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

What is the Autoimmune Protocol || naturallyinprogress.wordpress.com

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

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? || naturallyinprogress.wordpress.com

AIP BBQ pulled pork, warm arugula salad (by http://www.everydaypaleo.com, 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: http://aiplifestyle.com/what-is-autoimmune-protocol-diet/)
What is the autoimmune paleo protocol? || naturallyinprogress.wordpress.com

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 || naturallyinprogress.wordpress.com

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||naturallyinprogress.wordpress.com

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 PaleoMom.com’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 PaleoMom.com

Bacon & Kale Pizza with Plantain Crust by the Primitive Homemaker

And these guys…

Plantain Crackers by the PaleoMom.com

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!

1st week on the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP)

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.

First week on the Autoimmune Protocol | Naturally in Progress

My first AIP breakfast while scanning this book (plus one of my last cups of coffee as I transitioned off.) So thankful my practitioner gave me this book! Super helpful. The Paleo Approach

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?