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I've been on the paleo autoimmune protocol for almost three years, and I've seen some incredible results. My depression has lifted. My psoriasis has healed (and hasn't come back). My mood is more stable, I'm happier, and I lost loads of weight - for the first time in my life putting me in the 'healthy' category on the doctor's charts. I came off the steroid creams and the indigestion and IBS tablets. I just didn't need them any more.
Because of the AIP, pretty much all aspects of my life have dramatically improved.
The last time I saw my doctor about a mole that had changed colour (it was fine) he asked me, before I left, if I needed my steroid creams still on repeat prescription. I told him I don't think I did, thanks - and that I was managing it through diet and lifestyle. He looked me up and down and shrugged and just said "well, whatever you're doing, keep doing it."
And this is the thing.
The things I did caused all these fantastic things to happen. But I wasn't drinking bone broth every day and working out the GI index of a blueberry before breakfast. Sometimes starting the AIP feels overwhelming, as if you have to consider a lot of things before you start. But the truth is that my AIP - the version that healed me - is actually really very simple.
So let me tell you what AIP looks like for me, so that it might help you, too.
I Just Do What I Can
In an ideal world, we'd be eating organic fruits and vegetables and organic, grass-fed meats. But if your local shops or budget don't allow for this, then just do what you can. Eating a wide range of vegetables and avoiding processed foods is a great first step to take. I actually found that my shopping bills either reduced on AIP or stayed the same, because I was buying vegetables and meat (offal is cheap, too) instead of junk food and fruit juices for the kids, which are, quite often, overpriced anyway. If the supermarket doesn't have organic sweet potatoes and just regular ones, I don't panic. You can always check which fruits and veggies have more pesticides used and just buy those organic if you like.
Be Prepared for Setbacks
Healing is not a one-way, uphill street. It's more like a spaghetti junction where you're travelling in a flying car, where you can go up and down and everywhere else. Reintroducing foods after the initial strict AIP can be a worry for many people - don't fret about it. Although it's tricky to get your head around how and when to reintroduce a food, there's a great ebook by Eileen Laird to help you. You might find you look like you're healing for a few days and then you get a flare out of nowhere. It happens, and happened to me a lot. But if I look back over the last three years I can see a general trend of wellness. If I'd measured my progress over any 3-4 day period, it would look very different.
You Don't Have To Paint Your Nails with Beetroot Juice
But go ahead, if it suits you. What I'm saying is that I still achieved these brilliant results even though I occasionally painted my nails with varnish, wore makeup and didn't drink bone broth every day. We AIP bloggers are aware that it can be overwhelming when you start hearing how people have contacted the manufacturer of their slow cooker to find out the exact chemical composition of the dish so they can be sure it's safe to cook in. Or worrying because they simmered their bone broth for 8 hours instead of someone else's 24 hours. In the real world, I think these are pretty minor things. I've only just chucked out all my plastic containers (yes, after nearly 3 years, while I still healed) and replaced them with using old, cleaned out jars. If you use plastic, just make sure it's BPA free, pack your lunch in it, and go.
This is basically what AIP looks like for me. Don't get bogged down in arguments or get stirred up into a frenzy because someone on a forum told you you shouldn't roast vegetables. It can all get a bit too much. Just keep it simple, like I do. Eat plenty of fresh veggies, some fruits and berries and clean meat, fish and seafood. Ease up on the AIP treats and bakes. Get some daylight when you can, stress less and go to bed early.
That's how I AIP.
How do you AIP? Let me know in the comments below...
I'm proud to have united with some of the other AIP bloggers to share how we AIP - to find out more about how others do it, search for the hashtag #HowIAIP on social media...