Are you considering following the AIP as your New Year’s resolution this year? That’s how I got started, but I would do it differently if I had to do it all over again.
I started the Autoimmune Protocol on January 1st, 2012… just about 7 years ago! At the time, there was almost no information out there on what to not to eat, just a partial page in The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf with a list of additional foods to eliminate for those with autoimmune disease, and a non-identical list of additional eliminations in a post on the original version of Prof. Cordain’s thepaleodiet.com. Two bloggers had merged the two lists on their websites and that was it. The AIP in those days was Paleo plus no nuts, no seeds, no eggs, no nightshades, no alcohol and no NSAIDs. This original version of the AIP lacked its now signature nutrient-density focus and holistic approach that includes lifestyle in addition to diet (this more comprehensive approach is my contribution to the Autoimmune Protocol, along with bringing scientific validity to each facet of the AIP with my thorough scientific research). With this dearth of information, I muddled along in my attempt to follow the AIP, and like so many, I definitely made some mistakes that held back my healing. I didn’t realizing that paprika is a nightshade, for example, nor that coffee was problematic. Without the nutrient-density focus, I was choosing the same foods repetitively, and not eating the nutrient powerhouses that make up the majority of my diet today. I didn’t yet understand the role that lifestyle factors played in immune regulation. It took me 10 months to really figure out what the AIP was, and how to follow it, and that’s when everything finally started coming together for me (and not-coincidentally, when I started writing The Paleo Approach, which continues to be the definitive AIP guidebook today).
Nowadays, people new to the Autoimmune Protocol have the opposite challenge. Instead of a lack of information, there’s SO MUCH! Instead of just my website to read, there are dozens of AIP bloggers out there, sharing their experiences, tips, strategies and recipes (check out my AIP Community page for more information!). My writing is detailed (I’m a person who strongly believes that the key to reversing autoimmune disease is scientific literacy and I respect your ability to understand and value the science if I do my job of writing about it in an accessible way), but scattered throughout this website and my books. There’s so much information, that people get confused: Is vanilla AIP? Is the AIP low carb? Should I avoid fruit on the AIP? Isn’t liver full of toxins? Should I combine the AIP with low-FODMAP? (The quick answers are “yes, if gluten-free”, “nope, carbs are important”, “fruit is great, just limit fructose to under 40 grams daily, 20 grams is better”, “nope, it’s a filter not a sponge, safe to eat even if not grass-fed”, and “only if you have issues with FODMAPs and only as a short-term intervention, say 2 to 4 weeks”. ) Even veteran AIPers can run into pitfalls, especially when it comes to refinement and troubleshooting, as a result of too scattered attention and lack of a systematic approach.
And here’s the other complicating factor: lists of yes and no foods just don’t work! Yes, they’re handy, but if you’re following a diet based on “eat this and don’t eat that” rules, cheating is inevitable. And, it’s one thing to cheat on a weight loss diet where you can quickly get back on track with a little determination, but it’s quite another to eat foods that trigger an autoimmune flare, setting back your healing weeks or months! And, not understanding the reasons for eating certain foods and avoiding others can lead to uninformed choices when it comes to refinement, reintroductions and troubleshooting. So, information is essential, but it needs to be presented methodically to avoid confusion and overwhelm.
That brings me to by best piece of advice for successfully sticking to the Autoimmune Protocol (whether for your New Year’s resolution or at any time!): Commit some time every single day to systematically educate yourself about the Autoimmune Protocol using one (or more!) of the resources below.
1. Take the AIP Lecture Series
There is quite simply no other resource as thorough for the autoimmune patient than my AIP Lecture Series. In my 6-week intensive online course, I teach you the scientific foundation of the Autoimmune Protocol diet and lifestyle with an additional focus on practical implementation, self-discovery, protocol refinement and troubleshooting. This is quite simply my most thorough AIP resource, but it’s also my opportunity to provide personalized guidance and support. The 42 video lectures stream on demand, each one paired with recommended reading, action steps, and self-discovery exercises. There’s also dozens of printables, twice weekly guided discussions in a private Facebook group, and I also share weekly (or more!) FAQ videos in the private Facebook group for the course. You also get direct access to me in the private Facebook group, and I make sure to answer every single question asked during the session.
The course is geared for autoimmune disease sufferers and their caregivers, whether you’re a newbie or have been following AIP for a while.
The next session begins Monday January 7th, 2019, perfect timing to pair with your New Year’s resolutions! And, as a little added incentive to enroll, you can use the coupon code AIPLS100 to save 20% off tuition!
You can also learn more about what’s included in the course by going to the AIP Lecture Series Course Details page, which includes a video detailing what’s covered in the course, a video tour showing how to navigate the course, and a downloadable detailed course outline.
I super enjoy teaching The AIP Lecture Series and am looking forward to connecting with a new group of students! However, please note that I will only be running two sessions of this course next year (it’s very time consuming for me and I have too many other projects vying for my attention at the moment). If you miss out on this one, the next session won’t be until September. But, do know that you retain lifetime access to all of the course lectures and materials, as well as everything shared in the private Facebook group, so it might be better to take the course now and know that you can go through it at your own pace.
As an aside, I realize that not everyone needs to know the scientific foundation for the AIP in order to be successful in their health journeys. And, I want to take a moment to plug an alternative program created by my friend and colleague, Angie Alt, NTC, CHC called SAD to AIP in Six. This is an on-ramp program that features a gentle and gradual transition (over 6 weeks) to the Autoimmune Protocol. If your primary need is help with implementing the AIP, then this program is perfect! It’s even been used in clinical trials! This would also be a great resource to share with friends or family members who you know could benefit from the AIP but who find the whole idea intimidating. The next session of SAD to AIP in Six also starts January 7th.
2. Read The Paleo Approach
While the AIP Lecture Series is an excellent bargain for the enormous amount of content it contains, I do realize that the type of thorough education paired with guided and personalized support that you get from the AIP Lecture Series (and SAD to AIP in Six too) is not fiscally accessible for everyone. If you fall into this category, you can still learn everything you need to know for a successful AIP journey by reading The Paleo Approach, the definitive guidebook for the Autoimmune Protocol. I additionally recommend reading my most recent book, Paleo Principles, because, while it’s general health focused (and not specifically AIP), it does contain some additional very valuable information relevant to the AIP, for example on adrenal fatigue and health benefits of nature, as well as over half of the 230 recipes included being AIP compliant.
Need a free resource? I can help you out there too. I created a 37-page AIP Quickstart Guide that you can download for free when you sign up for my weekly newsletter. It’s obviously not as thorough of a resource as my books or my course, but it does contain the most salient information to get you started.
3. Work 1-on-1 with an AIP Coach
An AIP Certified Coach is a practitioner who has received advanced training in addition to their base certification on the science behind autoimmune diseases and the AIP as well as practical strategies for helping clients implement dietary and lifestyle interventions to best affect healing and achieve higher levels of wellness. An AIP Coach can provide you with personalized support for all stages of your journey on the Autoimmune Protocol. Working one-on-one with an AIP Certified Coach, you’ll be able to clarify when you’re moving in the right direction and receive guidance when you’re off course.
AIP Coaches work with the unique individuality of each client by using assessment tools like questionnaires and food journals. They make personalized plans for each client based on their distinct needs—no one-size-fits-all approach! Their method is flexible and adaptable to a wide variety of goals and situations. For example, if you are transitioning to the AIP, your AIP Coach can provide you with information, motivation and accountability, supporting your customized transition plan with tangible resources such as meal plans, shopping lists, lifestyle guides, and practical strategies for fitting the AIP into your life. Once you have fully adopted the AIP, your AIP coach can provide you with emotional support for sustaining this protocol throughout the healing process. Not seeing the results you expected or dealing with additional health challenges? Your AIP Coach can help you troubleshoot and refine your implementation so that you get the most out of the AIP. Your AIP Coach can also guide you through the reintroduction phase, creating an individualized plan for reintroduction priorities, helping you to identify subtle indicators of reactions, and providing advice on handling unexpected severe food reactions. Have you been riding the AIP rollercoaster? Your AIP Coach can help you identify and find solutions to your own personal challenges to implementation and maintenance of the protocol. Just need your own personal cheerleader? Yep, your AIP Coach can do that too.
Each AIP Coach focuses their practice slightly differently, and no matter what your health and wellness needs, you’ll find support that’s right for you. Find an AIP Coach near you, or one who works with clients long-distant, in the AIP Certified Coach Directory.
As another aside, if you are a provider in the health and wellness sphere, you may be interested to know that enrollment is now open for the next AIP Certified Coach practitioner training program. We’re rapidly approaching our enrollment cap, so I encourage you to read more about it in How to Become an AIP Certified Coach and enroll here ASAP.
I wish that these types of resources had existed when I started my AIP journey 7 years ago. It would have made such a difference to really understand the AIP as I was implementing and refining it, not to mention getting personalized support from AIP experts! That’s why I’ve dedicated so much of my time and energy into creating educational resources to help you understand the ins and outs of the AIP, and practical resources to help you put the recommendations in place. Happy New Year!