Failing to plan is planning to fail.
Success on the AIP is easier when you have a few good tips, tricks and tools under your belt.
“Healing is a journey … not a destination.”
Along the way we all need some encouragement and motivation. From time to time we all get incredibly frustrated, fed up cooking every meal, reading every label, completely ready to throw in the towel and start eating a bag of cookies! I get it, I’ve been there too!
I know you’re literally sick and tired and yet here we are having to cook all of our own meals, and it’s extra frustrating if we’re faced with additional cooking because our loved ones won’t eat the same things we do. We’d all love to go out for a nice meal at a restaurant and for sure it would be way more convenient if we could shop all the aisles of the grocery store without concern … but we can’t … and I for one try to be thankful for that! Yes … THANKFUL.
Crazy you say … yup … I probably am … but the sooner we start looking at our illness or food challenges in a positive light, the better off we’ll be, and it all becomes a bit easier.
I find it keeps me on the straight and narrow to watch some of the food documentaries from time to time … like Food Matters, Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, Food Inc., Milk, Cereal Killers, etc… It puts things in perspective and I feel GOOD about the food choices I’m making … even if it does take me more time in the kitchen!
Later on in this post/page I’ll provide links to some great, supportive information written on other AIP blogs … it’s good information that might give us the “kick in the butt” we need to keep going.
Before we get to the links though, here are my top tips to keeping sane on the AIP …
Keep It Simple
If you’re stressing out and ticked off about cooking every single day of the week and it really grinds your gears that you have to cook different food for your family … STOP THE MADNESS!
Get Back To Basics:
Yup – meat and “potatoes”. Cook a protein that everyone can eat, cook sides that everyone can eat, like basic compliant veggies, cook potatoes or noodles or rice for the family and have a salad or some sweet potatoes for yourself. (Sick of salad? Well… appreciate your salad! I’ve gone for MONTHS and MONTHS unable to enjoy a simple salad because ALL of my veggies HAD to be cooked – I couldn’t assimilate or digest raw – so there’s some perspective for ya … I’d have KILLED to be able to eat a simple and quick salad!)
Stop Stressing About Using Complicated AIP Recipes to Make Special Dishes for Yourself:
Basic food is what you need! It’s way easier and you’ll stress much less! TIP: When you do make a special recipe that’s AIP compliant, DO NOT ANNOUNCE IT TO THE WORLD! Just let your family eat it! If they don’t like it … COOL! Left-overs are your best friend! That means you’ve already got breakfast or lunch covered for tomorrow! YIPPEE!!! I actually get mad when my hubby likes everything I cook … cuz I was counting on that for my breakfast! I cherish left overs!!!
Batch Cook or Big Cook:
Get into batch cooking. Love it or hate it we all have to cook, so if you want to cut down on the days you spend in the kitchen – explore this option – a LOT of AIPers SWEAR BY IT!
If nothing else … get into the habit of cooking larger amounts for yourself so that you have left overs that can quickly be re-heated while you prepare your family’s meal.
You can read more about batch cooking here – there are even resources in my post for batch cooking and freezing, batch cooked lunches, and hacks to save you time.
Closely related to batch cooking is meal planning – it too can help save your sanity by reducing time spent in the kitchen. You can read more about meal planning here – but at the very least, check out RealPlans – the most amazing meal planning app that’s geared to AIP-ers and those with additional food sensitivities!
Want Convenience? That’s understandable, but be prepared to pay for it … most AIP compliant convenience foods don’t come cheap.
Paleo On The Go is an amazing frozen meal service available in the USA – their entire menu is gear toward the AIP and all dishes are made from the best, high-quality ingredients. They’re not meant to stand in for every meal of every day (due to the cost), but to have a few of these squirreled away in your freezer for emergencies when you need a pick-me-up, when you’re travelling or if you just don’t have the energy to cook – these are a life saver!!
Learn more about Paleo On the Go here (spoiler alert – there’s a discount if you follow the link).
Fortunately there are a lot more AIP compliant convenience foods and snacks than there used to be. While they’re not meant to be used as a crutch and we want to concentrate on nutrient dense foods, it’s nice to know you can find some great treats for special occasions or when you need a pick-me-up. Visit the Food Sourcing page for more suggestions, coupons and direct links to various food and snack categories.
While it may be difficult to eat out while on the AIP, especially during the elimination stage, be assured that it’s possible for you too one day. You can read more about dining out on the AIP here.
Don’t Get Stuck
Strict AIP Elimination Stage is NOT a Life Sentence!
Don’t get stuck or become afraid to reintroduce foods. The sooner you can start safely eating additional foods, the easier it becomes … if nothing more than being able to cut down on a few items you need to make from scratch!
I’m not however, suggesting that you rush the process …
Once you feel your body has recovered on the Strict Elimination Stage of AIP (my Functional MD suggests that you should be symptom-free or almost symptom-free before you start reintroductions) you can start looking at adding things back … but don’t go at it all willy-nilly … make sure you do it right or you’ll have wasted precious time and have to start again.
You can learn more about reintroductions on our Resources Page, or better yet from a medical expert, Dr. Sarah Ballantyne in her guidebook, The Autoimmune Protocol. Grab your copy here.
Facing Your Illness
Most folks who are on the AIP are on it because they’re facing autoimmune illness. That in itself can be overwhelming, and I personally found I needed to face the 5 stages of grieving over illness before I was able to move forward and start healing.
I think if we realize that grief about our health concerns is a real thing it can help us emotionally to deal with all of the emotions and challenges we face every day.
The more positive and stress-free we become, the better it is for our bodies.
The article I originally found about the topic no longer exists, so I’ve taken the time to write my own blog post about the 5 Stages of Grieving Over Illness – you can read it here.
While it may feel like you’re doing nothing BUT take care of yourself with all the cooking, meal prepping and research, this is different … and it’s important! So important that I’ve dedicated a whole page to it, so please follow this link to our Self-Care page when you’re ready.
Chin up … you’ve got this! ♥
Oh … yes! I did promise you some helpful links too, didn’t I? Follow this link to our Resources Page where you’ll find articles from other AIP Bloggers: Advice for Beginners, 10 Tips For Staying on the AIP Wagon, 33+ Tips to Help You on Your AIP Journey, and more. You may also find it very encouraging to learn about other people’s success on the AIP and how it’s helped them heal. You can read some wonderful stories of recovery on the Autoimmune Wellness website by clicking here.