Today we would like to introduce you to Eileen Laird of Phoenix Helix. Previously a guest on Episode 77 of The Paleo View to discuss The Paleo Approach to the Autoimmune Protocol, Eileen is here to talk about her experience with The Autoimmune Protocol. Specifically,her new eBook Reintroducing Foods on the AIP, which we believe is a great resource. We get a lot of questions about how to go about reintroducing foods after the elimination period of the Autoimmune Protocol, and now we have a great resource to recommend! We will let Eileen tell you all about it.
The AIP Experience
If you’ve followed Stacy’s paleo journey, you know she has celiac disease and eats a personalized version of the autoimmune protocol (AIP). What does that mean? She went through the strict elimination period, followed by a reintroduction process, and learned what foods she can safely eat, and which ones she needs to avoid. The beautiful part is that as she’s healed, she’s been able to reintroduce more and more foods. Strict AIP doesn’t last forever.
Let’s be honest: the AIP ain’t for sissies. When I first read about it, I didn’t want to do it at all! It’s hard to eat that restrictively, and it requires a 100% commitment (80/20 doesn’t work with the AIP). So, why do it? Because living with the (often debilitating) symptoms of autoimmune disease is far worse, and the AIP is a powerful tool for healing.
I have rheumatoid arthritis myself, and when my symptoms were at their worst, every movement hurt. I couldn’t walk without limping; I couldn’t raise my arms over my head or bend my fingers without pain, so washing my hair was torture. My grip was so weak that opening doors was a challenge, and when I tried to lift a small pan, pain would shoot through my wrist. Sleeping was nearly impossible, because lying down put pressure on my joints, causing more pain that kept me awake. That was my baseline and didn’t even take into account my daily flares. Every night like clockwork, one of my joints would be attacked, and I never knew which one it would be. If it was my knee, it wouldn’t support my weight by bedtime. If it was my shoulder, I had to put it in a sling. If it was my wrist, I had to immobilize it with a brace. If it was my jaw, I couldn’t open my mouth to eat. It was terrifying, excruciating, and still brings tears to my eyes to remember. I thought I understood pain before RA entered my life, but I honestly think the pain of that experience deserves its own word. It’s beyond anything I could have imagined and felt impossible to survive, yet it was my life, day after day. The AIP isn’t harder than that.
So, what is the AIP?
It’s an elimination diet, designed to remove foods that are inflammation triggers and incorporate foods that help the body heal. The Paleo Approach will tell you everything you need to know about it, but a quick overview is that in addition to the paleo restrictions of no grains, legumes, processed foods and refined oils, you also give up alcohol, sweeteners, dairy, nightshades, nuts and seeds (including chocolate and coffee). The good news is that it’s not forever.
There’s a phase two: reintroductions. Once you see clear improvement in your autoimmune symptoms, you can start reintroducing foods, one at a time, to see how your body reacts, and you end up with a healing diet, personalized to your body’s needs. I successfully reintroduced eggs, white rice, chocolate, and occasional nuts/seeds, but learned that I need to avoid all dairy and nightshades to keep my flares away. It’s the ultimate science experiment, where you are both the subject and the scientist, and the study couldn’t be more important: it’s your health. I now live a pain-free life, work full-time, enjoy hiking and traveling, and no longer flare. The AIP helped me reclaim my life.
The E-Book: Reintroducing Foods on the AIP
While the elimination phase of the AIP is challenging, reintroductions can be even harder. They require patience and focus and take months to complete correctly. This is the part where you learn to communicate with your body. The temptation is to rush, reintroducing too many foods too fast, simply because you miss them. Unfortunately, this muddies the experiment and when symptoms return, it’s impossible to tell the cause. You’re back at square one, and you don’t want that. I wrote an e-book to guide people through this process: Reintroducing Foods on the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol.
Here’s what the book contains:
- An overview of the AIP.
- How to decide when you’re ready for reintroductions.
- Two protocols to help you choose which foods to reintroduce first.
- Clear instructions on how to reintroduce a food and monitor for a reaction.
- Examples of what a food intolerance reaction feels like, from acute responses, to minor ones that build up after repeated exposure.
- Directions on keeping a symptom journal.
- Keys to self-care during the process.
- Mistakes to avoid.
- A sample reintroduction experience, to give you a clear idea of how it all works.
- 23 recipes for the reintroductions themselves, everything from homemade ghee to slow roasted tomatoes.
- Further resources for autoimmune healing.
- The guide is aligned with The Paleo Approach by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne (the ultimate guide to AIP).
- The e-book is formatted on 8-1/2×11 paper, so it’s easy for you to print at home, if you prefer a paper copy!
To do science well, we need to limit the variables. When it comes to Reintroducing Foods on the AIP, that means reintroducing just one food at a time. Most recipes are a blend of foods, because they aren’t created with this experiment in mind. Every recipe in my e-book is designed for reintroductions. That means instead of a salsa filled with a variety of nightshades, I offer separate recipes for slow-roasted tomatoes, marinated eggplant, hasselback potatoes, and jalapeno guacamole. I do this for every food that you need to reintroduce, so you can truly test one food at a time. As a preview, here’s a recipe from the e-book for homemade chocolates. If you try reintroducing store bought chocolate, you’ll be dealing with cross-contamination risks from the factory, as well as common non-AIP ingredients like soy lecithin. This recipe allows you to eat a delicious chocolate that contains no other forbidden ingredients, and tastes better than anything you could find in a store:
- 6 Tbsp. coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
- 1-3 Tbsp. raw honey (to taste)
- 6 Tbsp. cocoa powder
- sea salt
- In small saucepan, melt coconut oil over low heat.
- Add the vanilla and honey. Stir to blend.
- Add the cocoa and stir until it dissolves.
- Turn off heat.
- Pour chocolate into small glass measuring cup, for easy pouring into your candy mold. This recipe makes approximately 3/4 cup of melted chocolate.
- Sprinkle the chocolates with sea salt and put in freezer for 2 hours.
- Pop the chocolates out of the mold, and store in an airtight container in the fridge. (They will melt at room temperature.)
- Note: If you don’t have a candy mold, double the recipe and pour the chocolate onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Freeze the same way and then break into small pieces.
I hope you get to enjoy chocolate again if you’re currently on AIP. Stacy and I are able to and do! And ,this is me, hiking again, after the AIP stopped my flares. That’s bliss in my smile.