I have known in my mind for the last six months that the AIP is what my body needed to continue healing. I have known that I needed to fully give up grains, eggs, chocolate, white potatoes, and almond butter along with other things. However, it looked like the end of my existence. I would no longer be able to go out and order a gluten free pizza, have an easy and nutritious breakfast of fried eggs, partake in my beloved dark chocolate, eat french fries with my burger, or smear way too much almond butter over some apples. I just couldn’t imagine fully giving up those things for who knows how long. Am I alone here?! It is for that reason that I have not lasted more than 2 weeks on this protocol. And it is for that reason, that I have not seen healing.
This makes me SO frustrated. It makes me feel like a failure. It makes me feel like I can’t stick to a plan. I sometimes feel like my food journey is a game of tug-o-war and I am being pulled in the direction of healing or enjoying life. Or at least, that’s how I have been seeing it. I am now coming to the conclusion however, that healing and enjoying life do not have to be two separate entities. I mean, how is one supposed to fully enjoy life if they do not heal when it is within their power to do so? I look back on the last six months and think of how far I could have been down my road of healing if I had just stuck with it. I know now that such thinking is of no use. There is nothing worth dwelling over in the past…I simply need to take the next step forward and move on.
But how do I truly stick with it this time? How do I not make the holidays an excuse to go off track? How do I resist eating out or grabbing a drink at a local coffee shop with a friend? I do not have all the answers but I am going to try and give both you and me some tangible advice for sticking with your healing plan.
1. Find recipes that you truly enjoy and mix it up each week. I have found a few staple recipes that make an appearance most weeks on our table that my husband and I both love. However, I have found it so helpful to try at least one new recipe a week. This makes things more interesting and gives your palate something new to be excited about. This week I made a yankee pot roast from the Nom Nom Paleo cookbook, and my husband and I both LOVED it. Remember that the recipes you choose do not have to be complicated. Just make sure that you are enjoying your food each week and trying new things often so that you don’t get bored!
2. Plan ahead. Do this by batch cooking. Instead of cooking 1 pound of ground beef, cook 2-4 pounds. This is my life-saver in the kitchen. You should cook so that you have several meals awaiting you in your fridge at any given moment. This is so helpful when dinner rolls around and you don’t feel like cooking, don’t have the strength to cook, or don’t have the time. You have a few delicious and healthy options ready to go in your fridge and the excuse to order out is gone! Also, always have portable snacks with you for emergencies! The Real Food Guide just posted an amazing list of AIP snacks here.
3. Communicate with your family about what this healing plan means for you. For example, I can longer eat out for the time being and this is something I had to explain to my husband in order to not continually have set backs in my health. Tell them what foods you can/can’t eat and if feasible, get the foods you can’t eat OUT of the house. Last night I told my husband to take his potato chips and dark chocolate to work so they wouldn’t be around to tempt me. I feel like keeping foods in the house that I love but can’t enjoy is just cruel and so it’s just not going to happen. Sorry, husband. Additionally, find friendships that don’t revolve around things you can’t enjoy. For example, friends who gather for happy hour every week would not be the easiest for someone on the AIP. This doesn’t mean you have to lose those friendships but it is important to find people who gain as much joy as you in making a meal at home, going for walks/hikes, taking an art or dance class, etc. This will look different for each individual but you get the gist.
4. Take time to do things you enjoy and prioritize this time for you. It doesn’t have to be time consuming but just do something! I have recently found painting and art to be very therapeutic and I am trying to make more time for them. I also have found a new joy in walking outdoors. Maybe a yoga class a few times a week to unwind or an epsom salt bath while you read a new book would work for you? Whatever you do, make sure there are things in your life that you look forward to that are completely stress free and do these things regularly to stay sane.
5. Realize that your healing journey is completely worth it and so are you. No matter how many times you have failed or fallen off the wagon. Recommit and do it for yourself. Do it because your body is amazing and it is within your power to change it for the better. Do it because only you are in charge of your body and you deserve to feel better. Realize that this is a very emotional journey at times and it is okay to cry or feel frustrated. It is a journey so often misunderstood and not many people can relate. Relish your friendships where you feel free to let go and remember that some days are going to be better than others. Above all else, remember that all you can do is to do your best.
I am almost one week in on my new start of the AIP and I am determined to stick with it this time no matter what. I wish you all the best in your healing journey. Know that I am rooting for you and that in the words of high school musical, we’re all in this together. Okay, that last part was totally unnecessary but I just couldn’t resist.