Diversity in AIP is a story series showcasing the wide variety of people from different backgrounds adapting AIP to not only support autoimmune healing, but also to honor important cultural, religious, ethnic, or national food traditions. We are sharing these stories regularly to encourage folks of similar backgrounds to join our Autoimmune Wellness movement and to inspire the community as a whole about the growing reach of our healing message. If you are interested in sharing your story, please let us know by filling out our interest form.
Our first “Diversity in AIP” story comes from “CrocusandDill” (she wishes to share using her Instagram name). CrocusandDill comes from a Jewish background and after a Hashimoto’s diagnosis, began adapting AIP to honor her religious heritage. Pictured above is a bird’s eye view of a traditional Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) meal featuring “simanim,” which are auspicious foods to eat derived from plays on Hebrew words. Generally these foods include apples, honey, dates, pomegranates, carrots, beets, zucchini/squash, leeks, and a fish head. This meal includes:
- gefilte fish (whitefish patties) with an apple-beet-pomegranate relish
- carrot ribbon salad dressed in a citrus-date dressing with chopped dates and pomegranate seeds
- slow cooked, shredded roast, marinated in pomegranate juice and date honey accompanied by savory onion-carrot-apple tzimmes (stewed, sweetened carrots)
- zucchini “noodles” with sautéed leeks (instead of my traditional zucchini kugel)
- apple cake (coconut flour and arrowroot starch) minimally sweetened with date honey topped with pomegranate seeds
Rosh Hashanah starts on the evening of September 20th and lasts through sundown on September 22nd. Many people are already planning and researching their menus, especially if they plan to host a lot of guests, so this share from CrocusandDill should be inspiring!
Do you have an autoimmune disease or chronic illness? If so, how long have you been dealing with it (them) and when did you get your diagnosis?
I was diagnosed with Hashimotos Thyroiditis in the spring of 2016 after struggling with mysterious symptoms that mimicked hypothyroidism and IBS since at least 2009, when I was 18.
I had never heard of Hashi’s and since test after test came back normal, I assumed the symptoms were either all in my head or just part of getting older. When I got a new job, I had to find a new primary care physician. After going over my medical history, my new doctor ran an antibody test and diagnosed me with Hashi’s. Finally, years of puzzle pieces fit into place!
When did you discover AIP and what was your first indication that it was working for you?
I was trading gluten free recipes with someone online who was cooking for someone on the AIP diet. I asked her about it, but then gave it no more thought. When I was first diagnosed with Hashi’s, my doctor wanted to rule out anything else that might cause my symptoms which included seeing an allergist for allergy testing, seeing a gastroenterologist (celiac had already been tested for), two rounds of a strict low-FODMAP diet, elimination of gluten, and even a course of antibiotics for possible SIBO. Nothing worked for more than a week or two, so I started doing my own research. That’s when I thought about AIP again. I bought a book on it and surfed more and more blogs. I talked about it with my doctor, who understood and supported the idea behind the food groups AIP avoids as part of the elimination phase. I met with a dietician to make sure that I had enough meal ideas that worked for my lifestyle before slowly transitioning to an AIP diet.
The first change I noticed after being on a strict AIP compliant diet was that my eyes were less puffy. To be honest, I’ve been dealing with this for so long that I thought my eyes were perfectly normal. A week into strict AIP, and it was like my eyes had almost doubled in size compared to old photos! Gradually my physical and mental energy has picked up as well! I really knew it was working for me when I accidentally ate non-AIP foods while on vacation and had a strong reaction to some mystery ingredients.
Do you have an important cultural, religious, ethnic, or national background that plays a role in your dietary choices? If so, how have you honored your food traditions while following AIP?
I am Jewish, and although I’m no longer Orthodox, I still keep a strictly glatt kosher kitchen and eat kosher-style outside the house. This means that any foods I bring into my house must be kosher certified or in their natural state (i.e. a bunch of kale). I cannot eat shellfish, mix meat with dairy, eat pork, or buy meat that hasn’t been slaughtered according to Jewish law. Outside of the house, I don’t worry as much about kosher certification, but I still follow the general biblical guidelines: no pork, no shellfish, no mixing meat with dairy.
At first this was a real challenge, since many of the AIP-compliant flours or snacks you can buy are sold online with little or no information about kosher certification. Sourcing glatt kosher grass-fed meat was another challenge!
I’ve made do with finding the occasional kosher-certified product at my local health food store, and I found a reputable meat source online that delivers glatt kosher grass fed meat — shout out to Grow and Behold!
Can you share some adaptations you’ve made to special dishes to make them work with AIP?
I love gefilte fish — not the gelatinous jarred balls sold next to the matzoh come Passover, but the frozen logs of the stuff boiled or baked fresh. Gefilte fish is made with ground whitefish, onions, carrots, sugar, egg, and matzoh meal or potato starch. I’ve only made it from scratch once and haven’t quite been up for the production again, even though I imagine arrowroot starch to be an easy substitution. Instead I made salmon patties, which is a similar concept: pulverized fish, seasonings, and a binder. I mixed canned salmon with unsweetened shredded coconut, plenty of farm fresh green onions, and some arrowroot starch. It was a non-traditional flavor profile, but it baked up great! One day I’ll brave the process of making traditional gefilte fish from scratch, but it may wait until I’ve been able to reintroduce eggs.
Are there any foods that were part of important food traditions you followed previously, but still work great within the AIP framework?
I learned how to make borsht from a Russian classmate in seminary, and it still works great with AIP. Don’t tell my classmate, but I purée mine and like to serve it with stewed beet greens or a dollop of coconut yogurt on top.
A friend who married into a Persian Jewish family taught me a stew recipe that is easily AIP-compliant and that I’ve adapted for a slow cooker. I’ve forgotten the name, but it literally means “meat water” in Farsi because it is chicken cooked in water with a heaping handful of tumeric, Persian dried limes, and chickpeas. I leave out the chickpeas and prefer boneless chicken thighs, which I shred into the soup once cooked. It’s even better when I make it with chicken bone broth! Fresh limes or lemons can be substituted for the dried limes that I have to travel to a Middle Eastern grocer to buy. I like to add cauliflower to make it a full meal.
Oh, and lox is just as good without the bagel!
Has it been difficult to garner the support of family or friends in your culture, religion, ethnicity or nationality, while following AIP? If so, what tips would you give to others from your same background who want to try AIP?
So much of Jewish culture revolves around food that it’s hard to join in while on AIP. I’ve decided not to go out for shabbos meals because it’s really hard explaining AIP to even the most well-meaning host! That being said, I can happily host my own shabbos and holiday meals.
My biggest tip is to find a few AIP-compliant kosher staples that you’re confident of finding in almost any store so that you can always “grab a bite” on the go. For me, this includes sweet potato chips, plantain chips, coconut water, smoothies, and fresh fruit. For you, this will depend on the stores you have easy access to during your regular day.
My second biggest tip is to always have emergency food on you. I keep Barnana partially dehydrated bananas, Trader Joe’s beet chips, and a foil pack of wild caught salmon in my purse at all times.
My third biggest tip is to figure out what you can buy at a restaurant. Depending on how strictly you keep kosher outside of the house, you can usually find a salad to go at any non-kosher restaurant and add your own sardines or tuna or even lox to it. Any kosher restaurant that caters to both Jewish and secular consumers is also more likely to be hip to the language of allergies and sensitivities.
My fourth and final tip is to check out Grow and Behold. They deliver and they sell liver!
Did any aspect of your healing journey with AIP deepen your connection to your culture, religion, ethnicity, or nationality and the food traditions it follows?
Not in the traditional sense. I’ve been growing apart from religious observance in the last couple years anyways, and AIP really forced me to put healthful ingredients ahead of strict kosher observance, especially when traveling or eating out. Many believe that kosher dietary laws evolved out of health and sanitation concerns (i.e. pork was more likely to have worms), and some customs (i.e. not eating meat and fish together) originate with commentary from the Rambam, a medieval Sephardic Jewish scholar and physician. In that sense, I suppose I’m connecting with the idea of food, health, and religion; but that’s a pretty far stretch from traditional Judaism.
To keep up with CrocusandDill (and check out how she honors her Jewish roots!), follow her on Instagram.
Would you like to share your Diversity in AIP story? Let us know by filling out our interest form.