Introducing the diet designed for people with autoimmune disease

37386501 - jar of coconut oil and fresh coconuts on wooden tableHave you heard of the autoimmune protocol (AIP) food list? It’s specifically designed for people with autoimmune disease. It’s similar to the Paleo diet, but with stricter guidelines to follow. It’s meant to help eliminate potential trigger foods. You may find that not all the items on the “avoid” list are problem foods for you, but this is a good place to start when diagnosed with autoimmune disease. It can really start a groundwork for you to figure out what foods are safe and which are not.

Starting out

When you first start the diet, it can seem overwhelming. It may feel like you have nothing to eat, or at least nothing delicious – like ice cream and brownies. But, that’s not true. Just because you have an autoimmune disease doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy amazing foods. You can actually eat pretty well, you just have to be a little more creative. You have to be willing to step outside your comfort zone and work with safe foods and seasonings to find new favorites.

There is a long list of foods that are not allowed on the AIP diet including grains, legumes, dairy, processed foods, refined sugars, industrial seed oils, eggs, nuts, seeds, nightshade vegetables, alternative sweeteners, NSAIDs, gum, alcohol, emulsifiers, and food thickeners. When it comes to fruit, things get a bit tricky. You’ll find some sources say it’s okay to eat certain fruits or a certain amount of fructose in a day. However, other sources will say to avoid fruit on the diet. You may want to talk with a nutritionist when starting the diet to see what is recommended for you.

What you can eat

Now for the good news. There are plenty of foods you can still enjoy. You can have coconut, olive oil, avocado oil, non-dairy fermented foods, vinegar (that doesn’t include added sugars), small amounts of maple syrup and honey, herbs, a variety of vegetables, arrowroot starch, pumpkin flour, and more.

Using the foods you can consume, you can create some amazing dishes. There are so many ways to substitute some of the not so AIP friendly ingredients for ingredients that are AIP approved. You really don’t have to give up ice cream and brownies just because you have an autoimmune disease. For example, instead of regular milk, you can substitute coconut milk. You can use honey for the sweetener, and add blueberries for a bit of added flavor. Here’s the recipe if you want to try it out. Want to try another? You can also create delicious brownies made from dates, carob powder, coconut oil, and shredded coconut. There are number of fantastic treats you can create.

Eating good with autoimmune disease

There’s no denying it; you will have to be creative and be willing to substitute. Here are some of the popular swaps you can make on the AIP diet:

  • Use coconut oil instead of butter
  • Buy coconut cream instead of dairy cream
  • Use coconut milk instead of regular milk (be careful of added sugars)
  • Eat coconut yogurt instead of traditional yogurt (again, careful of added sugars)
  • Substitute cheese with nutritional yeast, zucchini “cheese”, cauliflower “cheese”, or butternut “cheese”
  • Use a mashed banana, coconut oil, applesauce, or pumpkin puree when the recipe calls for eggs
  • Mix up your own condiments and sauces instead of using store bought ones
  • Use spaghetti squash in place of spaghetti noodles
  • Mash cauliflower instead of potatoes
  • Utilize yellow squash and zucchini when a recipe calls for nightshade vegetables
  • Sprinkle ginger in your meal for added spice instead of peppery seasonings
  • Buy pumpkin flour instead of grain flour

Just because you have an autoimmune disease doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy what you’re eating, you just have to get creative with your dishes. This may feel frustrating at first as you try to learn new recipes and figure out which foods work well for you, but there can also be a fun element to it. You can learn different ways to cook and new dishes that you really enjoy. The best part? Fewer flares from your autoimmune disease. There are so many inventive chefs online, you can find a number of fun AIP friendly recipes to dish into. Which one are you going to start with?