Are you wondering how to eat intuitively on the Autoimmune Protocol (or AIP diet)? Are you curious about supporting autoimmune disease, food sensitivities, or chronic illness with dietary and lifestyle changes... but without feeling restricted or deprived?
Great! You're in the right place.
I'm Kelly and I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease as a teenager. I started medicine, made a few life changes, and trucked along pretty okay for some time.
Then, a few years ago, I realized it might be possible to heal my autoimmune disease naturally. To reverse the effects of my disease (Takayasu's Arteritis). Or, at the very least, I thought it might be possible to support myself in feeling physically better through these dietary changes.
The answer experts + anecdotal evidence seemed to point to? The Paleo Approach by Sarah Ballantyne.
Unfortunately... that look like a super rigid and restrictive way of living + eating.
What I read sounded great. It sounded like a way I wanted to be eating + living. The problem? After I was diagnosed with TA, I was put on a medicine called Prednisone. It came with a pretty intense appetite and I gained 5 pounds in a week. I might have needed those 5 pounds, but this teenager couldn't handle it. I freaked out and, simply put, became terrified of gaining more and more weight.
Fast forward a few months, I'd lost 30 pounds and could barely move.
After fighting my way through an eating disorder and disordered relationship with food, I wasn't exactly thrilled (or comfortable) with another diet. My mental and emotional health had become too important to me. So, when I read the rules I'd need to follow to fit in line with the Autoimmune Protocol, I took to Google for help.
I wanted to know how I could implement the Autoimmune Protocol to heal my body... while continuing to follow the principles of intuitive eating (which are healing to my mind and soul).
I shouldn't have to choose between the health of my body and the health of my mind, right?
Unfortunately, I didn't find much. There seemed to be two camps: (1) those who fought for intuitive eating and no restrictions at all... and (2) those who claimed following the Autoimmune Protocol just wasn't that hard.
I didn't resonate with either option.
So, over the last few years, I've been learning how to do things a different way. I've been learning how to follow the principles of the Paleo Approach, including the Autoimmune Protocol, AND intuitive eating at the same time.
I'm sharing this because, if you've tried to heal your body naturally (and maybe get off medication or lessen your symptoms), you may have tried Paleo or the Autoimmune Protocol. You may be like me and looking for a way to make intuitive eating + the autoimmune protocol work together.
But, mostly, I'm sharing this because I think it is possible to eat intuitively on the autoimmune protocol.
What we need to do is start by addressing that there's nothing wrong with choosing to eat in accordance with a set of principles or ideas. With choosing to eat in accordance with underlying health challenges or symptoms (like autoimmune disease or chronic illness).
The difference between a diet that may cause more harm than good and a way of eating is internal. The difference is found in our FEELINGS - in force, restriction, emotions, and deprivation AS OPPOSED TO love, freedom, and choice.
Let me explain.
Imagine that you decide to try out what I call The MERGE Method. (A way to bridge the gap between intuitive eating and food sensitivities.)
You've addressed any amount in which you were eating to control, explored natural healing treatments, and discovered that certain foods affect how you feel physically. For example, maybe gluten leaves you with digestive troubles. You now have important information that gets to inform your choices.
This is the difference between a diet and way of eating.
You get to use information to inform decisions rather than relying on external guidelines to make decisions for you. See that subtle, but massive difference? You have free will, power, and choice in the former… and you’ve given up that power and freedom in the later. THAT is what determines restriction. Do you know that you can make a DIFFERENT choice at any point and still be a worthy, deserving, loving, important, valuable person? One who can STILL value herself, her body, and her health? In other words, how entangled is your worth with what you eat?
For example, one person may eat 100% gluten-free as a diet, as a forced set of rules and regulations that carry emotion and emotional attachment. (A concept talked about in depth by Isabel Foxen Duke.) Another person may eat 100% gluten-free as a current choice, as a decision made each and every moment about what would feel best, all while knowing a different choice can be made at any point along the way.
The reality of these two situations look the same on the surface but are drastically different underneath.
The former may "give in" and eat a piece of bread. In addition to feeling physically crappy, this person is likely to feel even worse emotionally. He/she is likely to beat him/herself up, wonder why he/she can’t get it right even when his/her health and life is on the line, and be trapped in a cycle of downward thoughts/emotions. Maybe vow to start tomorrow again. When this same person opts to not eat a piece bread, he/she is doing so because he/she is supposed to or because it’s bad for you... but secretly he/she really wants that bread and feels bitter about not being “allowed” to have it. He/she may think about that bread for the rest of the day or even while trying to engage in conversation with others.
The latter is much more likely to optimize his or her chances for healing, assuming that is why he or she is eating gluten-free to begin with. Because someone who is not dieting can eat a piece of bread, feel physically crappy, and go on with life like no big deal. He/she can also opt to not eat a piece of bread, simply because he/she wouldn't rather not risk a physical reaction, and also go on with life like no big deal.
If this resonates with you because you WANT to be eating in a certain manner -- you want to be following a diet like the Autoimmune Protocol -- but you don't want to feel restricted or deprived along the way, take a look at what I call The MERGE Method. It's a way to bridge the gap between intuitive eating and food sensitivities.
I also wholeheartedly recommend joining The Wellness Boulevard today. ($29 / month. No contracts.) Once you join, you receive immediate access to materials that will help you feel better in days and weeks... rather than months and years. It took me over 10 years to bridge the gap between intuitive eating and illness... between mental health and physical health... Let me shorten the curve for you.