After diving deep into using food for healing and joining a lot of online support groups, I have noticed a lot of people practicing the Autoimmune Protocol, Whole 30, and other forms of restrictive diets to scapegoat their food choices for all of their negative health symptoms. I see this happening when people are using food as their only tool for self-care and not viewing their health and wellbeing as a holistic lifelong journey.Read More
Yesterday, I attended a San Francisco signing for the New Whole 30 book. While attending this event, I contemplated on how much my relationship with food has changed since implementing Whole 30 as part of my Autoimmune Paleo Protocol (AIP). And how my new relationship with food has impacted my current health.
Before starting Whole 30, I couldn’t sit at a cafe without endulging myself on some type of dessert or sweet pastry. After several Whole 30’s and working with an Integrative Doctor, I no longer get caught in this type of behaviorial pattern. Now, I can walk into a cafe, order some cupcakes, and give them as a gift to a friend without ‘taste trying’ them. And when I do endulge, it is with full awareness. Some people may call this building self-control. I would call it what Whole 30 folks label it - ‘Total Health and Food Freedom’.
By going through several Whole 30’s while on AIP, I learned how foods - including different sugars - impacted my body, mind, and spirit. Following this type of paleo based elimination diet and lifestyle wasn’t an easy task. It is why I repeated the program several times - a total of 5 times. Each time I got back on the Whole 30 path and fell off of it, I returned back with more strength and wisdom.
I decided to first try Whole 30 due to their social media accounts on Instagram and Facebook. With their behavioral coaching messages and nutrient dense recipes, I got hooked to following their daily posts. In addition, I loved how I rarely saw them post a sweet ‘treat’. Their zero tolerance - if you exclude Melissa’s Cadbury Eggs - for posting added sugars on social media was great for sugar sensitive folks like myself.
This month may be my last Whole 30, since I feel pretty close to ‘food freedom’ and feeling as good as I can through the changes I have made while on the program. This doesn’t mean to say that I still don’t experience food or sugar cravings, but my old habit to give into unhealthy ones rarely pop up. I have replaced my endulgences with habits that support a diet and lifestyle appropriate for me. And when I do eat added sugars or other foods that don’t nourish me, it is from a more conscious place with full awareness.
If you don’t know already, I am following a diet and lifestyle protocol called the Autoimmune Paleo Approach (AIP) to heal from an autoimmune condition called Ankylosing Spondylitis. In case the term AIP is not familiar with you, it is an elimination diet that is nutrient-dense focused, along with a lifestyle approach to support the process of healing for people with chronic conditions.
One of the popular questions I receive from folks is, "What CAN I eat on AIP when seeds, nuts, grains, egg whites, nightshades, additives, added sugar, and legumes are not included?" I normally answer back that I have plenty of choices of foods that I CAN eat - such as vegetables, herbs, starches, meats, seafood, berries, lemons (I don't do well with the other forms of citrus), sea salts, offal, and good fats.
The more appropriate question I would love to receive more often is, "Do I know how to cook and have the willingness to experiment with my food choices?" Without my ability to cook and willingness to experiment, I would not have lasted long on AIP. I would not have tried cooking nutrient-dense dishes that I now have on a weekly basis - such as liver pâté and bone broth. Ultimately, I would have gotten bored with my food choices and my past standard flavor combinations. On top of that, I would have had to spend so much more money to eat this type of food at a San Francisco restaurant on a daily basis.
Because it is much easier to track and control the type of food and its cost when I buy and cook it, I encourage people following AIP to do the same and to learn how to cook in whatever way works for them. There are YouTube videos, books, workshops, friends, relatives, social media, and you experimenting (how we all learn) with food. For inspiration and proof it can be done, I have some pictures of dishes I have made while on my elimination diet. Do any of the dishes look deprived or lacking? Geez, I hope not!
If you know of anyone who could benefit from following AIP, please share my story with them.