Monica’s AIP Kitchen: How She Manages Crohn’s Disease in Colorado

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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: Monica Spigarelli

Location: Colorado

AI disease: Crohn’s Disease

How long have you been eating AIP? January 2021

Have you successfully reintroduced any foods?
Reintroductions have been very slow going for me. So far I’ve successfully added eggs, ghee/butter, nuts & seeds, coffee, and if eaten occasionally potatoes and legumes.

How has the AIP changed your life?
I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s in 2016 and followed the Functional Medicine Elimination Diet (IFM) for a while. It helped tremendously to reset my gut for a few years, but in February 2020 I started to flare again. I knew about the AIP diet through my network and research and decided to give it a go. It has definitely helped with the number of BMs per day and my joint pain/arthritis the most. I also have learned that nightshades, aside from potatoes, are a serious no-go for me (especially tomatoes!!). I would have never suspected that had I not eliminated them.

Size of your AIP kitchen: 100 sq ft

Favorite thing about your kitchen:
The natural light, view into our backyard and the gas range stove.

Least favorite thing about your kitchen:
The lack of space (my partner and I call it a “one and a half butt kitchen” because it doesn’t fit two people well.) We quickly run out of cabinet and counter space but make the most out of what we have. Our refrigerator is also tiny which limits how much we can stock in there.

Are there any cheap gadgets or little tools that you have found make AIP easier?
A sharp vegetable peeler, zester and mandoline are all very handy!

What is the biggest thing that changed in your kitchen setup when you adopted the AIP?
The way our dry food was stored. I removed all the eliminated foods (e.g. grains, sugars/oils) and put them in hard-to-reach cabinets. Then I stocked the rest of our cabinets with food I could eat.

If someone was just starting to invest in some useful but more expensive kitchen tools, which one would you tell them to buy first?
Anti-fatigue mats! On AIP you are cooking and thus on your feet a ton. They are literally my lifeline.

Are there any tricks you have learned to make AIP work in your space?
I keep a google doc of items that I need from the grocery store throughout the week which makes building a list much easier when that time comes.

How do you deal with food for family members that are not AIP?
They eat AIP with me. It’s really just my partner (who can still go out to eat when he wants) and when I have friends/family over. Luckily there are so many delicious foods and recipes to make on AIP that no one ever complains. 🙂

Are there any tools or appliances that you’ve stopped using now that your diet has changed?
My toaster. Giving up grains has meant never needing to toast bread

What are your favorite meals to batch cook?
Soups, burgers, salads, sauces (I’m such a sauce person!). Really anything that will stay in the fridge for at least 5 days or that I’m able to freeze for a later time.

What are your favorite AIP and Paleo cookbooks?
For people just starting out, I found these recipe books helpful (and delicious):
The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook by Mickey Trescott
The Paleo Approach Cookbook by Sarah Ballantyne
Asian Paleo by ChihYu Smith

Honestly though, I really love to create my own AIP recipes inspired by ones that use traditional ingredients. The challenge is super fun for me and I love the creative experience. I launched my website and started sharing my recipes on social media in July 2021 to help others in the AIP community find tasty and nourishing meals to make.

Do you have any tips for those starting an elimination diet and setting up their AIP kitchens for the first time?
Remove all the illegal foods from easy reach (or give them to a friend/food pantry) because you will not be using them for a long time. Having them clutter your kitchen is silly and if you’re like me, you’ll learn you feel better without them anyway. Also really make sure to read labels if you buy packaged food. The number of additives put into our food is both astounding and disturbing!

You can connect with Monica on her website, Manifest 2 Heal and on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter.

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.

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