How To Really Eat AIP

Apple Blossom

This post was first published on Angie’s original site on November 11, 2013. It is being republished here with minor updates.

Can you guess which question I get more often than all the others? It’s not, “What foods do I avoid on the Autoimmune Protocol?” and it’s not, “How do you plan your menus?” It’s basically some variation of this question, “But how do I really eat this way?” I know that when a person asks this question, they aren’t looking for easy to understand “whys” or practical “how-to” advice anymore. They are concerned about the actual, long-term impact of making such a huge dietary and lifestyle change. What they mean is, “What about the next work potluck? What if everyone thinks I am bizarre? What if these restrictions annoy people close to me?”

I have boiled down my thoughts on this question to three simple answers. After four years of following AIP, this is how I really eat this way:

  1. I don’t do FFFEF. Uh, what the heck is FFFEF? FFFEF stands for “Future Food-Focused Event Fear.” I do not give my precious time up to worrying about how I will navigate my husband’s holiday work party or the neighbor’s BBQ invite or an impromptu brunch with friends. Don’t let yourself fall into a habit of constantly strategizing how to handle food-centered events that may or may not be happening at some point on your social calendar. Engaging this type of fear just leads to either, A) feeling overwhelmed or B) feeling sorry for yourself. When an event comes up, not an imaginary scenario you might be faced with, but an actual invite, decide what you can reasonably do to participate without risking your health and then do that with confidence. For instance, I’ll eat before my husband’s holiday work party, so that I’m not starving and while I’m there I’ll enjoy a sparkling cider while we socialize. Just say no to FFFEF!
  2. I’m not weird. I’m telling you, do NOT be weird. If you act wishy-washy, uncomfortable, or uncertain about your food choices, the people around you will also act weird. They won’t take you seriously, they’ll find it easy to dismiss your choices, and they’ll see your health goals as fringe ideas for new-age hocus-pocus fruitcake types. Don’t be a new-age hocus-pocus fruitcake type. Be confident when you inform others about the dietary plan you are following. If your confidence is still not enough to take the looks of shock and awe off their faces, then emphasize how much you enjoy just being with them. Some folks may mistakenly believe that if you aren’t eating exactly the same food they are having, then you aren’t “being” with them or enjoying their company. However, you are wise to food and know differently. Feeling well enough to socialize with friends and family is a gift and has nothing to do with the food being consumed. Tell the people around you exactly that if they are still being weird about your food choices. They’ll probably have a new look of shock and awe. That look is called respect. (None of this is too say that you should take yourself too seriously either. Learn the balance.)
  3. I don’t please everyone. Gasp! It is not even possible for me to please everyone around me, so why would I focus on it? Instead, I try to make sure that I am happy, reasonably comfortable, and as healthy as possible. I don’t focus on whether or not others find my diet and lifestyle choices strange or irritating. The fact is that most people have loads of their own troubles and probably have very little time to think about and question my healing journey. Here’s an example: A friend wants me to go out to a restaurant where I know I can’t safely order food. The people pleaser part of me could feel that I must go out with her, but that will lead to me being unhappy, uncomfortable, and not as healthy as I want…whiiiich is not that awesome for our friendship. So, I’ll say, “I know that place is fantastic, but I won’t be able to order there without ending up sick. Do you want to go window shopping with me for the afternoon instead?” Done. Simple. If she is overly offended that I won’t eat at that restaurant, she doesn’t value my good health enough. I actually think this Wikihow article on how to stop people pleasing is very helpful, if this is a major obstacle for you.

That’s it. That’s how I really eat this way. That’s how I’ve been doing this sustainably for many years now. I believe being healthy is a revolutionary act in our society right now, but getting there is not radical at all. It takes three simple steps.

About Angie Alt

Angie Alt is a co-founder here at Autoimmune Wellness. She helps others take charge of their health the same way she took charge of her own after suffering with celiac disease, endometriosis, and lichen sclerosis; one nutritious step at a time. Her special focus is on mixing “data with soul” by looking at the honest heart of the autoimmune journey (which sometimes includes curse words). She is a Certified Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Nutritional Therapy Consultant through The Nutritional Therapy Association and author of The Alternative Autoimmune Cookbook: Eating for All Phases of the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol and The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook. You can also find her on Instagram.


  • Stephanie says

    I’m in my fourth week of AIP and everything I’ve read says that it isn’t “forever”. But you say you’ve been doing this for four years. Does that mean strict elimination for four years? Please explain and thanks for the tips!!

    • Angie Alt says

      Hi Stephanie! Sorry for the confusion & worry! I first published this post in 2013, which was one year into my AIP journey & during a period when I was working on reintroductions. Recently, I republished the post (hence the four years). At this point I do not eat strict, elimination phase AIP anymore. I eat a template that looks more like modified Paleo. What you have read is true! You aren’t meant to live the rest of your life on AIP, over time you will work on reintros, etc & tweak this diet to best suit you as a bio-individual. All the tips here are for those early stages where it still feels a little unusual. Best on your journey!

  • […] Angie Alt recently wrote about how she handles food-focused events, and she shared these wise words: “If […]

  • Laura says

    I love this article. These have helped me soooo much with that fear. And when there are potlucks I make sure to bring a dish that I can eat. And usually just eat that. Thank you for another thoughtful article!

    • Angie Alt says

      You are so welcome Laura! I’m glad it was so helpful to you. <3

  • Jane says

    I understand what you are saying, but one week into my AIP, I spent the weekend with friends. I took a lot of my own food, but of course, we ate out several meals. Since the majority votes in those situations, I found it really tough to stick with my diet. I eventually ordered chicken and steamed vegetables, both with no spices, but the chicken tasted of marinade, and the vegetables included two nightshades not listed in the menu. What do you do in those situations?

  • Anna Elizabeth Laube says

    Love this, Angie! Great advice. #1 is also a great reminder to just be in the moment. So many things we can worry about in the future and past but usually right this minute…things are ok, if not better. Thanks for sharing! Going to read the WikiHow article now 🙂

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