Last Thursday night I met with a functional medicine doctor and by the end of the appointment, he said, “So this is day 1, and we’re starting now.” Starting…now?? I had been anticipating beginning the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol for some time; in fact, it’s really been years in the making, probably, but I wasn’t mentally ready until this past summer. When I finally got my schedule and my doctor’s to align, I figured he’d say, “So get your stuff together, go fill up your freezer, and start the AIP on Monday.” But, no, we’re starting tomorrow.
Even though it caught me by surprise, I’m actually really glad he gave me this push. The truth is, I could have started the diet changes myself months ago. I’d been gradually stockpiling my freezer with pastured meats, and searching for more AIP-friendly snacks and herbal teas. I had already received Practical Paleo as a gift (thank you, my friend!) by Diane Sanfilippo, which has a 30 day meal plan for Autoimmune Conditions. I’d been gradually scouring The Paleo Mom‘s website and reading up on her suggestions for AIP, and I already starting accumulating recipes and tips on my own AIP pinterest board. You could say I was on the ball, I just hadn’t done anything with it yet. 😛
I am very happy to say that I am done with week 1. I am on day 9 now and on the 8th day, I actually started to feel like maybe I can do this after all.
I’m a mom, so feeding a hungry husband (who works from home, a mixed blessing), and two small children, while on the AIP, is not necessarily easy, but it can be done. To those who are wondering; no, they are not on the AIP with me, but as long we eat family dinners together, they’ll probably be getting more AIP than they asked for. I’m still preparing breakfasts and lunches with different needs in mind, but when it comes to the family dinner, I’m trying to get as much in sync as possible, although they may have sides (like rice) or desserts (like ice cream or cookies) that I will not be having.
What I felt like on my first week of AIP:
- I actually never felt super hungry, because I was fueling my body with adequate protein, fats and carbs, and frequently. My very first morning (as you can see in the picture), I had bacon and sauteed veggies. I am learning to pack snacks with me wherever I go so I don’t get a crazy low-blood sugar moment (which is an issue for me with having reactive hypoglycemia).
- I did feel depressed and isolated at times. I’m realizing this is not a very social diet. It’s not like doing “just paleo” or “Whole30” where you can ask the server at a restaurant to “leave off the bun” or cook things unseasoned. I’m having to analyze every spice mix, oil used, and vegetable combination on this protocol, while also going grain-free and dairy-free. We tried to go out to eat at a nice locavore-type restaurant Thursday night, and while I was assured my meal was GF and DF, the anxiety I experienced while wondering if there was a not-okay spice mix in my meal was actually not worth the enjoyment of going out to eat. I don’t want to be high-maintenance as I order, but in order to eat in peace, I may very well have to. You live, you learn.
- I have been tired, and there were times the first few days where I felt pregnant in the respect that my brain was so occupied with new information and new activity that I was quite distracted. I wanted to make sure that I was feeding myself properly that a couple of times I sat down to eat a quick meal and realized no one else had been given their meal yet. Oops. I think this may be some detoxing too, with some achiness and brain fog. I can assure you, though, that I am not pregnant. 😉
- I have not felt any inflammation in my leg. This is huge! My autoimmune condition is a skin condition on my leg that affects the skin and can affect underlying tissue. It’s called linear morphea or linear scleroderma and is visible. While I don’t know if the skin color changes will reverse, I have hope that the feelings of losing tissue or it changing its shape will diminish. Occasionally over the last year or so, I have felt a strange twinge in my leg–not pain or anything–but just a reminder to me that things were off. Since I removed all the inflammatory foods out of my diet, I haven’t felt these things at all, and I find that very encouraging!
- I’m starting to feel like I can do this. I went to the grocery store several times this past week to stock up on foods and veggies that are safe for me to eat (pretty sure avocado, banana, plantains, and new veggies will be in the lineup every time, plus some bacon), and I realized as I was picking up some lemons for last night’s meal, if I hadn’t ever had to go through anything like this, I would not have learned so much about my body and about what fuels it best. I’ve been reading so much on AIP Lifestyle, about how to look at these challenges as blessings, and it’s really helped my attitude. It can be easy to read about what’s not allowed and have your heart break (and sometimes, it’s good to let that happen), but there has been lots of self-discovery in this as well.
There will be so much more I will learn as I go throughout the next 7 weeks on this initial phase and beyond. Thanks for showing an interest in the very beginning of my journey.
Have you ever done AIP or a similar protocol (like GAPS or Wahl’s)? What’s been your experience? What was the hardest thing initially? The easiest?