Adventures in AIP

Chocolate mousse (avocado, Carob, honey)

It has been a seriously long time since I have blogged. And, quite frankly I most likely won’t keep it up this time either. With the advent of social media, it’s much easier to stay connected with FaceTime and Facebook than by trying to write lengthy blogs. Alas, they have their limitations as well. For now, I want to document a new adventure that my family has embarked upon, albeit, some more willingly than others. This new adventure entails putting my husband on a diet. At 5 foot five and 130 pounds all wet, he doesn’t exactly need to lose weight. But weight is not the focus; health is.

AIP stands for autoimmune protocol. Keith has autoimmune diseases. Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis (PsA) are both autoimmune diseases, and he’s already had one major surgery as a result of the degeneration from the arthritis. It was shortly after marriage in 1999 that he was diagnosed with PsA. Less than 5 years later, he was on the operating table with a C1-C2 spinal fusion. Needless to say, our rheumatologist suggested we treat his arthritis very aggressively. In 2001, he went on his first DMARD, Enbrel. Since then, he has been on several, as well as a steroid injection (ouch), methotrexate, and a myriad of other drugs to combat symptoms. Enbrel worked the best for the PsA swelling, but did nothing for the psoriasis. Humira worked for the psoriasis but not the PsA. Methotrexate made him physically ill and, quite frankly, since we were pregnant when he was on it, one cranky ill person in the family was quite enough. All this to say, I’m a believer in modern medicine. But modern medicine is failing us. It has not produced any lasting changes, It has merely kept the wolves at bay. Keith is swelling more. His dose is increased. He’s on another medicine. It’s time for a change.

I have, in my own experience, changed my diet to cure myself when modern medications failed. A recurrent yeast infection, brought on by the use of a strong antibiotic for strep throat in college, could not be cured even with multiple doses of diflucan, the gold standard for yeast. My midwife suggested I read “The Yeast Connection” and I did – and then, as disbelieving as I was, I followed a strict no sugar (not even natural sugars in fruits and veggies) and no yeast diet, and added an oral probiotic. Medication failed, and a short termed diet change “fixed” me. I never again had such a problem. After a monthish, I was able to reintroduce sugar and bread, and never again have I had an issue with recurrent yeast infection. (Knock on wood!)

So what is AIP? There’s a plethora of resources online that you can read. But the gist of it is this: something irritates the digestive system, perforating it to allow “toxins” through that the immune system overreacts to, producing an autoimmune response. In short, leaky gut. The theory is that diet change can allow your body to repair itself and quiet the immune system. I know that this is a gross oversimplification. What is not simple is the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP):

  • No nuts & seeds
  • No legumes
  • No nightshade (potato, tomato, pepper)
  • No dairy
  • No eggs
  • No grains
  • No alcohol
  • No additives or sugar
  • No fun (wait! was that on this list?)

What can we eat? (Yes, we. We are doing this, not just him.)

  • Meat
  • Veggies
  • Non seed herbs and spices
  • Fruits
  • Fats
  • Non-grain based flours in moderation (cassava, coconut, tiger nut)
  • Natural unrefined sugar: honey, maple syrup.

I used to know how to cook. Most people who know me would say I’m a pretty good cook. People call me for advice on cooking. People ask for my recipes. On the AIP, my pantry staples are unknown, foreign substances. Why does baking powder contain grains (corn starch)? Why does chicken broth, for heavens sake, have sugar???? And beef broth. And veggie broth? I went sugar free 20 years ago. I read labels then, too. I don’t remember broth containing sugar! Everything packaged has added sugar. Lunch meat. Sugar. Sausage. Sugar. Bacon. Sugar. Corned beef. Sugar (and pepper).

This is why I am making everything from scratch. This is why I am relearning to cook. We are 6 days in – only 7ish weeks to go. I am dragging them with me. The kids are allowed to cheat, when dad is not around, on anything in the pantry not AIP friendly. But – from day one on, I told them that I am not making non-AIP compliant purchases. So enjoy while you can. And hello to all the new foods and flavors we are trying. Like tonight’s menu (the pic was an afterthought-oops!):

    balsamic-strawberry grilled chicken breast – courtesy foodbymars.com
    Celeriac root (celery root) mashed non- potatoes
    Green salad with balsamic vinaigrette (AIP)
    Dessert: chocolate mousse (grandma Deb) -avocado, honey, Carob, coconut oil

Or last night:

  • Salmon patties (suggestions on AIP binders welcome – coco flour and arrowroot not effective)
  • Roasted Jicama, rutabaga and green beans
  • Guacamole (lime, salt, cilantro)
  • Fresh veggies

We are learning a whole host of new ingredients, techniques, and flavors. Some experiences are better than others. Don’t try to mash jicama. Just don’t. Trust me. However, jicama hash makes a great breakfast. Waffles stick to my waffle iron. (Healingautoimmune.com) But they tasted good. Sausage is surprisingly easy to make. And tasty. And at $2.49 for ground pork, cheaper than the additive laden alternatives. Arrowroot powder thickens quickly. Gelatin is … weird. Cauliflower rice does not taste like rice; but the texture is quite nice. Food is bland without pepper. Bump the herbs. A lot. Turmeric turns your fingers orange, and your clothes yellow, but thankfully washes easily. Kale chips make a great snack at work for my snacky husband – who complains of perpetual hunger on this diet. The kids miss grains. My first venture into coconut milk yogurt was a failure. Kombucha is brewing where my often emptied flour canister resided. Sauerkraut is fermenting as I type. And fresh vegetables and fruits are not cheap in January in Alaska.

2 Replies to “Adventures in AIP”

  1. Oh crap, Martha! Your blog has been hacked. Someone resembling my kid sister just posted. /jk

    Sorry ’bout the need for the AIP diet. Kudos to you for supporting it, including venturing off into the weeds in search of solutions. As you’re aware, there are many treatments that haven’t found their way through clinical trials and thus the fluid and evolving medical canon.

    I just learned about variolation, an early form of immunization against smallpox. It took 150 years for the practice to make it from China to England. It reduced the mortality rate from 30-40% to about 2%. Doctors in England objected to it for decades. It seems occupations with highly educated experts tend to be highly resistant to change. For more on that, I recommend the Freakonomics 3-part podcast titled, “Bad Medicine.”

    Our house has expanded our culinary repertoire as well. A while back a certain daughter decided to become vegetarian. I humored her with a tree-hugger cookbook with recipes for vegan planet-healthy eco-friendly foods. Like rice-paper bacon. As you can guess, that mostly excludes products of factory farms including meat, dairy, eggs, and gelatin.

    All the recipes feature human and planet friendly ingredients. An experience cook can read through and understand, “oh, X is the binder instead of eggs” and “Y is used in place of milk.” I found cooking with the tested recipes to be a helpful starting point for cooking with so many new-to-me ingredients: potato starch, tapioca starch, arrowroot powder, agar (gelatin substitute).

    1. I have been using a lot of tested recipes as my starting point. It is truly like learning how to cook again. Experimenting with gelatin now as an egg replacer….

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