Joanna Frankham helps you to make lasting diet and lifestyle choices that serve you. She is an AIP mentor and Certified Health Coach who uses rituals and group programs (like her foundational AIP Reset group program, which BTW you can save 15% with the code PALEOMOM) to help you break down the AIP framework into manageable pieces; all to enable you to implement positive changes to improve your health. Jo’s special sauce is her ability to facilitate bringing AIPers together in a way that is informed, inclusive and encouraging. Chronic illness doesn’t have to be isolating. You can connect with Jo on her site, on Facebook and Instagram.
After five years of working with clients to bed down this AIP caper, it has become VERY clear to me that aiming for perfection prevents you from reaching your goals.
Here’s the thing – perfection is an unattainable state. The very nature of being human means that you are flawed and prone to slipping up. It’s not just you. I am, too. And, so is Sarah!
And, I think those are the bits of you that make you most interesting, too. The imperfect bits. How boring would this life be if we were all such goody two shoes?
Have you ever said that to yourself? “I would stick with AIP if I could still have my…” (ß insert appropriate food/s here!)
I’m here to tell you, perhaps a smidge controversially, that if there is a particular food that is stopping you from going the whole hog with AIP (or even Paleo), exercising a little moderation may be something to consider…
Let’s be realistic
I’m not saying don’t do full AIP. If you can possibly follow the elimination phase for a month (or two or three), that is definitely the fastest way for you to experience improvements in your symptoms. It’s also the very best way for you to identify food sensitivities (especially if you are tracking in a food and mood journal).
But – if having a square of REALLY good quality dark chocolate at night is going to be the thing that keeps you sane and on track – I say, “Have that square of dark chocolate. Make it the very best quality dark chocolate you can find and enjoy the hell out of it.” Just don’t eat the whole bar! Remember why you’ve chosen this AIP adventure.
I can still remember my elimination phase. I gave up my beloved coffee for nine entire months. I missed it every single day. I even dreamt about coffee. My partner, David, would make cups of espresso over the weekend and waft them under my nose so that I could at least get a hit of caffeine smell… I REALLY love coffee!
Knowing what I know now, my elimination phase would have been considerably smoother had I allowed myself the (very) occasional cup of REALLY good quality coffee. Given the intensity of my coffee-love, I have no doubt the act of removing it actually created more stress for me – potentially offsetting some of the benefits of giving it up.
Disclaimer: Some choices are ‘less bad’ than others
Let’s be clear. I’m not giving you carte blanche to go crazy. That’s not what this is about.
You know full well that AIP is all about making nutrient dense choices that both serve you and facilitate healing. If you choose to apply this little get out of jail free clause to your AIP caper, there are definitely options that are ‘less bad’ than others.
Remember, this is about the act of aiming for perfection preventing you from reaching your goals. It’s about giving you that one special thing to make this AIP caper more doable for you.
So, what’s not negotiable?
For me, gluten and grains, dairy, egg whites, nightshades, soy, nuts and peanuts are deal-breakers at the beginning. These are the most potentially allergenic foods. Legumes are off my list, too.
What does that leave?
In addition to that really good square of dark chocolate or the occasional exceptional espresso, it also leaves a very occasional good-quality glass of red wine as a possibility. It leaves seeds (check out my post-reintro’ nut-free granola recipe!), which can also be handy at breakfast when transitioning to AIP. It leaves a few seed-based spices, too – for those of you hanging out for cumin and mustard and ground coriander and the like! And, it leaves egg yolks – which can be creatively used in all sorts of good ways (including my favorite – Crème Brulee!)
I’m certainly not saying don’t follow the template. But, I am a BIG believer in personalizing your AIP caper so as to integrate more fully it into your life. This is a very individual process and you need to find what works for you. So, it’s ok for you to tweak the model a little if that’s the difference between AIPing or not AIPing…
So, here’s to celebrating those imperfect bits of you and giving yourself a break!
If you’d like a little extra help in breaking those perfectionistic tendencies and developing your personal AIP roadmap, why not come and join the May AIP Reset? It’s 30-days dedicated to supporting you to (re)find your AIP groove in a private and encouraging space with fellow AIPers who get it. Each day we dive into a different aspect of this AIP framework together. As one of Sarah’s readers, there’s a special 15% discount off the retail price – simply enter the coupon code: PALEOMOM at check out.