Knowing when to reintroduce foods on an elimination diet like The Autoimmune Protocol becomes a true conundrum for many of us, so please know upfront – up close and personally – that you are not alone. Navigating the WHEN, WHY and HOW often takes a level of commitment and resolve that we simply can’t undertake having already made so many other changes to our lives.
AIP requires us to:
- Focus on our Diet – Eliminate potentially inflammatory foods from our diet, and add nutrient dense foods into our diet… think ‘out with the old and in with the new’!
- Nurture ourselves – being nice to ourselves, practicing mindfulness, stress management, building supportive communities and many, many (did I say many?) hours of self reflection.
- Make adjustments to our Life Style – changing our work life balance, looking at our relationships, changing the way we exercise, adjusting schedules and sleeping… yes… you have a prescription to sleep more
Jo and I will no doubt say this many, many times BUT the food piece isn’t always the hardest part of the protocol. It’s changing our habits to nurture ourselves, and making life style changes that change the dynamics of our lives… that, my friends, that is the hardest piece.
So when we find a new rhythm and dynamic, and have worked organ meat into our family meals, ferment our own veggies, practice self love and mindfulness and sleep for 7-9 hours a night – oh, AND have been seeing huge reductions in the symptoms we were once experiencing… we naturally ask… why rock the boat, right?
I mean, RIGHT? Why would I deliberately break what isn’t broken… Why bring a dynamic into the mix that MAY cause our body to hurt again, or cause our skin to react, or cause our moods to swing… Why can’t we stay 100% compliant for the rest of our lives? Well that’s a good question, so let me answer that now!
AIP is a scientifically proven process of enabling your body to be given respite from battling inflammation in your body by allowing it to spend time doing what it should be doing, which is protecting and healing you. After a period of time, that is different for each of us, the body SHOULD be able handle having challenges thrown at it and cope.
Think of it as your body having worked just a 40 hour week instead of plenty of overtime putting in 78 hour weeks for years, its going to be far more agile at coping with curve balls than it was when it was overworked and underpaid with poor nutrients! ~ Emma King
As it takes different levels of healing, we focus on reintroducing foods in 4 stages. Introducing foods first that have a low potential of causing inflammation at Stage 1 versus those highly inflammatory foods in Stage 4. There is method in the madness, you are most likely to successful bringing back food groups in Stage 1 as you reintroduce foods, but to skip directly to Stage 4 food items like chocolate or white potatoes there is much higher likelihood of a bad reaction.
I followed the Autoimmune Protocol for 9 months before I considered reintroducing foods… it was recommended to me by Anne Angelone to stay in full elimination for 1 month for every year of a diagnosed autoimmune illness before considering reintroductions. I was taught to a journal the reactions – both emotional and physical – as I reintroduced foods.
It is very common to experience emotional reactions to food as well as physical ones – this could mean mood swings, brain fog, snarky remarks, lack of patience, excessive sarcasm as well as physical ones such as digestive, swollen limbs, inflamed joints, skin changes, dry eyes, tickly cough or swollen feeling in our tongues to name but a few! Just as we all suffer from different autoimmune diseases, so our reactions will also be different – but as we are ALL bio-individual, what works for me as a reintroduction may not necessarily work for you, and mini flare ups in your conditions or emotional changes can result…