In this AIP Spotlight, I am talking with someone I personally find very inspiring! Welcome Erin, from Enjoying This Journey!
Erin is a mom, autoimmune warrior, and blogger. If you haven't already done so, make sure you go check out her awesome site HERE. She is a great example for making an AIP lifestyle work with her whole family! You'll enjoy her Instagram account as well. She is always cooking up delicious AIP comfort food and sharing great school lunch ideas! Giver her a follow @enjoyingthisjourney and show her some love!
Now please enjoy her honest, encouraging interview as much as I did!
To start, tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm a wife and WAHM, constantly striving for balance (or some version of it). I have three known diagnoses: psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and Raynaud's. I'd consider myself a homebody, but I love getting outside, going on hikes, and camping.
How long have you followed the Autoimmune Protocol, and what prompted you to try it?
I initially changed my diet by starting primal, but soon after I found out about the paleo autoimmune protocol and jumped in. My best guess for starting the AIP is sometime in March of 2013.
What have you found to be most challenging in following the Autoimmune Protocol? What helped you to overcome this?
In the beginning, it was hard to figure out breakfast. I had gotten used to "nutty porridge" and eggs for my breakfast. I realized I had to reframe breakfast yet again and think of it as any other meal. Leftovers, soup, salads, pâté and apples - as long as it was nutrient-dense. Now, the most challenging part is not feeling frustrated with failed reintros.
Other than food, what aspect of AIP living have you found has the biggest impact on your health?
I wish I could lump stress and sleep together into one category. Because those two facets hold the power to make me feel great or make me feel miserable. I've done a great job over the years with guarding my sleep and I'm still working on the stress part.
Share 1 thing you wish you had known when you started the Autoimmune Protocol.
Patience, grasshopper. I've had psoriasis since I was five and it was 27 years before I made any change to what I ate or how I lived to take control of that autoimmune disease. Healing can't happen overnight.
What rewarding results have you seen from following AIP?
Diagnosis-wise, I've maintained control of my psoriasis and only have a small bit on my scalp. The psoriatic arthritis and Raynaud's are completely managed with the AIP. Other symptoms that have improved: headaches/migraines are a thing of the past. I no longer experience menstrual cramps (I also give credit to the use of a menstrual cup). Keratosis pilaris (aka chicken skin) on the back of my arms is gone. There are still days where I struggle with brain fog, but if I'm guarding my sleep I feel great. Lastly, something I never connected with diet before was anxiety. I used to suffer tremendously with it starting in my early 20s, but is just a vague memory (granted a nightmarish one) now.
Not everyone understands why we choose to live & eat the way we do. How do you deal with nay-sayers?
This protocol wasn't the first time my family changed how we eat, so I have plenty of experience with this. Ha! I've come to accept that some people take offense with what another person chooses to do with their life/career/children/diet. The world is full of people and their opinions. How I eat is not a topic to debate. If someone is genuinely curious as to why I choose to eat this and not that - I answer questions simply, but I don't allow someone to guilt or shame me for maintaining how far I've come to feel better.
Name one of your go-to AIP recipes. Why do you love it?
I don't meal plan, so most of our meals are created on the fly. One super quick recipe that I can throw together on a busy night is my Beef and Brussels. It's one I continually go back to because everyone loves it.
Tap the picture below to go to Erin's recipe!
What are your top 3 AIP pantry items?
I'm assuming the ferments I have on the counter don't count? I'd have to say a variety of spices (my top three spices are: turmeric, sage, and cinnamon) and quality salts, wild caught sardines (I buy them by the case when they're on sale), and my arsenal of fats (avocado oil, EVOO, lard, bacon fat, duck fat, and tallow).
Following the Autoimmune Protocol affects more than just ourselves. How have you incorporated AIP into your household?
From the start, my family changed their diet to support me. My husband is free to eat whatever he wants outside of the home, but he feels better without the junk. Our daughter started this diet change when she was four so she's learned the basic reasons we eat this way. Our son essentially ate like this from the start, he's never had gluten. When he was four months old I cut out dairy and kept it paleo because he was reacting to it when he nursed. His first foods were real, whole foods. Both kids can have nuts, nightshades, seeds, etc. without issue. We do cut out dairy if/when one of them have a cold though. We include white rice as an option for them also. But like I said, they eat what I make. I worked in a restaurant for a decade. I'm not a short order cook at home. ;) They get an AIP meal often by default.
It can be hard to maintain relationships while chronically ill & following AIP. What tips can you share for navigating this challenge?
Allow yourself some grace, have realistic expectations, and set boundaries. I'm thankful for my husband's support, but that doesn't mean we've not butted heads about things over the years.
We know our thoughts & emotions play a large role in AIP healing. Do you have a favourite phrase, or mantra, if you will?
I can't take credit for it, but I love to say, "Do you, boo." I believe if everyone took a breath and said this, either to themselves or to someone casting judgment, people would be better off. Reel it in, calm it down, and keep on doing your thing. You've got this.
Thank you, Erin!
I absolutely adore her honesty and realistic perspective! Balance, with ourselves, others, and our food is something we all strive for, and she seems to have achieved! What a great example; if she can do it, so can we all. And we can see it is so worth it!
Thanks everybody for joining us over here for this week's AIP Spotlight! I know it's a highlight of my week - hopefully yours, too! Come back next week for another inspiring, real-life interview!
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The Emancipated Epicure, Bethany. I'm a Foodie & Autoimmune Warrior who loves to cook. Working at healing with the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol.