Even before you start a restrictive diet, you may worry how you will ever sustain such a regimen. Giving up some of your favorite foods, having to follow a “can eat” and “can’t eat” list during the elimination phases of such diets can be stressful.
However, it’s important to remember that these types of diets, like the low FODMAP and AIP diet, are just temporary to help your body heal. After the elimination phases are over, then you can start adding foods back in slowly to find out what you can and can’t tolerate. It may be a bit of an inconvenience, but your gut will thank you. Let’s look at how these two diets work and how you can sustain this combined diet regimen.
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
Tips to sustain the low FODMAP and AIP diet
Keeping track of what foods you can and can’t eat on this combined diet can be confusing. Here are some tips to make this eating regimen easier on your mind and your gut.
- Keep a list of allowed foods with you. An allowed foods list will make meal planning and grocery shopping easier since you won’t have to keep referencing the diet plans separately. You can look to articles like this one on the Casa de Sante website to help you create such a list.
- Keep a running grocery list. Having a running grocery list will ensure that you always have low FODMAP and AIP safe ingredients on hand so you can stay on track.
- Make time for meal planning and prep. If you don’t have a meal plan, then it will make compliance with this combined diet much more difficult. Setting a few hours aside each week can help you plan low FODMAP and AIP safe meals and give you time to purchase the foods and beverages you need to create such meals. Also, it’s important to make time for meal prep since you will be consuming a lot of fresh produce on this combined diet.
- Use safe spices to flavor foods and beverages. Spice up your dishes with safe non-seed spices like basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, turmeric, mint, ginger, and cilantro, to name a few as well as safe spice blends like the low FODMAP and AIP friendly taco seasoning and steak seasoning from Casa de Sante.
Take home message
Although a restrictive combined diet can sound stressful, it doesn’t have to be. With some help from gut health resources like Casa de Sante, life on such a diet can become much easier and more delicious. Just be sure to allow yourself time to prep and plan your meals and snacks so you don’t find yourself hungry without any safe food or drink provisions. These tips, along with the ones aforementioned can make the combined low FODMAP and AIP easier to sustain so you can help your gut heal for the long-term.
-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD of LighttrackNutrition.com