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We have just about everything a person could need on our site to get started with an autoimmune wellness journey. We’ve got all the details on exactly what the autoimmune protocol diet is, a free quick-start guide on planning and preparing to begin the diet, details on all the lifestyle adjustments you’ll eventually want to add, recipes galore, and lots of articles on the finer details. But, one thing we don’t have is a guide to mentally (and emotionally!) prepping yourself for the AIP transition.
I am changing that today and I hope this is coming at just the right point in the year to help you ready yourself for a whole new journey! In my group program, SAD to AIP in SIX, and with my individual clients, I have so many opportunities to see that people often need to prepare mentally for a shift this big. You see, there’s no way around it, changing our food, sleep, stress management, movement, and connection habits, all to support healing and place our health at the very top of our priority list, is no small undertaking!
If you are here because you are about to embark on the AIP journey, I applaud you. This is likely to be one of the most amazing things you have ever done for yourself and totally worth every ounce of effort! I hope all the information on our site helps you get your kitchen ready and that these tips help you get your heart and mind ready.
Here are six ways to mentally prep for the AIP transition:
1. Before you do anything else, assess your baseline.
This means answering a few questions for yourself about where you are right now, so that you can reflect at regular intervals and notice your progress. It’s a fantastic way to wrap your head around why exactly you’d want to make a change in the first place and you’ll thank yourself later when can look back and concretely see all the progress. It’s like putting future motivation into your inspiration bank. Grab a piece of paper to write this down and save for later:
- Current weight
- Sleep/exercise habits
- Overall health goals (I’d encourage you to state how you want to feel in the future.)
- Specific goals (Think of things like pain reduction or better energy, etc.)
- Main health concern (For example, “My Crohn’s disease.” or “My arthritis pain.”)
- Most disruptive symptoms (List the symptoms that are pushing you to make a change, like daily headaches, feeling faint, heart palpitations, etc.)
- Bathroom habits (This can be an important indicator of health.)
- Average mood/outlook
- Examples of typical breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, and beverages
2. Say a few positive affirmations about you, your abilities, and the future.
This is like cleaning your mental space and preparing your heart for something amazing to happen. You could try:
- My plans for future wellness are smart and well-considered.
- I pursue my healing no matter what.
- There is an important reason this path is being presented to me.
- I am capable of living a new, vibrant life.
- I love my body, even as I help it toward greater wellness.
3. Take a moment to be angry.
You didn’t think this list of suggestions would be all fluff did you? I’m serious here. If it will help, literally scream it out. Go on a hike and yell from the top of ridge, “It is not fair that I have to change my food to feel normal!” Park your car in an empty parking lot, roll up the windows, and blast some death mental while shrieking about how hard it is to start on a new path. Cry and punch a pillow! Anger, not only about your disease itself, but also about the work it takes to heal, is totally normal and confronting it is good mental prep.
4. Allow yourself to set aside perfectionism.
The Autoimmune Protocol is more than just an elimination and reintroduction diet, it is a holistic (meaning “whole body, whole life”) transformation. It’s also not a formula, it’s a template. Templates are meant to offer guidance, but allow for adjustments to suit individual purposes. When you think of it like that, you realize the process will be layered, require trial and error, and will not be linear. There is no space for perfect, there is only space for you to explore your bio-individual path to health. Trust me, letting go of the need to be perfect is going to help so much with the mental readiness.
5. Practice gratitude.
We have touched on this before, in our AIP Evolved Manifesto, and in our recent book, The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook. It’s with good reason that we keep repeating it. It is not only a good on-going practice, but an ideal way to ready yourself mentally for AIP. Take the time before you begin AIP to reflect on all the things you already have in your life that are good and right. Then consider how fortunate you are to have the opportunity to try a new healing protocol (for instance, that you even have electricity and internet and found this little corner of the Web with guidance and support to offer or that you have a choice at all about what to eat and when). Life has many miracles worth marveling at if we give it thought.
6. Now, suit-up!
By that I mean, summon your inner warrior. Think about all the parts of you that are strong, confident, determined, and brave. We each have those parts and letting them take center stage before you begin AIP will help you feel mentally equipped for the process. It is a big undertaking, initially out of most of our comfort zones, and can even feel a little scary, but you already have the power inside to begin your healing.
I’m wishing so much wellness to every new AIPer this year! We are so happy to welcome you to our community.