Real life AIP tips and tricks features stories from people like you who are using the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol to manage an autoimmune condition and live well in spite of the obstacles they may encounter. Healing from an autoimmune disease is not just about the food though. While the food you eat (and don’t eat) is extremely important, other lifestyle factors are at play, such as reducing emotional stress, cultivating quality sleep, practicing regular exercise, or keeping a positive outlook on life. My wish for you is to draw strength and inspiration from these real life stories from all over the world. To contribute your own story of recovery on the blog, click here to download the submission form. To read more real life AIP tips and tricks, click here.
Name: Kara Vogt
Location: Stevensville, MI, USA
Diagnosis: Fibromyalgia, Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS), Sjogren’s Syndrome, Hashimoto’s.
When did you start AIP? For the first time in July 2013, but I fell off the wagon. I started again in December 2015.
Have you reintroduced any non-AIP foods yet? I have tried to reintroduce eggs, nuts, seeds, and ghee. Some of it was a success and some of it wasn’t. I reintroduced successfully eggs, some chocolate, chia seeds, cashews, and macadamia nuts. Unfortunately, I don’t tolerate ghee, sunflower seeds (bye-bye sun-butter!), and almonds. I always know when a food doesn’t agree with me because I have a puffy feeling, pain, and stiffness. My HS also causes my skin to break out. Through my experimentation, I also know for sure that I have to avoid dairy, white potatoes, and corn.
Which tips or tricks made your life easier in the kitchen and helped you stick with the AIP diet?
- Having a meal plan always helps me stay on track and makes shopping and meal prep much easier. Without it, I’d fall off the wagon! Through the week, as I have a moment or two, and usually as I am looking for new recipes to try online, I keep a weekly calendar of the meals I wish to prepare and plan 2 weeks ahead. That way, I can plan my grocery list based off of the calendar.
- When I shop, I buy a week’s worth of food on Saturday and meal prep on Sunday. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen on Sunday in order to prepare my weekly salads and breakfasts, but dinner is usually something quick and easy I cook from scratch (see below). Since my freezer space is limited, I can’t batch cook too far ahead, though I will cook 5 days out for breakfast and lunch.
What are your top three AIP go-to meals that are easy and quick to prepare?
- Steak with sautéed mushrooms. Recipe: Cut the steak off the bone and into bite-sized cubes. Add 2 tablespoons of coconut oil to the pan and a dash of sea salt. Add the mushrooms and cook until they are sautéed. Since I prefer my beef rare, I add the cubed steak after the mushrooms are done. I cook until the steak is the desired color.
- Chicken thighs with broccoli cauliflower mix. It’s truly a one-pot meal. Recipe: Cut the chicken off the bone and into cubes and place in a pot with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and a dash of sea salt. Cook the chicken over medium heat until it is almost cooked through, then add in chopped broccoli and cauliflower and cook until the veggies are tender. Once done, remove from the heat and sprinkle with fish sauce and coconut aminos to taste.
- Slow Cooker Chicken Gizzards and Cabbage. This may take 8 hours to cook, but it’s throw-in-and-go. Find the recipe here.
What are your favorite AIP snacks?
- I love sliced cucumbers, usually plain, but I sometimes dip them in avocado mayo.
- Homemade AIP coconut milk mint chip ice cream. (note: For strict AIP, you may use vanilla powder instead of vanilla extract.)
How do you manage to stay AIP outside of the house (at work, restaurants, travel, etc)?
- For my meals at work, I always plan ahead. I have an extra-large Coleman lunch bag in which I place freezer packs to carry my food along with me. I am gone for 12 hours and the packs are still super cold when I get home.
- When I go out to eat, which really isn’t often, I usually stick to a salad or plain steamed vegetables with plain meat. I ask for olive oil for the dressing. I realize there are times when I may accidentally ingest some gluten, but it is really hard to tell what is being put into your food when eating out. I try my best, though.
- When traveling, or if I am out and about most of the day, I keep homemade Lara bars or jerky in my pocket. I can also bring my lunch bag for larger meals.
What other lifestyle components have you implemented in your healing routine (sleep, stress management, exercise, etc)?
- I always make sure I get plenty of sleep. I am sure to be in bed by 10 PM each night since I rise at 6 AM. This give me the 8 hours I know my body needs.
- To ensure I am relaxed enough to sleep, I use magnesium spray nightly not long before bed. I also use a lavender spray I make myself. Once the magnesium oil dries, I wipe off the residue before going to bed.
- I avoid as much stress as possible by changing the way I react to situations (I used to easily fly off the handle LOL!) and I meditate and listen to relaxing music.
- I have found that exercise really helps me manage stress. I incorporate resistance training and HIIT at home a few times a week for short periods. This usually consists of body resistance routines, some dumbbells, a jump rope, and The Step. I never do more than my body says is okay. If I hurt, I stop.
- I use a deskcycle under my desk at work to incorporate movement into my daily life.
What advice would you give to a beginner just starting the AIP diet and lifestyle?
Be patient and take it slowly. Don’t expect results overnight. Healing takes time. Be persistent and know changes will come. If you are hoping to lose weight, don’t make that the main focus.
What are your favorite AIP resources?
The Paleo Mom and AutoImmune Paleo are two of my favorites blogs I came across early on. More and more, I am finding delicious recipes and a plethora of informational resources from so many wonderful AIP bloggers. I know that I am not alone and feel very special to be part of such a great community!
Among the other blogs I follow are Grass Fed Girl and PrimalGirl. Tara’s blog, PrimalGirl, is actually what got me to start healing my HS with dietary changes. It was my gateway to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). Tara Grant is the author of The Hidden Plague.
One of my very favorite blogs is A Squirrel in the Kitchen. I absolutely love the name and the recipes are divine! Admittedly, the chocolate fudge is my staple chocolate go-to treat now! And the zucchini cheese – may God bless you! I love cheese but cannot tolerate it. This saved my life!
Kara is also a blogger! You can find her at PrimalBetty.com.