Finding Autoimmune Protocol Recipes that actually taste good can be challenging! We're sharing 5 of our favorites, plus AIP Meal Plan Tips.
When first faced with an autoimmune protocol (AIP) diet, it can seem super limiting and a bit overwhelming. Likely, many of the recipes in your normal rotation will be off-limits. So what should you cook? Which foods are you allowed to eat? Do you have to give up all flavor and pleasure from food to improve your health?
Fortunately, the answer to the last one is no! I've included 5 of my favorite AIP recipes below and I promise you, each of them is delicious.
First, I want to give you a simple breakdown of what exactly is AIP, in case you're new to the protocol and looking for resources.
What is the AIP diet?
AIP stands for Autoimmune Protocol. Put simply, it's an elimination diet designed to help those suffering from autoimmune diseases.
The idea is that you eliminate any foods that may be hurting your gut and digestion. You then slowly reintroduce them, one at a time, to determine which foods are actually troublesome for you.
The exact protocol varies but the elimination phase generally lasts between 1 and 3 months. For reintroduction, you try a small amount of one eliminated food and wait several days to see if you experience any symptoms.
I highly recommend working with an Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) if you choose to undergo an elimination diet. While totally doable, a diet like AIP is challenging and you want to make sure you get it right so your efforts aren't in vain! An RDN can provide the necessary support to maximize the benefits from your efforts.
Online programs, like the Myers Way, are also available to support you with the specifics of the protocol.
What is “Leaky Gut” Syndrome?
If you've been advised to follow an Autoimmune Protocol diet, you may have been told you have “leaky gut” syndrome. What a name, right?
Unfortunately, leaky gut isn't very clearly defined or easily diagnosed. It describes a condition where substances may leak from your small intestine into your bloodstream causing gas, bloating, discomfort and pain.
While doctors are still learning about the syndrome and its causes, it is thought that diet plays a key role. This is why an elimination diet, such as AIP, can help you determine what in your diet is causing issues so you know what to avoid.
What is the Difference Between AIP and Paleo?
When you first look at the foods allowed and prohibited with AIP, you may notice there are many similarities between AIP and Paleo.
There are, however, a few differences. Basically, AIP is a bit stricter, prohibiting things like nuts, seeds, eggs and nightshade vegetables, that are allowed in Paleo. AIP also prohibits all dairy, coffee and alcohol, which are consumed in moderation by many following a Paleo diet.
The graphic below is a good cheat sheet, but isn't totally exhaustive so make sure to check with your RDN or doctor for specifics and any questions!
What are Nightshade Vegetables?
Nightshades refer to a group of fruits and vegetables in the Solanaceae plant family. The most common ones are tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplants.
These foods are generally quite nutritious, but they contain something called alkaloids that may adversely impact leaky gut syndrome. Due to this possible correlation, it's worth experimenting with eliminating nightshades to see if it alleviates your symptoms.
Tips for Making an AIP Meal Plan
So how can you be successful with AIP without losing your mind? An AIP meal plan is essential. Whether or not you usually meal plan and meal prep, you'll almost certainly need to while you're following an autoimmune protocol. But where to begin? How can you craft an AIP meal plan that's both compliant and delicious? Here are my best tips!
1. Focus on what you can have
My number 1 tip for thriving while following AIP is to focus on the foods you can have, rather than those you can't. Make a list of all AIP-approved foods that you enjoy. Then refer to this list when you make your AIP meal plan.
Crafting your meal plan this way, rather than trying to tweak all of your normal recipes, really helps with maintaining a positive attitude. I go into more detail on this approach in my AIP Meal Plan video.
2. Prep snacks
The last thing you want is to find yourself hungry in the afternoon without any compliant snacks around. Even if you don't normally snack, try prepping a couple of easy AIP snacks for the week. You may find yourself hungrier than usual as you adjust to the different meals.
3. Include carbs
Especially if you're used to eating grains, make sure to include some AIP-approved carbs. Including starchy vegetables and fresh fruit can help you keep your energy levels up as you adjust to the protocol.
4. Splurge if you can
Are there any AIP-approved foods you can splurge on? Let's face it, this is going to be challenging, but if you can include a few approved treats, you can still enjoy your food! You might buy a nice piece of halibut for a Friday night treat or a really nice balsamic to add flavor to your food.
5. Tweak as you go
After each week, spend a few minutes to reflect on how it went. Did you prep enough food? Were there any recipes you particularly enjoyed – write those on your AIP food list! Were you hungry or lacking energy throughout the day?
Incorporate these reflections into the next week's AIP meal plan to help you feel your best.
Autoimmune Protocol Recipes:
And now onto the fun part, the recipes!
Here are 5 of my favorite Autoimmune protocol recipes. If you want more support, I have a complete 4 week AIP meal plan available here.
Honey Ginger Salmon – This salmon recipe is quite simple but has plenty of flavor. Ginger, garlic, lemon and honey lend a sweet and savory combo that everyone will love. Serve with 1-2 of your favorite veggie sides and you're good to go.
Chicken Vegetable Soup – This is one of our most popular recipes! It turns out Chicken Vegetable Soup doesn't need the noodles to be totally comforting and delicious. The fresh parsley and lemon really take this one to the next level.
Slow Cooker Turmeric Pork – One way to keep from getting bored with AIP recipes is to mix up the preparation method. Sure, many foods are off-limits and you may find yourself making lots of simple meat + veggie dinners. But if you mix it up with grilling, roasting, sautéing and the slow cooker, you'll still get plenty of variety. This slow cooker pork requires only 5 ingredients and it's an easy one to double up. Try serving half on lettuce wraps, taco-style, and then enjoying the leftovers on top of roasted sweet potatoes.
Sweet Potato Pear Soup – Making pureed soups is one of my specialties. It used to be one of my jobs when I interned at a health spa, which seems like a lifetime ago! This one gets lots of natural sweetness from the pears and sweet potatoes but it's beautifully balanced with the savory notes from the garlic and ginger.
AIP Baked Apples – I know one of the hardest parts of following AIP for many of you will be avoiding all sugar. This AIP dessert recipe is a great solution! It's sweetened entirely with fruit but I promise it makes a deeply satisfying dessert, regardless of AIP. This is one you'll find yourself making long after the reintroduction phase!
Need more Autoimmune protocol recipes and resources? Make sure to check out my full 4 week AIP Meal Plan!