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The AIP and Me: Week 1

I may still be on my AIP honeymoon, but as I write this I am fairly infatuated with my new diet. The Autoimmune Protocol is a version of the Paleo Diet intended for those people suffering from autoimmune disorders. (If you missed last week’s post and don’t know what the heck I’m talking about, you can read it here.) I began my fling with the AIP last week, with Diane Sanfilippo’s excellent resource, Practical Paleo. In short, my first week following Diane’s meal plan was everything I had expected, a bit of what I’d hoped, and one pleasant surprise all wrapped up in a (quite tasty, actually) lettuce leaf.

My expectations, met:

First of all, I expected it to be expensive. Even though I expected this, was somewhat prepared for it, I still had to do some serious self-talk to make it through the check-out stand. Once I stopped thinking of it as food for a week, and started to think of it as a medically-necessary treatment in which I happened to eat for free, I started to feel better. What’s that saying about food being medicine? I keep that tucked in my back pocket to pull out whenever I’m faced with a $20 cut of meat.

I also expected it to be difficult. It has been difficult, but not as difficult as I’d expected. I had a head start with all the diet changes I’ve faithfully observed for the past year. It definitely made an easier transition being already gluten-, dairy-, soy-, refined sugar-, bean/legume-, grain-free. So while I have missed my almond-flour baked goodies and treats, and I’ve missed eating eggs which were an easy and inexpensive source of protein for me, it hasn’t been an agonizing transition.

And I expected to be cooking a lot, though this has only been partially true. Since I have all those freezer meals for the family, I haven’t had to cook for them at all (unless I just feel like it). So while my time spent cooking for myself has increased, my overall time spent cooking is less than what it was before. This was a pleasant surprise.

Some of my hopes, met:

My biggest hope was that the food would be simple to prepare. Diane has put serious thought into her meal plans and I have been utterly pleased with her recipes. They are simple and straightforward, and I can make them without fuss or bother. They come together quickly, and she makes good use of leftovers so I don’t find myself cooking a new meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

I have to qualify that though, and add that if you were approaching this diet coming straight off a standard American diet of cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and spaghetti for dinner, your adjustment would be significantly more difficult than mine has been. And you would probably find the shopping more intimidating. Some knowledge is assumed (knowing how to fry plantains, or source a raw sauerkraut, or choose an additive-free smoked salmon) and if I hadn’t spent years already cooking and buying those things, I would probably have felt more lost than I did.

Of course, I had also hoped to be feeling better. And I do notice small signs of improvement. For example, I woke up one day last week and noticed that I had an actual belly button! With all the inflammation and distension in my abdomen, I haven’t had an observable belly button for years. And I went the whole week with no pain, and an adequate amount of energy. To be fair, I am on this diet while simultaneously undergoing a new drug therapy prescribed by my GI doctor and there’s no telling which one is causing the effect. This is hardly a scientific process for me. Just a desperate attempt to find healing. To be honest, I don’t really care which treatment is causing it, I’m just happy to be eating foods that I haven’t eaten in years and not suffering.

And one pleasant surprise:

The thing I hadn’t expected or even dared to hope for? The most pleasant surprise of the entire week? Diane’s recipes are crazy good. I mean really, and truly delicious. I don’t feel deprived at all. Well, maybe I do feel a little deprived of chocolate, but in terms of my main meals I am more than satisfied.

Actually, make that two pleasant surprises. While spices like chili powder, cayenne, and paprika are out because they come from nightshade veggies, my spice-life turned around considerably when I found out black pepper was not a nightshade. And I found a killer nightshade-free curry blend that has been a boon to many a recipe.

For all you list-makers out there, here’s a list of the things that did (and did not) go into my body this week:

  • Foods eaten: organic, free-range meat and wild seafood; lots of veggies, mostly organic; a few jarred items (olives and artichokes and the like) without preservatives or colorings; coconut oil; peppermint tea (unsweetened); a few fruits
  • Foods avoided: grains, soy, eggs, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, nightshade veggies, spices from nightshade veggies, sweeteners, chocolate, alcohol
  • Supplements taken: all prescription meds for depression and digestion, probiotics, HCL with every meal, fish oil, cod liver oil, trace minerals, 5-HTP, weekly B-12 injections, MSM, L-Glutamine, Magnesium Citrate, and Melatonin (Please note that I do not self-prescribe supplements nor do I recommend that others do so; I work closely with my doctors, both MD and ND, to determine what my body’s needs are. I advise everyone to do the same and provide this list solely for informational purposes of the things that are working for me.)
  • Bodywork and lifestyle: My energy levels are still comparatively low and the only thing I managed to do was a physical therapy session with a friend. And a haircut. Does that count? I got a head massage with it. One of my hopes for the coming weeks is increased energy that will allow me to take on some light exercise.

I think I am off to a not bad start. It might even be called a good start. Three more weeks to go, we’ll see where they take me.

* It should go without saying (but somehow doesn’t) that I am not a doctor nor a nutritionist and I don’t recommend that anyone undertake any dietary changes or take any supplements or medications without close conversation with a licensed care provider. What I provide here is intended solely for anecdotal and informational purposes.

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