This post is part of a series inspired by AutoImmune Paleo’s Updated Manifesto. Even though I am no longer following strict AIP, I still feel like I am a part of the community and wanted to share what this looks like for me during this season. You can read other posts by searching the hashtags #HowIAIP or #AIP4Me on social media.
After following the AutoImmune Protocol for 6 months, I made the tough decision to switch to the GAPS diet to attempt some deep gut healing. I made it a whole 8 days before finding out that I was pregnant, which officially ended my GAPS experience. Although the paleo diet (and even AIP) is considered safe for pregnant women, the GAPS intro diet is not. As much as I wish I were one of those people who stuck with the healing diet no matter what, I decided to drop my perfectionism for once and give myself some grace to get through all the changes my body was experiencing. (If you want to hear an interview with someone who DID follow strict AIP through pregnancy, check out episode 17 of the Phoenix Helix podcast).
I was a hardcore AIPer prior to pregnancy. Bone broth every day, liver/offal every other week, seafood as often as the budget allowed, and lots of vegetables and leftovers for breakfast. Then came the first trimester—or what my midwife calls “survival mode.” I ate things that I hadn’t eaten in years—because they were the only things that sounded good. Tuna fish sandwiches (with mayonnaise!), cheese and crackers, and about 50 pounds of oranges. The smell of meat and/or vegetables cooking made me extremely nauseous, which is quite problematic when that makes up 90% of your diet. So I did what I could (which mostly involved laying in bed while my husband did all the cooking and cleaning), and didn’t worry too much about it.
The whole experience taught me BALANCE. I remember when I first started researching the paleo movement—it seemed like everyone had a different system they followed, but most had some version of the 80/20 or 90/10 rule (80% paleo-approved foods, 20% “cheats”). I am a 100% rule follower, so that just didn’t sit right with me. But, I get it now. I totally get it. And now that I am into the second trimester and able to handle a wider variety of foods, I am trying to make healthy choices while still seeking balance. So instead of going out for french fries, I bake them at home in the oven. Instead of picking up store-bought ice cream, I make it at home using fresh fruit, raw milk, and natural sweeteners. I have not been able to touch a mug of bone broth because the thought of drinking anything warm makes me slightly queasy, but we did try out a new pho place the other day, and I know the broth was legit because my husband’s bowl had two huge marrow bones in it.
It seems a little backwards, as most people don’t start paying attention to their diet until after they get pregnant, but I think this is God’s way of preparing me for the balance needed as a parent. Plus, focusing less on what I am eating has allowed me to concentrate on important lifestyle choices—sleep still alludes me, but I have been able to try some new forms of gentle exercise, and I have spent a lot of time working in the yard (soaking up that vitamin D!). It has also been wonderful to take some of my attention off researching medical issues. Before getting pregnant, gaining knowledge was my full-time job, and I would spend all day reading articles, listening to summits, and looking for “the cure.” I still find these topics interesting, but I would much rather spend my time reading for pleasure, resting, and learning about my baby’s stages of development. AIP no longer controls my life and my thoughts.
The best part is, even though I have become less strict with my diet, I feel GREAT! We knew going into this that I would probably either feel much worse or much better, as most autoimmune conditions are affected one way or the other by the hormone and immune system changes in pregnancy. We are very happy that I have had temporary relief (as long as I stay away from my known allergy triggers and consume other foods in moderation).
Most of all, we are grateful that my body was able to heal enough over the past year to carry a child (something we weren’t sure was possible). So while I may not be following the AIP to a T, I am ever so thankful for the role it played in getting me to this point in my life. I am focusing on balance in this season, but I plan to forever carry forth the key principles, such as seeking nutrient density (totally had liver balls for dinner this week) and prioritizing rest—in order to set my whole family up for good health!