What is Autoimmune Paleo?
The Autoimmune Paleo Diet (AIP) is a protocol created by Dr. Sarah Balentyne to reverse autoimmunity and heal leaky gut. It removes common inflammatory foods (like soy, corn, wheat), and foods that may be causing inflammation like grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. The diet is mainly comprised of meat and vegetables, and is only meant to last 30-90 days.
Once you’ve been on the protocol and are feeling better, you begin reintroducing eliminated foods one at a time to see if you notice any inflammatory responses like headaches, bloating, changes in bowel movements, increase in brain fog, skin rashes, etc.
Does the Autoimmune Paleo Diet Work?
The Autoimmune Paleo Diet is very effective at reducing systemic inflammation and reversing autoimmunity. While the protocol is relatively new and still in its infancy, recent studies point toward AIP as a healing modality for those with inflammatory bowel disease. I’ve completely reversed my own hashimotos thyroiditis and alopecia aerata using the autoimmune paleo diet and many of my clients have had success in reversing rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, muscular sclerosis, endometriosis, PCOS, depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and much more on AIP.
How to start the Autoimmune Paleo Diet?
I recommend starting with a full kitchen overhaul. Pack away all of your non-compliant foods. If you live with other people and that isn’t exactly an option, create a shelf or a bin that’s filled with food just for you! It definitely helps to get your family/roommates on board as your cheerleaders.
Next, do some planning. You can find a lot of free meal plans online that have Autoimmune Paleo friendly recipes. Here’s one I created for people in my community. When you’re on AIP, you’ll need to cook most of your meals at home in order to ensure you don’t experience cross contamination out at restaurants. Of course, this isn’t always possible, so just do the best you can.
I always encourage my clients to meal prep on the weekends if they work a standard 9-5. This ensures you have all the food you need to be successful throughout the week. If you’re worried about budget, make sure you check out my blog post on How to Shop AIP on a Budget.
(find the recipe for this AIP Snack Mix here)
Where can I buy Autoimmune Paleo Groceries?
You can buy everything at your normal grocery store. Most fruits and vegetables are on the protocol (aside from nightshades) so shopping the produce section will be easy. You can eat any meat, just make sure it’s not pre-marinated in anything.
Packaged foods can be a bit trickier as they sneak in ingredients that aren’t on the protocol. I always direct clients towards Thrive Market, where you can shop by the Autoimmune Paleo category. Everything listed is AIP approved so you don’t have to do the groundwork of reading and deciphering all the tiny print on the side of boxes. Since I buy from Thrive Market so often, they give new customers 25% off when they shop via my link.
Is Autoimmune Paleo right for me?
The Autoimmune Paleo Protocol has helped so many people reverse their health issues and I highly recommend it for those who are ready to commit. It’s a nutrient dense diet suitable for anyone struggling with autoimmunity to try, with one exception.
I do not believe people who struggle with eating disorders should be on the autoimmune paleo diet unless they are working with a knowledgable practitioner, in tandem with a mental health professional. Any time you move into a space when you’re focusing a lot on foods being appropriate or inappropriate, it has the potential to trigger your ED. Proceed with caution on any elimination diet, which includes paleo and Whole 30, and always ask for help if you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, anxious, or out of control around food.
Is the Autoimmune Paleo Diet good for weight loss?
Weight loss is a common side effect of the AIP diet. If your goal is strictly to lose weight, this diet is unnecessarily restrictive.
How does the Autoimmune Paleo Diet differ from Keto, Whole 30, and Paleo?
The autoimmune paleo diet is similar in that it removes all the foods that are removed in a paleo and Whole 30 diet (aside from unprocessed sugar for those familiar with Whole 30). It also takes things a step further and removes other potentially inflammatory foods.
AIP is very different than keto in that it does not include dairy nor many other ingredients that are allowed in the keto diet. Personally, keto is not a diet I use regularly in my practice and not something I encourage for weight loss as high levels of fat can be stressful on the liver.
(get the recipe for AIP Pumpkin Pudding here)
What can I eat on the Autoimmune Paleo Diet?
Grass fed and pasture raised meat
Wild caught seafood
All vegetables (besides nightshades)
Probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, and coconut kefir
Healthy fats like olive oil, lard, and coconut oil
Adequate amounts of water (click here to find out what that amount is for you)
I know the list of things you can’t eat is pretty overwhelming and that you might be thinking, “WTF, Whitney, how do I do this?” Lucky for you, I’ve dedicated a lot of blog space to helping people heal through dietary changes. There’s an entire section my blog for Autoimmune Protocol recipes and a list of all my favorite snacks at my AIP store.
I’m feeling overwhelmed. Where do I start?
If you’re looking for more support in transitioning to the Autoimmune Paleo Diet, I would love to help you. I’m a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and I specialize in helping folks with autoimmune disease heal through diet and lifestyle changes. You can apply to work with me and receive a free 20 minute discovery call by heading here.