When you start a restricted diet, you may worry that you will run out of things to eat. You may fear that meals and snacks will be lacking flavor, substance, and variety. This is especially true when you start a combined restricted diet like the low FODMAP and AIP, or autoimmune protocol diet. However, with a little bit of creativity and prep time, you can make the most of such a combined diet and enjoy delicious meals and snacks while keeping your gut healthy.
What is the AIP diet?
The AIP, or the autoimmune protocol, is an eating regimen that research shows may help those with digestive conditions like inflammatory bowel disease as well as other autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. It’s based on the paleolithic diet that avoids such foods as grains and dairy. However, the AIP diet is a bit more restricted. Here are some of the basic tenets of the AIP diet.
- Avoid any and all grains
- No legumes, beans, or peas
- Do not consume any nightshade vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and peppers
- Stay away from any dairy products
- Avoid certain proteins such as eggs, nuts, and seeds
- Do not drink any coffee or alcoholic beverages
- No refined/processed sugars, oils, and food additives
This diet protocol is very restrictive, but this very restrictive elimination phase usually only lasts about 30 to 60 days. Thereafter, the maintenance phase, which lasts about 8 weeks or so, allows people to slowly add in foods that have been avoided to test the body’s tolerance. By the end of the maintenance phase, one should know what foods they can and can’t tolerate to prevent digestive symptoms long-term.
All about low FODMAP
On the other hand, the low FODMAP diet is an eating regimen designed to reduce intake of compounds known as FODMAPs that can trigger symptoms in those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). FODMAPs are fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. Consuming a low FODMAP diet has been shown to reduce IBS symptoms like abdominal cramps, gas, bloating, constipation, and/or diarrhea in those with IBS. Some common foods that should be avoided on the low FODMAP diet include:
- Wheat, barley, and rye
- Certain vegetables like asparagus, cauliflower, garlic, Brussels sprouts, celery, leek, button mushrooms, or onions
- Cow’s milk and related milk products
- High fructose fruits like apples, cherries, mangoes, pears, or peaches
- Products containing sugar alcohols like sorbitol, mannitol, or xylitol
- Products containing high amounts of high fructose corn syrup
What to eat on the low FODMAP and AIP eating plan
Use the tips below to make the combined AIP and low FODMAP diet easier and more delicious to follow.
Use soft tofu instead of eggs to scramble up like an egg substitute. Add a little butter to the pan and cook up some vegetables like spinach, sweet potatoes, and/or red cabbage to go along with your scrambled tofu for a low FODMAP and AIP safe breakfast meal.
Other low FODMAP and AIP breakfast ideas may include coconut milk yogurt or kefir with a cup of sliced strawberries or some blueberries. If you choose, you can blend the yogurt and fruit together with some baby spinach for a healthy breakfast smoothie.
Lunch and dinner ideas
Lunch ideas on the low FODMAP and AIP diet may include salad greens topped with shredded carrots and olives drizzled with olive oil. You can top with some grass-fed grilled chicken or wild-caught steamed shrimp for extra protein if you eat animal products.
You could also enjoy some roasted sweet potatoes with diced protein like tempeh or chicken, and then pair with vegetables like steamed green beans or broccoli. Other ideas include stir-fries with sliced Daikon radishes, shredded carrots, bean sprouts, and red cabbage. You can season with non-seed spices like ginger and salt, and top with soy-sauce alternatives like coconut aminos.
Take home message
Just because an eating regimen is restrictive, it doesn’t mean it has to make you feel deprived. It also doesn’t mean you have to endure eating bland, boring foods for meals and snacks. The AIP and low FODMAP diet can be delicious and nutritious, while helping to heal your gut. For more tips on how to follow this regimen, visit the Casa de Sante website.
-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD of LighttrackNutrition.com