The powerful healing that comes from real food reminds me how amazing our bodies' abilities are when given the right nutrients. But adopting a real food diet, when someone is used to eating the Standard American Diet ("healthy version" or not) can be absolutely daunting.
Take the Autoimmune Paleo protocol (AIP) for example. First you start w/ Paleo restrictions: No grains, no dairy, no legumes, no processed foods, no refined sugars, and no refined vegetable oils. Then you layer on top another list of no's: nightshade veggies, nuts/seeds, and eggs! It's easy for the first response to be, "well then, what in the $#!@ do you eat!?!"
The good news is that there are a TON of veggies, fruit, animal proteins, and yummy fats to be consumed that are perfect for AIP. But even with the bounty that remains, the natural reaction is to balk at adopting it. The brain takes over, in a near panic, with questions like: "what if I don't like meat? what do I eat instead of my <insert favorite food here>? what do you eat for breakfast? will I get enough food to last the day? ..."
My solution for someone who is intimidated by the long list of no-foods is to take it in stages. Break it down into smaller tasks rather than trying to imagine all these changes at once. Take one of the no-food groups and remove it. Give yourself 3-4 days of learning alternatives and realizing that the world doesn't stop spinning without it. Then, move to the next food group on the list and work from there. Within a few weeks, you'll have adopted the changes with ease and can focus on fine tuning for your lifestyle. Don't worry about the order in which you pick the groups. By the time you get through them all, it won't matter anyway.
If you are not used to eating animal proteins, then, I would suggest that you ramp down on the veggie proteins (legumes, dairy) as you slowly ramp up on animal proteins. Remember you may need some digestive support here (digestive enzyme supplements) as the body doesn't produce the enzymes to digest meat if its been off of it for a long time. So rather than go cold turkey on these food groups, use a phase out approach as you replace that all important protein to a different form.
How to Adopt an Autoimmune Diet Without Freaking Out
- Keep calm and breathe - It's not as intimidating as it might sound, and breathing is good for you :)
- Break the long no-list down into individual steps and decide which order you want to work through the list
- Start with one of the food groups, eliminate it and get used to that for 3-4 days. Then proceed with the next one on
- If coming from a vegetarian/vegan diet, use a phase out approach on the protein replacement.
Have any other tips for folks trying to adopt a real food and/or AIP diet? Leave them in the comments.