Book Reviews My Thoughts

Book Review: A Simple Guide to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol

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The autoimmune protocol variation of the paleo diet (commonly known as AIP) is a powerful healing tool that can seem overwhelming to many when they are first introduced to it. A new book, A Simple Guide to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol,
written by Eileen Laird, who has long been established as leader in the AIP movement through her blog Phoenix Helix, aims to cut through the noise and provide an easy to understand, yet comprehensive, overview of what the protocol is and how to make it work for you.

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My history with AIP goes back over two years now (which you can read about in this post from August 2013) and I have used it to manage Crohn’s disease, along with conventional medicine. While I have reintroduced foods along the way, I continue to base my diet and lifestyle on AIP and return to the elimination phase whenever I feel my symptoms might be returning or I’m just not feeling my best. Over time, it has become much easier, but I remember well the feeling of being completely overwhelmed and lost in a sea of information when I was first starting out. I wished I had a friend who could lay it all out for me and hold my hand – even virtually! – as I navigated the grocery store and changing the way I functioned in the kitchen and the world. Lacking that, I wished there was a straightforward resource that explained all the “whats” and “hows” and just enough of the “whys” to help it all make sense!

That’s why I was delighted when I saw an advance copy of Eileen’s book. It is a concise guide, written in an easy and comforting style, and yet it covers everything you need to know. The paperback version is small enough for you to throw in a purse or handbook and most people can probably read the whole thing in just a day or two. It teaches you which foods you need to avoid, and – perhaps even more importantly – which you should add to your diet. It includes grocery lists, meal planning tips, and advice for traveling and eating out at restaurants, navigating holiday traditions, getting support from family and friends and more. But it doesn’t stop there! Eileen also includes guidance for the food reintroduction process, which you start once you’ve seen a clear improvement in your autoimmune symptoms, and troubleshooting tips if you aren’t seeing the improvement you seek.

What I like best about the book

  1. It gives you that friend at your side. Eileen’s kind and patient personality really shines through and you feel like she is right there with you. She draws from the research and work done by medical experts and leaders in this movement, including Terry Wahls, M.D. and Sarah Ballantyne, Ph.D., and provides encouragement along with the information.
  2. It is written so that even someone who is very ill, perhaps even suffering from “brain fog,” will be able to understand without too much effort. But at the same time it doesn’t talk down to you, which I really appreciate! That’s a tough balance to achieve, but somehow Eileen does it.
  3. It dispels the notion that AIP is just about eliminating foods and includes advice on other lifestyle factors that can have just as big an impact. I also really like that she focuses on careful reintroduction as part of the protocol because often people hear about AIP and fear that the elimination phase is the way they have to eat forever and are therefore turned off from the whole idea without even giving it a try.

The bottom line

I recommend this book to anyone who has Crohn’s disease or another autoimmune condition and is interested in exploring the role real food and lifestyle changes can play in managing or even reversing their illness. If you are already an “AIP veteran,” you may appreciate this as a good refresher of what you already know and may want to get a copy so that you can loan it out to family and friends who want a better understanding of why you make the food and lifestyle choices you do.

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Giveaway! (CLOSED)

Eileen generously provided a review copy to me in exchange for an honest review of the book and she also offered to give a copy to one of my readers. To enter, all you have to do is answer this question in the comments: “What do you think is the hardest or most intimidating aspect of following AIP?” Then verify your comment with the Rafflecopter widget below and a random number generator will select the winner. That’s it!

This giveaway is open to ALL readers! If the winner resides in the United States, they will receive a paperback copy. All others will get a Kindle version.


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37 replies on “Book Review: A Simple Guide to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol”

The hardest part of AIP is being on a limited diet and not being able to eat all the delicious food I want!

The most difficult thing for me is giving up the immediate gratification of comfort foods/addiction foods for the long term benefit of feeling better.

The hardest thing about AIP is the convenience of a quick pick up meal and not being able to participate in the eating part of social events.

The hardest part is socializing, which always incudes food. It’s just about impossible to dine out anywhere, even organic, farm-to-table, etc. restaurants, because even with checking as thoroughly as possible before ordering, I find out later that not all of the ingredients were divulged upfront – always ones that are not AIP. Eating at the home of friends or participating in potlucks unless I prepare and bring enough of the dishes myself with ingredients that I am able to consume has proven to be pretty difficult too. Our friends try to check with me, but there are so many things that need to be left out between AIP (and FODMOPS) that it’s pretty hard for them…

I think the hardest part is it feels like having to learn how to cook all over again. I’ve already cut down on how much cooking I do because of pain & lack of energy. Some days I just can’t do it so we have something easy, maybe frozen. That’s bad enough but learning to cook this way seems so intimidating even though I used to be a pretty good cook & baker.

For me the hardest part is my husband and 3+ kids that do not want to eat meals with eliminated food groups.

The hardest part for us is to keep things prepped ahead of time so there something to eat when
I come home from work. My husband, who is semi-retired is also doing the diet and helping
out with the cooking. So I have really appreciated all of his effort. I have only been doing this for about 7 weeks. It was hard over the holiday time….however , I tried to have something with me
when I went to a party.

For me, the most difficult part of AIP is the social aspect. At first, it is difficult to go out with friends or family to eat. Whether it is feeling ‘high maintenance’ for asking lotsa questions of the waiters/chefs or being picky and leaving food on your plate that you are afraid to eat or eating things you know are going to make you sick so as not to be deemed ‘difficult’. None of us live in a ‘bubble’ and situations always come up.

The hardest part for me is having enough food prepped ahead that I done get over-hungry & eat something that’s not going to help me heal.

The most intimidating part is completely changing the way I eat and knowing what to eat. Growing up with a very mainstream diet, I just don’t know how to eat healthy. I’ve had ulcerative colitis for about 12 years now. I need to finally heal and start doing what *I* need to live a long healthy life for my husband and 3 beautiful kids. I hope they’re up for this new lifestyle! Thanks for the review. I started listening to her podcast very recently and she was talking about this new book. Sounds like an amazing resource!

The hardest thing is the lack of variety. I’m doing a low fodmap diet as well as the AIP diet so all of a sudden I have so few foods to pick from and so few strong favors as well. Very challenging.

The hardest part for me was to reconfigure my thought process on how I looked at food. Food is such a huge part of life including social gatherings and what my family will eat. Once I realized I can have a life without indulging in what everyone else eats, it became a little easier. I just tell people I don’t eat (insert food here) and of course they ask why. I tell them because I choose not to feel like crap 🙂

I think the hardest part is identifying the foods that I am sensitive to because sometimes the sensitivity or reaction is really minor and hard to pinpoint.

The hardest part of AIP for me is the social aspect. I can’t really go out to eat and if I do everyone is eating food that temps me.

I like to eat out and enjoy different types of foods. I love chips, salsa , and a beer and can’t imagine never being able to eat certain foods that I love. I’m a cancer survivor of 18 years and eating things I love and enjoy brings me joy because I’m still alive to do so!

Following an AIP and FODMAP diet, and preparing food for my family. Family meals with multiple versions, cooking food I can’t eat.

The hardest part is no nuts. Knowing I’ll never be able to have grains again, I love being able to make nut flour treats. That’s one of the things that makes ‘no grains’ bearable. I love Phoenix Helix, btw, and would love this book! Thank you!

It’s difficult to have the patience to go through the elimination phase completely. Once you start feeling better it’s easy to slip in some foods you’ve been missing…only to have to start all over again

The hardest part is eating out. I used to go to restaurants when I was traveling and now I have to take my own food with me everywhere I go. I also like to go hiking and hiking food was a real challenge! It became easier when I bought a dehydrator 🙂

We are on a strict budget so it is not easy trying to find nutritious food in a very small town. We actually have to travel over 30 miles to a decent store.

The hardest part is not being able to eat out with friends and family anymore. It cuts out a whole part of connection with others.

For me, so far, the hardest thing about eating AIP is planning the time I should to do the cooking. It just requires more discipline than the way I ate and cooked before, which was not very healthily. I am so glad Eileen wrote this book! As you mentioned in your review, Jamie, her writing style makes a person feel comfortable and confident.

The hardest part of AIP is eliminating more foods from my diet…when I am already pretty limited.