Today marks the halfway point in our Lenten AIP challenge + leaky gut protocol. My husband and two roommates all wanted to do it together to make it easier, and of course I had to do it with them since I've already been through this (I healed my leaky gut last year). Plus, it let me flex my AIP cooking muscles something serious to have to cook meals for 5 people (one person in the house isn't AIP, but he eats my AIP meals for supper). It's forced me to get creative with new recipes and also meal planning.
I also wanted to go strict AIP again for your benefit. What does that mean? I'm busy working on materials that will help anyone who is going on the AIP or leaky gut protocol to succeed. It has helped me tremendously to observe my housemates and to talk to them about their struggles, needs, and wishes. It's making me really think about how I can help everyone else who is going on the AIP but doesn't have the luxury of living with a paleo blogger.
I asked each of them to share some insight into their AIP experience so far. If you are considering trying the AIP or a leaky gut protocol, I hope you find these honest accounts helpful. It's good to know what you are getting into, right? I'll also share my recap from round 2 of the AIP.
Andy's AIP experience (Mr. Curious Coconut)
"Before Lent began, I dreaded the loss of coffee and other snacks and goodies, as well as alcohol. Although I have been happy with Earl Grey tea in the morning and have been able to make some tasty non-alcoholic beverages, there really isn't a substitute for a great cup of coffee or a glass of red wine. I think that aside from, and in spite of, their effects, those drinks served as rituals for me that are hard to replace, and have definitely been disturbed during the AIP experience. The routine of the coffee preparation in the morning is as important to me as the drinking itself.
Overall, the thought of what we were going to be cutting out of our meals was scarier than the actual experience so far. This may be because there is a lot I already don't eat in my day to day diet (happily). The biggest challenge for me, in spite of having a lot of help with meal planning and cooking, was finding those quick, on-the-go meals. Mealtime definitely takes more time and planning."
Dr. Akemi's AIP experience
"We're almost halfway, and here's what I have to say about our AIP adventure:
1) It's better to do it as a team. I feel more bonded, and less alone than I have in the past when undertaking dietary changes for my health.
2) Avocados are my secret weapon. If I have no choice but to eat out for lunch at the ONE place I know can accommodate me, I slip an avocado into my pocket. It makes every meal better.
3) A little luxury goes a long way. We have been burning candles at the dinner table, and we sometimes listen to great music while we eat. Since it's been cold in Florida, sometimes we even light the fire - dinner feels like a warm, loving unwinding to a hectic day.
4) Savor the treats! Andy has become the house bartender, playing with non-alcoholic beverages and making versions of Manhattans and Mojitos. My lord, I feel so fancy and carefree when we sip our drinks as we prep dinner. We also enjoy some desserts on occasion, such as Amanda's apple crisp, or a locally made coconut shred nugget that is super tasty.
5) Don't be afraid to make huge batches of food. I realize how much easier it is to have lots of leftovers that we can graze on throughout the day.
6) Go for the weird stuff. I am telling you - some of these South American starchy options like malanga are amazing. They are filling and you can play around with them quite a bit!
Overall, even though we are all struggling a bit with the die-off of our gut bacteria, I feel like I'm truly getting nourished and that my body is working hard at healing itself. It is tough sometimes, especially on mornings when I'm rushing to the clinic, but coming home and having a delicious dinner with loved ones makes it so worth it. Plus, I am so excited to dedicate this time to healing myself. It's a tough challenge, but my immune system is worth it."
Editor's note: here is more information about the wonderful Latin starches Akemi mentions:
- Malanga, Taro, and Yuca: Nightshade-free potato starchy potato substitutes
- AIP Colombian-Style Arepas (made from malanga!)
Carlos's AIP Experience
"My AIP experience so far has been, much to my surprise, quite a bit more enjoyable and fun than I ever would have expected.
I won't lie that at the beginning I had doubts that I would even make it this far, and I don't think I would've without Amanda. I feel very lucky and grateful to have her around as a resource, not only for her recipes but her discipline (she's a drill sergeant when it comes to deviating from the protocol). Her ingenuity, knowledge, and experience have really opened my eyes to a world that I once would have described as miserable.
Many of the meals I've had recently have been tastier and more satiating than most of the gluten-full, cheesy meals that I so dearly loved. I won't say that I don't miss those foods at times, but it's nice to know that I can now enjoy a tasty meal that doesn't upset my body."
Amanda's AIP experience (round 2)
Since I have already done the AIP with leaky gut protocol before, I knew it wasn't going to be so bad to do it again, especially with 3 other people doing it alongside me. Doing it as a team really has made a HUGE difference for me, I think. The first several days were tough - it was hard not letting myself wind down with a glass of red wine or my favorite sipping vodka at the end of the day. But now I enjoy a nice cup of herbal tea in the evenings, homemade beet kvass, or, as you saw my roommates raving about, my husband's delicious mocktails (I'm hoping he will share his recipes with y'all soon!)
One big thing I have learned this go-round is that it is tiring to cook all. the. time. Not just physically, but emotionally, too. I have been so incredibly grateful to have 3 other people who have been able to help me do prep work in the kitchen and clean up the gajillion dirty dishes at the end of every day. It makes the biggest difference to know at least 1 person is there to help you chop veggies, get the drinks ready, and set the table. I do really miss the convenience of being able to eat out when I feel like it. Yes, there are some places that can serve me AIP food, but often it's not very exciting. Going on the AIP has definitely taught me to savor and appreciate every bite of delicious food that I get to eat! It's also helped me to feel so much gratitude to have amazing friends and family to share all the good food with, too.
Something else that's been reinforced for me this time around is that I really do function better on a lower carb diet. I am glad that I've been able to switch my diet to something more like I ate when I first went paleo almost 5 years ago with plenty of fatty meat and non-starchy veggies cooked with ample fat. I am eating some starchy stuff, but not nearly as much as I was pre-AIP. Bottom line: it's good to tweak your diet now and then so that you can see what is working for you and what isn't.