As each New Year approaches my AIP Recipe Collection Facebook Group is inundated by requests from new members wanting to take control of their health. I find that many have heard about the AIP but don’t know where to start, others have tried the AIP and had a hard time sticking to it and then there are more who have done it before and seen the benefits but slowly let things slide and are looking to do a re-set and simply need some inspiration. Either way, I know you’re here because you’re setting healthy resolutions for the new year … and I’m here to help!
If you’re completely new to the AIP or need a re-set, keep reading, there’s a lot of information to help you get off to the very best start on your healing journey. If you’ve been there, done that and are just looking for delicious daily inspiration, head right over to my searchable Facebook Group – just click here and be sure to answer all of the questions for admittance.

Where to Start?

You’ll find a lot of resources right here on my website, and I include a step-by-step series of posts for getting started – you can begin by clicking here – but be sure to check out my suggestions below to help with your healthy resolutions (many of the suggestions below are NOT included in the other posts).
Another thing I want to make sure I say before you get started … be kind to yourself! I have written a post about grief over illness and diagnosis – it’s a very real thing and your healing process depends on you understanding this. I hope you’ll take time to consider my post – click here.

Top Resources

#1 – THE MAIN AIP RESOURCE BOOK – Dr. Sarah Ballantyne’s The Autoimmune Protocol 
When I started the AIP I wasn’t sure which resource was THE right one! There was so much conflicting information out there that I was confused and didn’t buy anything for fear it was the wrong one. FEAR NO MORE Friends … this is THE one! It has all of the what’s and why’s of what we include and what we eliminate from our diet, and it covers everything from elimination to reintroduction. It’s available only as an e-book so that you get updates for free if the protocol is adjusted based on continuing research and medical studies. The e-book format is great because you can easily search your questions! Don’t like e-books? Take the pdf to your local office supply shop/printer and have them print it for you (in full or part – I just had the resource section of the book printed so I could make notes.)
Buy it as a stand alone book or grab The Paleo Mom Collection of e-books and save 20%! The bundle includes “Go to Bed” (quality sleep on the AIP plays a huge role) and “The Paleo Template” (our ultimate goal is to be a nutrivore with fewer restrictions with a more Paleo-style diet).
This 6-week video-based, self-directed online course also includes interaction with Dr. Sarah herself in a private Facebook group where she will support you on your way. This kind of direct access to the “guru” of AIP is invaluable!
SIGN UP HERE or LEARN MORE HERE in a week-by-week video tour of what to expect.  
This 7 day summit is held annually and provides instructional videos you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home. It’s completely FREE and presented by health and wellness professions who are also AIP Certified Coaches. They include doctors, PhD researchers, registered dieticians, licensed psychologists and social workers, registered nurses, certified health coaches, nutritional therapy practitioners, occupational therapists, and more.
Sign up to WATCH FOR FREE or OWN IT & Get Immediate Access plus 60% off if you purchase by January 3rd! 
A more limited version of the AIP Summit is also available en Francais and run later each year. You can find details about this by clicking here and purchase past summits – click here.
RealPlans is one of the top resources I recommend for AIPers – it’s your perfect partner on the AIP – and WAY Better than some pre-set Meal Plan you can purchase from an AIP blogger! Why do I say that? Because with this app you get to choose meals YOU ACTUALLY WANT TO EAT! Not something that a random stranger put together for you! AND, it’s an app, a shopping list creator and it even keeps track of what you have on hand! And did I mention it was created purposefully with AIPers in mind!?  It’s also COMPLETELY CUSTOMIZABLE, so, if you have additional sensitivities you’re working with, it helps you navigate around those ingredients with ease.
SEE HOW IT WORKS – CLICK HERE!  You can also read my in-depth review by clicking here.
New Year’s resolutions often include exercise, and while that may feel a long way off for someone with chronic illness and fatigue, it is possible – check out Autoimmune Strong
SIGN UP FOR A FREE 7-DAY TRIAL or commit to a monthly, annual or group membership – you’ve got this!

Recognize Your Obstacles!

Let’s face it, on the AIP you’re giving up a LOT, and that can be hard … but don’t psyche yourself out before you get started … your success depends greatly on your own mindset! Try to focus not so much on “elimination” but on “addition” – because there are a lot of amazing foods you can add to your diet for variety, flavor and nutrient density that you will likely come to enjoy very much.

I hear you though, I know that giving up coffee, alcohol, chocolate, bread, nightshades and more is no small feat, so I’ve got you! I have resources, answers to FAQs, enjoyable substitutes and recipes to fill your bellies and coupon codes and links to save you money too. To get started, check out the list of quick links below for some of the most common things I hear, and BE SURE to browse through the FAQ section of my site as well.

Shopping can be hard on the AIP – there’s a lot of label reading to be done! I’ve tried to make your journey easier and provide an abundance of food sourcing resources – click here.

Preparing Your Kitchen for the AIP
Food Lists
AIP Shopping on Amazon (for the USA, Canada and the UK)
Shop AIP – the ONLY Shop dedicated to the AIP!
AIP on a Budget
AIP Coupon Codes

Can I Cheat on the AIP?
Can I Do the AIP as a Vegetarian/Vegan?
Chocolate – Friend or Foe? (My favorite recipe for taming the chocolate cravings – Carob Avocado Mousse – be sure to use an AIP Milk option)
Kicking the Coffee Habit (The BEST coffee substitute – Sip Herbals – it actually tastes like coffee! Save 10% with Code: AIP10)
AIP Protein Powder
Surviving Social Life on the AIP
Alcohol & The AIP
AIP Snack Guide
Breakfast – this is a biggie that I get asked about ALL the time. There are probably hundreds of recipes posted in my searchable Facebook Group – click here to join.
Nightshades – I don’t have a post on them (yet) but I will share my favorite Faux-Mato Sauce Recipe with you! You c

The Truth Behind Forming Healthy Habits

It takes 21days to form a habit – really? If you’ve ever tried it, you know that’s just a myth. My training as a transformational coach confirms it .. there’s definitely more to it! Check out this amazing article by Dr. Ballantyne and set yourself up for success!  Click here to read the full article. 

Be realistic and prepare for setbacks – they’re inevitably going to happen, but they don’t need to derail you. Be sure to check out this amazing article by Angie Alt – 10 Tips for Staying On The AIP Wagon.

Still Want More?

Sign up for my newsletter and don’t forget to join my searchable AIP Recipe Collection Group on Facebook or follow me on Instagram or my Facebook page for a different kind of inspiration where I go beyond recipes and share my own meals, tips and motivation. AND don’t forget to take a look around the rest of my website – there’s so much more I don’t want you to miss out on! ♥

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STOP! Wait right there … don’t just scroll to the lists of goodies! This is meant to be an AIP Snack Guide, not just a list of deliciousness. If you’ve been around these parts before, you know that my goal is to empower you on your autoimmune healing journey, and that means providing a bit of education and information along the way. There are actually a few factors to consider … so here we go!

Rumbly In My Tumbly

So, your tummy’s grumbling – is it really hunger pangs or is it just your digestive system doing it’s job? Did you know a growling stomach doesn’t always signal that your body needs nutrients but, rather, that your migrating motor complex, or MMC, is busy at work? Interestingly, interrupting the MMC’s cleansing process by snacking or grazing throughout the day can cause dysbiosis in the gut. Since many of us with autoimmune disease have digestive issues and the root of good health begins in the gut, I encourage you to read up a little further on your migrating motor complex to make sure you’re supporting your body as best you can. (I found this article on the topic very easy to understand.)

Snack Attack

If you think you’re actually having an AIP snack attack I want you first to ask yourself – WHY? Why am I hungry? Am I really hungry? What does my body actually need right now? Have I had enough water to drink today, maybe I’m just thirsty? Am I having a bad day? Am I stressed, emotional or maybe just bored? Have I had enough to eat today? Did what I ate really satisfy me? Have my meals (including breakfast) been well balanced with protein, fats and good carbs? Am I getting enough good, restorative sleep? (People who aren’t getting enough sleep tend to make poor food choices – it’s a fact!)

Because we do a LOT of cooking on the AIP, it can be easy to fall into opting for less filling/satisfying meals like salads with a little protein on top. Or maybe we’re plain sick and tired of cooking and we’ve really been slipping with our food intake, leaning on less than nutrient dense conveniences like AIP pastas. While there’s nothing wrong with these things from time to time, we really need to make sure we’re achieving nutrient sufficiency and balancing our blood sugar, or yes, we’re going to come down with a serious case of the hangries! 

Now, all that said, I’m not going to say you should never snack – that would just be ridiculous! What I want to do here is arm you with some quick, easy ideas and healthful AIP convenience options to keep you fueled for when the need arises. AIP Snacks AIP Snack Ideas

Quick & Easy:

  • Apple slices with a drizzle of coconut butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Tigernuts – they’re not nuts but you might be nuts about them! (learn more here)
  • Dates stuffed with tigernut butter, coconut butter or coconut oil and a pinch of salt 
  • Frozen grapes
  • Melon – keep some cut up and ready to go
  • Veggies and AIP guacamole or AIP hummus (lots of recipes in my Facebook Group and a few below)
  • Coconut yogurt (make sure it’s compliant or try making your own)
  • Roll compliant sliced meat with a smear of AIP guacamole or hummus and handful of microgreens
  • Olives (make sure they’re compliant – try Shop AIP or my Amazon Storefronts – USA / Canada / UK)
  • Sauerkraut or pickled veggies (make sure they’re compliant – lots of recipes in my Facebook Group)
  • Leftover meatballs (one of my favorite recipes below)
  • Plantain or sweet potato chips and AIP dip (lots of dip options in my Facebook Group and some below)
  • Canned tuna, salmon or sardines / chicken salad or tuna salad AIP Snacks AIP Snack Ideas

SHOP AIP – Your go-to shop for the AIP – Shop with confidence knowing someone else has read the label and made sure it’s compliant for your healing journey! Everything is clearly marked as compliant for the elimination stage or each phase of reintroductions. From salty to savory or sweet, crunchy or chewy, Shop AIP has you covered. Be sure to check out the “Snack Attack” bundle and use the search feature to narrow down over 100 snack options!
CLICK HERE TO SHOP And Save 10% Off Your First Order with Coupon Code: AIPRecipe

WILD ZORA  – Delicious AIP options – meat and veggie bars, freeze-dried stews and soups, dehydrated real fruit snacks, hot cereal and even convenient raw honey sticks! They have variety packs and bulk offerings to help you stock your pantry. Perfect for every day snacking, travel, brown bagging, hiking, camping and emergencies! Just click “shop” and then “AIP Compliant.” 
CLICK HERE TO SHOP: And save 15% Off Every Order with Coupon Code: AIP15

SWEETPOTATO AWESOME – Truly awesome AIP snacks with simplest ingredients! Try the AIP Sampler Pack or use it as a guide to help you select the AIP compliant products and just order your favorites!
CLICK HERE TO SHOP: And Save 10% Off Every Order with Coupon Code: AIPRECIPES

TIGERNUTS USA – If you’re missing nuts and a quick crunchy snck, these tiny tubers will likely do the trick! Eat them plain or use them whole or flaked in AIP granola, use the flour to easily make tigernut butter and so many more amazing AIP treats and snacks!
CLICK HERE TO SHOP: And Save 5% Off Every Order with Coupon Code: AIP5

EAT G.A.N.G.S.T.E.R. – Delicious and Convenient AIP Elimination Stage Compliant Cookie & Cake Mixes that you can use in a variety of ways. 
CLICK HERE TO SHOP: And Save 10% Off Every Order! Code should apply automatically at check out, but if not simply enter Coupon Code: AIPRECIPECOLLECTION

SWEET APRICITY – Decadent AIP Compliant Caramels, Marshmallows and Caramel Sauce (perfect for dipping your apple slices in) – be sure to shop the AIP offerings.
CLICK HERE TO SHOP: And save 10% Off Every Order with Coupon Code: AIPCOLLECTION

PALEO ANGEL POWER BALLS – Delicious AIP Cookies – be sure to shop the AIP offerings. Save 10% when you subscribe to the Power Baller Club. Gift Cards Available!

LOVEBIRD AIP CEREAL – If you used to offer your toddler Cheerios as a snack, this is the health AIP compliant option. This AIP cereal has the look and crunch of a traditional cereal, and there’s a great cause attached – every purchase helps support pediatric cancer research.
CLICK HERE TO SHOP: And Save 10% Off Every Order with Coupon Code: AIP10 

SERENITY KIDS FOODS – These shelf-stable BPA-free pouches of baby and toddler foods are perfect for EVERY AIPer! You can read more about why I personally use these products for myself in my blog post – click here – they make a convenient snack and delicious too!
CLICK HERE TO SHOP: And Save 15% Off Your First Order with Coupon Code: AIPRECIPES

AIP SNACKING ON AMAZON – I’ve compiled lots of categorized shopping lists on Amazon for AIPers – pantry items, snacks, treats, hard to find ingredients and so much more!
Check out all of my suggestions on Amazon in the AIP Recipe Collection Amazon Storefronts – USA / Canada / UK.

PALEO ON THE GO – On the AIP we have to prep and cook almost everything meal that we eat – it’s exhausting! Give yourself a break and try Paleo on the Go! Beyond meals and sides, they offer treats and snacks like AIP compliant Paleo Pop Tarts, cobbler, cakes, muffins, cookies, and bone broth pops (seasonally). 
CLICK HERE TO SHOP: and Save $15 Off Your First Order with Coupon Code
: AIPRecipes

What snack is complete without coffee (substitute) or tea?

SIP HERBALS – The BEST Coffee Substitute we’ve ever tasted!
CLICK HERE TO SHOP: And Save 10% Off Every Order with Coupon Code: AIP10

PIQUE TEA – Top Quality Toxin Free Tea! Be sure to avoid adaptogenic blends during the elimination stage of the AIP – stick to the herbal tea blends, Matcha or Turmeric. 
CLICK HERE TO SHOP: And Save 5% Off Every Order with Coupon Code: AIP5

While snacks don’t have to be complicated, sometimes a recipe or two for inspiration is all it takes to keep you on track. There are honestly so many great options, I simply can’t include them all here, so join me in my Facebook Group and utilize the group search – click here to join!

Sweet Snacks

Apple Pie Cereal Bars – AIP Recipe Collection
Berry Coconut Panna Cotta – Downshiftology
Carob Avocado Mousse – Sweet Treats Blog Spot (use tigernut milk or additive free coconut milk)
Cherry Ginger Gummies – Autoimmune Wellness
Chewy Apple Plantain Cookies – Lichen Paleo, Loving AIP
Love Bird Cereal Cookie Clusters – AIP Recipe Collection
Matcha Mint Fat Bombs – Body Unburdened (check out my matcha recommendation here)
Pumpkin Spice Granola – Autoimmune Wellness

Savory Snacks

Avocado Cauliflower Hummus – Unbound Wellness (It’s like a hummus/guacamole hybrid – so good!)
Bacon Beef Liver Pate with Rosemary and Thyme – Autoimmune Wellness
Butternut Breakfast Bites – Adventures in Partaking
Coconut Flour Naan – My Heart Beets
Creamy Avocado Caesar Dressing/Dip – AIP Recipe Collection (it’s coconut free!)
Microwave Salsa – Unskilled Cavewoman
Supah Guac – Wendi’s AIP Kitchen
Superfood Sardine Salad – Phoenix Helix (tasty on top of Sweetpotato Awesome slices – coupon above)
Quick Salmon and Leek Pate – Healing Family Eats
Tzatziki – AIP Recipe Collection

There’s An App For That!

Another great source for all things recipes and meal planning is REAL PLANS Meal Planning App – This app is perfect for pretty much any diet (you can read my full review on it here) but it’s completely customizable and totally geared to those on the AIP – and yes – it has snacks! You can even tweak it further for additional food sensitivities and nutritional requirements and add recipes from around the web or personal favorites – it truly makes life on the AIP easier! There’s even a 10-day money back guarantee so there’s no risk in trying it out –  SUBSCRIBE HERE. 


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Okay, so we’re cutting out dairy on the AIP, nuts and grains too … so what’s left for options when it comes to “milk” on the AIP?

Great question! I’m going to keep it plain and simple – you have 4 options during the elimination phase of the AIP: Coconut Milk, Tigernut Milk (Tigernuts are not nuts, they’re tubers), Avocado Milk and Banana Milk.

All four of these can easily be made at home, and quality additive-free coconut milk (NOT coconut “beverage”) can be found in lots of stores these days (warning – be sure your coconut milk contains nothing but coconut and water – no other ingredients, emulsifiers or thickeners like guar gum, locust bean gum, etc. You can find additive-free coconut milk using my shopping resources – click here, and some brand recommendations here.)

While there are variations of these recipes available online, the following are the basics.

Coconut Milk:

4 Cups Hot Water 
1 1/2 to 2 Cups Unsweetened Unsulphured Shredded Coconut
Optional Sweetener: 1/2 to 1 tsp Honey or Maple Syrup to Taste or 1 unsulphured pitted date to sweeten 
Optional Flavor:  1/2 tsp Organic Vanilla Extract (not flavor), 1/2 cup pureed fresh or frozen strawberries

Place hot but not boiling water and coconut in a high-speed blender. Blend on high speed for several minutes until thick and creamy.
Using a large bowl to catch the milk, pour the mixture through a nut milk bad or fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth and allow to strain.
Once cool enough to handle, use your hands to squeeze out as much milk as possible.
Once you have extracted all of your milk add any optional flavoring and store in the refrigerator in a glass jar for up to 3 days. 
NOTE: you will want to use a wide mouth jar so you can scrape any coconut cream off the top that forms after refrigeration for use in other things, or simply shake to reincorporate

Avocado Milk:

2 Cups Filtered Water
1/2 Cup Diced Avocado (ensure it’s not over ripe and does not have any dark spots)
Pinch of Sea Salt
Optional Sweetener: 1/2 to 1 tsp Honey or Maple Syrup to Taste or 1 unsulphured pitted date to sweeten 
Optional Flavor: 1/2 tsp Organic Vanilla Extract (not flavor) 

Combine water, avocado and a pinch of salt together in a blender or use an immersion blender. If you want a slightly sweet taste, add the sweetener of choice from above, blend and test the flavor, adjust if necessary. 
Serve chilled.
Note: Best consumed or used right away in a recipe

Banana Milk:

2 Cups Filtered Water
1 Banana (ripe but not over-ripe)
Pinch of Sea Salt
Optional Flavor:  1/2 tsp Organic Vanilla Extract (not flavor) or a Pinch of Cinnamon

Combine water, banana and a pinch of salt together in a blender or use an immersion blender. If you want a slightly sweet taste, add the sweetener of choice from above, blend and test the flavor, adjust if necessary. 
Serve chilled.
Note: Best consumed or used right away in a recipe

Tigernut Milk:

4 Cups Hot Water (Plus more for soaking)
1 Cup Tigernuts
Optional Sweetener: 1/2 to 1 tsp Honey or Maple Syrup to Taste or 1 unsulphured pitted date to sweeten 
Optional Flavor:  1/2 tsp Organic Vanilla Extract (not flavor) or Cinnamon

Place tigernuts in a bowl and cover with warm water, allowing to soak for 24 hours.
After 24 hours, drain and place in a high-speed blender. Add 1/2 a cup of the hot water and blend for 3 minutes. If the mixture is too dry during this time, add a little more of the water and scrape the sides.
Add remaining water and blend for 10-15 minutes.
Using a large bowl to catch the milk, pour the mixture through a nut milk bad or fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth and allow to strain.
Once cool enough to handle, use your hands to squeeze out as much milk as possible.
Once you have extracted all of your milk add any optional flavoring and store in the refrigerator in a glass container for up to 3 days. 

BONUS TIP: Don’t waste the pulp! You can dehydrate it and you have tigernut flour! Simply spread the pulp on a large, rimmed baking tray and place it in a 160 to 175 degree oven for 4-6 hours or until dry. Be sure to stir it a few times during the drying process. Once it has completely dried pulse it in a food processor until it is the consistency of powder or flour. If you can’t get it completely fine, that’s not a problem – tigernut flour tends to be a little gritty. You can choose to sift it to get rid of any larger pieces.

Sweet Potato Milk: 

1 Large White Sweet Potato (Learn more about various varieties of white sweet potatoes and where to find them – click here)
4 Cups of Filtered Water (plus more after cooking – see instructions)
Optional Flavor:  1/2 tsp Organic Vanilla Extract (not flavor) or Cinnamon

Add filtered water to a medium pot. Peel and chop the sweet potato into 1 inch cubes and immediately add to the pot of water.
Bring to a boil over medium heat and continue to boil for 10-15 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are soft.
Use a slotted spoon and transfer the sweet potatoes to a blender.
Pour the cooking water into a large measuring cup and add additional filtered water to equal a total of 4 cups of liquid.
Add water to the blender and blend on high speed until completely smooth and creamy. 
The “milk” should be plenty sweet enough, but if you like you can add in your optional flavors now and 1/2 to 1 tsp of pure maple syrup if you wish.
Store in the refrigerator in a glass container for up to 3 days or the freezer for 3 months.

Learn More:

Want to know the ins and outs, what’s and whys of eliminating dairy and options for reintroductions when the time comes? Check out the following articles.

The Great Dairy Debate
Why I Don’t Need to Worry About Calcium
Goat Milk and the Benefits of A2 Dairy
The Best Dairy Choice for Growing Children

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The elimination stage of the AIP is NOT meant to last forever, but how do you feel about the reintroduction process? Many find the thought of it completely overwhelming and some are afraid to move beyond eliminations because they’ve seen so many improvements in their health they don’t want to risk throwing anything off. It’s really important, however, that we not get stuck .. we need to keep moving forward on our healing journeys! Thankfully, now we can move forward with confidence thanks to the help of The Autoimmune Protocol Reintroduction Cookbook – the first cookbook dedicated to the reintroduction phases of the AIP.

This amazing new book comes to us from trained chef, Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and AIP Coach, Kate Jay of the AIP blog, Healing Family Eats. Kate is passionate about making sure our healing journey is delicious, nutrient dense and in her new cookbook as easy as possible, guiding us through the challenges of reintroductions step-by-step through each stage so that we don’t trigger an autoimmune flare. 

“My aim is to encourage and support you as you navigate the reintroduction phase of the AIP. The recipes have been developed with gentle reintroductions in mind, taking you through all four stages, with the ultimate goal of you finding your own unique template.” ~ Kate

While the focus of Kate’s latest cookbook is reintroductions, a large number of the recipes are easily adapted for those in the elimination stage, making it a wonderful, motivational handbook even if you’re just getting started on the AIP.

It’s a feast for the eyes, filled with beautiful photos and over 100 amazing recipes to tantalize your taste buds, each recipe indicating at a glance; which of the four reintroduction stages it’s suitable for, whether or not it can be made elimination stage compliant, if it’s coconut free or can be made that way, if it can be made low-FODMAP, and even if it’s freezer friendly.

Here are a handful of recipes I’m eyeing:

  • Cornish Pasty (elimination friendly)
  • Chocolate Sweet Potato Mud Cake (elimination friendly)
  • Windfall Country Mustard
  • Nightshade-Free Brown Sauce (elimination friendly)
  • Sticky Toffee Pudding (elimination friendly)
  • Mint Mayonnaise
  • Rum ‘N Raisin Stracciatella Ice Cream
  • Choc-Hazelnut Hummus
  • Fish Tacos with Watermelon Tomato Salsa (elimination friendly)
  • Shrimp & Vegetable Tempura (elimination friendly)

On top of all the amazing recipes, you get a guide to what the AIP is and what it isn’t, food lists, how to transition to the AIP, tips and best practices, troubleshooting advice for why the AIP might not be working for you, how and when to approach reintroductions, how to identify reactions, how to avoid flares and handle an unsuccessful reintroduction – it’s just what every AIPer needs.

Let The Autoimmune Protocol Reintroduction Cookbook be your reassuring companion through every step of your AIP journey!
Grab your copy on Amazon:  USA / CANADA / UK

Not ready to jump into The Autoimmune Protocol Reintroduction Cookbook just yet? Check out Kate’s mini elimination stage e-cookbook “Healing Eats – 25 Recipes to Heal the Gut While Soothing the Soul.”

Enter to win a copy of The Autoimmune Protocol Reintroduction Cookbook

a Rafflecopter giveaway


ONE GRAND PRIZE will be awarded – 1 Print copy of the Autoimmune Protocol Reintroduction Cookbook by Kate Jay

  • Contest open until end of day June 26th, 2021 (EST)
  • Winner will be announced and contacted by June 28th, 2021
  • This giveaway is sponsored by Kate Jay at Healing Family Eats
  • Prize package will be shipped by Kate or her publisher
  • This giveaway is not sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Instagram or Facebook
  • Void where prohibited
Since there is a lot of confusion about turmeric, curcumin and the use of black pepper, I decided to write a dedicated post as a reference in our FAQ section.
Inevitably when I post a recipe in the AIP Recipe Collection Facebook Group and indicate that we should “omit black pepper unless it’s been successfully reintroduced,” I’m flooded with questions or comments that black pepper must be added to the recipe or the turmeric isn’t going to be effective as an anti-inflammatory compound, so let me share the research I’ve found.

Turmeric & Curcumin – The Same Thing?

First thing’s first – DO NOT confuse turmeric with its most well-known active compound, curcumin. Turmeric contains a variety of inflammation-fighting compounds known as curcuminoids ~ the most widely known and extensively studied of which is curcumin.
That said, if you’re questioning the efficacy of turmeric without black pepper based on something you’ve read, I encourage you to go back and re-read the information – it’s more likely than not that you’re reading about the compound CURCUMIN as an EXTRACT, not TURMERIC itself as a WHOLE herbaceous tuber or spice. 
While it’s true that curcumin – the compound or extract on its own, requires a compound in black pepper called piperine for it (curcumin) to be effective, unfortunately this has led people to believe that it’s useless taking or using TURMERIC as a whole herb/spice without black pepper. This is simply not the case.

What’s Better, Turmeric or Curcumin?

Well known lecturer, botanist and herbalist, David Winston states, “ In my experience, I achieve better clinical outcomes with whole Turmeric products.” Importantly, he also points out that, large doses of curcumin (the extract) can cause gastric upset, while the herb turmeric (as a whole) contains a number of active ingredients that combine to have a gastro-protective effect. 
A very important point to understand with turmeric is that the naturally occurring molecules and the volatile oils naturally contained within turmeric actually help its many compounds to absorb and metabolize. So in other words, turmeric by itself, with nothing added, absorbs quite well because of the synergism of the molecules contained within turmeric. It’s when the product is broken down into different compounds, like curcumin supplements, that additional compounds (like those extracted from black pepper) are required for absorption. 
CONCLUSION:  You do NOT need to add black pepper to reap the benefits of turmeric when you’re using turmeric as a whole herb/spice.
It reminds me of what Dr. Ballantyne, one of the pioneers of the Autoimmune Protocol, says … “if you want the benefit of the thing, just eat the thing” … not the compound or extract or essence of the thing (she was referencing things like vanilla, extracts and essential oils – but the same applies here with herbs).
More often than not, nature knows best and has already pre-packaged all of the compounds and components you need – right there in the food or herb – no need for scientific intervention or additions!

What About Absorption?

There is no harm in adding black pepper when using turmeric IF you are tolerant to it and you’re not in the elimination stage of the AIP, but the truth is you don’t need it to absorb the molecules contained within turmeric.
The main difference is that turmeric with black pepper will likely absorb faster than turmeric by itself and may stay in the blood stream longer. This is neither good nor bad. Using turmeric with a healthy fat such a coconut milk, coconut oil, good quality extra virgin olive oil, or avocado oil will enhance overall absorption, so there’s an option for you if you really feel you must add something. 

To Summarize:

Curcumin itself as an extract/compound (man-made) is harder for the body to absorb and therefore requires the addition of the black pepper compound called piperine. Curcumin is more easily excreted and can also cause gastric upset when consumed in large quantities.
Turmeric as a whole (nature-made) absorbs well in the body because of the other naturally occurring compounds in turmeric itself and does not require anything to aid absorption. Turmeric as a whole has a gastro-protective effect.
Never forget that we, and our diseases, are all unique. What works for one person, doesn’t always work for someone else. There is no saying turmeric will improve everyone’s health or their inflammation to the same extent as it will someone else – even someone else with the same disease.

Turmeric Recipes!

Looking for some great ways to incorporate turmeric into your diet?
Check out my friend Indira’s cookbook – AIP Indian Fusion – click here. I have a teaser recipe from the AIP Indian Fusion Cookbook you can enjoy, just click here – Tandoori Shrimp & Kale Bowl. I also have my very own recipe creation, Honey Curry Chicken Breasts which includes an AIP compliant Curry Spice Blend that I always keep on hand – be sure to check it out.
Still want more? We have LOTS of flavorful recipes that incorporate turmeric posted in my FREE, searchable AIP Recipe Collection Facebook Group – just click here to join!  Once you’re a member, you can search for things like Golden Milk, a delicious warm beverage, turmeric lemonade, lattes,  curry pastes, Indian dishes and so much more.

This post contains affiliate links.  Click here to see what that means.

AIP baking is a tricky thing, and even more of an exact science than regular baking, so you’ll have heard me say many times in the the AIP Recipe Collection Facebook Group that I do NOT recommend substitutions in AIP baking! You can read more on the topic in my article Substitutions in AIP Cooking & Baking so you understand why this is so important.

That said, many AIP recipes call for gelatin or agar agar powder or gelatin eggs, or if you’ve found a paleo recipe it may call for a flax or chia egg!  All of this can be quite confusing, especially since some of them require that you make a gelatin egg separately and others just have you adding gelatin to the mix.

So, what’s the breaking news on AIP egg replacements (see what I did there)? And, can’t I just use the egg replacements available at the grocery store? Here are the answers you’ve been looking for!

The Purpose of Eggs in Baking

Eggs are used for several reasons in baking; binding (holding things together like meatloaf and meatballs – this is the job of the whites), leavening (rising and creating a light fluffy texture – this is the job of the yolk), for moisture and also for flavor and appearance (often aids in browning).

Can we cook and bake with out them? Absolutely! 

Will the replacements yield perfect results? No – unfortunately there is nothing that will ever perfectly replace an egg! BUT we can get pretty darn deliciously close! 

Things to consider:

Binding – You’ll find that most meatloaf and meatball recipes work perfectly well without eggs, or maybe you just need to add a little mashed veg in as an alternate binder. 

Leavening – You’ll find many AIP baking recipes call for cream of tartar – this is a leavening agent and should never be omitted from a recipe just because you don’t have it – the results will literally be a flop.

Moisture & Appearance – Most AIP recipes make up for eggs in other ways, and recipe creators go to great lengths to ensure the the dishes they’re presenting look and taste as close to traditional recipes as possible – so don’t mess with a good thing – follow the AIP recipes folks!  If you haven’t checked out the post I suggested, here it is again – Substitutions in AIP Cooking & Baking.

In general, it’s not a good idea to try to recreate a traditional recipe into an AIP compliant version if you’re replacing more than 1 or 2 eggs. Why? Because more than this and you’re at risk of your recipe caving in, coming out too dry, too wet, crumbly, too dense, or just not what you expected.

Commercial Egg Replacements

Let’s start here since this would be considered the path of least resistance and most enticing for some.

The reason why we don’t use these is the ingredients -most contain grain potato starch, corn starch, guar gum and the like. So, sorry folks, this option just doesn’t work.

Apple Sauce, Mashed Bananas, Pumpkin & Avocado

Next we’ll move on to old, traditional favorite substitutions that our mothers and grandmothers would have used. In general I don’t see a lot of AIP baked opting for these substitutes now-a-days – most AIP recipe creators have moved on to something a little more shall we say, egg-like! However, before we go there …

Mashed fruits like bananas and avocado, apple sauce and pumpkin/squash puree can often be a good substitute for an egg in recipe. It’s really very subjective though and you must decide on a recipe by recipe basis what is most suitable.  Overall however, these options work best in cakes, muffins and brownies.

Whichever of these options you choose to use, you can replace each egg with 1/4 cup (65 grams) of purée.

Baked goods made with puréed fruits may not brown as deeply, but they will be very dense and moist.

Be aware that banana will obviously give you more of a banana flavor, so if you want something neutral – try some of the others instead

Agar-Agar & Gelatin

Before we dive in, I will tell you that while neither of these replacements should affect the flavor of your finished product, they may create a slightly stiffer texture. Unfortunately, nothing can replicate the egg exactly.


Gelatin eggs are probably the most commonly suggested egg substitute that you’ll see in recipes. If you’ve made one before, you’ll know why – it’s very close to the texture and viscosity of egg whites. Neither of these replacements should affect the flavor of your finished product, but they may create a slightly stiffer texture.

When it comes to gelatin, quality matters (sorry guys – Knox Gelatine is out as it’s highly processed and not from well cared for animals) – be sure to use gelatin made from grass-fed / pasture-raised animals (pigs – called porcine gelatin and/or cows – called beef gelatin – you can find quality gelatin brands here or in our Amazon storefronts – go here and follow the link for either USA, Canada or the UK). 


While there are several ways to make a gelatin egg, this is my favorite and it’s never failed me yet!

1 Tbsp Gelatin
1/4 Cup Water
Add water to a small pot and sprinkle the gelatin over top.
Allow to sit for 2-3 minutes until the mixture hardens somewhat.
Place the post on a burner set to low heat for 1-2 minutes until the gelatin starts to melt. Be careful not to burn it! I usually stand by and start immediately whisking it.
Remove the pot from the heat and vigorously whisk until the mixture becomes frothy.


To replace one egg, dissolve 1 tablespoon (about 9 grams) of unflavored gelatin in 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of cold water. Then, mix in 2 tablespoons (30 grams) of boiling water until frothy.

AN IMPORTANT NOTE on gelatin: Just because you see a recipe calls for gelatin, it does not mean you will necessarily mean that you will go through the process of making a gelatin egg separately before adding it to the recipe. Follow the instructions as set out in the recipe you’re using for best results. IF the recipe indicates you are using gelatin and water to make a gelatin egg, follow those directions carefully as there are different ways to make a gelatin egg and the specific method recommended may yield better results in that particular recipe.

Agar Agar

If you’re avoiding animal products (though on the AIP you really shouldn’t be – read my article about that – Can the AIP Be Done As a Vegetarian?), you can opt for agar-agar powder or flakes. Agar agar is a vegan alternative to gelatin and is made from a type of seaweed or algae – you can find it here.

I’ve seen different suggestions for how to make an agar agar egg, so you’re going to be best to follow the instructions carefully in any recipe that you find if it calls for agar agar. Again, similar to gelatin, each recipe creator may have very specific reasons for using more or less water in the mix.

That said, here is the information I’ve found for you about making an agar agar egg!


Dissolve 1 teaspoon (approximately 4 grams) of agar-agar powder in 1 tablespoon of water to replace one egg.
To dissolve, first sprinkle the powder over the liquid, allow to rest for 5 minutes and then warm to 90 C over medium heat on the stove top.
Using a whisk, whip the agar mixture well to help dissolve, then refrigerate for 15 minutes and whip again. Add the agar to the baking mixture as the last ingredient and mix to just combine, do not overwork the mixture.


Use 1 tablespoon (9 grams) of agar-agar powder mixed with 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of water to replace one egg.
NOTE: If you have agar-agar flakes, be sure to grind them into a fine powder first as this will make a difference.

Vinegar & Baking Soda

I haven’t seen this one used all that much in AIP baking, but have heard of some using it successfully.

When mixed together, vinegar and baking soda start a chemical reaction that produces carbon dioxide and water, which makes baked goods light and airy, making this an especially good option for cakes and cupcakes.

Mixing 1 teaspoon (7 grams) of baking soda with 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of apple cider vinegar can replace one egg in most recipes.

Arrowroot Powder

I’ll admit to never having heard of this used as a specific egg replacement, but it very likely is that our AIP recipes employe these ingredients without us even realizing it!  I can’t say this would be my go-to of choices by any means if I were simply trying to substitute an egg in any recipe. 

A mixture of 2 tablespoons (about 18 grams) of arrowroot powder and 3 tablespoons (45 grams) of water can be used to replace one egg.

Carbonated Water

Carbonated water will obviously add moisture to a recipe, but it also acts as a leavening agent since the carbonation traps air bubbles, which help make the finished product light and fluffy.

You can replace each egg with one-fourth cup (60 grams) of carbonated water and the substitution is said to works well for cakes, cupcakes and quick breads. Again – I suggest sticking to AIP expert tested/created recipes rather than trying to reinvent the wheel.

Flax & Chia Eggs

While these are a wonderful Paleo option in baking going forward, if you’re on the AIP and still in the elimination stage, this option simply isn’t suitable for you.

BUT, if you’ve reintroduced these, here’s how to make them:

To replace one egg, whisk together 1 tablespoon (7 grams) of ground chia or flaxseeds with 3 tablespoons (45 grams) of water until fully absorbed and thickened.

Doing so may cause baked goods to become heavy and dense. Also, it may result in a nuttier flavor, so it works best in products like pancakes, waffles, muffins, breads and cookies.

Resource: Healthline – Effective Substitutes for Eggs




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When you’re on the AIP you’re likely doing a lot more cooking than usual. You’re probably batch cooking, and meal prepping for the freezer, but what’s the best way to store all of this delicious food? Does it matter what we use? Need the 4-1-1 on food storage basics? You’ve come to the right place!

Since we’re trying to live a toxin-free life on the AIP to give our bodies the fighting chance they need to heal, it’s a good idea to consider what you’re using for food storage. There are a lot of opinions out there about plastics, BPA-Free options, silicone and more (read more about why we should avoid plastics here). For me, I kick it old school as much as possible – zero waste, sustainable living, lovable, reusable glass! 

Since I get asked a LOT about food storage, and especially about how to safely use glass jars in the freezer, that is the main focus of this article – I hope it helps!

Planning Tips:

The first pointer that I’m going to offer is a bit of a warning – batch cooking can be exhausting – especially in the beginning when you’re really not feeling well, so try to pick a day when you’re feeling up to it. Better yet have a friend or family member jump in to help you tag-team it. And it doesn’t have to be all about you – you can work together to create a bunch of delicious options so that they go home with food to stock their fridge and freezer too. Many hands make light work.

My second pointer – don’t go overboard if you don’t have the space to store it all! I’ve done this before when I was feeling super ambitious, I cooked way more than I needed for a week or two and found my fridge stuffed to the brim and I didn’t really want to store much of what I’d made in the freezer because it wasn’t all that freezer friendly. So, evaluate the space you have and choose recipes to prep according to where and how you plan to store it.

The third pointer is to have your containers ready! There’s nothing worse than batch cooking and then scrambling to find suitable food storage to put it all in. Plan ahead for this. If you’ve never batch cooked before you might need to consider investing in some quality meal containers. Glass if obviously the gold standard, safest method for storing food, and there are some awesome options on the market these days that make prepping a breeze (check out some of my faves in my shopping resources – click here). If you can’t afford to buy new containers, save up any glass jars you have from store-bought items or check a local thrift store, I know our family donates a lot of glass mason jars when we simply get overwhelmed by the amount we have on hand. If you’re lucky enough to score some of those, your investment will be minimal in that you’ll just need to buy some new lids.

Zero Waste Storage Containers Freezer Storage AIP

Practical Tips – Glass Jars #1:

Super … You’re all set! 

Now, you may have heard horror stories of using glass jars in the freezer, am I right? I had heard stories too, but was always fortunate enough not to have any issues … leave enough space at the top of the jar for expansion and you’re good to go! Well …. not always! Even if you manage to freeze them without breaking, they can still break during thawing.

Eventually, my luck ran out. When I started freezing bone broth I ran into troubles and there were tears shed over bone broth lost. I attribute some of my issues to using inappropriate jars and the fact that my upright freezer has coils in the shelves … so I’ve gotten a little smarter about all this.

For me, I’m usually just freezing liquids in jars – sauces, soup, broth, stew and maybe shepherd’s pie. Freezing liquids can be tricky, so here are a few practical tips:

  1. The Jar – the wider the jar the better. Try to avoid tall skinny jars, and if possible use wide-mouth jars without “shoulders” (that just means that the jar is straight from bottom to top and it does not get smaller as it approaches the opening).
  2. Filling The Jar – only fill it 3/4 of the way full or less to ensure you allow plenty of room for expansion as the contents freeze and expand.
  3. Position – always freeze jars standing up.
  4. Freezer Considerations – if you have an upright freezer with freezer coils in the shelves, consider placing your jars in a shallow plastic container until they have frozen successfully. I started doing this just in case they broke so there would be something to catch the liquid, but in actual fact I think the barrier between the glass and the coils made a difference.
  5. Temperature – ALWAYS ensure your liquid is completely cooled before attempting to freeze. Some say allowing them to come to room temperature is sufficient, but I usually err on the side of caution and refrigerate them first until completely cold.
  6. Thawing – NEVER try to thaw quickly! SLOW and STEADY wins this race! Ideally you should remove your frozen jar to the refrigerator for a few hours – NEVER place jars straight from the freezer into hot water – breakage is almost guaranteed!  Plan ahead and thaw slowly in the fridge and then the counter top – that’s your best bet.

Practical Tips – Glass Jars #2:

AIP Food storage, glass jar, pesto

My favorite wide mouth jars with frozen pesto cubes!

Another way to use glass jars for freezer storage is to first pre-freeze your liquids in ice cube trays or silicone trays that hold larger amounts. Once your liquids are frozen you pop them out of the trays and into glass jars and you should have no problem putting your jars straight in the freezer.

This method is great for freezing things like pesto, sauces and bone broth since it allows you to easily portion out what you need instead of having to thaw a whole jar of food. Think about the number of times you need a cup of broth or a few tablespoons of sauce! Dispensing a few cubes from a jar also allows you to thaw them more quickly in a safe container or by popping them right into the dish you’re cooking.

Glass Storage Containers:

There are plenty of larger, shallow options for storing all kinds of food available these days. There are even containers that have sections so you can portion out a complete meal but keep items separate. Containers like this are great for meal prepping and are typically thicker and more sturdy than a glass jar. While you should still proceed with caution when freezing and thawing these containers, you’ll likely have fewer concerns since you’ll probably not be storing liquids but rather solid food and there will be lots of air gaps for expansion. Follow the directions that come with your containers and you should be just fine!

What About Freezer Burn?

Freezer burn is caused by the moisture loss in the freezer. It can lead to ice crystals, shriveled product, tough, leathery or discolored meats.

You can minimize freezer burn by making sure your food is cold before you set out, so let it cook and then proceed. You may even want to store it in the fridge first and then move on to freezing.

The key is oxidization or exposure to air – you want to minimize that by properly packaging your food. If you plan to buy a lot of meat in bulk, you have a garden and plan on preserving your harvest or you like to buy in bulk when things are on sale, you might want to invest in a vacuum sealing system (you can find some great options in my Amazon Storefronts under small appliances – the brand that I recommend uses BPA free plastics click here to find the link for your area).

If you just need a few pointers to do your best without a system, read on…

  • For meat, poultry and seafood you can wrap it in freezer paper (or plastic wrap – but I don’t like plastic for reasons mentioned above) and then in foil and then pop it in a freezer bag and remove as much air as possible.
  • When packaging fruit and vegetables use small containers to minimize empty space when freezing leftovers. You can also use the same wrapping technique as for meat in some cases.
  • HOT TIP: Use a straw to suck the air out of your freezer bag once it’s almost completely zipped up!
  • Keep your freezer temperature as consistent as possible – avoid opening and closing it unnecessarily.
  • Use your food faster. It’s best to use your frozen foods within 2-4 months, so be sure to add dates to your frozen packages and rotate your inventory.

Too late? Your food’s already got freezer burn? Bummer! Don’t worry though, your food is still safe to eat – the texture may not be the same and it just may not taste as good as it once did, so plan to use it in more forgiving dishes like soups, stews, sauces or smoothies instead.

How Long Is My Food Safe & How Should I Store It?

Since you know I’m not one for re-writing well presented material, I’m simply going to direct you to a couple of great articles:

Autoimmune Wellness – AIP Food Storage Basics – These post will help you figure out how long food should stay fresh and safe and where you should store it.

Healthline – Food Storage – This post covers freezer burn, safe meat storage guidelines (fridge and freezer), how to know if your chicken has gone bad, fruit and veggie storage, canned food storage guidelines and more! (Once you’re there – just keep scrolling)

And because, on the AIP especially we don’t want to waste any precious ingredients (I know a lot of us are on a budget) you can read my post about managing the AIP on a Budget.

From time to time the topic of essential oils comes up in the AIP Recipe Collection Facebook Group, and I’m always quick to shut the conversation down because it typically turns into a debate or a sales pitch from someone trying to grow their network. That said, I don’t want to leave you hanging on the topic and will provide my take on the topic here. (NOTE: I do not sell essential oils and I am in no way affiliated with any essential oils companies.)
Let me begin by saying that I have absolutely no doubt about the power of essential oils! I LOVE them and wholeheartedly agree that they can have a huge impact on our health. My husband I have personally seen the benefits in our lives using them for inhalation, aromatherapy and topical application.
It’s really only when it comes to the topic of ingesting essential oils that I really get a little worked up.
In my opinion there are too many folks out there selling essential oils and recommending them as “safe for internal use” and claiming that you simply need to make sure they’re 100% pure or food grade quality. I beg you please, consider factual research by completely independent, third-party outsiders rather than the opinions of someone trying to sell you essential oils – that is the only way you will get an honest answer about whether this practice is truly safe or not.

When I first began using essential oils, I avoided the big multi-level marketing companies – first, because of the price of their oils and secondly because I wanted a real education about essential oil and not just a superficial understanding of what to use in a diffuser, cleaning or personal products. In my research, I came across Aromahead Institute and quickly realized that these folks are the real deal, and I don’t hesitate to refer people to them for sound advice.

Internal Use/Ingestion

The following is a compilation of snippets from my research on the topic of essential oils for internal use/ingestion (click each link to read the full source article).  Let me lead with this spoiler alert from Dr. Sarah Ballantyne:

“If its from an edible thing that you want the benefits from,
just eat the thing!”

“Internal use requires knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and the chemistry of essential oils. Oils should be used via the skin and inhalation until you understand the potential interaction of drugs and essential oils, know the safe oils to use (the safety issues are different for skin and internal use), and know the right dose and route of application appropriate for internal use.  Internal use also requires an understanding of pharmacokinetics–effects of the body on the oil, how the body metabolizes the oil and eliminates it, and what organs might be effected.  It sounds complicated because it is—and that’s why we don’t widely recommend internal use.”
  • Safely ingesting certain essential oils is wrought with caveats and debate, and it’s not recommended without guidance from a trained herbalist. “The whole purpose of distilling the aromatic components [from plants] was because we wanted to capture their smell,” says Amy Galper, aromatherapist and co-founder of the New York Institute of Aromatic Studies. “We understood the power of aroma [to affect] our mind, our spiritual life, and our physical health.” Ingesting, therefore, is outside of boundaries of essential oils’ intended use—enough reason to proceed with caution.  … Essential oils may be natural, but that doesn’t mean they’re inherently safe. “The molecules and chemical constituents that make up essential oils are irritating to mucous membrane tissue,” Galper says. Swallowing essential oils can burn the mucosa in your mouth, esophagus, gut lining, and beyond in the digestive tract.
  • Dr. Lin says, “I usually caution people against taking it orally is because it’s a really strong medicine…You can take too much, too quickly without realizing it. And that can become toxic. Nausea, stomach pain and neurological discomfort like nerve pain and numbness can also occur, especially if you take too much. Like any kind of medicine, it can affect different people in different ways, too.”
  • Moral of the story: It’s possible to ingest essential oils safely, but it’s complex and should always be done under the guidance of a trained herbalist.  A professional will know which oils are safe and work with you to administer correct, non-toxic doses.

– Source:  Well and Good – An Aromatherapist & MD Weigh in on Essential Oils

  • Phytochemicals can be anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, anti-angiogenic (prevent the formation of blood vessels, great for fighting tumors), apoptosis (helps cells dies), anti-allergy, anti-mutagenic, anti-microbial, insect repellents, etc.
  • BUT they are cytotoxic: they rupture membranes and cause cells to die. So they ARE NOT SPECIFIC to bad microbes! They’ll kill your friends in your gut! NOT GOOD!
  • Terpenes are damaging to the liver. That’s also NOT GOOD!
  • They may also cause a leaky gut.
  • Drinking essentially oils is not a great idea.
  • There are some essential oil compounds that are more specific, and effective to kill influenza and E. coli, Staphylococcus, etc. BUT some kill the good’uns.
  • Ingesting is complicated! There are many interesting studies, but lots of pros and cons. We don’t know everything that these properties do!
  • If you want these effects, just eat the whole food! 
  • Only use oral consumption with the supervision of a doctor who knows what they are doing.
  • The science is not very strong for most purported benefits (of ingestion). Most papers indicate that we need more research. But, really, if its from an edible thing that you want the benefits from, just eat the thing.

– Source:  The Paleo Mom Podcast – What’s the Deal with Essential Oils

You should bear in mind that essential oils effect every person very differently (whether they are use in aromatherapy, topically or orally) – they are very individualized and can be dangerous – and as with everything we inhale, ingest or apply to our skin there is NO one-size-fits all approach. That said, you should PERSONALLY consult an herbalist or your medical professional before you decide if ingesting essential oils is right for you. Simply finding information online that indicates it’s safe to use this oil or that oil is not wise for the reasons outlined in the references above.

Aromatherapy & Topical Use

Okay, so if it’s not advisable to use essential oils internally is there any point discussing the topic any further for our purposes on the AIP? Yes, absolutely! There are so many  aromatic and topical uses of essential oils to help support your AIP journey – relief of stress, pain, headaches, digestive discomfort, improvement of mood, skin conditions and more – that I could never hope to share them all with you. 

My use of essential oils began out of desperation with my husband’s migraine headaches. He was taking migraine medication EVERY day for a long stretch of time and was finding no relief. Add to that his debilitating chronic pain and fibromyalgia – not a good scenario. It was at that point that I started my research into essential oils, attended a few webinars and took some online courses with Aromahead Institute. I started slowly at first, simply using an ultrasonic diffuser with peppermint essential oil for him or having him use a homemade inhaler, and then branched out into some specifics for his condition which really helped.

Your next questions is probably – what did you use to help him with is fibromyalgia? What else helps with migraine headaches?  Since I’m not an herbalist or aromatherapy specialist I’m simply going to suggest this amazing reference book that can help you – it’s my go-to encyclopedia for all things essential oils! Grab a copy of “The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy” by Valerie Ann Worwood – click here.

Digestive Upset

Since many on the AIP suffer with digestive upset, this may be an area you want to consider incorporating essential oils like ginger, tarragon, peppermint, clove and oregano – but, if not by ingestion, how? 

Essential oils contain plant-based chemical constituents responsible for the powerful healing benefits. Those compounds trigger a response in your nervous system, sending signals to your brain. These signals can include calming and soothing the intestinal tract, or stimulating digestion by encouraging parasympathetic activity. Each oil is different, but just a few drops of any essential oil makes a BIG impact.

There are two ways to use essential oils to support a healthy digestive system:

1. Aromatically. When used in your diffuser, or just inhaled out of the bottle, the vapors carry active chemical molecules into your body through the nose. They stimulate the olfactory nerve, located in the nasal cavity. This nerve contains fibers that send signals directly to your central nervous system – the system by which digestion is governed. 

2. Topically. Your skin absorbs everything that you put on it. When applied as a rub, lotion or in massage the active compounds found in essential oils enter your bloodstream to support the digestive system. Remember to always dilute essential oils (click here for information about that) in coconut or sweet almond oil. I find it very convenient using roller bottles for the purpose of topical application and love having a number of blends prepared and ready to go.

Digestive Relief Massage &  DIY Blend

Click here for a Digestive Belly Rub Blend from my trusted resource, Aromahead Internation. Note, however that you may want to omit the cardamom in the elimination stage of the AIP, just to err on the side of caution.

When using the massage oil blend, start at the belly button, apply the diluted oil and then gently massage into the skin using an upward circular motion (apply gentle pressure with the pads of your fingertips, circling to the right). This can also be done on the back, over the liver and stomach. 

Quality Oils

As you are likely aware, there are many options out there for essential oils, and prices vary dramatically! I personally will not use the extremely high priced oils offered by the two multi-level marketing companies that quickly come to mind, and I won’t affiliate or sell these products because I firmly believe that people can find exceptional quality oils that are much more reasonably priced. NOW, I’m not saying go out and buy cheap oil – FAR from it – if it’s cheap, it’s likely not good quality or upon further investigation you may find that it’s “fragrance oil” – so beware! I personally choose to purchase my individual oils from Ki Aroma – their products are exceptional and their prices are reasonable but also reflect their quality. I don’t opt for their blends, as I choose to make my own and find creating my own blends more economical.


Essential oils are very personalized. What works for one might not for another, and I have found throughout the course of my own health challenges I have become tolerant or intolerant to various oils along the way.

Ingesting essential oils is NOT recommended.

There are lots of amazing health benefits that come from inhalation and topical application – explore and enjoy these options on the AIP!

The bottom line – educate yourself and use with caution and awareness.

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Can I cheat on the AIP? This is a very commonly asked question when folks start, or think about starting the AIP, so let me give you some quick information to help dispel any myths and misconceptions.

First of all, as you may know by now, the AIP is not a diet that’s about weight-loss, it’s a healing protocol for those with autoimmune disease and therefore it should be taken far more seriously than dietary guidelines that folks may take part in to lose a few pounds or inches. With traditional weight-loss diets, there’s a thought that being compliant 80% of the time is sufficient and you can have occasional cheat days or treats and you’re still on a good healthy plan. This however, is not the case for the AIP, but lets define what you mean by cheat.

For some on the AIP they would think of an AIP cheat as indulging in AIP treats more frequently, while others might view a cheat as having a big dinner out at a restaurant with wine, a piece of gluten free cake and a cup of coffee to round it out. Then there’s the timing – are you in the elimination stage of the protocol or have you already moved on to reintroductions? Establishing answers to these things is important.

Why Do You Want To Cheat?

Are you asking because you don’t think you have or will have the willpower to keep going? Do you have a special event coming up that you’re worried about keeping to the protocol? Maybe you just feel you need a treat? Maybe you think it’s too hard?

These questions bring up a lot of other topics, and yes the AIP can be hard, but my response is “Choose Your Hard!” Yes, it’s hard to do the AIP and give up foods you love, but it’s also hard living with autoimmune disease, so you have to choose.

When it comes to willpower and the AIP, willpower is not enough. That will work for a short time but not a long time, so you’ll need to consider employing some well thought out strategies to help you through the process (a transitional program or coaching in a group setting or one on one – you can read more about that on my coaching page).

Social situations are another time that folks consider cheating, either because they feel they deserve a break from the restriction or because they don’t want to bother anyone with their dietary needs. For that I’ve got you covered as well – check out my post, “Surviving Social Life on the AIP” for some tips and tricks. 

If it’s simply a matter of feeling deprived of foods you used to love, I highly recommend you join my AIP Recipe Collection Facebook Group, it’s a HUGE data base of AIP Elimination Stage recipes and there are MORE than a few amazing treats you can enjoy without compromising your new AIP lifestyle – check it out here. You can also find lots of amazing premade options on the market these days! Delicious coffee substitutes, AIP baking mixes, premade snacks and meals! We’re actually spoiled for choice and are fortunate to be doing the AIP when we are. Check out some of these resources on my Food Sourcing page – click here – and don’t miss clicking on the Coupons page for lots of great savings!

What Is A Cheat?

So what do you really mean by “cheat”? Are you talking about scheduling days where you’re given carte blanche to eat what ever suits your fancy? If that’s on your radar I suggest you immediately dismiss that from your mind and encourage you to remember your “why”! Why did you decide to go on the AIP in the first place? No doubt you want to feel better, am I right? If that’s the case, cheats like this are completely counterproductive and only make it more difficult to get back on track because you’re likely to induce an autoimmune flare or at least some really miserable symptoms.

If a cheat to you is to indulge in an AIP treat, that on the other hand can be a-okay … so long as you don’t over-do it by it being too regularly (like every day)! Why? Because the focus on the AIP is nutrient density, and overindulgence in AIP treats can be a slippery slope to poor eating habits. Even overdoing it with snacks like dried fruit is a bad idea because it’s high in sugar and can become as addictive as sugar (I encourage you to read my posts on fruit and natural sugars as well).

Overall, it’s always best to keep AIP treats to a minimum, and it’s an especially good idea to be mindful of what we’re choosing as our treat and the timing of it. For instance, making a whole AIP pie or cake is not a good idea if we don’t have someone to share it with, so special occasions are the ideal time to treat yourself to a wonderful AIP indulgence. Otherwise, if we don’t have friends or family to share our treat with, we’ll likely feel compelled to eat the whole thing within a short period of time due to the effort and resources that went into it. 

Another important note to add here is that some cheats or even foods can be considered “gateway foods.” Gateway foods are those that make us feel we can’t have one without the other or that cause us to slip into old habits. For instance, if you love fish and chips, you can totally make an AIP batter and have battered fish with a side of sweet potato fries, but if you’re not happy having the fish without regular white potato fries or it all reminds you too much of your Scottish homeland where beer goes with fish and chips, you might want to avoid the AIP option all together because of the temptation to indulge in having a beer. For some, it’s not enough just to have one cookie, so it might be necessary to avoid AIP cookies all together if the temptation to overindulgence (in too many or too often) is simply too much.

When Do You Want To Cheat?

By when I don’t mean what day or date, but rather at what stage of the AIP are you currently in? 

Elimination Stage – If you’re in the elimination stage this is not the ideal time to be thinking about cheats. Yes, this is likely the hardest time that you’ll go through on your AIP journey, but it’s going to be worth it! Keep reminding yourself “WHY” you started in the first place and try to remember that nothing tastes as good as healthy feels. Cliché? Maybe a little, but it’s so very true.

The purpose of the elimination stage of the AIP is to remove all of the scientifically proven, commonly know problematic foods from your diet so your body can rest and begin the healing process. It’s impossible to know which foods are our triggers without first calming the body and its inflammatory response, sot his is a completely necessary step. 

Did You Know that reactions after a cheat can last several days, or even longer when it comes to gluten? So if you think you’re “only” cheating on the weekend, you’re only cheating yourself!
 – Reference: How Long Does It Take For The Gut To Repair After Gluten Exposure

What if you don’t feel like you react to certain foods or a food sensitivity test doesn’t show it’s a problem for you?

  1. First of all science simply has not come far enough with food sensitivity testing to be 100% accurate and the gold standard for identifying food triggers is STILL an elimination diet. What’s worse is that those foods that you love the most and may be commonly eating before your food sensitivity test are the ones most likely to show up on your testing as something you’re sensitive to — even though you may not really be! It’s unfortunately a shortfall of the testing methods currently available. So, when I say skip the food sensitivity testing as your only means to identify your triggers, you should be thanking me … because you don’t want to have to eliminate something you love! (Read more about food test here – Can Blood Tests Detect Food Sensitivity?)
  2. As for thinking or feeling you don’t react to a food, it’s actually not possible to have a good sense of food reactions unless you’ve first calmed the inflammatory response, so without having removed all potential triggers first, your body is not in a state to be sending you accurate signals. Unfortunately this takes time – 30-90 days in the elimination stage of the AIP is necessary to give your body time to quiet and heal. You should really be seeing marked improvement in symptoms before you start the reintroduction process (NOTE: This does not mean that you will stay in the elimination stage indefinitely if you don’t start feeling better, it simply means you need to start troubleshooting to find out if you have other underlying causes to your disease and discomfort – I write more about that in my posts on troubleshooting and finding your root cause. WHAT EVER YOU DO – do not stay in the elimination stage forever, this is not healthy and can lead to more problems. Please seek medical help as mentioned in my root cause post.)

As hard as it may be, try  to look at the elimination stage as short-term pain for long-term (free of pain) gain – the AIP diet is the fastest way for autoimmune sufferers to see improvement. Cheating early on in the game usually only causes delays in healing, and of course delays you in getting to the next stage of the process where you can start enjoying more of your old favorites. 

Reintroduction Stage – If you’ve already moved on to the reintroduction stage of the AIP and you’re considering having a wee cheat, I encourage you to remember the effort that you’ve put in so far. Don’t throw it all away and get too willy-nilly with a cheat here and there, don’t stop tracking, don’t stop being diligent about nutrient density, you’re just getting to the exciting bit!

At this point you’re starting to systematically reintroduce foods that you’ve possibly been longing for, like nuts and seeds, chocolate and coffee! Am I right? In this stage a lot more options are going to start opening up to you, so “cheats” may not be cheats at all!

The beauty of this stage of the AIP is that your body is starting to give you cues and tell your own personal what’s in and what’s out for your personalized AIP journey. Things that may be “compliant” may simply not be for you … and that’s what this journey is all about! When you react to something, don’t despair, celebrate it! You’ve just discovered an important piece to your puzzle (a food that’s a hard no for you), and you’re armed with more information!

During this stage I suggest using your reintroduction trials as your “cheats” where possible, but make sure to do so in a controlled environment, this is not the time to throw caution to the wind and head for the gluten free bakery or your favorite restaurant to test a reintroduction. Remember the time you’ve put in and be sure to approach reintroductions methodically – it’s worth it! (Be sure to read more on reintroductions in my post – click here.)

Maintenance Stage – At this stage you’re on your own personalized AIP diet! Woohoo – Congratulations! You’ve been through reintroduction stage and used careful tracking to identify your “yes” foods (those that you tolerate well, easily digest and feel good on), your “hard no” foods (those that cause a flare of symptoms, acute or chronic pain or that cause digestive upset) and your “maybe” or “worth it” foods – these are the ones that you’d now be considering as a cheat food (they may cause minor symptoms but are not going to disrupt your quality of life or send you into a major autoimmune flare). 

Your “hard no” foods that you discovered during the reintroduction phase are those that you never want to consider having as a cheat. NOTE: Gluten is something that AIP experts and most Functional Medicine Doctors recommend you NEVER add back to your diet, not even as a cheat. 

Summary – What Are The Repercussions?

Okay, so for argument’s sake let’s say you decide to ignore everything I’ve said – ask yourself, what are the repercussions going to be if I cheat? How are you going to feel physically and mentally? 

This is where the rubber meets the road as they say, and you get to make the decision for yourself!

If you’re in the elimination stage of the AIP and making progress but haven’t given your body 30-90 days to see an improvement in your symptoms yet, ask yourself: Are you willing to throw away the effort you’ve made? Is the cheat you’re considering potentially going to be a slippery slope to throwing in the towel? If you want to “cheat” at this point, I suggest you make sure it’s a small one and that it’s a cheat with a compliant treat that won’t set you back. Ultimately the decision is yours if you decide to indulge in a non-AIP treat, and no, you don’t have to start counting back at “Day 1” of your eliminations, but remember, you could potentially be delaying when you will start feeling better, meaning you’re delaying reintroductions.

Same thing goes for the reintroduction stage, you don’t want to waste all of the time and energy you’ve put in to your journey. Be mindful of what you cheat with and how much. If you’re following the process using the AIP Reintroduction Cookbook, you likely won’t feel the need to cheat at all, as the process is very gentle and helps you reintroduce the foods you love as quickly as possible. Be sure to check out my review of the book and grab your copy – click here.

In the maintenance phase, or when you’re on your personalized AIP, your health has likely improved considerably. At this point you’re highly in-tune with your body and the signals and you’ve added a lot more options back to your diet. At this point you shouldn’t be feeling too deprived and hopefully you’ll not often consider needing a cheat. Either way, you’ll be in a better place to decide if that “cheat” is worth it and you’ll likely choose more wisely.

Additional Resources:

Do I Have To Do The Full AIP – The Paleo Mom
Can You Cheat on the AIP Diet – Paleo On the Go (If you decide to “cheat” and treat yourself to some quality chef made AIP options you can save $15 off your first order with Code: AIPRECIPES)