Grieving is a real thing, even related to food. Food is not just how you nourish your body but also a social greifquotecornerstone of society. You’re invited for the family reunion- a spread of fried chicken, pies, biscuits and more. Your friends want to go out on Friday night, “let’s all order a bunch of appetizers and share!” *Sigh*.  It isn’t just grieving the food itself, which you undoubtedly do, it is grieving the experience of food. Suddenly the invitation out on the town doesn’t sound like as much and the family reunion feels a bit daunting. Friends and family only go so long without an excuse for your not eating until they start to think you are anorexic or bulimic (you tried to be nice and eat something you knew was going to hurt you and your body rejected your efforts at kindness Mt Vesuvius-style).

woman_pulling_out_hairI remember when we eliminated gluten, about 4 years ago. I thought that my brain would melt because I had no idea how to eat or feed my kids all of a sudden. I started to adjust and so did those around me. My mom is now an awesome GF cook and at family functions- well most of the time, we can navigate through what we could or could not eat. But everyone knows we don’t eat gluten and it is just the way it is.

But then, THEN, I started Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). Like a friend recently said- I felt like life was worthlessairtarian. No grains, no sugar, no treats, no nothing. I felt like I would subside of air and water. I was hungry all the time and social functions, forgettaboutit. Shirley at gfe discusses in detail  The Five States of Loss of Gluten Plus One which is spot on. I am just going to elaborate on them a bit from an AIP Perspective.

  1. Denial

I am not that bad. I don’t really need to do this, I can probably just increase my vitamin C and I will be fine. 

The fact of the matter is that Autoimmune Protocol is not for everyone. But anyone who is coping with any conditions that may appear to be autoimmune related would benefit from AIP. It just depends how bad you feel and how much you want to feel better. 

  1. Anger

I can’t eat ANYTHING. Can you live on air? Why I am like this? Why do I have to be sick all the time? It’s not fair; other people don’t go through this.

There are no bones about it, embarking on AIP can really suck. Aside of really trying to abide by strict food restrictions and eliminations, there is all the anger for having to feel this way to begin with. A large part of the time the anger seems self inflicted- ultimately you are doing this to yourself, which seems silly, but you know it’s in an effort to feel better. Another aspect is anger that other people just don’t get it. They question you or just flat out tell you are decision is stupid.  Having supportive people around is crucial.

  1. Bargaining

If I do this about 90% that is good enough. A cheat day is ok, it will make me stay sane and I can stick to it otherwise.

The biggest and most important thing in AIP is that you CAN NOT cheat. Cheating and bargaining is only hurting you and delaying your healing. Of course everyone does it at the beginning, but once you really are dedicated to AIP, there can be no “I will just have a small slice of cake at the wedding and go back to AIP afterwards.” Aside of delaying healing, your body is probably going to tell you that it is incredibly unhappy with your decision in very special gastrointestinal ways. 

  1. Depression

I will never be happy again. This isn’t going to work and I am just miserable. In fact, I actually feel much worse than I did before. No one understands how hard this is.

Depression, like all these stages, is real. Don’t be too hard on yourself for feeling depression creep in. In addition to just normal feelings of isolation from the social aspect of eating with others, there is a great deal of detox occurring which cause physical and emotional pain and discomfort. This IS real, it is not just in your head. Talk to people, lean on your support people/person to help you get through this.

  1. Acceptance

I AM feeling a little better, if I am feeling better- I CAN do this. I will do anything to feel good again.

This is ultimately the place we all want to be about any loss. When we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, when we can find all those things we can eat. When we learn how to cook and dine AIP. Then of course- when we start to feel better. I found that this was the biggest turn around for me, I started to feel a little better and that gave me enough gumption to stick to it, not cheat and work towards healing.

Support

There are no ifs ands or buts about it- you need some type of support system. “But NO ONE is doing what I am doing.” I know, I know. But maybe you aren’t looking hard enough. Your support doesn’t have to be your husband- sometimes the closest family and friends have the hardest time understanding anyway. There are SO many wonderful online communities that you can “mingle” with others who are doing this with you and some on different parts of their journeys. The two biggest places for online support I have found have been through The Paleo Mom and Autoimmune Paleo. They both have countless networks and resources as well as recipes (you can eat again!). Additionally, both have associated Facebook groups that you can hook up with people and really talk. Of course, if you happen to be in the Fredericksburg area, stop in at Kickshaws and we can chat over a dandelion “coffee.”

Resources

I am an information junkie. So starting anything new I compile AS MUCH information as I can get my hands on. For me, the biggest thing that means is Pinterest! The interwebs has so much to offer us now in the way of resources for bolhinoFEATUREAIP foods and recipes, you can really dig in and get cooking and eating again. When anyone tells me they are thinking of starting AIP, I tell them to go to Pinterest and start pinning away. Make several boards- AIP Recipes, AIP Resources, AIP Support etc. to help you even before you get started. Many times the comments or reviews on the blogs are really helpful and insightful and you can learn what works for folks and what doesn’t. Just be sure to carve out some time to get started. Instagram is my other favorite resource and one that I know LOTS of people have found direction with AIP. Just think, your Instagram feed filled with delicious foods…. That you yourself could eat. We all know that Instagram makes you hungry, but if you are following the best AIP folks, no worries- you can find recipes that work for you!

Moving Forward

If you could do something that is totally in your own control to feel better, would you? I think most people would say yes. You CAN control what you eat. If you can stick to AIP and reduce inflammation that could be in the way of your body’s ability to heal, you CAN feel better. I often say to people at the store, there is no one cure for everyone. I still struggle with my own issues, but maintaining modified AIP keeps me level so that my body can be available for healing. I do believe that our bodies are amazing things with the ability to regenerate, heal and detoxify- if we let them.