Pregnancy & the Autoimmune Protocol (surprise!)

If I have any luck, I’m not down to zero followers, and maybe I have a random one or two lurking here or there. But you may have noticed it’s been pretty quiet on this naturally-in-progress front. That’s because some other things have been in progress! Like a BABY!

photo credit: wikipedia

After the holidays I was planning on doing a post on how I survived through the holidays without straying off the autoimmune protocol (I was way proud of myself!), but instead, I had a few unusual symptoms that led me to take a pregnancy test, and voila: preggo.

What’s this mean for me and the autoimmune protocol?

So, that naturally changed my course a little bit. At first, I was able to continuing eating as I had been, and was including some super nutrient-dense foods into my diet. Salmon, dark leafy greens, fresh berries, and then about a week after I found out my news, the aversions began to hit, and the cravings swung in full-force. I was having an AIP mental crisis and really didn’t know what to do. While I had told my functional medicine doctor the news of the pregnancy, I was afraid/embarrassed/ashamed that I had already “given in” to some of my non-AIP cravings. There just was nearly no way around it, lest I wanted to throw up from an empty stomach or deal with major nausea and gagging… which sounds better?

Eating food I wanted to eat was helpful, and gave me energy, but eating really bad food day after day for a couple of weeks took its toll. And by bad, I mean, takeout, or quick and easy restaurant fare (not necessarily just non-AIP foods). By week 10, I decided to scale back on the easy fixes and try to strike a more moderate approach.

Where I am now

Believe it or not, I started to write this post mid-March and am just now catching back up to update you guys. I’m 22 weeks now, and am looking at a late summer (late August/early September) arrival.

I’ve come to a place mentally where I’ve stopped shaming myself for not being perfect on the protocol. I think in some ways the guilt and negative self-talk can be just as detrimental to your overall health as an imperfect diet. For now, I’m focusing on taking my supplements, resting a lot, lots of outdoors time (which has been easy to accomplish during a beautiful spring in Florida), and maintaining other support systems that are helpful to me. My diet is 80/20 somedays, and 50/50 other days. I’ve done some anecdotal internet research to find out I’m not alone in my AIP struggles while pregnant, and that’s reassuring. I think if I suffered from a different set of symptoms, my resolve to stick closer to 100% would be different, but my particular autoimmune disorder bothers me at a different level than some. What I do know is I have some tools in my arsenal to help me should things progressively worsen, and I know my functional medicine doctor will see me at the 3rd trimester and after delivery to help me navigate the potentially massive hormonal shifts that can occur.

What I’ve been craving

Italian sub sandwiches — There’s hardly anything redeeming about these sub sandwiches from an AIP perspective, but I can confirm they are indeed delicious. As a good friend pointed out, at Jimmy John’s, I could always get them lettuce-wrapped for less guilt ūüôā

Seafood — I never feel guilty about this! Lately I’ve been enjoying lots of salmon and shrimp, which is great because I’m still a little iffy on eggs occasionally and these foods are some of the most nutrient-dense and help with so much brain development in a growing baby.

Sauteed shrimp with Zoodles (zucchini noodles) — inspired by @WholeLIfeFullSoul on Instagram

Fresh fruit — watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, berries, again, no guilt

A pretty decent breakfast // my steadfast smoothies were giving me some indigestion so I’m switching it up for now & trying new things

Ice cream — Publix grocery stores sell an awesome organic variety of vanilla ice cream (yes it’s dairy, but it’s organic and has a pretty clean list of ingredients). I do want to investigate making my own fruit sorbets, however.

Popsicles — Cold treats are just … top-notch especially as the weather heats up. I intend to make some AIP-friendly ones sometime soon ūüôā

Asian-inspired¬†food — I think this was spurred by following Dora from ProvincialPaleo¬†on Instagram. Wow, does she have amazing & inspiring recipes! I wish I knew how to cook like her! Trying some of her suggestions has led to some yummy new creations in the kitchen, and an expanding of my repertoire!

With my other two pregnancies I craved Mexican, but I’m just not feeling it at much this time around! I’m trying to listen to my body and what it wants while also exercising moderation. I know our bodies change with the season as well and I feel the influences¬†of spring and summer in what I want to eat.

I’d love to hear from any others who have done or struggled with the autoimmune protocol while pregnant. What was your experience, what did you crave, what were you averse to, what was most supportive? Please comment below, and thanks for sharing!

Week 11 on the AIP & what’s next

Week 11 update on the AIP ||

A new favorite meal around here: sear-roasted pork chops (recipe by candied carrots (recipe from Practical Paleo) fried apples (recipe by

Last time I checked in was well over a month ago and I thought I would be coming back to tell you how awesome my reintroductions were going, or that my reintroductions were…going.

But the crazy thing is I’ve been at this phase for nearly 3 months (what!!) and I haven’t “officially” started reintroductions.

Unless you count the occasional serving of green beans, sometimes using black pepper, and feeling permission from Jessica at AIPLifestyle to try ghee.

What happened? I thought we were going to introduce foods after eight weeks?!

Well, let’s do some catching up

The last five weeks

The week following my last post, which, sadly, was a month ago, I had what I can only describe as a digestive onslaught. It seemed like nearly every day, something I ate would offset my tummy and I’d be in the fetal position on my bed with major cramping and digestive distress. While I do use essential oils, and applying them to the abdominal region provides some comfort, it was¬†still¬†an unpleasant week.

The good thing about working with a practitioner during this time is that we were able to trouble-shoot and play with some variables to see if I would start feeling better, and thus we did.

I took out a new-to-me supplement from my regimen, while also noting that I seemed to have these attacks after eating a few common foods, so I removed those as well (adiós, avocado, Godspeed till we meet again).

My doctor recommended reintroducing the supplement in micro-doses in about a week, and if I still reacted, we would know it was a culprit and go down plan B. And also test for SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth)! I was honestly afraid of reintroducing this supplement, because, simply,¬†ain’t nobody got time for a stomachache! I mean, seriously, who wants to pass up 2-3 hours of their day for that? Not I.

However, the reintroduction with the micro-dosing went fine and all was well! No testing at this time for SIBO, either! ūüėÄ

And then we went to DisneyWorld. And Disney was great. I packed all my food to eat the park for the day we were there, and felt nourished and happy. After a long day there, we drove through Panera so the entire family could eat something, and I thought I would take a chance on Panera’s ¬†“hidden menu,” and I ordered a very simple salad with grilled chicken, bacon and real olive oil as the salad dressing (without the hard-boiled eggs and tomatoes). Yet, although we were basically driving in the dark at that point, I thought I noticed red, thick spices on the chicken, and realized I was probably eating something nightshade-based, even though it wasn’t terribly spicy.

Then, the next night, we wanted to go out to eat as a family (it was Saturday night!) and we chose a local, hip, fresh Cali-fusion restaurant near to our house that often advertises Paleo-friendly meals. I ordered a meal with spaghetti squash as the base, saut√©ed in olive oil and garlic, …and apparently red pepper flakes. I didn’t know that extra spice was included, but my two night experiment let me know my body is not ready for these spices yet in my diet. I started to feel those tingly flares of inflammation in my leg and was discouraged.

Despite all my weeks of great eating with much caution and sometimes feeling like a diva with all my questions when eating out, some accidents occurred and while I did the best I could, I feel they set me back a little, so it took away some of the enthusiasm about reintroducing foods.

So, while I’m still in Phase 1, I know I won’t be here forever, but I know the longer I stick it out in this phase and let my gut heal, the better I’ll do with reintroductions. Did you know that? The longer you let your body heal, the more likely it is your body will do better with the food reintroductions. So, it may stink in the meantime but it will likely lead to a greater payoff with less frustrations and mess-ups in the future.

And I’m still getting to eat yummy food like this sausage and kale soup from Sweet Treats Baking.

I even made AIP-friendly marshmallows following this recipe from

Occasional indulgences like these are just that: occasional and indulgent! I think they would taste great on sweet potato casserole on Thanksgiving!

AIP-friendly marshmallows! Recipe available at

Speaking of…

What’s Next

I’ll be traveling a bit over the next two weeks and would love your input on the best way to handle AIP phase 1 while traveling (this includes flying and driving). I’ve looked up places to eat at my destinations, including local grocery stores, and I’ll be staying where there’s¬†a kitchen. However, I could easily see myself trying to pack my entire kitchen into a suitcase and that just ain’t gonna fly (pun intended).

Suggestions?! Also, anyone in the San Diego area on the AIP? Any good restaurant recommendations? I’d so love your input!

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. ūüė¶ 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?

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. ūüėõ

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. ūüėČ
  • 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?