Jennifer’s AIP Kitchen: How She Manages Hidradenitis Suppurativa in Illinois

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Kitchen Tour

AIP Kitchen Tour is a monthly feature in which we profile a member of the AIP community and their kitchen setup in hopes that it will further inspire us to get our kitchens organized and set up for success! We’ve interviewed folks who are making the AIP lifestyle a reality in everything from college dorms and small city apartments, to large households with non-AIP family members, and everything in between. Through these interviews, we hope to share how they make it happen across a variety of budgets and living situations, and give the community a wealth of inspiration. Read more Kitchen Tours here!

Name: Jennifer Thompson

Location: Illinois

Preferred pronouns: she, her

AI disease: hidradenitis suppurativa

How long have you been eating AIP? 3 years

Have you successfully reintroduced any foods?
I have had a few successful reintroductions and a few fails and setbacks. I am most thrilled about cacao and coffee. I do still try to limit these treats, but love having them back. I also did okay with all kinds of peas and found a green pea pasta that is a savior! I did great with black pepper and vodka as well. Ghee didn’t go so well but I am hoping to try it again soon. I’ve had a few illnesses and incredibly stressful times that have delayed my reintroductions, but hopefully soon I’m trying new things again!

How has the AIP changed your life?
AIP has given me an entirely different mindset and changed so many things in my life. I am no longer in pain everyday. I suffered from joint pain, fatigue, skin flare ups, brain fog, and stomach issues that I had no idea could be managed with changing the way I ate. The weird part of feeling sick all the time is just that, you feel it all the time. It becomes your normal and when things began to lift away the more I changed my diet, I had a whole new perspective on food and my life. The way your mindset and energy changes when the pain is gone, it is absolutely worth never eating “normally” again for me. My body doesn’t want suffering back.

It is also a little harder to open up about, but I struggled with binge eating and having a terrible relationship with food. I was hitting the scales just over 350 lbs and steadily gaining every week. Learning about my autoimmune disease and how food could effect my symptoms, forced me to really look at what how I was eating and the voids I was trying to fill with food. I had to stop killing myself with a fork. I have lost around 130 lbs on my healing journey. I have never felt better and now have a healthier relationship with food. I may cook for a family of four, but I’m no longer eating for a family of four.

Size of your AIP kitchen: 15 ft x10 ft

Favorite thing about your kitchen: 
I love that my kitchen has so much counter space. It has almost 15 feet of counter space. Some AIP recipes require a lot of prep work and gadgets, you’re going to need some room. I don’t have to move my big air fryer or blender that I use every single day to make room for what I need to do next. I’ve got room for some plants and herbs I like to have around. There is enough space to have my produce tucked in the corner, my appliances I need and room to dry the never ending dishes. Which, sigh, leads us into the what I would change right away if I could.

Least favorite thing about your kitchen:
I wish I had a dishwasher. I know they’re not terribly expensive anymore, but hear me out. I have custom cabinets that were built in the 60’s. Nothing measures to standard sizes these days and I’ll likely need someone to come rework my cabinets and drawers out. I’m a single gal on a tight budget so I’ll keep scrubbing away. AIP means a lot of dishes, like A LOT. I’m only cooking for one, but I try to batch cook and make life easier. I’m always washing dishes. I adore my little house and kitchen, but a dishwasher… a girl can dream. I’d also upgrade my stove, change the flooring, add greenhouse windows… the wish list of updates grows. What I do have, I’m grateful for.

Are there any cheap gadgets or little tools that you have found make AIP easier?
My favorite gadgets that were under $10 are my hand juicer and garlic press. I use my citrus hand juicer every single day, whether it is for lemon water or adding lemon to smoothie or recipes. I love this thing and I’d recommend it to everyone that loves lemon. I also use my garlic press very frequently. I admit, I’m not the best at mincing garlic and this saves me time. My biggest advice here, find one that opens up for easier cleaning. Mine has a little door that unlocks and swings open so you can really get all the garlic bits out. Garlic and lemon add so much flavor and these guys help me do it faster and easier. Also, a really sharp knife. You’re going to be chopping a lot of things.

What is the biggest thing that changed in your kitchen setup when you adopted the AIP?
When I began AIP, things didn’t change a lot at first besides removing everything on the nope list. After a short time, I realized the storage container section was growing and growing while the pantry was no longer full of processed snacks. I reorganized all the spaces to make more sense. I started utilizing my ancient lazy Susan corner cabinet for canned goods and snacks instead of the pantry space. The pantry is utilized so much better now with my storage containers organized and appliances I don’t use often.

If someone was just starting to invest in some useful but more expensive kitchen tools, which one would you tell them to buy first?
My most useful expensive kitchen tool is hands down my blender. There are recipes that are going to require a high powered machine to demolish these tough root veggies. I make a smoothie for breakfast every day. I am spoiled, my blender was a birthday gift and a celebratory AIP journey gift from friends. I don’t know if they know how invaluable it as become. I make soups, desserts, my tomato sauce substitute, my queso sauce, and so many other delicious things that make AIP easier. I’d also recommend one that works as a food processor, this saves so much prep time too.

Are there any tricks you have learned to make AIP work in your space?
Organizing has to be my biggest trick to make AIP easier in my kitchen. Having my pots and pans organized by how often I will use them, my storage containers easily accessible, and all my flour substitutes in order make cooking so much easier. I didn’t really have a need to organize like this before. My kitchen was always full of ready to eat foods and now it is full of whole ingredients to become my food.

How do you deal with food for family members that are not AIP?
I’m sort of lucky, I don’t have to really deal with non AIP food in my kitchen. I live alone so I have the whole kitchen to myself. When family or friends come over, they’re likely bringing their own meals or eating AIP with me. I suppose if I found someone worthy of sharing my space with, maybe I’d give him a few shelves in the fridge and a shelf in the cabinet. And I’d drool over the goodies but remind myself that my journey is bigger than the momentary joy of a Reese’s cup.

Are there any tools or appliances that you’ve stopped using now that your diet has changed?
Since I began AIP, I broke up with my Keurig machine and my rice cooker. I didn’t have a need for coffee in the beginning stage, plus the K-cups were so pricey and full of bad things too. I switched to using a kettle to make hot tea. The rice cooker can be used as a slow cooker as well, but of course I have one of those too.

What are your favorite meals to batch cook?
I am currently hooked on Brussels sprouts roasted with baby carrots and red onion. I drizzle balsamic and maple syrup over them and can’t get enough of these sweet savory veggies. I have been making a large pan of these and using them for lunch prep for weeks on end. I usually pair this with roasted chicken or pork. It has been really warm here and hot food for lunch hasn’t been appealing, so I’ve also thrown together a veggie, prosciutto, green pea pasta salad that is super tasty and easy to batch cook. Some of my other go to flavor enhancers I try to keep on hand are “queso” sauce, tomato sauce sub, and a mayo sub. I always try to have a protein ready to go as well, usually grass fed ground beef.

What are your favorite AIP and Paleo cookbooks?
The Autoimmune Protocol Comfort Food Cookbook by Michelle Hoover is my favorite. I grew up with comfort foods and she covers so many of my childhood meals. I have a few memorized already, like the stroganoff and biscuits and gravy. I spend way too much time on Pinterest saving recipes too. There are so many incredible blogs and sources online for recipes, I could spend all day listing them.

Do you have any tips for those starting an elimination diet and setting up their AIP kitchens for the first time?
My best tip for starting an elimination diet is probably out of sight out of mind. In the beginning, the temptations are stronger, well for me they were. It was easier to eliminate things if they weren’t sitting around looking at me. The items I knew I couldn’t have yet but would be able to reintroduce soon, went into the back corner of the cabinets. I put them in time out. I felt like I couldn’t mess up if I didn’t have things in front of me and it really helped. Food is literally all around us and such a huge part of life, but it doesn’t have to hurt us.

You can connect with Jennifer on her website, Don’t Feed the Fat Girl and on Facebook.

Would you like to be featured in an AIP Kitchen Tour? We feature members of the community who are willing to share the real spaces where they cook, as well as their stories of transitioning to this lifestyle. If you are interested, fill out our interest form!

About Grace Heerman

Grace Heerman is a writer and website designer from Minneapolis. Through her business Said with Grace, she helps coaches clarify their message and create authentic websites that actually bring in business. Here at Autoimmune Wellness, Grace writes book reviews, manages blog content, and organizes Facebook publishing. She is an avid traveler and loves spending winters in Asia. You can connect with Grace and learn more about her writing and design work on her website, Said with Grace.

3 comments

  • Clare says

    Jennifer, there are portable dishwashers available, which can wheel out of the way when not in use, and then when you need it you wheel it out, fill it, and attach the water hoses to your tap with an adapter. When done, wheel it back out of the way. A dishwasher is a life saver for me. Good luck.

  • […] Wellness – So much here!! Also…. my AIP Kitchen tour and article can be found here! It was a fun experience and I’m grateful they wanted to share my […]

  • Becky says

    Thank you so much for sharing!

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