How I Discovered AIP
In 2014, I asked my fiance for a cookbook for Christmas. We would be married in just a few months, so I wanted him to gift me with a cookbook full of recipes he would enjoy. I was confused and a bit disappointed when his gift was a “diet” book, not a cookbook. What’s he trying to say? Does he think I’m too pudgy? He informed me that he believed I would find it useful in cooking us healthy food. I leafed through the book and found a list of restrictions – foods that you should not eat. Upon sighting “bell peppers” on the list, I slammed the book shut! Without telling him, I refused to look at it anymore. Everyone knew I loved eating green bell peppers as if they were apples. How could I possibly give them up?
Fast forward a year and a half – I picked up that fateful book again. That book was The Paleo Approach by Sarah Ballantyne. I had been researching online and learning how I could escape my thyroid medication. The gluten-thyroid connection blew my mind! I continued researching and stumbled upon the crazy fact that 90% of hypothyroid cases stem from Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease. Somehow, while researching gluten, hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s, and autoimmune disease, I landed on a paleo website. Paleo… that sounds familiar. Oh, the book I got for Christmas last year! I ran downstairs and opened up The Paleo Approach. That’s when it all began.
As soon as I knew how the autoimmune paleo diet (AIP) could benefit my thyroid health and overall health, I went all in! I threw away old ketchup and mustard bottles, gave my flours and sugar to an aspiring baker, and purged my cupboards of dried beans and grains. The Healing Kitchen and The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook found a place on my bookshelf. It was a speedy transition once I knew what to do. Mickey Trescott’s batch cooking videos took away the intimidation of starting this completely new way of eating and living. I followed her 4-week meal plan from The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook and realized immediately that I would be setting up residence in the kitchen for a while. Starting off wasn’t easy; but the dream of putting Hashimoto’s thyroiditis into remission kept me going. My husband and I even took a camping trip during that first month on AIP! We survived on Epic bars and plantain chips. And yes, my husband follows the protocol with me. He is amazing and super supportive.
Following the AIP brought some immediate changes for me. I felt more alive, happy, and focused than I had ever felt! I experienced 15 pounds of weight loss, and my stomach no longer made me look like I was pregnant after a meal. I sat down one day to make a list of the health problems that had disappeared or lessened.
- Acid reflux
- Cystic acne
- Hair loss
- Brain fog
- Painful menstrual cramps
- Unstable emotions
- Thinning eyebrows
- Stomach pain
- Frequent urinary tract infections
We followed the autoimmune protocol religiously for five months. Traveling to New York to spend Thanksgiving Day with our families went smoothly, surprisingly. (Following a restrictive diet/protocol can become quite difficult around the holidays!) We had begun drinking coffee while visiting my parents’ house. My husband convinced me that it would be okay since some AIP experts said an occasional cup of coffee was okay. An “occasional cup of coffee” turned into two or three coffees a day! When we got to New York City to spend time with my husband’s family (coffee-loving Dominicans) I went crazy! I won’t tell you how many cups I had every day…not because I’m humiliated, but because I honestly lost count while I was there! Okay, so I “reintroduced” one thing. No big deal. I can say “adios” to coffee when I return home. Unfortunately, it was the trip home that really caught us off-guard. Our flight was super early in the morning, meaning there was no time to grab breakfast. Late in the afternoon, we found ourselves very hungry and lying on the airport floor. The smell of pizza was wafting through the air. I battled with the idea of grabbing a slice of gluten-free pizza; but the fear of having some freakish reaction to tomatoes, dairy, and pepperoni spices kept me from making such a rash decision.
You knew this was coming, didn’t you! Yes, we totally messed up. I’ll tell you why so that you don’t make the same mistake we did.
It was seven o’clock in the evening, and we were finally home, exhausted and starving. We ran to the kitchen to grab some food after a long day of flying and going hungry, only to find…Behold, an empty fridge. Bam! I hadn’t set us up for success. No food. Empty fridge. Once upon a time, I heard that Red Robin had gluten-free hamburger buns. So we headed to Red Robin where we ate the most disgustingly stale and cold food I have ever eaten. Truth! I mean, if you’re going to ditch your diet, at least do it well! Now let that be a lesson to you – always have food waiting for you when you return home from a trip!
The bad food alone was a horrible experience. What was worse were the hypothyroid symptoms that returned. My hair was falling out, my stomach was in pain, and I was an emotional mess! Everything that AIP had cleared up for me had returned with a vengeance. I wish I hadn’t fallen off the bandwagon; but I did. Getting up again wasn’t easy. Staying on AIP after failing miserably has been quite hard, honestly. It’s something I could be very ashamed of, if I let myself. Michelle Hoover from UnboundWellness has an excellent article about this here. I recommend it to those who have done something similar with their diet or lifestyle. And if you’re still feeling bad about messing up with your diet, hear this: Nothing is as bad as running to Panera when you’ve had a crappy day, and eating all the gluten-containing foods you can fit in your tummy! Yeah, I did that. So, don’t feel bad.
Now, my husband and I cook AIP foods at home again. I’ve learned the value of sticking to something so important even when it is an inconvenience to my bank account, schedule, or appetite. When you follow the autoimmune protocol, you are investing in your health, the health of your family, and your future. It is totally worth it! When I look at that list of symptoms that disappeared during my time following the AIP, I’m impressed, blown away, and in shock! If you have just started the AIP, keep going! It only gets better, and those health problems do disappear. If you stay committed to eating wisely, you’ll eventually see the results you’re hoping for. If you’re considering embarking on the AIP adventure, then do your research, know why you are choosing this, and go for it!
What was your AIP discovery or experience like? Let me know in the comments! Let’s inspire each other!