My dad and I were driving on some country roads, me sitting fearfully behind the wheel with white knuckles and a hammering heart. I was 15 and learning how to drive.
When we pulled back into the garage, I remember asking him how this ever becomes “normal.” Everything about driving felt so foreign to my teenage brain. I’d been riding shotgun for years, and yet the minute I got behind the wheel and out on the road I felt like a fish trying to swim through a forest.
He told me not to worry. “With time and practice,” he said, “it becomes so automatic. Someday you’ll have a hard time remembering what it was like to feel so uncomfortable driving.”
Much to my disbelief at the time, he was right, of course. (Although I do still remember the petrified feeling I had when driving on the highway for the first time, and the twisting knot in the pit of my gut when I took my driver’s test.)
After one week on the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), I’m reminding myself of my dad’s words again, because this new lifestyle does feel pretty weird sometimes. But, like learning how to drive, I’m hopeful that with time and practice, it will soon become second nature.
In just one week, I’ve already learned some important lessons about the AIP that I thought I’d share with you.
1. Be prepared.
You knew this would be the first one, right? :) Those Boy Scouts are really onto something. It works in the wilderness, and certainly works in the kitchen, too. Because the AIP is so restrictive, it’s critical to be prepared when it comes to having food on hand and planning meals in advance.
I fell off the wagon twice last week simply because of my lack of preparedness. Once I was running low on groceries and couldn’t get to the store until the next day, so I had a scrambled egg with my dinner. On Saturday, I was at an all-day event at church. While I brought lunch with me, I didn’t think about packing a snack for the afternoon. So when I got super hungry and felt my blood sugar dropping, I grabbed a few almonds from my emergency stash in my purse.
Moral of the story: think and plan in advance. I’m now making sure that I have a rough plan in my head for every meal and snack for a 3-4 day period so that I always have AIP-approved food within reach.
2. Keep it simple.
You know better than anyone that I love being creative in the kitchen. But for the initial learning curve of the AIP, it’s helpful to keep meals super simple to avoid potential slip-ups and also streamline the whole thing. I’ve found that by keeping my meals really basic, I’ve been able to avoid too much “diet stress.”
My favorite meals have been the simplest—like chicken and vegetable soup, roasted vegetables with a side of broth, and turkey burger lettuce wraps.
3. Do some other stuff!
With the AIP lifestyle, it’s easy to become completely swamped by all that goes along with the healing protocol (making broth, food prep, taking supplements, incorporating exercise, reducing stress, etc.). To avoid becoming too self-focused and diet-obsessed, adding other activities to my regular routine has been helpful.
Like I mentioned, I attended an all-day women’s retreat at my church last Saturday. The topic was women and shame. Super interesting and enlightening, and such food for thought. On Sunday, I took a scenic drive out to the country to pick up some locally grown apples and visit with a friend.
Had I not done those two things, I probably would have spent the weekend making broth and reading up on healing protocol stuff. Breaking out of my little “AIP bubble” for a while with some other activities helped so much to make me feel like a normal person despite the crazy food side of my life. :)
4. Stop doubt in its tracks.
I’m a doubter. You?
Try as I might to believe that my health issues will resolve eventually with time and patience, I easily slip into patterns of total doubt. Could I be the one person that the AIP doesn’t help? Could my health issues be related to a deeper problem that I won’t discover for years? Could my issues get worse before they get better?
This week I’ve become aware of just how much I doubt, question, and worry. So instead of living life as a panicked worrier, I’m working on changing my tune to that of a prayer warrior.
When our doubts swallow us up like a powerful tide, that’s a clue pointing us to Someone greater who Himself can crush every doubt and stomp out every flame of fear. I’m learning that God doesn’t just promise to help me through my doubts and struggles, but He wants to. He delights in me when I turn to and delight in Him.
5. Stay positive.
I really didn’t want to tag this one on at the end, because it’s so pathetically cliche and when you’re struggling with something in life—whether it’s your diet or your health or your kids or your job or something else—the last thing you want to hear is that chirpy voice saying, “Stay positive!”
But positivity is healing medicine. Fact. And I need to be taking a bit more of it. (Okay, a lot more of it.)
I highly recommend Dr. Caroline Leaf’s book, Switch On Your Brain. Science meets faith in an awesome exploration of the mind, toxic thinking, and how to overcome negative patterns.
What lessons have you learned from following a limited-diet lifestyle? Share with us in the comments!