Monday, 23 May 2016

3 Years After AIP - What Happens Next?

So this year marks three years since I got fed up with steroid creams, decided to lose weight and switched from lasagne to vegetable soup for breakfast. 




And I always say that I wish I'd made the decision to do it years ago. 

But now all my nasty symptoms have pretty much cleared up, what happens next? 

Firstly, I'm not completely free of psoriasis. It's disappeared from all of my body except one patch on the back of my scalp, which I only discovered was there when I shaved my locks off for charity last year. It doesn't really bother me - sometimes it just looks a bit pink, and it'll itch if I haven't had enough sleep or if I overdo the stress or the sugar. I can live with it. Compared to what it used to be like it's a dream. Most of the time I forget it's there. 

I've been through my elimination diet (that was difficult, but really worth it) and the reintroduction period. 

As you'd expect, after three years I've added a lot of foods back in to my diet. It can be tricky to try and explain to people how I eat now. It's not AIP. It's not even paleo. It's kind of the 'Jo diet'. It's awkward to put a label on it. 

So I thought it might be interesting to share with you all what AIP can look like after a few years. You know, just in case you're in the midst of strict AIP and you're wondering if it will ever end. 

It will. 

Here's how it is for me at the moment. Please do bear in mind that everyone is different. 

I eat the following:

Seeds - Reintroduced brilliantly, no problems - except coffee. I can have the odd coffee, about 1 or 2 a week and that's it, max. Otherwise it tends to bring back digestion issues or makes me jittery. I just sip a small cup of it slowly, and enjoy it. I've recently started to liberally sprinkle hemp seeds all over my breakfast, because they're a good source of omega 3. Oh and cocoa/cacao - reintroduced with no problems.

Nuts - Nope. Well, I have made the odd paleo almond cake. And I can have one slice. Any more and I get digestive problems - heartburn, indigestion - and the rest we won't go into. Interestingly, I seem to be able to tolerate peanut butter (not paleo) with no problems at all but I don't eat it regularly. 

Dairy - I do eat the occasional natural cow's milk yoghurt, but it's mostly coconut yoghurt, with cultures in to support the microbes. I won't be ordering the cheese platter after dinner any time soon. I do have occasional lacto-free milk in coffee and I can eat grass-fed butter. 

Nightshades - This is a tricky one. Tomatoes I can eat (raw or cooked) definitely only once in a blue moon. Chillies or bell peppers, absolutely never. Potatoes occasionally. Aubergines, I can enjoy, no problems at all. In fact I love to make baba ghanoush these days, to eat with lamb.  Edited to add: Aubergines/eggplants: NOPE. After posting this I ended up with the most annoying, ache - like a toothache constantly - in my legs. Stopped the aubergines and it's clearing up. Won't be adding them back in to my diet any time soon. Shame, because I quite liked the Baba Ghanoush. 

Eggs - It took me a few unsuccessful attempts at reintroducing them, but eventually I tried again 18 months after starting AIP and they were in. I eat them 4-5 times a week, usually for breakfast. 

Soy Sauce - Yes, totally. I eat small amounts of tamari gluten free soy sauce. I eat it so rarely (not even once a month) that I don't see it's ever a problem and I can't get coconut aminos easily where I live. When I was strict AIP, I just cut it out, but nowadays when I do eat it with home-made meals I never experience any negative effects.

Grains - I hear you gasp. They're not paleo. Well, no they're not, but I can tolerate buckwheat really well (it's a pseudograin) and bearing in mind it's pretty nutritious, it seems silly to leave it out on the principle of just following the rules on a list. I also eat oats, which I reintroduced quite early on and they give me no problems whatsoever. I also eat plain white basmati rice, sometimes on its own and sometimes fried with veggies and eggs, Chinese-style. I eat the odd bit of gluten free bread, usually if I'm out and about and get stuck for something to eat. I also sometimes sprinkle some wheatgrass powder on my smoothies. I know, get me and my grains.

I still avoid wheat, sugary foods (I have the occasional treat, but it has to stop there) and processed stuff. 

I still eat tons of veggies, some fruits, a little red meat, chicken, fish, seafood, liver (usually once a week) and a lot of salads. 

So, you see - AIP doesn't stop and end with the strict elimination stage. While my experiences are different to others (I know people who have been on AIP for a similar time as me who can't eat tomatoes at all, for example) I hope that it's encouraging to see that I eat a pretty balanced, varied diet that now doesn't really resemble AIP all that much. It's basically primal without nuts and a lot of dairy. And a little bit of grains. And no chillies or bell peppers. I told you it was tricky. 

Have you followed AIP? What have your experiences been like? Where are you now on your healing journey? What does your diet look like now? 

Looking for help with reintroductions on AIP? Check out Eileen Laird's ebook Reintroducing Foods on the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (affiliate link)