Tips for AIP Diet
Alopecia + Auto-Immune,  Food

My No-Fail Tips for Being Successful on the AIP Diet.

When it comes down to Auto-Immune Diseases they all have one thing in common..inflammation. The Auto-immune Protocol is a special science based diet that may be able to help you with your current inflammatory situation. It’s a strict protocol with two phases: Elimination and Reintroduction. These phases are meant to regulate your hormones and immune system, provide a nutrient dense diet and rebuild your gut health. I have successfully completed two long term rounds of the AIP diet and I’m now basically an expert.

How can I be successful on the AIP Diet?

When I discovered I had Alopecia Areata (kind of hard to miss when your hair is falling out and suddenly you have a very large bald spot on your head) I knew this was a time of great grace. In my case and I reiterate that this is just in “my case”, I had put my body through incredible stress and trauma. See my journey here

Remove outside stressors immediately.

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Removing outside stresses are the first steps when entering into any healing method for an Auto-Immune issue let alone the Auto-Immune Protocol. You can eat all the nutrient dense foods you want but your body must be able to assimilate all those nutrient goodies. Calming your system and bringing down inflammation are the principles of this AIP diet. If we are looking at this holistically, this is a circle, not a line.

Nutrient dense foods will absolutely assist in calming your system and regulating the parts of you that have gone rogue.  Not if you are constantly living on the edge though! If you want to learn more about the science of the Auto-Immune Protocol click here.

Outside stresses can include major life changes like job transition, a break up, a move, death of a loved one, a family crisis, extra pressure at work, etc. Wouldn’t you know that the year leading up to my Auto-Immune within a few months I had a career change, a major move, a divorce, a new relationship, a family fall-out, a lifestyle change, went back to school, left said school, and the death of beloved pet. Basically, I was nailing life:/

How I’m Living by My Words On the AIP Diet.

Here’s how I am reducing my stress right now while my body is healing. Make no mistake my healing is the number one thing in my life right now.

  • My current position has less responsibility so the stress has gone way down.
  • I am in a loving healthy relationship… with myself. How I feel is more important than how others feel right now.
  • Look who gave up trying to help others accept my life choices?! Oops you don’t like it? I do so that’s okay right!?
  • I nurture my body. I eat when I’m hungry, I eat the organics, I buy the cashmere, I sleep in whenever I can.
  • Man, I think really good thoughts like “Wow miracles are happening in my life right now.” “You’re seriously so cool .” ” You have a lot to offer everyone, mostly yourself.” “Everything is working in service of you.”
  • I take breaks from work (mini vacations), from relationships, from hobbies, from being perfect.

Communicate You are In Fact On the AIP Diet..or Don’t.

Tell people you are on the AIP Diet.

This will save a lot of time and energy in the long run. You don’t owe people lengthy explanations describing how you came to realize you had an Auto-Immune disease. It is mainly the quickest way to let friends, family, and coworkers know you can’t eat what they eat and currently it’s all about you.

If people keep questioning you all you have to say is “Yep I have an Auto-immune issue because #life” and then keep eating your olives. If you want to share more info about the AIP diet with them, they can check out AIP Lifestyle’s rundown here.

You also don’t have to tell anyone a damn thing. For me it was easier but you do you!

Build your support system.

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Having a friend, family member, or coworker who gets you and is on your side can definitely go a long way. When I started the AIP diet the first time, my Mother was also eating similar but on the Edgar Cayce Diet which is very similar but extra hippie. I once called her when I accidentally ate a spice I wasn’t supposed to in a panic.  She reminded me how strong our bodies are and to get a grip, thanks Mom. At the end of the day you really only need yourself but if you want a support system and don’t have one- comment on this post and I’ll be your cheerleader!

How to Ace the Food Aspect of the AIP Diet.

Don’t expect to eat “healthier versions” of what you already eat.

If you typically engage in eating pizza and pasta I think the healthier modifications can honestly do more harm than good. When your mind is set on having it taste like you know it should the journey becomes tricky. Don’t concentrate on the textures being the same either. If you aren’t used to eating veggies, don’t worry you will learn. This AIP diet is as much about healing as it is retraining your tastebuds, which is a thing, a science thing.

You are not going to eat like you regularly do- because darlings your body is on FIRE! There are a ton AIP recipes on Pinterest, the interweb, and yours truly will also be throwing out an eBook soon to help get you through your healing process.

Simplify your food choices.

Are you  going to cook those amazing AIP recipes when you barely cook now?

80% of what I ate was food in its most simple state. If I was eating spinach, I wasn’t trying to make a AIP spinach casserole though it sounds delicious. I was eating sautéed spinach with garlic, onion flakes, and olive oil and it took 5 minutes to make. 80% of the things I made while on the AIP took LESS than 10-15 minutes to make. I’m impatient and I’m naturally always hungry so I wasn’t waiting for fancy AIP recipes.

There are some amazing AIP recipes though so if you are into trying them, definitely DO!

Know your snacks.

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Snacking on the AIP diet is different than snacking IRL. You aren’t putting crap chips and jerky in your body. You are eating plantain chips and grass fed jerky. Snacks not only tie you over in-between meals but are also very important because you don’t want to let yourself ever get hungry. We want to keep those extra acids out of your tummy. Make sure you read the ingredients when “snacking”. There will still be some preservatives or AIP no-no’s even in the healthy snacks.

I discovered my snacking methods while I was traveling for work and discovered Eating healthy on the road is as easy as gluten free, nonGMO, organic pie.

How to Pick Meals On the AIP Diet.

Eat the same things.

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Trying to figure out what you are going to eat is torture in real life let alone AIP life. Don’t panic, you actually eat the same 7-10 meals normally anyway so this is really not that much different. You will just be eating way better. I’ve probably mentioned this a ton but it is easier knowing what you can and can’t eat because you don’t have to figure anything out. When the menu is already set and you just make meal combos as opposed to meal recipes.

Think about what you know.

Guys it was like I was born to do this Auto-Immune Protocol! I’m half Puerto Rican. Who knew that so many Puerto Rican/Latin seasonings and food items were mostly AIP approved or only needed small modifications!

  • Plantains- maduros (sweet) and tostones (hard) as well as plantain chips!
  • Crock pot pork- lechon or pernil- which are made with great herbs and vegetables like tons of oregano, cilantro, garlic, onions, etc.
  • Yucca- yucca fries or roasted yucca with onions is soooo good!
  • Caldo- in many Latin American/Caribbean cultures this soup is a staple. This vegetable rich soup can be made with just veggies, chicken, beef, etc.
  • Surely if you look to your culture I bet you can find some great already AIP approved foods. If not I bet there are some recipes that only require the slightest modification.
Know Where to Save Money.

Buy in Bulk.

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You will be eating a lot more than you normally do. Buying in bulk can save you time at the grocery store, money in the long run, and anger from being hungry all the time. Since the AIP diet removes dairy, gluten, sugar, etc. you won’t have any fillers taking up extra room and energy in your body or stomach. Your body will be able to metabolize and assimilate nutrients quicker…major plus.  You also may find yourself eating constantly. For me this is a joy, nothing makes me happier than eating all the time!

I usually have a million bananas, way too many avocados (I eat a whole one every day so they don’t go bad), two containers of spinach, tons of garlic and onions, and bags and bags of sweet potatoes. Best advice is to figure out what you like to eat and stock up on those.

Get yo-self a Crockpot and Meal Prep.

Tips for AIP Diet

This is easier than you think. Sometimes it’s easier to reheat food than cook everything from scratch. I tend to meal prep at night so there is a time limit and I’m not cooking for hours on end. Guess who also saved money on overall meals for the week this way?…

This whole Auto-Immune/Alopecia Areata process has brought me together with my true love- the crockpot. If you are lazy and semi-inclined to try out some of those yummy AIP recipes, a crockpot is going to be your best friend. This will save you time and energy.

20% of the time I did make some amazing AIP recipes when I was doing mega meal prep for the week. When I didn’t want to worry about what I was going to eat for the next 3 days, the crockpot was my go-to. Already made meals prevents food from sitting in your fridge and going bad which leads to… spending more money.

Any of these crockpots will work for the AIP Diet.

Don’t Rush Food Reintroductions.

Once you get in the AIP diet flow, food reintroductions can be really fun, yes I said fun. Slowly but surely you will begin to see what works well in your body and it’s reactions. If after a month or two on the elimination phase you try to reintroduce foods and it doesn’t go as expected, that’s okay. Your body may still be sensitive to a dairy or gluten product and may not be ready to go back to it’s old ways yet.

Think AIP thoughts.

  • This protocol is not meant to be forever. You aren’t going to be on the AIP diet until you die, this is just a temporary stop in your overall healing journey.
  • Don’t focus on what you can’t have, focus on all the amazing things you can! I personally don’t miss any food item, caring for my body is enjoyable.
  • Your body takes care of you and now it’s your turn to take care of it. What a beautiful exchange this can be.

Do Some Research.

Not everyone, although suddenly it seems the entire developed world has an auto-immune disease, should be on this “food is medicine” diet. Dairy and gluten does not affect everyone. Spicy foods are not everyone’s worst nightmare.

Check out Pinterest for some AIP recipes and see if this is something you can do (you can, trust me). Get your head in the game before you put your body there.

There are multiple ways to heal yourself. Homeopathy, Chinese medicine, Naturopathic options, and even modern medicine may be an avenue better suited for you. Finding what works for you personally and knowing you in fact do have options, specifically natural based options, puts you in a state where you can make those important healing decisions.

Remember again that healing is a process and listening to yourself and your needs is the most important thing you can do for yourself in life and the AIP diet landscape.

Tips for AIP Diet

Do you have extra tips on how you were successful on the AIP diet? Comment below and be part of a future community AIP article!

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12 Comments

    • greenbananagirl

      I ask everyone because I have my own theories about auto-immune- was there any big stress or trauma or big thoughts, actions that happened before you noticed your first patch? And no where else on your body but your face?

      • Tim

        Yup! So a quick summary about me, Type A person always pushing myself to do more, 5 am workouts, living off energy drinks and tons of coffee to get through my day working at a tech company in the craziness that is New York City. Plus I’m naturally a control freak and slight anger issues that sometimes would get the better of me (working on those). Started a new job in Nov as well and noticed my first spot dec 13. Had a full blown outbreak pretty much at the start of the new year (what a way to start the year, am i right?)

        I think for me, the issue was a cocktail of things in the months preceding, esp since fall 2018. I had tons of extreme chronic stress, a lot of anger, overworking my body till it fell apart and assuming a genetic predisposition at play (not confirmed) caused the alopecia barbae in my case.

        Yup, just on the beard (for now, fingers crossed). Mostly on my neck and two spots at the side of my chin. Some small spots here n there on my beard but nothing substantial apart from the neck and sides of my chin. I have not seen it get worse since about a month ago. Also when I ran into your articles and others like it which made me go on the AIP diet (coincidence? I think not!) Literally read each a dozen times each to suck up as much information as possible.

        So yeah definitely similar to your case in some ways. I pushed and i pushed and my immune system sort of slapped me in the face by having my beard fall apart as a wake up call to calm the hell down.

      • greenbananagirl

        Tim! First thank you so much for sharing and being so open-auto-immune issues are so freaking personal so that’s super cool of you. Second and most importantly.. I’d like to add to your perception of yourself or your past:) As reforms control freak/anger issue person- here is what I learned and sure as shit what my alopecia taught me. No I am NOT a control freak. I was not set up to always ground myself in balance so you damn right I would go into survival mode and try and find control. It’s a survival mechanism that most people get checked off as control freaks. Nope- I was just in an unbalanced situation and I wasn’t always away or snoring my needs. Suddenly I’m more flexible than ever but I def let people know when they are crossing my line. And it is not one of resistance- but one of redirection:)

        “Type A” are my favorite and type awesome because you’ve gone through shit and are super damn aware, so suck it society! I have always had anger issues- and finally I also realized there is a fire inside of me that will never go away and rather than put myself around people and situations who want to quell it, I started putting myself in situations/people where that fire is cultivated. At the time the anger I put myself through in order to be seen and heard was def a major factor in inducing my alopecia. I have also worked for a tech startup (in Chicago) and damn do they think work never ends! Your body probably during all that craziest did not have a chance to even address the stresses you were feeling and it just did the thing it knew to do in order to get you attention. Hair is in my opinion the final straw before we humans say “oh shit, my wellbeing is no joke, I need to get a hold of it.” It’s great that you have your own awareness already! The extreme stress and anger or for sure influences. Genetics yes-same here- but different physical manifestations about how stress awareness takes place. The good thing is you can actually change your genes:) Science!

        Isn’t it funny that perfect timing! That’s how it always happens:) So the job you have now is it less stressed. I would also get yourself in nature as much as possible- that is hands down the best way to calm the system. Animals are great too!

  • tim

    Hey!

    Thank you for all the tips and articles, super helpful and informative, I have alopecia localized to my beard only and mostly on my neck. I noticed a small patch 2nd week of dec and have been on the AIP diet for about 6 weeks. Too early yet, but I am hoping it will help. You mentioned it took you 3-4 months before you saw any change. So from when the first patch started to having decent hair growth, it took you about 4 months? Or did you hair fall out for 4 months and then you started the diet and it healed up four months after than so about 8 months since it started?

    Has the small patch healed up or you are still on the AIP diet to heal it up?

    • greenbananagirl

      Hi Tim! Man I am so glad! It can be an autoimmune alopecia jungle out there. That’s great you are on the diet it def helped me a ton! Okay so hair loss first noticed in Nov and kept falling until March-April. Started the AIP diet in April and by July I was on a hair growing roll. The smaller patch appeared around July -August but was nowhere near the size of the first one. I’m not mad at it because my body was still in fight mode. April- September the patch was filling in completely (the big one) but it of course wasn’t as long as my other hair. (My Mom even though I cut it like that!- I was like woman know thats my baldy patch this is not a hair trend!) So yes- hair fell out first then a bit during the diet and then started to fill in.

      I am on my 2nd round of AIP for my little sidekick yes. It’s starting and I’m on month two now although I do know this one will take longer. there is a lot of deeper stuff wrapped up in this one for sure. So I’m just patiently waiting and dong a lot of energetic work to go along with the food aspect:) Keep me posted okay!

      • Tim

        Yeah it’s a roller coaster ride def, I had some bad acid reflux a few years ago, I dont know if that contributed to this or not but I cleaned up my diet and started working out which calmed my GERD down and that is not an issue anymore so im hoping in a few months/years i can look back and this wont be either.

        Got it! Yeah I read your articles about hair growth phases so I cant say fo sure if I am in a resting phase or not, but it has not spread *as much* since my diet change, im hoping it wont and then once im in the clear and out of the resting phase my beard comes back. Worst part is I cant shave everyday due to really sensitive skin so for a couple days during the week im stuck rocking the patches. If my beard ever comes back im going to become a lumberjack and i dont think im ever going to shave again haha.

        My background is from india and we are big on homeopathy as well, I am going to look into that if it does not go away naturally. Thank you for posts once again and I will def keep you posted and good luck to you on your healing journey.

      • greenbananagirl

        Do you drink Kombucha or alkaline water for the acid reflux? All of the things you mentioned are super connected to stress. You know, ya you might and you will look back and be like wow I am the most important thing in the world. And I bet you’ll help some others along the way:)

        I’ve been in resting for soooo long- but they are on the move! Have you tried Calendula ointment for sensitive skin or chickweed salve? My mom who had Psoriasis uses both and def helped. Also drink tons of chamomile tea:) As you know it starts from within. And soon you won’t even care about your beard patches- I wear my hair up and now and no on even notices. (I watch for those curious eyes lol). Haha I thought the same thing if this patch comes in I want to cut all this hair off! I probably won’t but I understand that thought for sure lol!

        Ya homeopathy will absolutely help. This healing is such a gentle holistic process so homeopathy can definitely help. I’m taking Lycopodium and I will actually posts some options for alopecia maybe the following week! Absolutely I am so thrilled anyone can find any value. You have done the same by sharing with me:) Same to you and good luck to us!

  • AA Newbie

    Thank you so much for this post! It’s just what I needed. Yesterday, I had a follow-up appointment with my dermatologist and she said that my scalp did not respond to the steroid shots from last month. In fact, my spot has grown bigger and she said it is still “active” so more hair will probably fall out and I’m feeling so sad about it 🙁 Since my diagnosis in early January, I have done acupuncture three times, talk therapy 2x a week every week, did AIP about 90% of the time, started doing mediation every day, started taking Chinese herbs and biotin and iron (my blood tests showed my iron was low), drinking homemade golden milk every day, and even started eating red meat again and added collagen powder to my diet. I’ve done so much and I felt so defeated that it seems like nothing is working but I have to remind myself to be compassionate to myself and that I am doing enough and to give my body and spirit more time to heal. Moving forward, I want to be more strict about my diet and I will start doing light exercise and yoga as well. Again, I can’t thank you enough for this blog! It’s so amazing to know that I’m not alone. All your tips and supportive words mean so much to me. And this part was so accurate! “Look who gave up trying to help others accept my life choices?! Oops you don’t like it? I do so that’s okay right!?” YESSS!!!!!

    • greenbananagirl

      AA Newbie hello again! God I am seriously so glad that anything I experienced can help anyone! I’m so sorry your apptmnt didn’t give you the results you wanted:( How was she able to tell it was active? Dear I totally know all those feelings and I can 100% relate:(.. My second patch is also acting like an asshole and it feels so hot. My hair actually hurts but I know it’s all part of the process. You are doing everything you can and feel proud and sense how strong you are..most people can’t even do a 1/3 of what you are doing. A funny story- So I have a horse and he is a miracle boy. He was injured and no Vet can tell me what is wrong with him. I’ve spent more money trying to get him diagnosed than myself. But then a wonderful holistic vet came into my life and reminded me about my holistic upbringing. If you have never been through healing, you have no idea what it looks like. To anyone from the outside they see my horse as “done” and should be put down- even though he is not in pain. (Funny thing my boy also has serious internal inflammation- universe much!), but to me who has come back from the dark side- I can see him healing every day. It is so slight, and if you blink you will miss it, but healing is a long gentle process. As is our own. It can be long, sometimes longer than expected but try to recognize the healing. The inflammation and hair falling is actually a part of the healing process- this is your body doing what it instinctually knows to do in order to keep healing you. It is creating space so new life can come in. Let your body do what it needs to and talk to it, say “okay body I know you know what to do to heal us, show me the signs of healing so I can keep the good energy behind it”. Your words have healing energy and will do so much for you along the way. I am so glad you know there are people out there who are routing for you! Sometimes the best connections are made through the darkest times. But we are gonna do it together!!! Haha- ya that last bit feels so good doesn’t it!

      • AA Newbie

        Thanks for your kind words, again! I came back to this blog to re-read the inspiration here because I woke up feeling sad today. Since I wrote last time, it’s gotten bigger again. It got just a little bigger, but it’s enough to be noticeable, and again I feel that sense of sadness and all the self-judgements come back to me like, “No matter how hard I try, nothing is working.” But I know I have to stay committed to my healing even if I’m not seeing results. I do have results in other ways, just not my hair (yet..but I hope it’s coming!). And yes, my dermatologist said that my spot is still “active” because she gently pulled on the hair around the bald spot and more hair strands easily came out so she said more will continue to fall. And thanks for the reminder that healing is slow and sharing that wonderful story about your horse! I do think I’m healing in other ways, but yes, it’s so slow. In therapy, I’ve been doing work with my Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) and I do think that has contributed to my stress-induced alopecia areata. I have to trust my body!! And that affirmation to myself is beautiful. I need to keep telling my body that it’s okay and that I trust it to heal on its own time and terms. I need to tell myself that especially when I’m feeling sad. Thanks again!!!

      • greenbananagirl

        AA! Keep your mind towards healing! Your body may not feel like it but it is healing! I just went into my 3rd month of AIP and we have hair growth! I didn’t even notice it before because I was annoyed lol. Hair falling is actually GOOD- I know hard to believe but that means the follicles are making way for new space to be filled by new follicles. It is shedding the dead ones. Eventually they won’t come out:) I’m happy to share anything I can that can bring anyone a little more peace and comfort- I’m an open book! That is such a beautiful affirmation and YES that is the perfect lovely open mind set. When our healing comes we also have to be receptive to it. I have sad days too I had one yesterday actually and here’s what I learned. I want abundance (especially with hair growth) but abundance can’t come without feeling gratitude. But who the hell feels grateful when you feel like crap lol!? So inspiration struck at the drive through at Starbucks and I decided I would pay for the person behind me. I didn’t wait to see their reaction because it was about me changing my energy and getting in a receptive mode. We can eat all the nutrients we want but if we aren’t receptive we are throwing them at an energetic wall. Turns out they pulled up right behind me while I was turning so I snuck a peek (!!) and she was so happy of course because free Starbucks. It made her more receptive and me instantly! So the moral of that story is be generous, become grateful, welcome in abundance:) Maybe getting yourself in a better energetic state means being generous to yourself first! Therapy is great! I used it many times as a tool to talk shit about my past haha. Sometimes you need someone is going to be on your side and you can say I HATE THIS and not be judged. I also take breaks and let my body rest with the new knowledge and openness I find from it. I’m so thankful everyone keeps commenting because it shows me what I need to share next so I have two posts in the works for you! I’m not a video person but would it be helpful to have some videos so I can show the hair status, some meals I’m eating regularly (they are so easy!), talk about hippie things haha? I am here to help!

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