Making the switch to an Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) food and diet plan in a world of fast food, genetically modified oils, believable marketing campaigns about “healthy” foods, and negative attitudes from friends and family makes starting and staying on this eating plan difficult. But after a year of thriving on the AIP diet, I have some tips to help you and your family stick to the plan. Switching to AIP is more than changing the way you eat, it will also influence the way live. By deciding to join others on the AIP journey, you are committing to take better care of your body by pro-actively being intentional about your diet, stress levels, and overall balance. This may seem like a far-fetched dream, but once you commit and set your priorities, you will find this process easier than you thought it would be. It will become a way of life. Healthy people say “no” to unhealthy foods every day, by choosing to eliminate foods that are causing your body harm, you are saying “no” to sickness and potentially severe illness, and you are saying “yes” to a healthier and more vibrant you. Trust me, regardless of what you are going through, your body will thank you if you stick to this eating plan.
AIP FOOD & DIET TIPS
1. Convert your family/household to this new lifestyle. Making one meal for yourself and another for the rest of your family isn’t sustainable, and having food in the house that is harmful to your body isn’t going to help you stick to your goal of getting healthier. When the whole family is eating the same way, everyone’s health will improve, you will be less tempted to eat unhealthy foods, and your kitchen will be clean and uncontaminated. Speaking personally here, my children’s hormones became more steady, their emotional outbursts lessened, their muscles have gotten stronger, their acne has almost gone away completely, and so much more. These are just the natural results of removing GMO’s, high fructose corn syrup, soy, plastics, dairy, and the alike from their diet.
2. Make easy AIP food with easy recipes most days and when you have a good chunk of time 2-3 hours or so- try a new more complicated recipe. You don’t want to be experimenting with new flours, oils, and binding agents when your family is starving and it is late. Experiment on the weekend. 🙂 Check out some of the AIP recipes that I like here.
3. Follow the recipes – don’t substitute ingredients until you first try the original recipe. These new ingredients are tricky and expensive, so I suggest following the recipes to a tee and only experimenting with them after you are more familiar with how the ingredients work together.
4. Only cook recipes that are on the same AIP food stage that you are in- if you are in the first 30 days or first 3 months, I recommend only cooking recipes with ingredients you can have – some substitutions- like egg substitutions can be tricky to learn and expensive to experiment with.
5. Get rid of the ingredients in your pantry that are not on the AIP food list and especially ones you cannot use anymore- anything with gluten, gmo’s, soy, canola oil, dairy, corn, nightshades, etc.
6. Stock up on the AIP food staples that you need for healthy and balanced AIP meals. The worst thing you can do is eat the wrong foods; the second worst thing you can do is not eat enough of the right foods, then feel hungry all day. Coming soon: An article about my favorite AIP food staples and where to buy them.
7. Set yourself up for success. Planning is key. Even if you are not a planner, now it is really a need. If you go to work or run errands without food that is healthy for you, you will not succeed in sticking to your healthy goals and needs. Check out my quick & easy AIP snacks and meals.
8. Plan for your cravings- the easiest way to stay 100% devoted to this new way of eating and ultimately this lifestyle- is to know what you typically crave and have those things ready to make or standing by in case of an emergency. Coming soon: an article featuring my family’s favorite go-to AIP/Paleo recipes that keep us from feeling like we are missing out on yummy treats. In the meantime, check out my AIP Desserts page on Pinterest.
9. Get the necessary kitchen tools to make your life easier- noodles, get rid of all former wooden utensils and cutting boards, at least two cast iron skillets, a high powered blender, crock pot, glass ware for baking, cookie sheets, good knives, measuring cups and teaspoon measurements, get rid of the plastic stuff and buy glass, ceramic, or metal storage containers.
10. Buy recipe books, create AIP food recipe boards on Pinterest and follow AIP recipe leaders on Instagram to constantly get new and inspiring ideas. I had my kids go through our AIP cookbooks to mark recipes that they thought looked and sounded good. (The pictures in my recipe books and on my AIP meals page are awesome!) If they feel like they have a say in what they eat they will be more likely to comply. Check out some of my AIP meals that I like to cook.
11. Cook with your kids and spouse- all of you need to rethink cooking and using the new ingredients. Some of the foods work totally different than the foods you are probably used to eating. If you have Tweens or teens I think it’s the perfect time to teach them to cook and get them to pitch in with making dinners.
12. Set you and your family up for success when going to a friends house- We always bring our own food with us. When the boys go to a friend’s house, we send them with yummy treats that they love so regardless of what their friends are eating, they don’t feel like they are missing out. We also talk to the family ahead of time about the diet and come up with a solution that will best help our kids.
13. Eat out- Find yummy GF (gluten free) restaurants to occasionally eat at so you can feel somewhat normal. I always look at the menus online and if I have questions I call ahead first. Cross contamination is a big deal so find out as much as you can to be as safe as possible. Coming soon: A list of places I have eaten and not regretted it later.
14. If you are traveling, have a plan in place- Bring your own oils (coconut, olive, & avocado oil), condiments, and snack foods, protein bars/drinks, etc. Research ahead of time to locate the nearest organic food stores, restaurants, etc. in the area you will be staying.
15. If you have to cheat for some reason, cheat with Paleo approved foods only. There are just certain things we don’t ever need to eat again, but sometimes in a pinch you need to eat something, so some exceptions need to be made. This should not be a regular occurring thing; if it is, then you may need to spend more planning and doing prep work to avoid this situation if you are really trying to reverse your autoimmune or other health condition. Here are some of my favorite Paleo Cheats.
16. You will find that after three months of sticking to the AIP diet, you won’t crave the sugars and dairy and gluten as much. I don’t crave much these days, especially since I have come up with delicious AIP alternatives to all the foods I used to crave. You will realize that foods like fruits will naturally taste sweeter to you. This is a good thing. Based on the numerous studies about how much sugar the average American consumes, by removing sugar from your life you will be so much healthier.
17. Help others. I have found that I get motivated every time I speak to someone else about what they are going through. People ask me about my journey, and as I share my story and struggles I usually hear that they are overwhelmed by the diet (just like I did when I first began this AIP journey). I reassure them that it gets easier and that there are fun ways to eat and live so that it is not all consuming. But every time after speaking to someone who is just starting the AIP process, I usually leave motivated to create another yummy AIP recipe to share in hopes of helping others who are just starting out on the AIP journey or who are struggling with certain aspects of the AIP diet. I am in the process of putting together my “must haves” for the AIP/Paleo diet that bring joy, ease, and familiarity back to my eating plan. You will love the new items and you will be excited to be able to easily buy them and not have to make absolutely everything!
18. Ask for prayer. I have found that by asking my husband and friends to pray for me as I walk through this autoimmune journey, it has helped me tremendously.
19. Be a positive influence to the kids around you- Bake AIP/Paleo goodies when your kids have their friends over. My boys have friends over all the time and they say they love our goodies way better than the unhealthy versions. I will post my favorite recipes soon.
20. Keep a journal- Write down the foods that have a negative impact on your body. Write down when you notice certain accomplishments like weight loss, joints are less achy, headaches lessen, stomach bloating has decreased, brain fog doesn’t happen as often, etc. Journalling can help you when you hit a slump. That moment when you are tired of cooking and just want to go to a fast-food restaurant, you can flip to your journal and be reminded of how far you have come and how beneficial the AIP diet and lifestyle has been for you.
21. Show yourself grace- You are not perfect. Don’t beat yourself up if you eat something that later hurts you. Never give up and when you hit a slump. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; talk to a friend who can encourage you to keep going on your AIP/Paleo journey. Make wise food decisions, but be sure to be kind to yourself through the process of learning how your body responds to food and this new diet.
22. Realize that food is not your enemy- The right foods are going to help you get healthy and strong. Focus on what you enjoy eating, what you can eat, and really spend the time researching to find recipes that sound good to you and your family. You will try new foods, flavors, and AIP food combinations, and I guarantee you that if you have an open mind, you will love the new options and wonder why it took you so long to eat this way.
**The views and nutritional advice expressed by Lindsey Graves is not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. Purchasing a product, program or wellness coaching does not establish a doctor patient relationship with Lindsey Graves or her staff. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider. We suggest that you continue to work with qualified medical professional as you engage in our material, products and services. No information offered here should be interpreted as a diagnosis of any disease, nor an attempt to treat or prevent or cure any disease or condition. Information and statements regarding products and/or services made available by Lindsey Graves have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Lindsey Graves products and services are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.