The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) Survival Guide
AIP is a powerful elimination diet and lifestyle plan that lower inflammation in the body and helps people identify foods that trigger negative reactions or digestive problems. I created this AIP Survival Guide to help make the process easier. In this post you will find AIP approved foods and snacks, cookbooks, blogs, podcasts, lifestyle tips and more.
What is the Autoimmune Protocol
The Autoimmune Paleo Protocol, often referred to as AIP, uses both diet and lifestyle as a strategy to help reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms of autoimmune diseases. The protocol is geared towards restoring the integrity of the gut through healing the intestinal mucosa and supporting low inflammation in the body that causes autoimmune flare-ups. If you want to learn more about AIP, what it is and why I went on it, check out this post first.
The following foods should be avoided while on the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol (AIP):
All grains, such as oats, rice, and quinoa
Beans and legumes, such as peanuts
Seeds (including seed-based spices like coriander and cumin, and seed based oils)
Nightshade vegetables (including potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers, eggplant, potatoes, and spices derived from them like paprika, cayenne, and curry)
Preservatives, emulsifiers and thickeners such as careengeen, ascorbic acid, citric acid, sodium benzoate, calcium propionate, BHA and BHT
Refined oils, such as canola oil and vegetable oil
Sugar and artificial sweeteners
Coffee, chocolate and cocoa powder
Alternative sweeteners, such as stevia, erythritol, xylitol, and mannitol
The following foods are allowed and should be enjoyed while on the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol:
Grass-Fed Collagen and Gelatin Protein
Animal fats like tallow, lard, and duck fat from pastured animals
Coconut oil and red palm oil from sustainable sources
Healthy fats such as avocados, olive oil and avocado oil
Moderate fruit (limit to 15 grams of fructose per day)
Organic Vegetables (minus nightshades) such as cruciferous vegetables, sweet potatoes, roots and tubers
Sea Vegetables (excluding algae like chlorella and spirulina which are immune stimulators)
Low glycemic fruits, limit 2-3 servings per day or 15-20 grams fructose per day
Herbs and spices that are not seeds or nightshades, like basil, thyme, rosemary, turmeric, and garlic
Coconut products, such as coconut flakes, coconut shreds and coconut butter
Vinegars, such as coconut vinegar, apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar
Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha and coconut or water kefir
Matcha, green tea and herbal teas
Sea salt and Himalayan pink salt
Occasional use of honey or maple syrup (limit to 1 tsp per day)
My Personal Experience with AIP
My functional medicine doctor initially wanted me to follow the autoimmune paleo diet for 3 months; however, after showing significant improvement around the 2-month mark, and seeing positive results from my Cyrex Array 5 Lab Test, I was told I could start reintroducing foods. After 8 weeks, I felt healthier, happier, and learned so much about my body. I have successfully reintroduced cocoa powder, almond butter and seeds.
I hope this AIP Survival Guide takes some stress off the shoulders of anyone looking to start the AIP protocol. With the right planning and resources, the temporary elimination diet is more than worth it!
Without further ado, here is my AIP Survival Guide!
AIP Surivial Guide
This survival guide is designed for those wanting to embark on the autoimmune protocol or simply want to learn what foods trigger negative reactions or digestive problems. I would like to note that I am not a certified AIP coach. You should always consult your healthcare physician before starting any new diet or lifestyle protocol.
What & How to Eat on AIP
If the idea of figuring out what food to eat and creating a menu seems exhausting, there is an amazing online meal planning service called Real Plans that’s completely Paleo and AIP-friendly that does all the work for you (minus the actual cooking part). I am not an affiliate with Real Plans but simply love their business model. You sign up and get to choose from their database of nearly 2,000 recipes (400 of which are AIP-friendly). They also provide you with a mobile-friendly and fully-customizable meal plan based on your dietary needs with an interactive shopping list.
P.S. My Bulletproof Matcha Latte (pictured below) is AIP friendly! Just be sure not to add ashwaghanda.
The 3 'S' Fators: Sleep, Stress & Supplements
The Autoimmune Paleo Protocol emphasizes lifestyle habits in addition to diet. Factors such as sleep, stress and supplements can really help facilitate healing and recovery while on AIP. Here are a few of my top suggestions:
Sleep As we sleep, our body actually heals itself. Too little of sleep impacts our stress and cortisol levels, which can in turn throw off our hormones. Aim to sleep for at least 8-10 hours a night and nap when you can. This means getting to bed early and turning off your devices an hour or so before bed.
Stress Stress plays a large role in regulating our hormones as well. To lower stress, practice self-care, laugh often and participate in activities you enjoy. Another amazing way to lower stress is to practice deep breathing. Breathing calms our central nervous system and promotes immediate feelings of relaxation and calmness. Meditation is another great tool for lowering stress; I really enjoy the app Insight. Other stress busting activities include reading, journaling, outdoor nature walks and epsom salt baths.
Supplements I used specific supplements for me and would highly recommend working with a practitioner before starting a new supplement protocol. Some supplements I think everyone can benefit from include:
Magnesium to support sleep and over 300 enzymatic and physiological function
Zinc to support antioxidant activity and a healthy immune system
Vitamin D3 to support healthy cellular and immune function
Omega 3 to low
See supplements page for recommendations.
Eating Out at Restaurants while on AIP
Eating out while on autoimmune paleo can be difficult. Sometimes it might even seem like you have no options, so when in doubt, keep it simple. You can use phrases like, “can I please have (whatever menu item you are ordering) cooked plain, without any butter, marinades, spices or seasonings" to ensure that your entree is not prepared in canola oil, butter, seed-based spices or marinades, or any other ingredient from the AIP foods 'avoid' list.
You can also always create your own entree. Look at the menu and see what foods they serve. Most places will have some sort of protein and vegetable, meaning you can ask for chicken or fish, grilled plain, with steamed vegetables as a side, for example. A lot of places serve avocado, which can add healthy fats and flavor to the dish. Stay away from guacamole though, since it usually contains nightshades.
If you want a salad, politely ask for no cheese, tomatoes, croutons or any other ingredient from the foods 'avoid' list. If you are unsure of the ingredients in the salad dressings, lemon wedges, balsamic vinegar and olive oil make a great substitute.
There are some great AIP cookbooks around, such as the ones listed below:
Browsing through AIP blogs helps bring peace and clarity while you are on the protocol. There are numerous blogs that contain a ton of helpful information, including printable grocery lists and amazing recipes! Here are some of my favorites:
Podcasts helped answer a lot of my AIP related questions. They are great to stream in your car or while exercising. Here are a few of my favorites:
AIP Refrigerator & Pantry Staples
Keeping AIP friendly food items in your pantry is a key for success. Otherwise, you will likely reach for foods on the 'avoid' list. I personally tucked away all my non-AIP friendly items while on AIP to avoid temptation.
Below you will find my top AIP pantry and refrigerator staples, almost all of which are available on Thrive Market, the place I get almost all of my groceries nowadays. Thrive Market is an online marketplace with healthy and organic food, personal care products, household items, and as of this month, now organic meat and wild-caught seafood selections! Everything on Thrive is sold at wholesale prices AND it ships straight to your door!
I personally love Thrive Market because it sells food options that are either not sold or more expensive on Amazon, and even often only available in large package options. However, I went ahead and included links for the foods sold on Amazon to keep it simple for you all.
AIP Approved Fats & Oils
AIP Vinegars & Sauces
Vital Choice is another amazing online place to get pasture-raised, grass-fed meat, chicken, pork, sausage and wild-caught seafood. They even sell bone broth, seasonings, jerky and other healthy snacks. You can choose a box with a variety or individual items. I listed a few of my favorites below.
A strict elimination diet is not meant to last forever. It helps bring the body back into balance and helps you identify what foods trigger negative reactions. I loved how I felt after completing AIP for 12 weeks and am certain with this survival guide, that you can’t too! Please feel free to contact me for more support or information.