Finishing Food Re-Introductions on AIP

Finishing Food Re-Introductions on AIP

This month I was finishing up my last food re-introductions on AIP. I met with my nutritionist, who asked me how I was feeling. I have been feeling pretty good. I’ve still avoiding wheat/gluten, most dairy (I’ve started eating small amounts of cheese and even 2% milk in my coffee occasionally), garlic, onions, and apples. I’ve found that the last three, garlic, onions, and apples, are the ones causing most of my bloating. Once I learned to avoid them, including garlic and onion powder which is found in a lot of prepared foods, my bloating has gotten a lot more under control and I’ve been feeling not exactly skinny, but at least not fat. It feels really good for my stomach to be it’s “normal” size and not extra big.

The last foods I re-introduced were pinto beans and black beans. With the black beans, I felt okay for a few hours and then I could almost feel my stomach start to protrude. I also felt some pressure on my bladder like I had to go to the bathroom. I also had gas with both kinds of beans. It wasn’t terrible. I could handle if I ever really wanted to eat beans, like at a Mexican restaurant, but I’ve decided that it’s better to avoid beans most of the time.

My nutritionist said I should keep doing what I’ve been doing for the next 6 weeks until our next appointment, and we’ll see if I still feel good then. She advised against doing an official low-FODMAP diet at this time since I’ve already been through an elimination diet this year. If I’m feeling pretty good, there doesn’t seem to be a need to restrict my diet further. Just keep doing what I’ve been doing. Also, I’m pretty much already eating a low-FODMAP diet. The highest FODMAP foods are wheat, dairy (that contains lactose), beans, garlic, onions, avocado, and apples. There are some other foods like pit fruit and some vegetables that are fairly high in FODMAPs as well, but she said I didn’t need to cut them out at this time. The only high FODMAP food that I’m eating a lot of is avocado, which I eat everyday. I’ll have to start watching my quantity. Otherwise, I’m good to go!

I Know I’m Bloated When….

I Know I’m Bloated When….

When I find myself rubbing my extended stomach and muttering to myself, “I feel “blubbery,” that’s a sure sign that I am bloated. That’s the best way I can describe the feeling – my stomach feels blubbery. My stomach is protruding and pudgy, and I feel fat and lethargic. The last thing I want to do is go clothes shopping. Even though my weight is still the same – I don’t always gain weight when I feel blubbery – but I feel so fat that I can’t imagine trying to buy new clothes. I can sort of feel the lower part of my stomach, under my belly button, settling in my lap when I’m sitting down. That’s how I’m feeling right now.

I’ve been reading that the Low-FODMAP diet can provide relief for 70% of people with IBS. IBS symptoms include bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. I have never been diagnosed with IBS, but I often have three of these symptoms (not diarrhea). According to the book I’ve been reading, two of the biggest FODMAPs to avoid are garlic and onions. Today I ate a salad of spring greens with Tessa Mae’s Zesty Italian dressing. This dressing was recommended to me early on by my nutritionist because it is gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free and tastes very good. I noticed that it has garlic in it as well as onion powder, but I had already purchased a bottle and surely, the amounts of the garlic and onions are so small they will not make any difference, right? Well, by the way my stomach is feeling blubbery right now, apparently it is enough to make a difference. So, I definitely need to avoid garlic and onions, even in tiny amounts, from now on.

Last week, my stomach was feeling about as flat as I can ever remember it feeling. Then, I ran out of berries to eat with my breakfast and cut up an apple and sprinkled it with cinnamon to eat instead. Later that day, my bloating seemed to return and I haven’t been able to get back down to that flat-stomach feeling again. Apples are a high-FODMAP food! Apples seem like such a healthy food to eat, but the book I’m reading says apples are high-FODMAP and they contain two (or even three?) different kinds of FODMAPs. So, I need to avoid apples for a while, along with the garlic and onions.

My Bloating Problem – Do I Need To Go Low-FODMAP?

My Bloating Problem – Do I Need To Go Low-FODMAP?

I think I may have finally figured out my bloating problem. Even when I was following the AIP diet strictly, I found that I still felt bloated. AIP helped me lose weight, eliminated my acid reflux, and otherwise made me feel good and healthy, but a lot of the time I still felt bloated and heavy around my stomach. The bloating would come and go. Some days I felt very bloated and other days I felt skinny. That’s the best way I can describe it. Some days I felt skinny and other days I felt like a fat blob. Even though I was losing weight.

I couldn’t figure out what was causing it. I was eating a strict AIP diet. For a while nothing seemed to make a difference. I thought it might have been the plantain chips, so I stopped eating those for a week. I still felt bloated. I thought it might have been the guacamole, so I stopped eating that for a week. No difference. Still bloated. I read about how bananas can help bloating, so I tried to eat more bananas. No real lasting difference (there’s only so many bananas I could eat). Sometimes, I knew the bloating was caused by mild constipation. On those days, I could feel that I was constipated and I knew as soon as I had a bowel movement, some of the bloating would go down. My nutritionist told me that constipation is either due to not enough fiber or not enough water. I was eating a lot of fiber on AIP, so I tried drinking more water. I think that helped with the constipation, but there were days that I still felt bloated and I wasn’t constipated.

All of this time, the rest of my diet was strictly AIP. I thought it might be the estrogen patch I applied twice a week. Maybe my estrogen level was too high. So, I asked my gyno to change me from the 0.1 mg patch to the 0.075 mg patch. She asked me if I had tried the low-FODMAP diet. I have read about FODMAPs and I know that I’m sensitive to garlic and raw onions. However, I was eating a lot of cooked onions, which I thought were okay. They are AIP compliant and I didn’t notice any immediate symptoms after I ate them. So, I started using the 0.075 mg patch and I stopped eating cooked onions at the same time. A few days later, my bloating went down! The problem is that I can’t really tell what did it, the lower estrogen or eliminating onions. I suspect it’s probably the onions, or maybe both.

I’ve been using the 0.075 mg patch for a month now and I’m afraid I’m starting to have hot flashes again. I’m also not sleeping well. I keep waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, like I used to do. I don’t think I’m having night sweats, but I do feel like I’m getting hotter and hotter, which worries me. I went into the office this week and wore a light sweater over my sleeveless dress and I felt hot and bothered. Of course, it is August, but I was inside. So, now I’m thinking I need to read up on the low-FODMAP diet and see what I need to eliminate to do that “properly” and see if that makes a permanent difference. Also, I’m feeling normal now, no bloating, so it could be a good time to test onions to see if they really are the culprit.

AIP for a Week: the Day After – and – My Favorite New Snack

AIP for a Week: the Day After – and – My Favorite New Snack

I weighed myself this morning and I was a little bit lower than yesterday, about 0.4 lbs down. It wasn’t easy to get strict with my diet again, but I’m so glad I did it. I think it helped me recover from vacation faster and get back on track. I also came to appreciate all the food I’ve successfully reintroduced.

I had coffee this morning, with coconut milk as “creamer.” It tasted okay, but I need to work on improving the flavor. Coffee will be my once- or twice-a-week treat.

I also had peanut butter and celery for a snack today and loved it. I had such a craving for peanut butter it was almost weird. Where did that come from? Was I craving the fat or the nutty flavor?

I remember the exact day I tried peanut butter and celery. It was Memorial day weekend this year at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, Virginia. We were visiting the museum with my in-laws and we got hungry and started looking for lunch in the mid-afternoon. The museum has a little cafe, which was the fastest, most convenient food. I looked over the menu for something gluten-free and they didn’t have much. I got a bowl of Brunswick stew (I think). I was still hungry afterwards. Earlier in the day, I had eaten the healthy snack I brought, and I was frustrated because I was going to spend the rest of the afternoon at the museum hungry. I took a second look at the refrigerator in the cafe. There were two items that were gluten-free: a fruit cup and a container of celery with a small container of peanut butter. I didn’t feel like fruit, so I chose the peanut butter and celery. My mother used to eat peanut butter on celery and I had heard of it before, but it never really appealed to me. I would eat the two ingredients separately, but I had never even tried to put them together.

The first time I dipped the celery into the peanut butter sparingly and I was surprised how good it tasted. The celery gives it crunch and the peanut butter gives it a nutty flavor and creaminess. The celery tones down the peanut butter a bit and helps prevent the peanut butter from sticking your mouth shut. I ate the whole container by myself, which was a generous size portion. I could feel the celery nourishing my body with vegetable goodness. Afterwards, my hunger had been satiated and I felt satisfied. We stayed at the museum until closing time and I easily stayed satisfied until dinnertime. What a great find!

AIP for a Week: Day 7

AIP for a Week: Day 7

Today is the last day of my week-long, post-vacation AIP tune-up. I went to my nutritionist today and, according to her scale, I’ve gained two pounds since my last appointment six weeks ago. According to my scale at home, I am exactly the same weight as I was when I left on vacation. She said that two pounds is a normal fluctuation and nothing to worry about. She did say that I should watch the amount of plantain chips I was eating because of the calories. She suggested I rotate those with other, lower-calorie snacks such as carrots dipped in guacamole.

She also recommended that I try to reintroduce rice, corn, and beans. This would help a lot when I’m traveling and eating out. I’ve already introduced potatoes, and I don’t really like sweet potatoes. I’ve already successfully introduced coffee, eggs, raw tomatoes, nuts, peanuts, peanut butter, black pepper, guacamole with small amounts of onions and jalapenos in it, and a few other things, so the next logical foods to reintroduce are the starches.

When I reintroduce these starches, the important thing is that I replace something in my diet and not just add these to my diet. I would replace some of the fruit I eat because fruit is a starch. I’ve gotten used to not eating corn, beans, and rice, and I’m not sure I want to give up some of my sweet fruit, but I understand her point. I need to find out how these foods affect me so I know whether or not I can eat them in the future if needed. The objective of reintroducing foods is to make my diet as broad as possible and still allow me to feel good and be healthy.

I spent most of the day dreaming about the foods I will eat tomorrow. I’ll have coffee with coconut milk, sausage, and fruit for breakfast; meat and vegetables for lunch; 365 brand unsweetened creamy peanut butter and celery sticks for a snack; and meat, vegetable, and corn on the cob for dinner. Yum! I’m really excited about the peanut butter and celery sticks. Peanut butter has roughly the same calories as guacamole, but the celery sticks have significantly less calories than the plantain chips, so peanut butter and celery sticks should be a very good snack.

Breakfast:
green tea
strawberries
sausage (this sausage was pork sausage from Harris Teeter’s deli that ended up having red pepper flakes in it, so I wasn’t crazy about the flavor)

Lunch:
smoothie with strawberries, banana, baby spinach, coconut milk
sausage, leftover from breakfast
carrots, raw, handful
spring greens, plain, handful
plantain chips
chunky avocado
blueberries

Dinner:
slow-cooked chicken, leftover from yesterday
carrots, raw
blueberries
small portion of plantain chips
small portion of avocado

Late Evening Snack:
frozen orange juice

AIP for a Week: Day 6

AIP for a Week: Day 6

I weighed myself this morning and I have lost two pounds since I got back from vacation! I’m only 0.2 lbs higher than when I left for vacation. So, it took me 6 days of stricter eating to get the excess bloat from the trip off.

Two more days until I’ll reintroduce foods again. I must say I’m looking forward to it. Several times this week, I’ve been tempted by other foods, but I held strong.

Breakfast:
blueberries
sausage, leftover from yesterday
green tea with fresh ginger

Lunch:
salmon, wild caught, frozen, with lemon, rosemary, sea salt
plantain chips
avocado

Afternoon Snack:
rest of the salmon from lunch
smoothie with baby spinach, frozen strawberries, ripe banana, coconut milk, splash of orange juice

The smoothie is a great way to eat something sweet and still AIP-compliant. And it’s a great way to get some greens and full-fat coconut milk into my diet. When my nutritionist recommended a green smoothie, I was skeptical. It sounded awful to me to put spinach or kale with fruit and grind it up into drinkable form. She insisted that the fruit overpowers the taste of the greens. The greens make the smoothie turn a green color, but you can’t taste it. I screwed up my courage and tried it one day. She was right! The smoothie turned green but I could only taste the strawberry-banana flavor. Yeah! Easy, tasty way to get more greens into my diet.

Dinner:
strawberries
slow-cooked boneless organic chicken tenders and carrots, with bone broth, coconut milk, and dashes of thyme, oregano, rosemary, sea salt, ginger, and turmeric
plantain chips
chunky avocado

This slow-cooked chicken was an amalgamation of a couple recipes I saw online and turned out very well. I added potatoes to it for my husband, which he really liked, but I didn’t eat any.

I was still hungry when I finished dinner so I ate some plantain chips and chunky avocado. This is my go-to snack whenever I feel like I need more carbs or something crunchy. At $3.49 per 5 oz. bag at Whole Foods, it isn’t the cheapest snack, so ideally I will slow down on my consumption someday, but not when I’m doing AIP strictly. I need that extra crunch.

Evening Snack:
frozen orange juice

Frozen orange juice is my evening comfort food that helps me relax. The sweetness satisfies my sweet tooth and makes me feel like my eating for the day is complete. I would like to limit my consumption of this “treat” as well, but I feel like it really helps me through doing AIP strictly.

AIP for a Week: Day 5

AIP for a Week: Day 5

Brunch:
grapes
sausage, 365 brand from Whole Foods
green tea with ginger

Mid-Afternoon Snack:
plantain chips
chunky avocado
leftovers from Built Custom Burgers
rooibos tea with ginger

Dinner:
slow-cooked pork butt, leftover (my last portion of this)
roasted broccoli, leftover (small amount)
spring greens, no dressing
blueberries, handful

Evening Snack:
grass-fed burger, plain
frozen orange juice

I was hungry in the evening since my two previous meals were small. I really wanted to eat some peanut butter or some nuts, but I decided to cook up one of my grass-fed burgers instead. I bought those pre-made into patties at Walmart.

For the spring greens, I’m in the habit of just grabbing a couple fistfuls and stuffing them in my mouth raw and plain, like a cow grazing in a field. I just can’t be bothered to make a dressing, although I’m sure a dressing would make them taste better. I’m definitely a lazy cook!

AIP for a Week: Day 4

AIP for a Week: Day 4

I weighed myself this morning and I’ve lost 1.4 lbs of my vacation weight. Yeah! I knew it was mostly bloat from all the dairy and the couple of times I ate gluten. 0.8 lbs more and I will be the same weight as when we left for vacation.

Breakfast:
strawberries
sausage
green tea with fresh ginger

Lunch:
plantain chips
chunky avocado
slow-cooked pork butt (yes, I am still eating these leftovers!)
roasted broccoli, leftover (added extra lemon juice to enhance the flavor)
celery, raw, handful
blueberries, handful
ginger-turmeric tea

Dinner:
Built Custom Burgers – burger in a bowl with lettuce, pickles, cucumbers, bacon, guacamole, mushrooms, pineapple, dried cranberries, and olive oil and vinegar (I ate the pineapple and dried cranberries on the side as a sort of dessert)

Evening Snack:
frozen orange juice

For the first 30 days that I did AIP, I didn’t eat out, as recommended by my nutritionist. However since this week is a getting-back-on-track week and not the initial 30-90 days elimination period, I went out to dinner with my husband at the Built Custom Burgers restaurant near our home. It’s difficult to get grass-fed beef at a restaurant, but I was able to pick and choose my toppings to be compliant with the AIP food list. I avoided the bun, the cheese, the tomatoes and sauces, the tater tots/fries, and the onions (because I suspect I’m sensitive to FODMAPS). I was still able to have a tasty, filling meal, and my husband was happy that I could go out to eat.

AIP for a Week: Day 3

AIP for a Week: Day 3

I’m getting back to eating 3 meals a day instead of the 5-6 smaller meals I ate the past two days. From what I’ve read, fewer meals a day is healthier because it gives your body a break from digestion so it is more able to heal.

Breakfast:
banana
sausage
green tea with fresh ginger

Lunch:
leftover salmon
spring greens (no dressing)
plantain chips
chunky avocado
strawberries
ginger-turmeric tea

Dinner:
slow-cooked pork butt, leftover
roasted broccoli, leftover
grapes, handful

Evening Snack:
frozen orange juice

I feel like I’m getting back on track now. My hunger is subsiding and my cravings have reduced. I weighed myself this morning and I’m only 0.2 lbs down from when I got back from vacation, which is still 1.8 lbs heavier than when I left for vacation.

Super Easy AIP Roasted Broccoli

Super Easy AIP Roasted Broccoli

The secret to eating more vegetables is to roast them! Roasting can make a huge difference in flavor and texture. It can make some vegetables, like broccoli, much tastier and easier to eat.

AIP limits the spices you can use. Black pepper, chili, paprika, and other fruit- and berry-based spices are out during the elimination phase. (Angie and Micky of Autoimmune Wellness have a great guide on their website where they summarize AIP all on one page: What is AIP? The Definite Guide). So, I have become a big fan of sea salt, basil, and oregano. Tasty and easy – that’s what I like! There are a lot of spices that are allowed on AIP and many of those could also be used for roasting vegetables, but I’m familiar with basil and oregano, so I just grab those.

I’m sensitive to garlic so I stopped eating it and don’t add it to any recipes. However, adding garlic could boost the flavor if you can tolerate it and garlic is AIP-friendly.

Broccoli, fresh, 12-16 oz (I found organic broccoli in the veggie section of Walmart)
Coconut oil spray
Sea salt
Basil
Oregano

Wash broccoli and trim off excess stems. Chop into bite-size pieces if needed. Spray pan or baking dish with coconut oil. Put broccoli in dish. Spray with coconut oil so spices will stick. Sprinkle generously with basil and oregano. Sprinkle with salt. Bake at 350°F for 12-15 minutes. I baked mine for 12 minutes and it turned out crisp-tender, but if you like it softer, bake it longer. I probably should have baked it for a few more minutes. This “recipe” is very flexible. You can easily bake it at a higher temperature at the same time as other dishes. Just adjust the time and keep an eye on it.