5 Tips for following AIP over the festive period

Following the Autoimmune Protocol (also known as Autoimmune Paleo or AIP) during the festive period can be really challenging! Many of the foods and drinks served around this time of year aren’t safe during the elimination phase of AIP and might make you feel really unwell! 

What is the Autoimmune Protocol?

The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) is an elimination diet for those with autoimmune diseases such as lupus, fibromyalgia, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), celiac disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. The health of the digestive system is a primary focus of the protocol due to most of the immune system living in the digestive tract. It aims to reduce inflammation in the digestive system, heal the gut, and then reduce inflammation in other areas. This reduction in inflammation helps reduce pain, fatigue and other symptoms of autoimmune diseases.   

There is an elimination phase of the protocol, which removes gluten, grains, legumes, dairy, eggs, nightshades, nuts, seeds, and alcohol. It is very restrictive and, therefore, highly recommended to work with a practitioner to make sure you’re meeting all your nutritional needs during this phase. The elimination phase is typically 30-90 days or until there is a significant reduction in symptoms. At this point, the reintroduction phase begins, where one food at a time is reintroduced to determine if there is a reaction or not. Foods that are well tolerated can be added back into the diet, whereas those that trigger symptoms should continue to be avoided.

If you’re following AIP this festive season, be kind to yourself. It can be really hard to miss out on foods you would normally enjoy, and mistakes are likely to happen. It’s important just to do the best you can and remember your mental health is just as important as your physical health.

5 tips for following the AIP over the festive period

Here are my 5 tips for following the AIP over the festive period:

Be aware of what you can and can’t eat

It can take a while to be familiar with the ins and outs of AIP when you’re just starting. Being familiar with what you can and can’t eat makes it easier when you’re presented with options to make decisions from. Saving a list of AIP compliant foods on your phone to refer to can be helpful.

Don’t be afraid to ask for ingredients

If you’re not used to having dietary requirements, it can be daunting to ask what ingredients are in a dish, but it’s very important and trust me, it gets easier. Dietary requirements are really common these days. Most people will be understanding when you ask about something they’ve made. 

Eat before you go to an event

If you’re not sure about what food options will be available at an event, eat before you go so you’re not as stressed about finding something to eat. When you’re hungry, you’re more likely to go for something that might make you feel sick. 

Bring your own food

If you can, bring your own food. I know this takes a bit more effort, energy, organisation and preparation, but it is often the safest way to ensure your food won’t make you sick. Once again, you might feel uncomfortable with this, but it’s worth it! Especially if you have multiple events on in a short period, you don’t want to be sick for days. 

Host if you’re able to

This is the most effort option, but hosting allows you to make sure all options are safe for you! You can also delegate and ask others to bring specific things that are safe for you. Prepare as much as you can in advance to make the most of your energy on the day. 

If you’re interested in making changes to your diet, please discuss this with your practitioner to ensure you’re meeting your nutritional requirments. This article is not intended to be medical advice and is purely for education purposes.