So what is AIP? The Autoimmune Protocol (or Autoimmune Paleo; this book is what I will use for my food list and reintroduction method) is a diet used to identify foods which may be causing inflammation, pain, and brain fog. By eliminating foods that are known to be potentially problematic and then reintroducing them slowly, the hope is that one can then eliminate those foods permanently and increase quality of life.
I’ve been struggling with fatigue and brain fog since high school, and I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I was still able to push through and do well in school and then complete a master’s degree, but when pain began in my back during my PhD I was forced to withdraw. My back problem is yet to be diagnosed (though an army of doctors in two countries gave me the wonderfully vague diagnoses of sacroiliitis and sciatica) and really treated, and so I’ve been trying to treat myself using a fleet of holistic remedies (Pilates, chiropractor, acupuncture, massage, yoga, personal training, diet, and essential oils). I’ve had some success, and I believe I would be much worse off going the route of traditional medicine or not doing as many of the holistic treatments as I do. It’s exhausting, and in a perfect world I would identify problematic foods, eliminate them, and be able to cut back my treatments (and have more of a life outside work and appointments).
I have short term memory problems–books I loved I can’t remember save the fact I adored them, dear friends tell me details of their lives which I am unable to recall later, and I struggle to remember times and dates of things which leads me to ask repeatedly and get confused. My back pain means that sitting and lying down are the most painful, so I have to try to walk as much as possible during the day and use a special chair, while sleeping is always incredibly difficult because I cannot get comfortable. Some days it’s a real struggle: I know walking and exercise will make me feel better, but I’m too tired to do much of anything. I’m out of spoons and I tank. Sometimes, this sharp energy tank means that my back flares up. Walking, bending over, even pulling a shirt on make me tear up and cry with pain.
In addition to the CFS and back pain, I also developed undiagnosed joint pain in my hands and feet. It varies in intensity from day to day, but the one thing I know is that if I’ve exerted myself too much the day before or my back pain is intense, the joint pain will be worse.
I am more than a little bummed that I’m starting this diet right before Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you know me at all, you know that pumpkin and mint chocolate are my favorite flavors in the whole world, and that the way to my heart is some peppermint bark, pumpkin pie, or iced gingerbread cookies.
So what did I do to try to combat this intense “holy crap” feeling? I cooked and baked a lot of autumnal-flavored foods. I’m not a baker. It’s not that I can’t bake; I’m actually not bad, and I love my elimination diet cake. However, it just seems to take so much time and need so much clean-up. I’d much rather indulge outside the house!
Apple Cider Muffins (They are tasty, but next time I will be sure to roll them into balls, as dropping the dough into the muffin tins doesn’t make for the best consistency. This was also my first time using gelatin as an egg replacement.)
Banana Bread (Yes, this uses coconut sugar, which I know some people argue is not compliant. I believe using it this sparingly and when I’m not eating anything else save a tiny amount in tea is okay. Fight me.)
Pear Chai N’Oatmeal (I doubled the cinnamon and left the skins on the pears. The consistency is still like applesauce, so I think it’s okay.)
Apples, berries, and bananas
Steak, turkey bacon, sweet potato, asparagus, and kale hash
Pumpkin spice coconut milk for use with dandelion chicory tea, a substitute for coffee (1 container coconut milk, 1 can pumpkin puree, cinnamon, honey, and clove in a blender). We’ll see how much I hate giving up coffee after tomorrow morning.
Baked chicken (onion and garlic powders, salt, oregano, and olive oil), sweet potatoes, and green beans with avocado
A variety of baked or sauteed meats (venison and fish this week) with a variety of marinades (Asian with coconut aminos, ginger, and garlic; olive oil with salt, onion powder, garlic powder, sage, and oregano)
Pumpkin coconut soup with asparagus and chicken (saute red onion in olive oil; add ginger and garlic; after 1 minute add 1 can coconut milk, 1 can pumpkin puree, and 5 cups broth; add vegetables and/or cooked meat of choice; add in sage and oregano or other spices of choice; simmer for 15 minutes). Based on the basics of this recipe.
Cauliflower “rice”, sweet potatoes, zucchini, broccoli, green beans, and mushrooms.
I won’t bore you with my trip to the grocery store right now, so please see the next post immediately published after this one. It was… different. It took me a long, long time, and even though I’ve been reading labels a lot since teaching myself about nutrition, I felt out of my depth and lost.
It’s all cooked and made now, so I’ll post an update about the eating!