Understanding the Whole 30 and Autoimmune Protocol Diets
If you are what you eat, as the old saying goes, then what are you?  Are you healthy, alert, strong and energetic?  Or are you plagued by chronic pain, fatigue, and disease?  If you have decided that this is your year to rid your body of unhealthy symptoms, you might want to take a look at The Whole 30 and the AIP (Autoimmune Protocol) Diets.  Though similar in many ways, there are also some differences.  

The Whole 30 Diet

The Whole 30 Diet plan is an elimination diet plan, designed with the intent to determine the connection between the food you eat and the way you feel.  This 30 day (whole 30, get it?) experiment rocked the nutrition world with touts of increased stamina, weight loss, and clearer skin.  It is based on eating whole foods, eliminating others, and focusing on health benefits rather than deprivation and weight loss.

What you can eat

  • Meat and seafood and it doesn't really have to be grass-fed or organic, but that is a major plus
  • Eggs
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Natural fats
  • Herbs, spices, and seasonings
  • Coffee (an important component to this diet)
  • Ghee or Clarified Butter

Eat foods with a simple or recognizable list of ingredients, or with no ingredients at all because they're whole and unprocessed.  If you can't pronounce an ingredient.....nope, not included.

What to Eliminate

  • Soy
  • Dairy
  • Grains
  • Alcohol
  • Legumes
  • Sugars
  • Sulfites
  • Smoking (even weed)

Like any plan, there are some rules.  In addition to the eliminated foods above, be careful to stay on course for the entire 30 day period.  If you slip, you will need to start the count over at Day 1.  So decide if that piece of pizza is worth it.  This plan is a reset.  No cheating.  And this might be the right time to warn you: Read labels.  If you are purchasing food with an ingredient statement, read it!  Better to read now than to have to restart at day 1.  Some sneaky banned ingredients might be hiding there.

Don't weigh yourself until the 30 days are completed.  This way you are focusing on how you feel, not how much you weigh.  You are probably going to see a difference in the way your clothes fit, but stave off the temptation to jump on that bathroom scale.

After the initial 30 days, you will be able to add back some of the foods that you think you have missed.  Slowly.  On Day 31, it is a really bad idea to go out and eat an entire chocolate cheesecake.  But you wouldn't do that, would you?

What to Expect

There is such a thing as sugar addiction, so if you have been a major supporter of the sugar industry for a while, you are probably going to feel some sugar withdrawal symptoms.  You might have a headache, cottonmouth, dizziness, or even nausea.  You could have a little trouble sleeping or experience a brain fog. But remember, it is only temporary.  The symptoms should be gone in a few days, depending on how addicted, (yep, addicted) you were.

After you get that bad boy sugar out of your system, you are also going to see the cravings disappear.  You will also start to sleep better.  And then, look out!  Energy levels are going to go through the roof!  Your skin will be clearer, more radiant.  You won't feel as bloated as you used to.

Many people who complete the Whole 30 Diet report an improvement in allergies, chronic pain, and digestive issues.  And you will lose weight.  How much is going to depend on how much you weighed at Day 1 and how much improvement you made in your diet.  Though weight loss is not the focal point, it may be a great bennie for most.


As with any change in your life, you need to educate yourself, plan appropriately and garner support.  So read as many books as you can to get a good grasp on the plan.  Find recipes developed for the Whole 30 Diet to combat food boredom.  Clean house!  Don't just dust your cupboards, get rid of all the junk food and food that is on the 'eliminate' list.  And find a friend to do this with you.  It is always easier when you have friendly reinforcement.

Autoimmune Protocol Diet

The Autoimmune Protocol Diet (AIP) is a little newer than the Whole 30 Diet, and was developed to nutritionally assist in the reduction or elimination of those with autoimmune conditions such as Crohn's Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, or Lupus.  Many believe that autoimmune disorders are linked to what is known as Leaky Gut, a result of small holes in the intestines and that symptoms can be controlled by dietary improvements.  AIP is rooted in the Paleo Diet, with emphasis on whole foods, but is more restricted.  

The AIP Diet is also an elimination diet.  The goal is to promote nutrient-rich foods, while eliminating others that might trigger digestive issues, and thus, autoimmune symptoms.  It is perfect for the person who likes having total control over their food plan.

What You Can Eat

  • Meats
  • Veggies
  • Coconut or Olive Oil
  • Vinegars
  • Fermented Foods
  • Honey, Maple Syrup
  • Teas
  • Limited Fruits
  • Herbs, Arrowroot  

What to Eliminate

  • Grains
  • Legumes
  • Dairy
  • Processed Foods
  • Refined Sugars
  • Seed Oils, including vegetable and canola oils

Other Restrictions

  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds, which also include some spices, coffee and chocolate
  • Nightshade Veggies like tomatoes, peppers, potatoes
  • Gum
  • Alternative Sweeteners
  • Alcohol
  • Emulsifiers

One of the biggest drawbacks to this diet plan, is the restriction of foods.  However, there are recipes available to counter the food boredom that you will feel after the initial start up.  It is also important to understand that though this diet may relieve symptoms associated with autoimmune disorders, there are no cures.  For some with severe symptoms, it has shown to have results in lessening or eliminating some of those disorders right off the bat.  Once you have begun to see results, you are able to add some foods back in, that way finding out which foods might be the culprit(s). Keeping a food journal can also help to identify which foods might trigger your symptoms.  

These plans are hard.  But come on, they aren't that hard, are they?  Running a marathon, hard.  Learning calculus, hard.  Choosing salmon over a big mac....well you get it.   

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