“When the body is in trouble, we must find and eliminate the cause, not medicate the symptom”
― Nina Leavins
For the month of September, I’m undertaking an AIP Reset.
And, it seems like I’m not alone in wanting to do this. I mentioned it in my newsletter last week and there are now over 50 other AIPers around the globe joining the party. How cool is that? It’s not too late to join us, if you’re interested. [the inaugural AIP Reset had 127 participants]
I’m stripping things back to basics – back to an elimination diet and a nutrient dense approach. I’m using September as a time to get my ‘Jo House’ in order. That means back to strict elimination, sleep, stress management, self care, getting outside, Vitamin D, gentle movement – the whole shebang.
And I’ve realised a few things
I completed my initial AIP elimination back in 2014. And, I spent 9 months in full elimination before I reintroduced any potential ‘trigger’ foods. But since then, I’ve relaxed the reins a little. That’s OK, but I think I’ve let them go a little more than is good for my body.
So, this coming month is all about re-establishing my equilibrium
I’ve been at this AIP game a while now. And one of my biggest learnings is that we are, each of us, unique.
I know – that’s a bit of a truism. But, the reason I mention it is that a healing path looks different for each of us. It’s important that we keep this in mind as we navigate our personal experience.
The one thing that remains constant, is the template. The Autoimmune Protocol template that Sarah Ballantyne sets out in her The Paleo Approach guide. It’s comprehensive. And, for those of us that have been on this caper a while, our guides are well thumbed with margins written in and stickies attached at relevant places.
Sometimes it helps to break things down into manageable chunks…
At the highest level, this checklist is what my AIP Reset looks like.
I’m going right back to a full elimination for the month of September. And, for me that means really focusing on nutrient density. My pantry didn’t really require too much clearing – although giving up coffee at the beginning of the week in preparation was kind of not fun…
Seasoned AIPers know that meal prep’ and batch cooking is an integral part of ensuring success. I’m a fan of keeping things simple. Oh – and, if you haven’t heard me say it before,
Cook once to eat twice (or even thrice)
- an easy-peasy Jamie Oliver-Inspired SUBLIME Slow Cooked Lamb with a batch of Essentials Roasted Vegetables also provides the base for a LAMB-tastic Shepherd’s Pie and No Recipe Breakfast Hash
- I always make a double portion of soup and freeze individual portions so that there’s something on hand for those days when I’m caught short. It’s very easy to add a little protein and a side of fermented veggies, and you have a great meal in just a few minutes. On permanent rotation here are my all-time FAVOURITE Root Vegetable Soup (which I fed the lovely Mickey Trescott for breakfast when she visited) and Herb Soup.
- I’ve recently discovered the magic that is cauliflower fried rice. I love it so much that I may have to write up a recipe! [as at 4 April 2018 I have yet to do this! Oops!] Essentially, I get all my ingredients chopped and ready – whatever’s going – onion, garlic, prawns, bacon, shredded brussel sprouts, water chestnuts, spring onions, leftover slow cooked protein + a couple of cups of riced cauliflower and some happy fat. It all gets stir fried in my wok and, once I’ve added a generous splash of coconut aminos, it’s like I’ve been to a great Chinese takeaway. GREAT for leftovers, too!
Nutrient Density, Baby!
So often in an elimination diet, the tendency is to focus on what you are removing. What you can’t eat. So much more helpful – not to mention motivating – to focus on what you can (and should) eat.
As trite as it may sound, when planning my meals, I often consider how I can add more nutrients.
- It goes without saying that looking for ways to introduce more vegetables into your diet is key. I am to eat some form of vegetable with every meal.
- Bone broth, bone broth, bone broth. I used to make it this way. Then, I discovered the magic that is pressure cooking and I loosely follow the Zenbelly method.
- Become a fermenter. Make fermenting a hobby. It’s cheap, it’s fun, your friends will thank you and it’s GREAT for your health. Here’s how I ferment my vegetables.
- Eat more offal. Experiment with different cuts. Ox Tongue is amazing. Beef Cheeks melt in your mouth. But, the single best thing you can do when it comes to offal is aim to eat liver at least once per week. Add it to burgers and meat balls. Sneak it into Ragu Bolognese. Or, make this Sautéed Chicken Livers with Riced Cauliflower, Collards and Herbs number from the talented Kate Jay. It’s my favourite.
In my early days at this rodeo, sleep was my biggest challenge (at least, that’s what I thought at the time). You already know just how important sleep is, don’t you? And, just in case you need reminding, the Paleo Mom herself is so focused on having your sleep improve that she has a whole program dedicated to it – Go to Bed: 14 Easier Steps to Healthier Sleep.
Sleep really matters
Yep. My buddy stress. Just when I thought sleep was the issue, it transpires it’s actually stress that’s the tricky area of the protocol for me.
I’ve tried all sorts of different ways to mitigate my poor ability to manage stress and worry. And, I really do mean ALL SORTS. And, despite recently finding a wonderful yoga and meditation teacher, I remain a work in progress. [Since writing this I’m now a trained meditation facilitator. This stress management caper is super important.]
But, one thing I can tell you for sure, stress will catch up with you (if it hasn’t already). So, make a good stress management protocol a priority. At the very least, schedule active stress management into your day with a basic breathing practice. Here are a few tips on stress relief.
We all know that moving our body is important. We’re designed to move.
And when we don’t move enough, our health suffers. But, just what kind of movement serves us best is a very personal thing. This from the girl who has just this year given up her personal trainer of 13 years to focus on more ‘gentle movement’. And, of course – for some just walking around the block can be considered significant movement.
My Mum’s well known for saying “Go For a Walk” to heal many of life’s ailments. And while my sister and I joke about it now, it is true that getting outside in nature and moving your body has positive health benefits.
The important thing is that you do move.
Getting outside into nature actually changes your brain. And, that’s before you factor in the importance of getting Vitamin D into your day.
Don’t believe me, check out these guest posts my mate Rory, The Paleo PI did for the Paleo Mom on Eco-Therapy: How Spending Time in Nature Changes your Health.
Me, I’m a fan of walking on the beach bare foot.
“No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main” – John Donne
Big change is a big deal. It takes work. Hard work. There’s often risk involved. Sometimes it means you are taking a path less travelled. It can be controversial. And, that means there’ll be nay-sayers.
It’s good to know who’s got your back.
A very big part of getting healthy is having the right Support Team in Place
Food and Mood Journal
And finally – track your progress.
I think your food and mood journal is the MOST important tool in your health toolbox.
Keeping a journal will:
- Show you exactly what goes into your mouth each day. I can tell you that writing down what you eat guarantees you know exactly what you’re eating. Every little bit.
- Show you what you need to eat. Even if you think you’re getting enough vegetables, you may find you’re not. Conversely, you may find you’re really eating far more sugar than you thought – and, now you need to cut back.
- Help you plan your meals. Keeping a journal allows you to see just how ‘stuck in a rut you might be’. At first, you will use your diary to keep track of the meals that you eat. But over time, I find I use my journal to plan out meals in order to create a more balanced diet.
- Keep you honest. Strange but true. And, even better, over time, your journal will actually make you want to eat healthier. Every time you write down a food you know is unhealthy, you’ll want to avoid doing it in the future.
- Allow you to monitor what’s working and what’s not. Over time, if you have a reaction to something, it is much easier to pin it down to the source when you can see what you have eaten on any given day. And, then you can effect change to prevent it happening again.
If you’ve been on this AIP train for a while now and you’d like to join the next AIP Reset program, we’d love to have you!
Just click click on this link!