It’s not easy to start the AIP (autoimmune paleo) protocol. Various foods like bread, cereal, nuts, seeds, tomatoes, eggs are all of a sudden off the list of foods you can eat, and you’re left wondering what on earth you can still eat!
So, we’ve created this handy guide to help you navigate the AIP diet and heal your body as quickly as possible.
You can also download this list as a printable PDF to stick on your fridge or to take with you when you go shopping.
Items in parentheticals are typically harder to find and not often used in most recipes. If you live somewhere where those items are easier to find and you want to give them a try, then by all means purchase them. Where applicable, items are linked so that you can purchase them on Amazon.com or elsewhere online.
Sea salt + flavored salt (e.g., garlic salt, lemon salt)
If you’re looking for the AIP Food List, then click the button below to download it:
Canned fish and seafood (packed in brine or olive oil)
Herbal tea (rooibos, mint, honeybush, chamomile)
Other teas (black, white, green)
(Sweet potato puree)
(Chicory root “coffee”)
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It’s the Achilles’ heel in my diet. While I’ve never been a big fan of milk or white chocolate, dark chocolate has been my trusted companion since I can remember.
Luckily, dark chocolate is OK on a Paleo diet in moderation, but what about on the Paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP)?
Short Answer: Probably Not
I’m sorry to disappoint you, but chocolate is generally not considered autoimmune-friendly.
You’re probably thinking there’s some loophole because I used the words “probably not” and “generally,” but I don’t want to get your hopes up. It’s really best if you don’t eat chocolate on the AIP diet, and here’s why:
Sarah Ballantyne says the following about chocolate in The Paleo Approach:
“Chocolate is extremely high in phytic acid and omega-6 polyunsaturated fats and contains caffeine, all of which are reasons to avoid it on the Paleo Approach.”
In fact, Sarah herself experienced dramatic improvements in her lichen planus when she cut out chocolate from her diet.
So, what’s the loophole then?
There’s no specific link between chocolate and autoimmune conditions or leaky gut. And most less strict versions of the Paleo autoimmune protocol (like the one in Robb Wolf’s book, The Paleo Solution) don’t mention anything about chocolate.
So, should you eat chocolate on the Paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP)?
As with anything in life, the choice is yours. My thoughts would be to eliminate it initially and then to introduce it and see whether it affects your autoimmune condition or not.
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If you’re like me, then you might want to delve beneath the surface and understand why something is the case. So, when someone tells me that chocolate isn’t autoimmune-friendly, then I want to know why!
So, what’s unhealthy about chocolate?
1. Chocolate contains added sugar and non-Paleo ingredients
First, there’s the obvious, most chocolate is made into processed desserts that contain a bunch of unhealthy ingredients like sugar, milk solids, etc.
But what about pure dark chocolate? Ok, read on!
2. Chocolate is high in phytic acid.
Phytic acid is a substance naturally present in chocolate as well as various other plant-derived foods like nuts, seeds, beans, and grains. Phytic acid can prevent us from absorbing many of the nutrients in the meal we’re eating. For that reason, it’s often called an anti-nutrient. So, eating chocolate as a dessert can mean that you don’t absorb as many of the minerals from the rest of the food you ate that meal.
This is problematic in those with autoimmune conditions as they likely already have impaired digestive issues and often already have mineral deficiencies. So they wouldn’t want to then not absorb the few minerals they do take in with their meal by eating chocolate as a dessert.
3. Chocolate contains caffeine
According to the USDA, 1 oz of dark chocolate contains around 23 mg of caffeine. Compare this with 1 cup of coffee, which has around 100 mg of caffeine. However, 1 oz of dark chocolate does also contain 227 mg of theobromine.
So, what’s wrong with caffeine?
Caffeine has been linked to rises in cortisol levels and increased inflammation. While there’s no definitive science suggesting caffeine is good or bad for our general health, Sarah Ballantyne suggests limiting caffeine intake for those on AIP “mainly to support normalization of cortisol levels and rhythms.”
What’s wrong with theobromine?
Honestly, I don’t know because there’s been very little research done on it. Currently, it seems people think theobromine is a better version of caffeine.
4. Chocolate is high in Omega-6 fats.
1 oz of dark chocolate contains 402 mg of omega-6 fatty acids and 32.8 mg of omega-3 fatty acids. This skewed omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is probably not that great for you unless you’re eating plenty of high omega-3 foods to balance it out.
Chocolate is easy to overeat
I probably don’t need to show you any science for this one – I’m sure you’ve experienced it yourself!
Chocolate just makes me feel bad
Ok, it doesn’t make me personally feel bad, but I have heard anecdotal stories about people feeling worse if they eat even dark chocolate. Jeremy is one of these people as is Sarah Ballantyne.
Chocolate contains lectins
Eileen suggests in this article that chocolate contains lectins, which can cause increased intestinal permeability as well as other issues. However, I have not found any scientific literature suggesting that the processed cacao we eat in chocolate contains lectins (the cacao plant and bean itself may contain lectins).
Most chocolate contains soy lecithin
If you look carefully at the ingredients list of most chocolate bars, you’ll find soy lecithin listed at the end. Soy lecithin is an emulsifier that is used to produce a smoother chocolate texture. While soy lecithin is not particularly healthy, it’s also not that unhealthy and you can find a fair number of chocolate brands or 100% chocolates that do not have soy lecithin as an ingredient if you want to avoid it.
So, as you can see, dark chocolate isn’t all that bad, and it definitely has a fair amount of beneficial properties (like antioxidants and minerals). However, since some people do feel better when they eliminate chocolate from their diet, it’s worth giving it a shot!
What can you eat instead of chocolate then when you’re on the Paleo autoimmune protocol and craving for a bar of delicious chocolate?
Carob is a great substitute for chocolate.
Carob doesn’t contain caffeine and has a fair amount of vitamins and minerals. However, when you buy carob, make sure to buy pure carob powder (check the ingredients list to make sure carob is the only ingredient). Carob chips will contain non- Paleo and non-AIP ingredients unfortunately.
This carob powder (which you can get on Amazon.com) is 100% pure carob.
Then use the carob powder to make your own AIP “Chocolate” treats like some of the recipes listed below.
Make sure to pick a good chocolate when you reintroduce chocolate into your diet.
Most chocolate is filled with non-Paleo (and obviously non-AIP) ingredients. For example, milk chocolate contains a ton of sugar and dairy products. So, you should avoid those regardless. Same goes for white chocolate – there’s usually a milk product as well as lots of sugar in them.
So, if you’re reintroducing chocolate into your diet, then pick a dark chocolate (over 85% if possible).
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Paleo baking (and gluten-free baking) can be confusing already, and the fact that most of the Paleo cookbooks and blogs are written by Americans means that you have to spend a ton of time doing Paleo baking conversions for all your ingredients.
I still remember first learning that a cup was a standard measurement in America (it confused me to no end as a child growing up in the UK).
So, to help everyone who wants to try their hand at Paleo baking (or gluten-free baking), here’s a handy and comprehensive list of US to Metric conversions for Paleo, grain-free, and gluten-free baking.
I’ve also included a few ingredients that are typically not found in Paleo baking, but I thought it’d be useful to have the conversions for them anyway.
If I’ve missed any ingredient that you think should be on this baking conversions list that would help you convert US recipes, then please send me a message and let me know.
This small bottle of dark red liquid causes a lot of debate in the health and culinary worlds.
So what is liquid smoke? Is it a cheat for those of us too lazy to actually smoke our meats or is it a healthier way to make foods delicious? And of course, the most important question on your mind, is liquid smoke Paleo?
Read more to find out!
I know how tough being on the autoimmune protocol (AIP) can be, so hopefully this giant list of AIP Dessert Recipes will make life a bit easier for you!
I know some of you also have coconut allergies or you’re just tired of eating too much coconut products to replace everything else, so there’s a dedicated list of coconut-free AIP dessert recipes as well below.
I’ve worked really hard to ensure everything is 100% AIP-compliant, but my eyes were going dizzy trying to check through so many ingredient lists, so if there are any errors then please send us an email at email@example.com to let us know. Thanks!
You can stuff bacon into practically any food and end up with a more delicious version of that food. From chocolate to skewered chicken, bacon makes almost everything better (bacon jam, anyone?).
And yet, you’ve probably heard for most of your life that bacon is a heart attack waiting to happen. Luckily, we now know that’s just not true.
But the real question…
I didn’t grow up exposed to a lot of foods that you might consider to be traditionally non-American. (Whatever that means, but you get the idea.)
Ghee is certainly such a food.
In fact, when I first read about it, I didn’t even know how to pronounce it. Gee? Jee?
I had no idea, except the vague understanding that people seem to spread it on things.
Dairy is a confusing topic within the Paleo diet and there’s a lot of debate still about it, so I hope this article will clear that up for you if you’re confused, or just skip down to the section listing the types of allowed dairy if that’s all you’re after.
Let me start by stating that dairy is a highly nutritious (and delicious) food source, and humans have consumed animal milk for millennia. That doesn’t mean it’s good for you to eat though!
So how do you determine if dairy is right for you??
Like many people, the reason why you’re going Paleo is probably to lose weight or heal a health condition like digestive issues, autoimmune, inflammation, or controlling blood sugar, and unfortunately, eating dairy typically does not help you achieve any of those goals!
In particular, dairy has been closely linked to digestive and inflammatory issues for many people (e.g., sinus problems, joint pain, acne, IBS, bloating, gas).
So while dairy (especially in the full-fat, fermented, or raw forms) may be good for a very healthy individual, it’s generally not great for most people with existing health or weight loss issues.
There are 3 main reasons for avoiding dairy if you have health issues (please share the infographics below):
When I hear the word nightshade, my first thought is generally that it’s poisonous (since deadly nightshade, also known as atropa belladonna, is often mentioned as a poison in the mystery books I used to read as a child).
But, nightshades (also known as Solanaceae) encompasses a whole family of flowering plants that includes many very popular fruits and vegetables that you probably eat daily.
(There’s a whole section below on why you might want to avoid nightshades for health reasons as well so keep on reading!)
And if you want the whole list of nightshades foods emailed to you, just click here.
Some of the most popular nightshades are potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, and chili peppers. But because various spices and spice mixes are made from chili peppers, nightshades can be found in a whole host of processed foods!
Here’s a more complete list of nightshades that you might be eating (some of them may be rare in the US):
One of the questions I get asked the most about the autoimmune Paleo protocol (AIP) is what can I drink if I can’t have coffee?
Coffee has become so entrenched in our habits that we’ve become addicted not only to the daily dose of caffeine it offers us but also to that aromatic smell that wakes our senses every morning. So, what do you do if you’re starting AIP and have to forgo coffee for 30-60 days if not longer?
A reader emailed me about chicory root coffee a while back, but I didn’t see it for sale until a few weeks ago. So, I decided to give this naturally non-caffeinated AIP-compliant “coffee” substitute a try.
As of today, around 1 in 5 American children have some sort of respiratory allergy (like Hay Fever), and around 1 in 10 have Asthma.
That’s somewhere between a 200% and 300% increase just during the end of the 20th century.
But it’s not happening everywhere…
The following article is a fascinating dive into the allergy epidemic that’s been occurring for the past half-century.
This article is a little bit more important than usual.
So it’s also a little bit longer than usual. But you should read it all. Especially if you have an autoimmune disease, and probably even if you don’t.
I get a lot of emails from readers asking about the Autoimmune Protocol (often abbreviated “AIP”) within Paleo. Questions like: “What is it?” “Is it right for me?” “How do I do it?” and “Will it help me with ______ problem?”
Unfortunately, there just wasn’t a great article or series of articles that clearly answered all of these questions. And that was a shame.
So…I decided to write this article. It’s a very thorough but easy-to-read guide to AIP, including a comprehensive, printable list of foods that are allowed or not allowed on AIP that you can have emailed to you by clicking below or at the end of the article. There’s also a handy AIP FOOD TABLE below that you can Pin, so keep reading!
The first time someone told me they had an autoimmune disease, I thought they meant they had AIDS (yes, I was quite clueless, despite the fact that I actually have an autoimmune disease). For the difference between Autoimmune Disease (AID) and Acquired Immune Deficiency (AIDS), check out this article.
Let me begin by explaining the basics of an autoimmune disease, because the chances are that you might have one!
Autoimmune diseases occur when your body’s own immune system starts attacking your own body’s proteins. This happens because your body thinks that those proteins are a foreign substance (e.g., a bacteria) that need to be destroyed. Unfortunately, this can end up causing widespread destruction of your own organs and cells instead.
There are a ton of different autoimmune diseases (some may not have even been identified, and many of them are obscure like the one I have). Most autoimmune diseases differ based on which proteins/cells are being attacked by your immune system.
Here are some autoimmune diseases you might have come across: