What is AIP?

I first heard about AIP while I was researching the Paleo diet. I felt like Paleo was the one way of eating I hadn’t attempted and since we had recently moved back north, it seemed like a diet that would fit our northern lifestyle and environment. We do a lot of fishing and hunting here! I knew I reacted to eggs and almonds, but every Paleo recipe I could find had at least four eggs and a cup of almond flour. Of course, I did what most people do nowadays when they need advice, I did a shout out on Facebook! I knew some of my friends were following a Paleo diet so I asked if anyone had Paleo recipes without eggs and almonds. Most said “good luck with that!” But my dear friend, Sylvie, said she pretty much follows the AIP diet due to her own food intolerances. Seriously, Sylvie is a godsend to me! Now if you’ve read my health story, you know this is the second time she saves my life! I immediately googled AIP, found The Paleo Mom and soon after I bought The Paleo Approach ebook, and religiously read it every night. I wanted to know everything I could about the AIP diet. I am not a scientist, but Sarah Ballentyne is and she does an awesome job at clearly explaining the why’s behind autoimmune disease and the Autoimmune Protocol. I was convinced this was the next step I needed to take, and I’m beyond grateful that I did!

The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) is an anti-inflammatory lifestyle that allows for gut healing. AIP concentrates on a nutrient dense diet, lots of sleep, less stress, time outdoors and finding joy!

I have to admit before I started eating completely AIP, I was a bit scared.  I knew deep down I needed to do this for my health, but I was nervous I would starve. When I started I was at a loss for what to eat but now that I’ve been cooking and eating AIP foods for over 6 months now, I can assure you I have not starved! Actually, the contrary is true. I feel way more satiated after my meals than I ever have. Maybe it’s because cooking AIP has encouraged me to branch out my cooking skills, or maybe it’s because my meals are much more nutrient dense, probably a combination of both. I’m not going to lie, at the beginning I missed my old foods. Being a Mom of three young children, I missed the convenience foods the most. Now that I’m accustomed to the AIP lifestyle, I honeslty don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. There are many, many AIP recipes out there, it’s difficult not to get inspired!

What exactly is allowed and not allowed on the AIP? Sarah Ballentyne addresses this in detail in The Paleo Approach, and has a cliff notes version on her website. Mickey Trescott and Angie Alt over at Autoimmune-Paleo, have print out guides, which are really handy, especially when first starting.  Eileen Laird at Phoenix Helix also has a fantastic AIP guide on her website.

The autoimmune protocol is not meant to last forever. There is a reintroduction process, where one food is reintroduced at a time with at least three days in between. This gives time to notice any side effects from the reintroduction. The Paleo Mom’s article, Reintroducing foods after following the Autoimmune Protocol explains the process in detail.  I personally am not ready to reintroduce any foods yet. Much healing has happened for me since I started the autoimmune protocol, but thinking about reintroductions at this point makes me a little nervous. This feeling is a signal to me that my body needs more healing time. I’m trusting my instincts and am giving myself even more time on a strict autoimmune protocol. I’ll be sure to post my adventures in reintroductions once I feel ready!

Here is a list of foods I am currently avoiding and enjoying. I will keep this updated as I continue on this AIP journey.

Foods I AVOID:

  • Grains – ALL grains including rice and corn.
  • Beans and legumes – including soy, peanuts, green peas and green beans.
  • Eggs
  • Nightshades – I think nightshades confuse people the most. When I tell people I do not eat nightshades, I usually get a confused look and the question, “what are nightshades? Nightshades are a group of foods belonging to the Solanaceae family of plants. This includes:
    • Potatoes (but not sweet potatoes, since they belong to the squash family).
    • Tomatoes and anything that looks like it might be related to a tomato (tomatillo, tomarillo, golden berries, ground cherries, cocona, goji berries, garden huckleberries, kutjera, naranjilla, pepina, bush tomato, ashwagandha).
    • Peppers and spices derived from peppers (paprika, cayenne, red pepper flakes, chili powder, curry, capsicums).
    • Eggplants
  • Nuts
  • Seeds and seed based spices (anise, annatto, black caraway, celery seed, coriander, cumin, fennel seed, fenugreek, mustard seed, and nutmeg).
  • Dairy
  • Alcohol
  • NSAIDs (non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs)
  • Processed foods
  • Processed vegetable oils
  • Refined sugar and non nutritive sweeteners (this includes agave and stevia).
  • Fruit based spices (allspice, star anise, caraway, cardamom, juniper, black pepper, white pepper, green peppercorns, pink peppercorns, and vanilla bean).
  • Coffee (this was a hard one for me to give up, but I did it and have noticed a great improvement).

Foods I avoid but are allowed on AIP:

  • Oranges and Grapefruit (these came up on my IgG food sensitivity test).


Foods I ENJOY:

  • Vegetables (except nightshades)
  • Roots
  • Bone broth, collagen, gelatin*
  • Organ meats*
  • Fish and seafood*
  • Meats*
  • Poultry*
  • Healthy fats- coconut, coconut oil, avocado, avocado oil, olives, olive oil, grass-fed tallow, pastured lard, and grass-fed cultured ghee* (ghee that has been cultured to remove all traces of dairy).
  • Fermented foods and drinks
  • Fruits –I try to limit fruits high in fructose.

*Preferably from grass-fed, wild, or pastured animals,fish or seafood. When starting AIP, I did the best I could within our budget constraints. Now I stick to mostly grassfed/wild sources as I notice it makes a difference in my health. With that being said,  I do the best with what is available to me. Living in northern Ontario, Canada, I don’t have easy access to a Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s or even Costco. I have gotten to know some great local farmers and I am lucky to be married to a great hunter/fisherman! Still there are times when grassfed, pastured, or wild is just not feasible.  I found this post by the Paleo Mom especially helpful. It helped me to prioritize my spending and get the very most nutrition my budget will allow!