Tag Archive for: FAQ

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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.

Looking for resources beyond what you’re finding in the FAQ section?

I’ve created this post so you don’t miss out on the valuable information on our Resources Page – click here to be redirected.

“Strict” AIP is NOT a Life-Sentence

The AIP is meant to be approached in stages – elimination, maintenance and reintroduction. Unfortunately, reintroducing foods often intimidates people because they fear either the process or the potential reactions, and they get STUCK … stuck on the STRICT AIP elimination stage for too long, which is not healthy for body or mind. On the flip side some are too impatient and try to add foods back in too quickly making their efforts futile.

By now I hope you’ve read up on the AIP and understand the three stages to the dietary process. If not, please go back to step #1 and be sure to get a good grasp of it all. 

To re-cap, the reintroduction stage is where the real food-trials come in. You’ve removed the most commonly reactive foods from your diet, and now you’ll be adding them back in, sloooooowly, in a specific order (most nutrient dense options first) one at a time to determine if you are reactive to any of them. 

So … when can you get started?

It’s Personal

I know I’ve said this a few times but the AIP is meant to be a template, it’s a very personal protocol and eating plan and so too goes the topic of reintroductions.  For some, a minimum 30 day of elimination stage is fine, for others it might take 60 or 90 days or much longer, but it’s really not as bad as it sounds. Bottom line, there’s no one right answer for everyone … it’s personal!

Typically, Functional Medicine Practitioners recommend not starting the reintroduction phase until you’re “symptom free” (or have seen some significant improvements) … and obviously this varies by person and condition. 

Your body needs time to “rest and digest” … “recover and repair” … basically, you need to be in an un-inflamed state before you try reintroducing foods, otherwise you may never really know what you’re sensitivities are.

To put timing in perspective, because I know you REALLY want to know how long you’re into this for, think of it this way … you didn’t get sick over night, your digestive and immune system didn’t take one hit that caused them to fritz! For many, it’s likely that your body has been taking some abuse in the form of poor eating and drinking habits, toxic exposures or poor lifestyle habits for a while and it’s just been a long slippery slope into your current state of dis-ease.  Realistically then it’s going to take some time to un-do those things, bring inflammation down and improve your gut function. Thankfully our bodies are miraculous and can heal if we give them the tools for the job.

If you’re struggling after 30, 60 or 90 days and feel you should be ready, step back and look at your situation honestly. Have you addressed all of the other areas of the AIP as well? Stress, exercise/gentle movement and environmental toxins are a couple that can play a huge role in your recovery, and if you’ve been avoiding addressing these, they may well be what’s stalling your progress. Beyond this there are other factors to consider too and you may want to consider this article on Troubleshooting the AIP.

IMPORTANT NOTE – if you’re still not seeing improvement after 90 days of giving the full Autoimmune Protocol a chance, please seek the advice of an expert to help you dig deeper to find your root cause – there is likely something else holding you back from healing that may not be obvious – click here to find a professional near you.

Be Patient

Some may want to rush into reintros, but remember … slow and steady wins the AIP Race!

Resist the urge to start too soon and resist the urge to wing it when it comes to reintroductions. You’ve put in 30-90 days (or maybe even more) on the elimination stage, don’t waste that effort by throwing in the towel or choosing to decide for yourself how best to reintroduce foods.

The elimination stage was meant to heal your body, and if you’ve been patient and are really feel quite well, reintroductions will likely be an easy process for you. Starting with a “clean slate” so to speak will allow your body to speak to you when you’ve reintroduced something that is not agreeing with you.

That said, be sure to follow a systematic plan of reintroduction when the time comes, including keeping a food and symptom journal (more about that in the resources below).

So, how do you get started? Following are the guides and resources I recommend you consider for best results.

Keep Moving!

What ever you do, keep moving forward – there are no rewards for longest amount of time on the AIP elimination stage!

I’m always shocked and stunned when I hear people in my AIP Recipe Collection Facebook Group proudly comment that they’ve been strict AIP elimination for 759 days or “x” number of months or years! No, no, no, no!! This simply can’t be!

I mean, I get it, there are a lot of folks out there who simply feel too darn good after having eliminated the top inflammatory offenders from their lives that they don’t want to go back to feeling horrible again. But this is where food fear creeps in, and ultimately why we find people out there touting that “the AIP is a dangerous, restrictive diet that just keeps people sick.”

Let’s be clear, elimination diets and the reintroduction process is still considered to be the gold standard in assessing food allergies and sensitivities  – even more so than largely inaccurate food sensitivity / allergy testing (you can read more about that here if you’re wondering about that statement). The elimination phase gives the body time to calm and heal, BUT it is NOT meant to be long-term, that is NOT the goal of the Autoimmune Protocol! The magic starts to happen when we begin reintroductions and strive for nutrient density and variety in our diet. This is when we start accumulating personal data and identify what’s potentially driving our symptoms. 

Beyond that, reintroductions are just practical!  They help improve our quality of life and open up our ability to socialize more freely. No one wants you to get stuck on a restricted diet – it’s hard to maintain – but more importantly we don’t want to get stuck in long-term restriction because it could cause more harm than the good you’ve seen it do.

Don’t be a case that perpetuates the myths and misconceptions about this protocol – keep moving!

If you remember, back at the beginning when we started talking about what the AIP is, what we’d eat and what we’d avoid, we specifically said there were some very nutritious foods that would be eliminated – TEMPORARILY! In short, limiting and restricting food groups long-term can cause dysbiosis in the gut and nutritional deficiencies, so we need to get those back into our diets as soon as possible if they’re not problematic to our individual case. 

That said, I hope you see how important it is that you MUST put on your big people pants and take on reintroductions. You’ve already proven that you can do hard things by making it this far, reintros are just the next step – and you’ve got this! 

Reintroduction Guides & Resources:

Reintroductions can be tricky, but like I said, you can do hard things. It’s always tempting to try to compare your reactions with someone else’s, but the bottom line is that this too is VERY individual. You will need to keep good track as you go along so you can recognize signs and symptoms of reactions and celebrate all the wins along the way.

As always, my number one, go-to resource for ALL stages of the AIP, is – The Autoimmune Protocol ebook – Dr. Sarah Ballantyne

As of June 2021, the first cookbook dedicated to AIP reintroductions was released, and it’s spectacular! It’s great for all stages of the AIP and a great motivator. It discusses the process of reintros and provides delicious recipes to keep you progressing – check out my review here – The Autoimmune Protocol Reintroduction Cookbook – Kate Jay of Healing Family Eats

More articles from my favorite, reliable AIP Experts:

Definitive Guide To Reintroductions – Autoimmune Wellness
Personalized AIP – Autoimmune Wellness
Reintroducing Foods After Following the AIP Elimination Stage – The Paleo Mom
Updates to the Autoimmune Protocol – The Paleo Mom
Top 5 Mistakes People Make Reintroducing Foods – Eileen Baird
Why Aren’t My AIP Reintroductions Working?

While I’m not about to delve deep into the science behind the AIP or attempt to re-write some exceptionally well presented and well researched material that’s already available online and in print, I will give you a quick synapses here and send you on your way with links to what the experts have to say.

AIP stands for Autoimmune Protocol, or as some call it, the Autoimmune Paleo diet. This diet however, differs considerably from the standard Paleo diet, so this is where we need to start. Let’s dispel any myths and give you a good foundational understanding of the AIP, the whats and whys.

The AIP is a modified version of the Paleo Diet that focuses on nutrient density (more heavily weighted in veggies than meat, which is more Paleo-style) and lifestyle changes that support your immune system and remove inflammatory stimuli from both diet and lifestyle. I quote Dr. Ballantyne, who had a founding role in the AIP, below: 

” The AIP is a complementary approach to chronic disease management focused on providing the body with the nutritional resources required for immune regulation, gut health (which includes gut barrier, microbiome, gut-relevant hormones, digestion, and detoxification), hormone regulation and tissue healing while removing inflammatory stimuli from both diet and lifestyle.”

The approach simplifies foods into two categories, either they promote health (nutrients) or they undermine health (because they have inflammatory compounds). That said, the protocol calls for stricter guidelines for which foods should be eliminated from our diet (as compared to the Paleo diet) to help us begin healing from the inside out.

“The AIP diet is designed to be balanced, complete and nutrient-sufficient, meaning that it supplies ample and synergistic quantities of all essential and non-essential nutrients. As such, the Autoimmune Protocol places greater emphasis on the most nutrient-dense foods in our food supply, including organ meat, seafood, vegetables, fruit and mushrooms, rounding out with other quality meats, fresh herbs, safe spices, and healthy fats.”

Done properly, the AIP should provide you with a well-round and balanced diet of healthy, satisfying foods. There are THREE phases to the protocol – elimination, reintroduction and maintenance.

The elimination stage of this diet is used as a template that is to be personalized and then built on, depending on each person’s own health condition, diagnosis and circumstances – it is NOT a one-size fits all approach – and it is NOT overly restrictive, as some may believe.

“While the stronger focus is on what to eat, rather than what to avoid, the AIP is simultaneously an elimination diet strategy, cutting out the foods that are most likely to be holding back our health.”

“The AIP respects bioindividuality and strongly encourages self-discovery through 3-phases: elimination, reintroduction and maintenance. The AIP is a toolbox full of strategies for understanding how your body reacts to foods, lifestyle and your environment and methodologies for healing given your individual health challenges.”

And finally, I must mention that to be truly successful on your journey to autoimmune wellness you will also need to consider lifestyle changes beyond just what goes into your body.  Your environment, stress, emotions, products you use daily in your home and on your body can also have significant impact on your healing journey.

“The AIP lifestyle encourages sufficient sleep, stress management, plenty of activity, nature time, and healthy connection as these are important immune modulators and influence both gut health and hormone health.”

AIP Autoimmune Protocol ebook The BEST resource for the AIPWhere to Begin?

It’s important not to get stuck in the rut of research, but you should understand the fundamental principles of what you’re about to embark on so you get off on the best foot.

First and foremost, get your hands on the best resource going! The Autoimmune Protocol as written by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne is the best resource you can own. The investment is small and more than worthwhile, complete with essential food lists, meal plans, the basics of the protocol, how to get started (a slow transition or cold turkey), how to reintroduce foods correctly when you get to that stage and more! Get your copy and read it as soon as you can – everything else is really just extra.

When to Begin?

A lot of people make it a goal to start the AIP as a part of their healthy New Year’s Resolutions … is that the best time, or should you start right away? Learn more in my dedicated post – When Should You Start Your AIP Healing Journey?

Is the AIP For Everyone?

If you’re here and find yourself asking whether the AIP is really for you, or if it’s something everyone should try, Dr. Sarah Ballantyne’s post on her website addresses this perfectly. The following is a brief summary, but you can read the full post here if you wish – Should Everyone Follow the AIP.

“It (the AIP) isn’t just for people with autoimmune disease! Inflammation is a factor in all chronic illnesses, and this is one area where the foods we eat can make a huge difference. Reducing inflammation and giving the immune system the resources it needs, as well as the opportunity, to regulate itself, can help in every single chronic illness, not just autoimmune disease.

The AIP is not a substitute for your doctor, but instead is compatible with informed and judicious use of conventional medicine interventions, pharmaceuticals, and supplements, and fully embraces functional medicine.

In short, the AIP is a collection of best practices related to diet and lifestyle, not to the exclusion of additional treatments or interventions, that can be individualized to address specific circumstances and goals, framed in the context of a person whose health challenges imply a lower resilience to suboptimal choices.”

Online Resources & Reading:

If you’re unable to purchase the above reference book, this would be your next best place to begin … or … you might suggest these links to family and friends who are trying to grasp what it is that you’re doing to help improve your health.

What is the AIP? (click here for the full article) by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne (the creator of the protocol) is a more scientific approach to explaining the healing journey you’re about to embark upon, and it goes into greater detail than the article below by Angie Alt. (NOTE:  Updates to the Autoimmune Protocol were announced in the Spring of 2019 when Dr. Ballantyne’s updated, The Autoimmune Protocol book was released. With that came several new posts online to help folks clarify and get a brief overview of the whats and whys of the changes. You can read more online about them here on her website Updates to the Autoimmune Protocol, but for the most part, updates are applicable to the reintroduction phase of the protocol.)

The 3 Phases of the Autoimmune Protocol (click here for the article) by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne is a little different – her description of the three phases is more what I think to be appropriate (and she is after all one of the pioneers of the protocol), but both have merit. You’ll always find that Dr. Ballantyne’s approach is more scientific and clinical than that you’ll see on the Autoimmune Wellness website. Both have their own approach and both are amazing in their own ways.

Looking for a more abbreviated version? What is AIP? – The Definitive Guide (click here for the article) by Angie Alt of  Autoimmune Wellness is a fantastic resource if you’re just starting out and need to know more about the AIP (including the lifestyle factors) or if you’ve been on the AIP a while but feel you really don’t have a grasp of it. It contains the what’s, why’s and how’s in a “brief” (considering the magnitude of the subject) overview.

If you’re struggling to explain the AIP to friends and family, I have to tell you I love the “Elevator Speech” portion of this guide – just awesome!

This is simply a WONDERFUL all-round article for EVERYONE on the AIP, considering the AIP or trying to support a loved one faced with autoimmune issues and the AIP 

20 Keys to Success on The AIP (click here for the article) by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne is a great post of exceptional advice. A lot of this information is included in her book but this is a great read and reminder.

Quick Start Guide (click here for the guide) from Autoimmune Wellness is a series of emails that include food lists, meal plans, videos, tips and e-guides that you can sign up for. Great, reliable information from one of my top resources.

Need a Helping Hand?

If you know you’re likely going to face challenges transitioning and sticking to the AIP, please check out my Coaching Page – this is where you’ll find more resources for getting the helping hand you need.

Looking for MORE?

For the sake of brevity and to keep this post simple and concentrated to the very basics of getting started on the AIP, I’ll save the “more” for another post that you can find here – Beginner Resources – Start Here Part 2.

Now that we’ve covered what the AIP is and the basics of where to get started (that’s found in Start Here Part 1 if you missed it) and you’re feeling a little more comfortable with the concept, we can move on and dig in to some additional resources you may find helpful and enjoyable (watch for the links in the paragraphs below and click).

Food Lists – If you haven’t read up on this yet, be sure to check out the details on my Food Lists page. This is pretty essential, so be sure to concentrate your efforts here next.

Mental Preparation – While it’s logical, it may not be obvious that we need to take a moment and prepare mentally for the AIP. You deserve a moment to be angry, (because like I’ve said elsewhere on this site, Grieving Over Illness is a real part of your healing journey) but this is about more than that. You need to establish your baseline, pump yourself up with a few positive affirmations (I know it sounds corny but it really helps throughout your challenging times and sends positive messages to your brain and body for healing), be sure to give yourself permission not to be perfect (it’s next to impossible to be PERFECTLY AIP all the time), be thankful and then put on our big girl/boy pants and get on with it! Check out Angie Alt’s post on Autoimmune Wellness, 6 Ways to Mentally Prep for the AIP (click here for the article).

Keep It Simple – This is probably my TOP tip! I talk about it in my motivational post, but I also recommend this post by Autoimmune Wellness, 5 Ways to Keep It Simple on the AIP (click here for the article), which talks about keeping your focus on nutrient density, a few good kitchen tools, using a basic approach to meals instead of complicated recipes, keeping convenience products in their place and avoiding trying to make too many changes all at once.

Kitchen Tools – I get asked a LOT what kitchen tools are essential for the AIP, so I’ll quickly refer you to a couple of great references:  #1 Go to the Autoimmune Wellness website Resources page and click on  Our Favorite Kitchen Tools (click here for the page) for a list of suggestions, #2 Check out the Kitchen Tour (click here for the page) feature on their website where average AIP-ers share their kitchen set ups so you can be inspired to get into your kitchen (these features include suggestions for kitchen tools and gadgets too and people are featured by the autoimmune disease that they’re coping with). I’m flattered to have been included back in July of 2018, and you can check out my kitchen tour here.

Motivation to Get Started – I LOVE this little summary of the 20 core principles that are important for empowering you on your AIP journey – I hope you find it motivational too. It’s a quick read – The AIP Manifesto.

Digging Deeper – If you’ve made it this far and you’re still hungry for more information or maybe you’re trying to do some diagnostics on your AIP efforts, check out my next post of recommendations where you can dig deeper into do’s and don’ts, troubleshooting and more – click here for Digging Deeper & Troubleshooting – Start Here Part 3.


Unfortunately there may come a time when you feel it’s one step forward and two steps back. In cases like this you might want to dig a bit deeper into the do’s and don’ts and do a little troubleshooting.

I’m going to get on my soapbox here for a moment here,
so brace yourselves!

TRACKING – There is a REAL need for proper tracking and monitoring to know what’s working and what’s not. By tracking, I mean everything we consume, what we do daily (work, sleep, exercise, relaxation, self-care), our stress levels, reactions to food, medications and more – this can be more than just an upset tummy so if you’re not sure what else this may include, read up on reintroductions (even though you may not be to that stage yet), things to watch for include itching, skin problems, dizziness, pain, congestion etc. I call this type of tracking a food/mood/poop journal, and yes, it is a real thing! If you’re not doing it, I highly recommend you look into it (one of these days I’m going to write a post about it), but for now you should know a few things:

1) Reactions to foods, supplements, etc. can happen up to 72 hours later (trust me – you’re not going to remember this type of detail 3 days later unless you journal it!),

2) While the AIP is NOT about weight loss I highly recommend you weigh yourself every morning and keep track of it – reactions can come by way of subtle inflammation, and weight fluctuations can help you pin-point your triggers,

3) You don’t need to buy anything fancy or find some special app for this – I used an Excel spreadsheet and kept it in the cloud so I could update it on the go. The best part about a spreadsheet is it’s searchable, so I could easily look back when exploring problems and reactions.

GIVE IT AN HONEST SHOT – It’s only by truly giving the Autoimmune Protocol your full attention that you’ll really know what’s working and what’s not. The Elimination Stage is 30 days minimum, but 60 – 90 days is not uncommon before most see marked improvement in symptoms. Don’t expect miracles … slow and steady wins the AIP race. IF after giving it a REAL and HONEST shot you’re not seeing seeing the improvement you expected it is time to start the troubleshooting process as you may be dealing with underlying issues that you may need professional help to get to the bottom of and start treating. Please be sure to check out my post – Finding Your Root Cause where I provide an abundance of information about getting to the bottom of yours.

DID YOU REALLY? – I hate to be a nag, but did you REALLY give it an honest shot? Did you really follow the protocol properly?  First and foremost, if you’re struggling but have never considered The Autoimmune Protocol book by Dr. Ballantyne, I will again suggest it to you. Not only does she include information about the basics and reintroductions, but she includes troubleshooting as well. If you’re honestly ready to start troubleshooting, keep reading.

Do’s & Don’ts

I’ve saved this until part three because I really want you to keep it simple starting out, and because, let’s face it, nobody wants to be faced with an even LONGER list of restrictions and directions after trying to adjust to the foods allowed and omitted. This article by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, AIP Do’s and Don’ts (click for article), is an amazing compilation of issues she’s helped people like us work through on their healing journeys. There are almost literally a bazillion links to other articles shared in her post, so if you’re not feeling up to digging really deep at this point, be careful to look at this with a more high-level or basic approach – read the introduction and them simply consider each numbered headline and assess whether it’s something you think might be one of your pitfalls, something you’re skipping or not giving enough attention to on your journey. Once you determine your weaknesses, look further at those as a starting point – don’t read items that don’t apply to you, this will only cause yourself overwhelm and confusion.

Progress & Patience

From time to time you’ll hear people mention “detox,” “Herxheimer” “withdrawl” or “die-off” reactions when you begin the elimination stage of the AIP – and if you’re feeling worse than before you began, you may be scared or want to give up. I suggest taking a look at this well-written post  – Is a Healing Crisis Really Healing?

If you’ve been on the AIP a while and you think it isn’t working or feel your healing journey has stalled, be sure to read – How to Gauge Success on the AIP When Progress Isn’t Obvious.

Another common pitfall is our own impatience, and who can blame us, we just want to feel better! check out Eileen Baird’s article here – Is Your Impatience An Obstacle to Healing?

Maybe you feel like you’re taking one step forward and two steps back? If you’ve seen some progress and are discouraged because you feel like you’re backsliding, you may just be suffering a temporary flare. I personally have to remind myself of this frequently! I’ve been on my personalized AIP for quite some time and I start to think as though I’ve come this far, surely there should be no going back. Unfortunately, that’s simply not the case and from time to time we’ll face a flare of symptoms for one reason or another. If that’s you, check out this very helpful article – Autoimmune Flare Self Care.


Probably the best article I’ve read on this topic is written by Mickey Trescott of Autoimmune Wellness. She delves into when you do and when you don’t need to troubleshoot, first steps to troubleshooting, three areas to explore and her own personal experience troubleshooting the AIP. Click here to read the full article – Troubleshooting the Autoimmune Protocol – A Guide.

Professional Help

If you’ve come this far and still don’t know where you’re going wrong, I highly recommend you consult a Functional Medicine Practitioner or Certified AIP Health Coach so that you are sure to address any underlying issues. Without getting to the root cause of your illness, the AIP can feel a bit like putting a band-aid on a battle ship!  Click here for where to find professional help and even a list of Paleo-Friendly Autoimmune Specialist MDs.


NOTE:  As with any significant dietary change, you should in fact have only undertaken the AIP at the recommendation of a trained nutritional coach or physician. 

As you know by now, the AIP involves more than just dietary changes – it’s a holistic approach to health.

To be truly successful on your journey to autoimmune wellness you will need to consider the additional lifestyle changes Dr. Ballantyne discusses in her e-book, The Autoimmune Protocol. These lifestyle changes are known to be important modulators of immune function, gut health and hormone health, so don’t discount their significance.

If you haven’t picked up a copy of The Autoimmune Protocol yet, I definitely recommend it – it contains everything you need, all in one place – get yours here.

Below are a few additional resources that go hand-in-hand with the e-book and expand upon it.


This is HUGE! Are you getting enough? What’s right for one might not be enough for another.

Did you know that not getting enough sleep causes inflammation and increased susceptibility to infection – even in healthy people! Studies show that one night of poor sleep causes higher insulin resistance than six months of bad diet! In fact, scientific studies show that sleep may be even more important for our health than diet! Now, if that’s not enough to make you take a serious look at your sleep routine, I don’t know what is! Check out my expanded post on Sleep Struggles – Click Here.

It’s recommended that we get to bed by 10 pm for optimal rest and recovery, and that we get 7 to 10 hours of sleep per night (for autoimmune sufferers it might be 9-10 hours or even 12 hours every night to heal).

Sleep is so important that Dr. Ballantyne has written an e-book that is full of information about the science behind sleep, how it effects every aspect of our life, tips for creating a healthy sleep environment and bedtime routine, good sleep hygiene, troubleshooting insomnia, FAQs along with nutritional and supplement guidance. Dr. Ballantyne also includes a 14-night challenge to help you track your progress. Grab your copy of Go to Bed! – Click here.

Stress Management

Did you know that for every five minutes of upset it takes your body six to eight hours to calm down biochemically! Those numbers are staggering. Imagine what long-term, chronic stress is doing to your body. Without getting into a bunch of science about cortisol, adrenaline, hormones and more (I’ll leave that to the experts – check out this article from Dr. Ballantyne – How Stress Undermines Health), simply know that when under stress, your body misuses its precious resources leaving your immune system weak and your body vulnerable to disease.

Finding effective ways to reduce and manage stress is imperative for our healing journeys – it’s been one of my biggest challenges, and I still need regular reminders. It’s essential for maintaining a healthy gut, normal immune function and balanced hormones. Each of us will need to find effective ways to deal with our individual stressors. For some it may be as simple as learning to slow down, scheduling deep breathing exercises and meditation, healthy self-care activities like yoga or gentle autoimmune safe exercise (see below). For others, more may be involved and you may need to seek the support an guidance of a professional to help deal with past or present traumas, personality traits or difficult situations. If you’re looking for a motivation on this, join me on Instagram.


Everyone knows that exercise and activity are good for our health, but what should you do when you’re faced with chronic illness and you often don’t have the energy to do much more than get out of bed in the morning?

Not surprising then that the most commonly avoided part of the autoimmune protocol is exercise.

There are lots of ways to incorporate light activity into your day. For some it might be just a reminder by way of a timer on your phone to get up and stretch or move around a little. Short walks, yoga, rebounding and stretching might be as much as you can achieve, while others may feel they’re capable of more but are unsure of how to approach an exercise program safely so they don’t face setbacks.

Thankfully there’s an amazing program, called Autoimmune Strong, that’s available to help us add a healthy, balanced routine of exercise to our lives without making things worse.

Autoimmune Strong will help you break the cycle of flares and recovery caused by over-exercising or exercise intolerance – it helps you find the “sweet spot” that’s right for YOU and YOUR autoimmune challenges. It’s the only online exercise program tailor-made for YOUR condition, even if you have limited mobility, are bed-bound or in a wheelchair!

You can sign up for a 7-day FREE trial and decide if it’s right for you.
If you decide Autoimmune Strong is right for you, you can sign up for the program monthly, by the year or join a small group coaching program for 12 weeks! Check it out and get Autoimmune Strong!

By now you probably realize that alcohol is out on the AIP … but you’re likely wondering the whys behind it and how you’ll possibly manage to get through family functions, social events, the holidays and what are you possibly going to do to constantly dodge casual drinks after work!

This post will cover they whys, a glimmer of hope and my take on the situation. If you haven’t already seen my post on Surviving Social Life on the AIP, you’ll want to make that your next stop after this post, because what ever you do, you don’t want to isolate yourself just because the AIP can be hard. You’re strong and you can do hard things … you’ve got this!

Why is Alcohol Out on the AIP?

So – what’s the real deal about alcohol? So many health gurus are touting it as “good for your health” – especially wine! So why do we need to avoid it on the AIP?

Be sure to read Dr. Sarah Ballantyne’s full article – The Whys Behind The AIP: Alcohol – click here. (The following are a few of the most important snippets and are direct quotes taken from the article.)

Highlights From the Article: 

  • Alcohol consumption directly causes an increase in intestinal permeability (i.e., leaky gut)
  • The “holes” that alcohol makes in the gut epithelial barrier are known to be big enough to allow some very large molecules into the body, … If it gets into the blood stream, it stimulates systemic inflammation, stimulates the immune system, and damages the liver.
  • Alcohol consumption feeds gram-negative bacteria such as E. Coli to create bacterial overgrowth of these more toxic bacteria… Excessive alcohol consumption is also correlated with gram-negative bacteria growing very high up the digestive tract, in the duodenum and sometimes even the stomach.
  • Even fairly small amounts of alcohol can damage the lining of the gut; specifically, alcohol leads to “mucosal damage in the upper small intestine with a loss of epithelium at the tips of the intestinal villi, hemorrhagic erosions and even hemorrhage in the lamina propria.” If that sounded bad, that’s because it is. It’s similar to the damage caused by gluten in celiac patients.

Why This Is EVEN MORE IMPORTANT If You Have Autoimmune Disease:

  • If you have autoimmune disease, you have a collection of genes that makes you more susceptible to developing a leaky gut and to having an exaggerated immune reaction to substances that leak out. This means that anything that increases intestinal permeability should be avoided.

Will I Ever Be Able to Drink Alcohol Again? 

  • Dr. Ballantyne advises to avoid all alcohol until you are starting to see some success on the autoimmune protocol.
  • There is some good news, but I want you to read Dr. Ballantyne’s full article first. You’ll find out more there about what, when, and how often you can try a reintroduction.

Read the full article – The Whys Behind The AIP: Alcohol – click here.

You may also want to consider this article – Understanding Your Social & Emotional Relationship With Alcohol – click here.

My Two Cents on Alcohol and The AIP

I’ve taken a lot of questions from distraught members about this topic, so I’m compelled to include some personal comments and reminders here to help you keep this all in perspective. Trust me, you’re not alone, this is not the end of the world, you will get through this too! You’ve got this!

  1. You’re not the first person to have to say no to a drink. While I know this is not the same thing, think about those recovering from alcoholism – saying no is not that unusual – don’t feel awkward about sticking to your healing plan.
  2. There are LOTS of people on various diets these days that avoid alcohol – some for health reasons, some for weight loss – again – you’re not alone – don’t feel awkward about saying no to alcohol.
  3. One of my favorite sayings since I started AIP is “Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail” – set yourself up for success! Think IN ADVANCE about how you’ll handle the situation – this is covered well in my Surviving Social Life on the AIP post – check it out – lots of great advice!  Own it and act natural! Or as Angie Alt of Autoimmune Wellness says “Don’t Be Weird”! If you don’t make a big deal about it, no one else will either. When it comes time to order, simply defer to a mocktail or non-alcoholic sparkling beverage and don’t apologize for it or miss a beat. If asked you could say something as simple as “I’m taking a break from alcohol right now” – that might be all that it takes!
    TIP: I have a friend who manages feeling awkward about ordering by getting to the restaurant or work function early so she can speak to the bartender – she orders a mocktail or a spritzer in a fancy glass and asks the bartender to remember her order – no one questions if it has alcohol in it or not and she feels better about not having to create a dialogue about why she’s not drinking. You can use the same plan of attack at a family gathering, wedding or a party – no one notices, no one really cares.

Take Me To The Mocktails!

Looking for some great alternatives to alcohol on the AIP? There are LOTS of great recipes posted in our Facebook Group – simply use the group search feature there and look for “mocktail” “cocktail” or “beverage” or the exact name of what you’re looking, for like “iced tea” “lemonade” “egg nog” or “mule” – I even use a hashtag there called thirstythursday, so you can search for that too! Trust me, there are LOTS of great options so you won’t feel left out! ♥

The Autoimmune Protocol ebookGet everything you need to jump-start your healing with the Autoimmune Protocol today!

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! THE handbook for the AIP from THE doctor who pioneered the protocol. Don’t hesitate – you’ve found it! This is it!

The Autoimmune Protocol e-book was created by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, PhD to provide you with an accessible, practical-focused AIP resource.

This all-in-one guide delivers:

  • 3oo+ pages of quick-access information on the AIP
  • 4 weeks of meal plans with shopping lists
  • over 80 family-friendly recipes, all 100% AIP!
  • automatic updates, delivered directly to you!
  • and so much more!

With The Autoimmune Protocol e-book, you’ll never be left out of the loop on updates to the AIP again! You’ll get instant access to updates to the protocol, via revisions to the e-book accessed through your account! And, just to make sure you know to look for them, you’ll be e-mailed every time updates are available!

TIP: If you prefer something printed – choose the sections you want a hard copy of and have them printed by a local office supplies store (I personally just printed the protocol and not the recipes)

Available from the Author:  Dr. Sarah Ballantyne – Click here to purchase

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

The Paleo Mom Collection

You may wish to purchase The Paleo Mom Collection instead (and save money down the road) … it contains the AIP e-book but takes it to the next level so you’re ready to move on to Paleo as well (that’s the goal for all of us – less restriction and a personalized Paleo / Paleo-AIP lifestyle). PLUS it includes the Go-To-Bed e-book because quality sleep is soooo important on your healing journey.
The Paleo Mom e-Book Collection includes:
  • The Autoimmune Protocol e-book
  • Go To Bed: 14 Steps for Healthier Sleep e-book
  • The Paleo Template e-book
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
Want to read your PDF e-book on a Kindle? Go here for instructions

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

Your Secret Weapon for Gut Health – Pique Tea Crystals

If you haven’t heard of Pique yet, or you’re a little confused about why I’d consider promoting tea while for those on the AIP, allow me to explain.

  • First of all, black and green tea (read my post about Matcha vs. green tea here on the blog) are allowed in moderation during the initial elimination stage of the Autoimmune Protocol
  • Secondly, finding quality beverage options on the AIP can be a challenge. Sure we may find some good herbal, green or black tea options on the market, but often times they’re not as pure as we might think. Some are laden with pesticides, toxins and artificial flavors, additives and even gluten!
  • Pique Tea crystals are free of sugar, grains, dairy, gluten, artificial additives and fillers.
  • Pique Tea is TOP QUALITY and TRIPLE TOXIN SCREENED for pesticides, heavy metals and mold (all things that those with autoimmune disorders have to watch out for)!  Pique Tea contains TWELVE TIMES the antioxidants of regular tea in tea bags … that means WAY more healing power!

Gut Health:

When it comes to autoimmune disease, you’ve likely heard it over and over again that immunity starts in the gut, and without a healthy gut, it’s pretty much impossible to start healing.

Your gut contains over 100 trillion bacteria that play a vital role in your overall health. It controls 80% of your immune system, mood, metabolism and more.

Since we’re trying to heal our gut, it won’t surprise you to hear me say that Quality Matters – not just of the tea itself, but in the delivery method – so you’re not going to want to drink just any old tea!

Did you know that a recent study found that those silky, fancier-looking tea bags/sachets release approximately 11.6 billion microplastics in a single cup of tea!  Crazy, right!? How about paper tea bags? Well, they can be a problem too because of the chemicals used to keep them from breaking apart (aka glue). 

Pique checks all the boxes again – no bags, just powders!


Not only have I done my own research about Pique Tea and tried it myself (BTW, it’s delicious and so convenient – soluble in hot or cold water, no bags, no loose tea and tea ball messes – just convenient single serving completely dissolvable tea crystals in packages you can take with you anywhere!), I HIGHLY trust the opinion and advice of Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, The Paleo Mom who’s the expert behind the science of the AIP. She has this to say about Pique Tea:

“There’s emerging evidence that tea polyphenols can improve your gut microbiome by supporting the growth of probiotic strains like Lactobacillus and suppressing the growth of pathogenic bacteria like C. difficile, even reversing obesity-related changes in the microbiome caused by high-fat diets!

But, not all teas are created equal – Pique Tea delivers up to 12X the antioxidants of regular teas and are also triple toxin screened! That’s why I am absolutely in love with the superior quality and taste of Pique Tea!”

You Get What You Pay For:

As you might expect, top quality tea with this kind of healing power doesn’t come at bargain brand prices, but you can save with bundles, collections and purchases of 5 boxes or more.

Important Note:  Not all Pique tea varieties are suitable for the AIP Elimination Stage (and Pique is continually adding new products), so keep an eye on this – stick to herbal offerings: things like Mint, Ginger, Hibiscus, Oolong and Rooibos  and watch out for adaptogens like Chaga, Reishi and fermented teas to name a few (these might not be right for you during eliminations, but they’re great options to add as you reintroduce more foods and beverages back into your life).

Learn more about our affiliates at Pique Tea on their website – click here – and read additional testimonials from the health experts. 

Your Health Is Worth It!