Does everyone with family history of autoimmunity need to do the AIP?

A question I’ve had since I’ve begun the autoimmune protocol (AIP) and I have an autoimmune disease is, should my children do it as well? Sarah Ballantyne, aka The Paleo Mom, and author of The Paleo Approach and The Paleo Approach cookbook, shared on the Balanced Bites podcast episode #72 that while you can do the autoimmune protocol for preventative reasons, you don’t necessarily have to.

Paleo Diet Basics || image from

I came to this scene by being introduced to and following several Weston A. Price/real food blogs. A few years ago, when the GAPS diet was making its waves through the real food community, it seemed like everyone was doing GAPS! GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome, and quite similar to the Autoimmune Protocol, it helps deal with leaky gut/intestinal permeability and helps reverse many diseases, including autoimmune diseases.  In fact, I was going to start GAPS if I hadn’t come across a functional medicine doctor who advised me to do AIP instead. However, one thing that I appreciated from a strong voice in the GAPS community was that of Cara’s, from Health, Home & Happiness. I recall her saying more than once that before you jump into GAPS, try a few other things first. Add more fermented foods into your diet. Take a probiotic. Try removing grains or dairy. She was cautious to encourage everyone to do GAPS, because everyone’s needs vary, and some guts probably need more or less help than others. That reasonable approach is very much in line with what Sarah Ballantyne had to say as well.

She shared that if you have a history of autoimmunity in your family, remember that genetic susceptibility is only one third of the picture. Diet and lifestyle account for another third, and environmental triggers are the other third.

Ballantyne says the paleo diet is a good foundation to be preventative for any autoimmune disease. This makes sense as the paleo diet has a focus on nutrient dense foods and removes processed foods and all the other stuff our body doesn’t know with what to do!

The reality is though, that gluten may never be your friend if you have autoimmune history. 😐 This may be a hard pill to swallow, even for me, as I’m wont to enjoy a slice of sprouted toast with some butter. However, if it keeps me in a healing place, then it’s worth it. Question for any AIPers: have you ever been able to reintroduce gluten-containing grains?

The other crazy thing to me is eggs! Eggs are a powerhouse of nutrition and one of the most wonderful foods, but even eggs have anti-nutrients as I was reminded by the Paleo Parents. As they can cause inflammation, this is one reason why they are removed during the strictest phase of AIP. However, you may find you’re able to tolerate pastured egg yolks upon reintroduction, and Ballantyne says it’s okay to rotate those through your diet (but they may not be a daily staple). At this point, I think I can live with that, as I’ve found some suitable breakfast substitutes.

The other foods in the AIP that are initially avoided are nightshades and nuts and seeds. Ballantyne states that these foods on the paleo diet are actually some of the less nutrient-dense. For example, nuts and seeds can have a high omega 6 ratio, which can increase inflammation. So, if you take them out, you’re reducing your inflammation levels. Also, tomatoes aren’t as nutrient-dense as I thought maybe they were, so, there’s not much of a nutritional loss there (although I will probably miss salsa for quite some time).

Again, if you have autoimmunity in your family, but you haven’t seen symptoms for yourself yet, first of all, yay!, and secondly, just keep on with your paleo template, and monitor yourself for symptoms. What are the symptoms? Good question–we’ll cover that in the next post!

Do other members in your family follow the autoimmune protocol with you? If not, how do they eat?


What *IS* the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP)? And what brought me here

What is the Autoimmune Protocol ||

The Paleo Approach explains pretty much all you need to know and more about the AIP! Written by Sarah Ballantyne, aka

I have to admit to you, lonely reader, I never did a proper job of explaining to you what the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) really is. There are loads of talented and eloquent bloggers who have successfully shared what the AIP is and how it works, that it’d be much simpler to just refer to their sites, but alas, for the poor folk who can’t click on a hyperlink, I shall detail it for you here!

The AIP is a temporary healing diet that rids the body of excess inflammation by removing foods, toxins and any other triggers that might be putting the body into an inflamed, stressed state. The protocol is especially beneficial for those with autoimmune diseases, like Crohn’s, Celiac, Multiple Sclerosis, Graves, IBS, Lupus, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Rheumatoid Arthritis, or in my case, Linear Scleroderma (also called Linear Morphea). What? Yes, I probably have one of the most unheard of autoimmune diseases but that doesn’t make it any less ugly!

Autoimmune conditions, in my words, are when the signals in your body get mixed up, and your body starts sending messages to begin attacking itself. For some people, it attacks their nerves, digestive system, their brain, a gland, or what have you. In my case, it attacks my skin with extra collagen and can attack connective tissue as well. I was first diagnosed and treated by a dermatologist almost 9 years ago! Once I realized autoimmunity means your entire body is at risk, I realized just seeing a dermatologist and getting topical creams wasn’t going to cut it. I had this realization about 5 years ago, and while there was no turning back, there was a lot of sitting on my hands until I (wo)manned up to take on the challenge of holistically dealing with my AI issues, with a few starts and stops along the way. Baby steps for the win.

So, the autoimmune protocol removes these inflammatory foods, some forever (based on the paleo template), and some temporarily:

  • grains
  • legumes
  • refined sugars
  • refined oils
  • processed food
  • processed sweeteners and alternative sweeteners like Xylitol & Stevia

These are a temporary removal, which means at some point these can be re-introduced to see how your body tolerates them:

  • nightshades and nightshade spices
  • seeds and seed-based spices
  • fruit-based spices
  • nuts
  • dairy
  • eggs
  • coffee, cocoa
  • alcohol

This begs the question, what can I eat?

The answer is food, lots of nourishing, yummy food!

What is the Autoimmune Protocol? ||

AIP BBQ pulled pork, warm arugula salad (by, and sweet potato fries

The following is from AIP lifestyle, a wonderful resource with lots of inspiration for those on a healing journey!

  • Vegetables (except nightshades)
  • Fruits (limit to 15-20 grams fructose/day)
  • Coconut products including coconut oil, manna, creamed coconut, coconut aminos, canned coconut milk (with no additives like guar gum and carageen or bpa lined cans) shredded coconut (this list does not include coconut sugar and nectar)
  • Fats: olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, lard, bacon fat, cultured ghee (certified to be free of casein and lactose)
  • Fermented Foods (coconut yogurt, kombucha, water and coconut kefir, fermented vegetables)
  • Bone Broth
  • Grass Fed Meats, Poultry and Seafood
  • Non-Seed Herbal Teas
  • Green Tea
  • Vinegars: Apple Cider Vinegar, Coconut vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic (that has no added sugar)
  • Sweeteners: occasional and sparse use of honey and maple syrup (1 tsp/day)
  • Herbs: all fresh and non-seed herbs are allowed (basil tarragon, thyme, mint, oregano, rosemary, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, savory, edible flowers)  (Source:
What is the autoimmune paleo protocol? ||

peaches & {coconut} cream

The truth is, since I started AIP, I’ve actually hardly been hungry. Initially, I think I was so concerned I’d be hungry that I might’ve overconsumed and sometimes felt too full, but now I realize that was not necessary. I always make sure to pack snacks with me as well to avoid such a situation. Each meal is paired with just enough fat, protein, and carbs, that unless I’m just *too busy*, I’m often happily nourished, and that’s a very good thing for my health, sanity, my blood sugar, and my husband & my kids!

Have you ever done a temporary healing diet like GAPS, SCD, Wahl’s, or the AIP? If so, how did you fare on it? What improved? What worsened? I’d love to hear your experiences and where you are now with your healing.

Nearly 4 weeks in and what have I learned?

week 4 on AIP ||

A weekend dinner on the AIP – friendly for the whole family!

By end of day tomorrow, I will be 4 weeks into the Autoimmune Protocol and so thankful to have reached this halfway point of the most restrictive part of my protocol.  My practitioner has me doing the full AIP for 8 weeks and then we will see how I am doing and if my body is ready to reintroduce some foods.  While I have my fingers crossed that some foods will be able to come back into my life (eggs, I’m looking at you–at least the egg yolks), I’m realistic in knowing that some foods are probably what got me into this situation to begin with, and the fact that I am feeling much better with a cleaned up diet means that something I was previously eating was likely causing inflammation. 😦 Life goes on.

However, now that I know, I know, and I can do better in the future with regard to avoiding those foods and making sure what really fuels my body is on my plate.

I haven’t been keeping a daily log, like I wish I would have, but in general, a day of eating looks like this for me:


Smoothie mixed with pumpkin, banana, spices (cinnamon, cloves, ginger), 1/2 can coconut milk (Natural Value brand), + supplements mixed in

Leftover meat + veggies or leftover soup


homemade jello by Phoenix Helix and/or plantain crackers by The Paleo Mom


Leftovers like soup, or grilled meat + sauteed veggies, or a salad with leafy greens, bacon, canned salmon, avocado, green olives


applesauce (I live with two small children; it’s always around!) or an all-natural fruit leather

homemade jello by Phoenix Helix and/or plantain crackers by The Paleo Mom

leftover morning smoothie


Roasted or grilled meat

Roasted veggie sides or mashed cauliflower

Sweet potato fries like e’eryday

After-dinner snack

Fried plantains in bacon fat + coconut cream on top by Meatified

Plantain pudding by Meatified

I’m managing to stay full throughout the day as long as I snack a bit in between meals. If I start to feel low or a blood-sugar dip, something for which I need to be mindful with reactive hypoglycemia, I have found a few slurps of my morning smoothie or a few jiggles of jello gets me back on track.week 4 on AIP||

Since my last post i was able to make both things I was hoping to make: Paleo Mom’s plantain crackers and the Primitive Homemaker’s Bacon Kale Pizza, and let me tell you, they did not disappoint!

I have since become semi-obsessed with plantains and am so inquisitive about all the various things you can do with them. They seem to be able to play a role in nearly all meals: fried plantains, plantain crust, mashed plantains to make a type of mashed potatoes, plantain chips, plantain crackers, plantain pudding or ice cream!? I mean, who knew that this food could go both savory and sweet?

What’s been your life-saver or favorite thing on the autoimmune protocol? How are your symptoms?

2nd week on the AIP

Week 2 on the AIP | Naturally in Progress

Baked Chicken Thighs & Roasted Veggies || Week 2 on the AIP

I just wrapped up my second week on the Autoimmune Protocol. I can’t believe how quickly the days are going by, but I’m actually so thankful because it means I’m spending less time obsessing over what I’m eating, or subsequently, not eating.

The first week I was on the AIP, I wavered between feeling nauseous and feeling more or less distracted. I believe I was so focused on figuring out what my next meal was going to be that I could hardly pay attention to much else!  Thankfully, after a week on the diet, I felt like I started to calm down a bit, and I realized I probably had more options than I realized.

What I’ve been eating:


  • Savory baked chicken legs from Practical Paleo (a non-AIP version of the original recipe is here, just omit black pepper & paprika), with broccoli and cauliflower roasted in coconut oil and rosemary salt.
  • AIP pork shoulder roast with mashed cauliflower; sautéed summer squash & zucchini w/ onion & bacon


  • Leftovers (some kind of roasted meat and veggies) + fruit
  • A salad of mixed greens, green olives, bacon, avocado, turkey or chicken, with homemade vinaigrette


  • Coconut milk smoothie with leafy greens, mixed berries, 1/2 avocado, 1/2 banana and some supplements prescribed by my functional medicine doctor +
  • reheated veggies with ground pork or bacon OR reheated “apple fritters” 


  • leftover morning smoothies
  • apple chips
  • applesauce
  • leftover bacon! (I don’t have a dehydrator to make jerky, so this is emergency protein sometimes if I’m feeling a little blood sugar dip)

Honestly, as I look back over my week, my meals haven’t been all that exciting. Sometimes, it’s just about getting the nourishment in so I can move on with my day, and there’s always a lot going on around here with two kids.  

I just spent some time perusing’s site though, and pinning tons of recipes that look interesting and like a break from my recent norm. 

Here’s what I plan on trying out soon!

Potatoless Potato-Leek Soup from

Bacon & Kale Pizza with Plantain Crust by the Primitive Homemaker

And these guys…

Plantain Crackers by the

I can’t even tell you how badly I’ve missed salty crackers or chips, and this would help me get some more guacamole into my life. Sliced cucumber was only taking me so far.

It seems my next big adventures will involve plantains and more plantains, and I’m going to add water chestnut flour and tapioca flour to my pantry list. The adventures just keep unfolding…


What about you? What’s been your biggest challenge in keeping your food rotation interesting? What yummy things are you cooking up in your AIP-kitchen? Please share!