Last week I talked a little about what I call AIP Creepage. This week, in a very related way, is all about why critical thinking is so important as you navigate your AIP caper.
“Belief is a wonderful way to pass the time until the facts come in.”
― Carl R White
The science behind Sarah Ballantyne’s bestselling book, The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body was one of the primary reasons that I first considered undertaking a diet and lifestyle change as extreme as the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). As with so many people who have turned to AIP, I never expected the profound impact it would have on my life.
Science is about thinking critically. And, so too, is AIP.
It is not about obsession or blindly following the template.
Rather, it is about looking at the facts; having a dedicated period on the elimination diet to remove potentially inflammatory foods and allowing your gut to heal, and implementing positive changes to help you improve your health and mitigate your autoimmune symptoms. And, continuing to fine-tune this process to meet your individual needs; developing your own personal AIP way of life, if you will.
The tool that is pivotal to understanding just what is serving you over time is your food and mood diary. Creating a habit of tracking your diet and lifestyle experiences is the best way to understand patterns and trends unique to you. This applies to the elimination phase, the reintroduction phase and beyond.
But! – tracking is just the initial step in a 2 step process
After you track, you need to critically assess. It is so important to regularly set aside time to analyse your results. If you don’t, there is little point in undertaking that effort.
CRITICAL THINKING: the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment.
When you think critically, you
- open your mind up to question your own thinking
- develop a willingness to be wrong
- put logic before any personal bias
- question, and even embrace thinking other than your own
- recognise when there are contradictions
You know that your food and mood diary is all about keeping you honest and allowing you to remove as many potential variables as possible to allow for analysis of your unique needs. But, did you also know that it is the holy grail when it comes to setting the foundation for thinking critically about your body’s responses to what you eat, how you sleep, managing stress, getting enough Vitamin D and time outside, any digestive challenges you may be experiencing, movement and – my personal favorite – nutrient density?
And, it evolves over time
I have yet to work with an AIPer whose food and mood diary hasn’t helped them in finding a rhythm; a way to really bed down their AIP way of life in small, incremental ways. But it does involve reflection and analysis.
I have one client – let’s call him ‘P’ – who started out focusing on the food aspects of his personal protocol. Over time – which included learning how to cook for himself! – he found that learning self-compassion was a key factor in managing his autoimmune problems. P called it ‘creating space for himself’. It involved developing a daily practice whereby he slowed right down and reflected on what was going on in his life.
And, he would never have identified this as being such an important issue for him without first taking the time to think critically about his food and mood diary.
But how do you do this?
Start by with the following:
- Ask yourself: what’s working, what’s not working and what’s tricky?
- Remove the bits that are working so that you can start working on areas that are more challenging for you.
- Take a step back and look for patterns.
- We know that correlation is not causation, but it’s a good place to start. When you hear hoofbeats think horses; and then go back and consider zebras, too! In other words, consider the obvious, but think outside the box, too. The answer is not always the most obvious solution.
- Break your protocol down into manageable chunks.
- Take each area of your protocol and examine it more closely. It will allow you to see it more clearly
- Consider creating charts and graphs.
- Even if Excel is not your thing, sometimes charting your food and mood diary results can help you pinpoint just where things are going wrong. Look for patterns.
- Establish a regular goal setting practice to keep you focused on what is important.
- If you need some help with this, consider my Practical Goal Setting eCourse which steps you through exactly how to set meaningful goals for your health.
Ultimately, there are no hard and fast rules for thinking critically about your food and mood diary, but with a little effort and consistency, you’ll become better at understanding your body and your health priorities.