, and then as you heal, you work with your doctor to slowly taper off the medications as they are no longer needed.

  • Tyan Taubner says

    Thank you very much for sharing this information, and providing an online community. I’m feeling much less alone. I’m new to Paleo, and I’m hovering on the edge of commitment to the AIP. I have Hashi’s, and struggle with symptoms from late October through mid-July (I live in the Pacific Northwest). I generally feel amazing during late summer, without energy slumps, brain fog and cravings. I’m curious as to how an individual would evaluate what to add back if she or he were currently symptom free.

    • Hi Tyan. If I were you, I would plan to start the AIP in September, to see if you can prevent the seasonal return of symptoms. Then, when you’re ready for reintroductions, your body will react if you are intolerant to one of the AIP foods. Just follow the advice in the guide linked in the article, regarding which foods to reintroduce first and the process to follow.

  • heidi says

    Do you take a probiotic? I think that might be the missing piece in my aip food plan, as I havent been eating the fermented foods. Do you recommend any particular probiotic?

    • Personally, I do better with home ferments, but I know Mickey recommends Prescript Assist, and another good brand is GutPro. The most important thing is choosing one that is non-dairy (if you are intolerant to dairy like me & Mickey). Most probiotics are grown on a dairy base. (GutPro and Prescript Assist are dairy-free).

  • alison Howard says

    Thanks for this fantastic post! I have been Paleo for 9 months ( on and off AIP in this time). My commitment to AIP has waivered as I made the assumption that it was 100% forever and this seemed overwhelming when I felt that some things didn’t effect me on reintroduction, yet over time the fatigue, as well as joint pain crept back in. So back to the AIP introductory phase feeling positive that I too will find out that I can expand my foods and need to be mindful whether consumption of certain foods is daily, weekly or occasionally. Paleo has been the best thing I ever did in terms of my health and lifestyle. We are so lucky to be sharing this journey. 10 Years ago when I was first diagnosed with Hashimoto’s there seemed to be no information regarding self healing, today we have dialogue and some amazing AIP ambassadors.

    • I’m so glad you read this post too, Alison! It’s all about personalization. Best wishes with “round 2” of AIP – with reintroductions this time. 🙂 And I totally agree – the paleo healing community rocks! Thanks for commenting.

  • Jen says

    Thank you to the bloggers for sharing. I am finding it very hard to tell if some of my Hashimoto’s symptoms (eye, hand, and feet puffiness, brain fog, tiredness, moodiness, poor sleep) are due to food related reactions or due to my NDT medication perhaps being on a slightly wrong dose. Any insights on how to tell which reaction is from what? Its very confusing!
    I haven’t started AIP yet, as I find I need gluten free bread/ crackers/white rice to help bind loose stools and not hurt my gastritis/colitis. If I eat too much fibre/fruit/veg, my guts are a mess. I really really want to try the AIP for longer than a couple of days so I can become clearer on my reactions, but my stomach issues are getting in the way. I tried slippery elm, but then read that its an immune stimulant. I tried glutamine but then read it can cause MSG headaches. I tried bone broth but it makes me feel yuck. I am so confused, and have spent so many years trying to decipher my symptoms, I feel like I’m getting nowhere and I’m feeling really discouraged and don’t know the best plan of attack. I know I need to heal my gut, I know I need to dampen down the inflammation, but I feel stuck and need some advice.
    My current diet is –
    Breakfast – gluten free toast with avocado, or a banana + avocado
    Lunch – salad + protein, or veggie/pumpkin soup
    Dinner – protein + veggies + greens, or white rice + tuna
    snacks – dried fruit, fresh fruit, nuts, sweet potato chips, banana chips, gluten-free home baked muffins.

  • Sarah T L says

    I have been on a primal diet (mostly) for about a year and a half. Though I have lost much of the brain fog and eliminated insulin spikes, I still don’t feel great. I have Grave’s Disease (5 years hypothyroid due to radioactive iodine treatment) and have never had my TSH under control though I was diagnosed 10 years ago. I also have a hereditary demyelinating disease (not AI), non-allergic rhinits (15+ years), am borderline underweight (I have tried and tried to get past 49 kg, unsuccessfully) and a slew of other seemingly non-related yet most likely all linked symptoms. I would LOVE to be able to try the AIP diet, but I am an unemployed, single mom living overseas without a support network where the cost of living and of food is higher — and certain produce (most roots, all coconut products, “paleo flours”, etc.) and buying in bulk, etc, is non-existent. Obviously, I cannot afford grass-fed or organic anything. I read that even doing AIP 90% of the time wont cut it. If I can’t do AIP 100% of the time, is it even worth the trouble of cutting out, say eggs, which boost protein and fats without the high cost of meat or removing dairy or conventionally bought meat which I don’t know if I can function without since I rely on full fat cream and fattier meats for much of my calorie intake (see note on being underweight)?

    If I wont feel any better, why even add the stress of trying and failing?

    • Hi Sarah. It’s not necessary to do organic and grassfed. While that’s ideal, it’s certainly not required. But you are right that the AIP doesn’t work done 90% of the time. It’s an elimination diet, which means the foods need to be eliminated 100% for a minimum of 30 days before reintroductions. If you keep eating them here and there, it keeps the inflammatory response going. Waiting until you are in a situation that is more supportive might be the best choice. Feel good about doing the best you can in this moment. None of us are perfect, and when the time is right to try AIP, you’ll know it. Gentle hugs to you!

  • Kelly H. says

    I wish I could find a blogger somewhere who would address what to do when your AI issue IS sleep. If sleep is such a priority, I wonder what should be done if you can’t have quality sleep? I have narcolepsy. I’ve just started the AIP

    • Perfect timing for this question. Mark Sisson just wrote about this – how to lessen the harm of undersleeping. He has lots of good tips: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/dealing-with-undersleeping-and-nutritional-value-yeast/#axzz3C1aLTpyZ

      While I don’t have narcolepsy, my rheumatoid arthritis pain interrupted my sleep dramatically. That improved slowly as I started to heal, but it took time, which means for many months, I didn’t get quality sleep. So, I focused on diet first (and sunshine and meditation and other things I could control). When I was eventually capable of sleeping more soundly, I started making sleep a priority.

  • […] and over time, she was able to heal all of her health problems. Now, as long as she follows her personalized AIP template, emphasizing lifestyle choices as much as diet, she is […]

  • […] good news is that Strict AIP isn’t meant to last forever. Fruit and seed-based spices are among the first foods to try reintroducing, after completing your […]

  • […] diet with medication to feel their best. It isn’t always one or the other. Anna follows a personalized version of the AIP, whereas Laura follows a regular paleo template. When it comes to autoimmune healing, there’s […]

  • […] One such reward is that the AIP is designed to heal and seal our gut lining. While food allergies are permanent, food intolerances can be temporary. This is why, over time, many people are able to successfully reintroduce more and more foods. […]

  • Raquel says

    Hi all,

    Thanks for the abundance of useful information. I was recently diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and I started the AIP elimination phase last week. I feels so good to have this possibility of control over my health, and I’m very grateful for all of you who have shared their experience and expertise online.

    I have a few questions;

    Is organic, lactose free yoghurt also out?

    I don’t have celiac disease, but I am avoiding gluten. Some products that should not contain gluten, do mention that they might contain traces of gluten. For example dried fruit, ham, pork chops. Etc. Should I also avoid these?

    Also I was wondering what would be a good way to check my progress. I didn’t have that many symptoms to begin with, and they were mostly intestinal, but not every day. I’m especially thinking about the future when I might reintroduce foods. I am afraid I won’t notice when a food is triggering my immune system, and causing my Hashimoto’s to progress. Could I check this with a blood test?

    I’m sorry, I know many of you would kill to have this “problem”. I would just love to be able to prevent becoming more symptomatic.

    Many thanks
    Raquel

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Raquel!

      Dairy is not included on AIP so your lactose-free yogurt would be a no while on the elimination diet. It is also important to try to avoid any food that has been cross-contaminated with gluten, although if in the long run, you find you don’t react to trace amounts, it may be OK for you. Lastly, it is difficult to gauge progress when not experiencing a lot of symptoms. Look for things that tell you how optimally your body is functioning–how is your digestion? Your skin? Your mood? These are some of the earliest warning signs that a food is causing you trouble. Hope it helps and good luck!

  • Marelize says

    I started on the AIP early in October 2015.
    I have Hashimoto’s and feel better since diagnosis in September 2015.

    Had follow-up bloodwork in January, but no evidence of recovery in antibodies as yet.

    I lost 14kg (30 lb), my brain fog lifted some, and some other symptoms are better, but suddenly I have hair loss too.

    I am a strict follower of the protocol, even though my homeopath thinks I am crazy for elliminating so many food types. But I am afraid to start with reintroductions. I don’t want to go back to square 1.

    I do miss eggs and potatoes though.

    And when winter arrives in the southern hemisphere I suppose the want for coffee will arise again….

  • Julie says

    Glad to hear there is some light at the end of the tunnel and it doesn’t have to be this strict forever. I’ve always eaten a very healthy diet, but to be 100% strict every single day is a bummer.

  • Lauren says

    Hi there, what a great article! I’m curious how much progress everyone cited in the article has made, as in what level of reversal or management has everyone achieved through the AIP diet? It seems that some autoimmune diseases take only the 30 days to reverse while others take many months (and for some people, years). Am just curious about the people who are cited (Sarah, Mickey, Eileen, etc).

    Thanks!

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Lauren! I can only speak for myself, but it took me 9 months to see real progress with AIP, and after 4-5 years I’d say I’m 95% there. I have heard of some people who had their symptoms disappear in only two weeks. It is highly individual!

  • Allison says

    Hi! I’m following an AIP diet with my three year old. It is really helping. Most of her issues have improved, except her skin. It’s only been 3 weeks, so I’m hopeful that will improve as well. So…two questions…should I wait until her skin improves to reintroduce foods? (I’ll definitely wait until it’s been 30 days) and I feel like it will be difficult to see how the reintroductions affect her since she’s so young and might not be able to tell me exactly how she feels. Any suggestions on reintroductions with a young child? Thank you!

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Allison! I don’t have experience using AIP for children, and I would advise getting a nutritionist on board to help as things can be tricky with kids (someone I recommend is Amy Kubal, RD, who does work with kids). Skin, typically takes a little longer to see healing since it is a “low priority” organ for the body. I would say if you are seeing improvements, you might consider continuing until the 2 month mark to see if there are any changes there. With reintroductions, I recommend going much more slowly than with an adult so you can have time to “observe” and decide if a food is producing a reaction. With a 3 year old, that is a tough job, but I think with patience you can learn something! A final note to say that if you don’t notice reactions, I wouldn’t hesitate to add back nutrient-dense Paleo foods like eggs, nuts, and seeds, and even possibly high-quality dairy, to make sure she is getting all the nutrition she needs to thrive. It is important not to keep her on an overly restricted diet if it isn’t producing healing.

  • Denise says

    Advice for the frustrated. It took me 20 yrs to get a doctor to listen to me that my issues were not due to being overweight but being overweight was a symptom of something much bigger. I was excited when the doctor listened, put me on meds for seroserum RA and asked me to go 100% paleo and AIP for three months. I had already been paleo about 0% of the time for five years so thought this wouldn’t be a big deal. For three months, I was on the elimination phase, my meds kicked in, and most of my symptoms were mitigated or in full remission. The added bonus, I lost 25 lbs. I went back to the doctor 3 days before I was to start reintroducing my first food (egg yolk). He was thrilled that I went from barely mobile to pretty much ready to dance at any moment. He was also happy that I’d lost weight. I expected him to talk to me about what the next 2 1/2 years would be like as I reintroduced one item at a time, did another month of elimination if I had a reaction, etc. as well as talk with me about any remaining symptoms, medication adjustments etc. Instead, he said, you are doing great with your weight loss. I want you to stay on the elimination phase another three months. Let’s ride this as long as we can to get you down to your goal weight. My goal weight? I don’t have a goal weight. My goal was to reduce the flare ups and be able to function like a normal human being again. I’ve now extended my elimination phase another two months. I’ve had two flare ups (because nothing will take them away totally) and have gained three pounds. Five months on this super strict protocol and I’m dreaming about reintroducing an egg yolk. I’ve fallen into a rut of foods with about 8 meals I repeat over and over as I hate coconut anything and although I loved plantains can’t stand the thought of eating another one. I know I should be making more varied meals but I work six to seven and am exhausted when I get home. I’m getting discouraged, and am scared to death that my doctor is going to tell me I need to stay on the elimination even longer because he has some made up number in his head that I should be reaching. I feel like the whole goal for the reason I was put on the protocol has been usurped to “lose weight”. I have yet to figure out what foods I can eat and what foods trigger symptoms. I haven’t been out to eat in five months because as you know, it is very difficult to find something other than salad you can eat on the elimination phase of the protocol. My friends don’t even ask me anymore so I am always joining them in the middle of an outing or not getting invited at all. Very isolating. How can I get through this so I can be true to why I, personally started this journey?

    • Denise says

      80% paleo

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hey Denise! I’m sorry to hear about the mixed experience you have had with your doctor – on the one hand, good for them for recommending something that has actually worked to decrease your inflammation and feel better. But, shame on them for failing to realize you’ve reached your goal in feeling better, and not transitioning you into the reintroduction phase! The way we teach AIP it is a two phased protocol, and once a person starts feeling benefits (like it is clear you have!) it absolutely is time to move on to reintroductions, for the reasons you mentioned – it just isn’t sustainable for people to eat this way forever, especially if they do not notice continuing benefits the longer they restrict. Also, AIP is not a weight loss protocol, and it is frustrating that your doctor seems to a) think that is true and b) continue to encourage you to focus on your weight instead of feeling well. I would suggest finding a practitioner who is more open-minded about the journey to health that shares your values and can walk you through a reintroduction protocol. Wishing you the best!

Leave a Comment