10 Benefits of Eating Sardines (& A Simple Recipe!)

Sardines are a healthy convenience food that is rich in omega-3’s, vitamin D, protein and calcium. They’re a cost-effective way to get in a whole host of nutrients! Plus, it’s fairly simple to make them taste good.

sardines in a tin

Have you ever tried sardines? Whenever I bring up sardines I get one of two answers…

  1. You grew up eating them regularly and eat them often as a convenience food,
  2. You can’t stomach the thought of them and have no idea how you would make them taste good!

Recently, when I was at the grocery store shopping for sardines a woman asked me, “excuse me, what do you do with those? I’ve heard that they’re healthy, but I don’t know how to eat them!” I could relate to her a lot, and I’m sure many of us can!

So, why are they so healthy? And how do you eat them?

 

The Benefits of Sardines

 

1.Packed with calcium

Calcium is vital for healthy bones and heart health. Sardines are especially high in calcium as they have tiny pin bones that contain calcium. Don’t worry about getting these tiny bones stuck in your teeth! They’re so small and soft that you truly won’t even notice them.

2. Protein rich

The average 4.4oz can of sardines contains up to 23 g of protein. As whole sardines also have the cofactors of healthy fats, calcium, vitamin D, and more, they’re a far healthier option than something like protein powder for getting a protein boost.

3. They’re a great source of Omega-3

Omega-3 fatty acids are helpful for our heart health, as well as supporting our bodies ability to naturally anti-inflame. Salmon is a popular source of Omega-3’s, but don’t count out sardines! They’re one of the best sources with up to 1.8 g of Omega-3’s in a 4 oz serving (source).

4. Lower in Mercury than other fish

Mercury in fish is indeed a concern, especially if we’re deficient in selenium, have blocked detox pathways, and consume a lot of large fish like tuna. I’ve had my own personal battles with mercury toxicity that you can read about here. Though metal toxicity can be complex and there are multiple factors, one of the biggest factors in my own healing journey was removing fish that were higher in mercury and replacing them with fish that were had less mercury, like sardines.

Generally speaking, the smaller the fish, the less mercury it will have. According to the FDA sardines have far less mercury than tuna, but a 3.5 oz serving will still have as much Omega-3’s as salmon (source)!

Regardless of the lower levels of mercury, it’s still always important to discuss fish consumption with your doctor if you’re pregnant, currently have mercury issues or other health concerns.

5. Great for travel & meals of the go

In 2016, sardines gained some popularity as venture capitalist Craig Cooper was quoted saying that they were his favorite travel superfood. I couldn’t agree more!

Though other travel foods like beef jerky are a great option, sardines are one of the best out there. Simply pick them up at a grocery store and bring them along in your suitcase, or pick them up at your destination and eat them straight out of a can for a nourishing protein option. Much better than airport food, right?

It’s also a great idea to keep a can of sardines in your pantry for when you need a quick meal on the go and don’t have time to cook.

6. Cost efficient

A can of sardines is far cheaper than many other convenience foods, and buying them from discount sources like Thrive Market, or buying them in bulk can help to cut down costs.

7. High in selenium

Selenium is vital for thyroid health and is something that I focus on as someone with Hashimoto’s. Sardines are a rich source of selenium that comes with the cofactors to make it easy to absorb.

8. Rich in vitamin D

Sardines are rich in vitamin D which is vital for our overall health. Many people suffer from vitamin D deficiency which can impact our immune system, hormone health, and health as a whole. Eating foods like sardines and getting more time in the sun can positively influence our vitamin D levels.

9. Sustainably fished

Farm raised fish can be less humane and nutrient dense than traditional fishing, and overfishing is harmful to the overall ecosystem of the ocean. Luckily, sardines are one of the most sustainably fished options and continuing to purchase sardines that from a good source helps to influence the process longterm.

10. They can taste good!

From what I’ve gathered talking to others about sardines is that they’re afraid to eat them because they don’t think that they’ll taste good. However, I assure you that they can taste good! With the right preparation, they’re honestly really yummy.

 

How to Eat Sardines

Fry them in a pan or grill them

Sardines taste great grilled or fried! Simple coat them with oil and heat them on a grill or in a pan.

Bake them

This recipe for Mediterranean garlic and herb sardines sounds amazing (I would omit the paprika and mustard for AIP). They roast quickly and with minimal ingredients.

Add them to pasta or serve them on crackers

Add them to a pasta dish like zucchini noodles with pesto, or eat them on a cracker with some salt and lemon.

Eat them in salads

This is by far the easiest and most convenient way to eat sardines, and one that I eat almost weekly.

sardine salad

Print

Simple Sardine Salad


  • Author: Michelle
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Total Time: 5
  • Yield: 1 serving 1x

Description

This simple salad is a great way to get the health benefits of sardines!


Scale

Ingredients

For the dressing

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper (omit for AIP)

For the salad

  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1/4 cup carrots, shredded
  • 2 radishes, sliced
  • 1/4 cup strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 small avocado, sliced
  • 1 4 oz can of sardines

Instructions

  1. Combine the ingredients for the dressing and whisk well. Season further to taste.
  2. Assemble the salad by layer all of the ingredients over the arugula.
  3. Top with dressing and enjoy!

  • Category: Salad
  • Method: No cook
  • Cuisine: global

10 benefits of eating sardines

Life After the Autoimmune Protocol

The autoimmune protocol can be confusing and overwhelming for a lot of reasons. It’s a lot to stick to, it’s a lot to understand, and it’s confusing to look around the community and see people who seem like they’re following the protocol forever. I’m totally one of those people. I’ve been blogging about AIP for over 3 years, and I’m not stopping anytime soon! But does that mean that I still follow full AIP 100%? No, I don’t.

So, is the autoimmune protocol meant to last forever? This blog post details my experience and advice with moving forward after the autoimmune protocol.

 

First, what is the autoimmune protocol?

The autoimmune protocol is a diet protocol that is designed to help calm down the inflammation and immune response associated with autoimmune disease. It’s meant to be followed for at least 30 days and until your symptoms subside, and from there you can reintroduce foods one by one.

You can download a full AIP food list for free here, and you can read more about AIP in general in my complete guide to AIP here. 

 

Is the autoimmune protocol meant to last forever?

This blog post by Eileen Laird really hits the nail on the head. It’s not. It’s a short-term healing protocol that encourages reintroductions. Yes, the AIP wants you to be able to have eggs, and nuts, and seeds, and so forth after you heal and can tolerate them! These foods are all nutrient dense and add a variety of new nutrient profiles! They’re not bad in nature… but there is a benefit in taking a break to allow your body to heal and re-tolerate these foods.

The AIP is meant to be followed until symptoms subside and the body is able to calm down the inflammation and heal. From there, you can begin the reintroduction process. Typically, people still stick to a paleo or mostly paleo diet after reintroductions as foods like canola oil, refined sugar, MSG, etc still are meant to be avoided long-term. But, the exact template that you wind up following after AIP is entirely up to your bio-individuality!

 

My current reintroductions…

I say current because these still change all of the time. Tolerance can ebb and flow depending on stress levels, gut health, and a myriad of other factors. In no particular order, here are my current AIP reintroductions…

  • Egg yolks
  • Ghee (& butter here and there)
  • Goat and sheep dairy
  • White rice
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Coffee (in moderation)
  • Almonds
  • Black pepper (and some other seed spices)
  • Chia seeds
  • Chocolate (yaaas)

Technically, I could tolerate alcohol if I wanted to, but I never really cared for it. I still haven’t reintroduced all grains, nor have I reintroduced any of the nightshades.

Cauliflower Avocado Hummus

I’m so grateful to be able to have foods like Simple Mills almond flour crackers (pictured here with my avocado cauliflower hummus), goat cheese, and more. Yes, there are plenty of foods that I wish I could have (like tomatoes!), but I’m grateful for whatever I’m able to tolerate!

 

How I apply the autoimmune protocol to my life after having reintroductions.

I still say that I follow an AIP template. Yes, I drink coffee with almond milk when I really want it, or have lentils in my soup on New Years Day, but I also apply the principles to my life every day! How do you do that?

  • Focus on nutrient density first! Keep drinking broth, eating liver, and tons of veggies!
  • Follow good lifestyle recommendations like sleeping well, reducing stress, etc.
  • I use (and create) AIP recipes for nutrient density and to avoid any intolerances I still have and help serve the community that I believe in!
  • I fall back on an AIP diet reset if I’m still having issues.

Most importantly, I stay in the AIP community and create recipes here because I believe in this process! I believe that it helps the healing process, and it has done wonders for my body and my health! I may have a recipe with nuts or chocolate here and there, but I still advocate for the AIP diet and am happy to have this healing community to draw inspiration and support from.

 

What to do if you’re still having issues with reintroductions…

Having issues with reintroductions is a common thing. Your body may not be ready, or there could be a deeper going on causing inflammation. If you want to work one-on-one with a practitioner who’s trained to coach through healing diets, I work a team of NTP’s that you can request a free consult from here! Also, working with your own doctor to figure out if there are any co-infections or deeper root causes can be key to your longterm success!

If you’re needing more structure around the AIP diet and lifestyle in general, I created a 30-day guide ebook, Autoimmune Protocol Makeover Guide that contains 30 days worth of AIP meal plans, recipes, lifestyle guides, and more information on autoimmunity and reintroductions!

 

I hope this look into the autoimmune protocol was helpful! What does your life look like after following AIP?

 

Nightshade Food List & Why You May Want To Avoid Them

Are nightshades overwhelming you? Here’s your complete guide to nightshades featuring why they matter, a full list, and substitution recipes!

complete guide to nightshades

Nightshade vegetables seem like healthy, nutrient-dense additions to any diet. Tomato is known as a cancer fighter, bell peppers are commended for their nutrient density, and eggplant is a common low carb swap. However, not everyone can tolerate nightshade vegetables and many deal with inflammation and aggravation of chronic illness as a result of eating nightshades.

With all of the healing that I’ve been able to do in the past several years, one thing has always eluded me… nightshades. My nightshade intolerance was so inconvenient that I just wanted to ignore it. However, constantly adding fuel to the inflammation fire is not a great practice for those with inflammatory illnesses. As much as I didn’t want to, I became hyper-aware of nightshades, the related symptoms, and learned why one may want to avoid them.

My awareness of nightshades has been transformative for healing my Hashimoto’s and getting my gut health and inflammation under control, and that’s why I’m sharing it with you!

 

List of Inflammatory Nightshade Vegetables & Fruits

 

Nightshades belong to the Solanaceae family and include thousands of edible and inedible plants.

Here are the common nightshades…

  • Tomatoes: All varieties
  • Tomatillos
  • Potatoes: White and red potatoes. However, sweet potatoes are not nightshades.
  • Eggplant
  • Peppers: Bell peppers, chili peppers, and any red spices
  • Paprika
  • Tobacco
  • Goji berries
  • Ashwaganda

 

Common foods that are mistaken for nightshades, but are not…

  • Zucchini is not a nightshade
  • Sweet potato is not a nightshade
  • Mushrooms and onions are not nightshades

 

Are nightshades inflammatory? Should you avoid them?

Not necessarily. Nightshade vegetables do have a lot of nutrient density on their own and can be a healthy part of a balanced diet for many. By no means would I ever suggest that the human race as a whole needs to go nightshade free!

However, nightshades are known to be inflammatory for many and can flare up joint issues, digestive symptoms, and other inflammatory diseases. Those with the following conditions are certain groups of people that may have nightshade issues…

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Any joint issues
  • Digestive issues or “IBS”
  • Autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s, graves, etc.)

Have one of these conditions but don’t feel like you have nightshade issues? I was in the same boat. I didn’t particularly feel a difference when I ate tomatoes, so why would I avoid them?

Not having an obvious reaction to an inflammatory food is common, and doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not inflammatory for you. What can happen is that our body can be so inflamed that we just don’t notice the nuances anymore. That’s why elimination diets like the autoimmune protocol are the gold standard for nailing down food intolerance as they allow your body the chance to anti-inflame so you can actually determine whether or not you have a reaction when you reintroduce the food.

 

What do nightshade intolerance symptoms look like?

Everyone is different and your symptoms will vary. But typically, you can look out for these symptoms…

  • Joint pain
  • Inflammation
  • Fatigue
  • Migraines
  • Skin flares
  • Digestive distress
  • Flares to any preexisting conditions

 

Where do nightshade derived ingredients hide?

I’ve grown very accustomed to finding where the heck all of those sneaky nightshades are hiding after having entirely too many

Potato starch hides in…

  • Gluten-free bread, pizza crust, crackers, and baked goods
  • Some soups or other products with a thickener

Nightshade spices hide in…

  • Most Mexican food (sad face)
  • Sausage and hot dogs (these almost always have paprika)
  • Breakfast sausage
  • Anything spicy… I just automatically assume there’s some nightshade in there

Tomatoes

  • Veggie broth
  • Seasonings (Italian blends and others will often have tomato)

 

How do you substitute nightshades in recipes?

So does being nightshade free mean that you have to live without the flavors forever? Absolutely not! There are so many ways to fake it. Here are some of my favorite substitutes for nightshade heavy dishes…

 

How to make substitutions for tomatoes…

Substitutes for marinara sauce

Make yourself homemade Nomato sauce!

Substitutes for chili

How the heck do you make chili without nightshades?! Oh… I’ve got you covered there with this instant pot nomato chili! 

How to make nightshade free enchiladas

This zucchini chicken enchilada casserole comes with a nightshade-free enchilada sauce, which is not something you see every day at your local Mexican restaurant!

Nightshade free lasagna Lasagna

This one pot lasagna skillet is grain free, dairy free, and nightshade free! Hallelujah!

How to make substitutions for eggplant…

Zucchini

Zucchini is a similar texture for eggplant and can be a good swap! These zucchini fries are similar-ish to eggplant parmesan! Try these Zucchini fries.

How to make substitutions for potatoes…

Sweet Potatoes

Yes, sweet potatoes are SAFE for those of us with nightshade issues! They’re not a member of the family, but have a lot of the same qualities. Here are some of my favorite recipes sweet potato recipes…

Jicama

Jicama is often referred to as a Mexican potato. I like to describe it as a mix between a potato and an apple. Starchy, but crunchy! They’re also high in prebiotic fiber which feeds our good gut bacteria.

Plantain

Another amazing potato sub for making chips, fries, and more!

Rutabaga

 

How to make substitutions for red spices…

Cumin

Cumin is a seed spice (so, not AIP) that’s nightshade free and has a great kick to it. One thing to note is that it’s green! I’ve made chili with cumin before and watched it turn green and was super confused… it’s the cumin!

Black pepper

Black pepper is also a seed spice (not AIP) but it’s not a nightshade and is always a great swap to add spice.

Turmeric

I’m constantly using turmeric to swap for red spices. It adds color, a bit of spice, and tons of flavor! This turmeric chicken curry recipe is one of my favorites and features a nightshade-free curry.

 

Can nightshades intolerance be healed?

It’s 100% possible. It all depends on how your body heals, and your own bio-individuality. For someone like me, I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to reintroduce nightshades. I just have such a gnarly reaction to red spices, peppers, and potatoes. However, tomato is the one nightshade that I can be slightly flexible in moderation.

Many people do reintroduce nightshades, but it really just depends. It may not be in the cards for everyone, but there certainly is hope! Following an elimination protocol that allows for healing and slow reintroduction like the autoimmune protocol is an amazing way to tackle this.

Regardless, I hope this list helped you see how much opportunity there is to substitute nightshades, and how to live with the intolerance!

How To Make The Autoimmune Protocol Easier

Thank you Artisan Tropic for sponsoring this post! All opinions expressed are my own.

Getting a Hashimoto’s diagnosis at 17 wasn’t easy. I had my whole life ahead of me, but was faced with a chronic illness that caused debilitating symptoms that I just didn’t know how to get a handle on. I spent years battling fatigue, stomach pains, mystery food intolerance, and anxiety, until I got completely fed up. That’s why I started my Hashimoto’s healing journey and found the autoimmune protocol diet.

The AIP diet is just one of the many healing tools I used to get my health back after autoimmune disease, but it was one of the most crucial. Food was the first thing that really took my healing the next level, and something that I still follow in a modified template today to keep my health stable. Even though it was a huge relief to my symptoms, it came with plenty of it’s own challenges.

The autoimmune protocol is no walk in the park. It requires a lot of learning, a lot of determination, and lot of cooking! All things that can be hard to summon when you’re battling chronic illness. So, how do you simplify?

 

How To Make the Autoimmune Protocol Easier

 

1. Learn the guidelines and the whys

One of the hardest parts of any diet protocol is confusion. What can you eat? What do you have to avoid? Is this random ingredient compliant? Why the heck can I not eat this? These are some of the most common questions that I see, and really over complicate following AIP.

Set yourself up for success by knowing the guidelines backwards and forwards, and understanding the why’s behind them. That way, you’re not second guessing ingredients while standing in the grocery store, or having to start over after missing a crucial piece of the puzzle.

I put together a blog post that fully explains the guidelines of the AIP diet, as well as a free downloadable food list to carry with you in your wallet and hang of your fridge!

2. Keep your mindset in check

Mindset is an incredibly powerful piece of the healing puzzle. We can have everything else in place, but if we’re not coming at it with the right mindset, it makes everything harder.

Yes, this is hard. Yes, this is different and new. But really, why are you doing this? This protocol exists to add health and abundance to your life… not restriction. Remember your why, and that you’re choosing to follow this protocol to improve your life, and how you perceive it has a huge impact on how you experience it.

My negative mindset was what held me back from experiencing better health for years. I told myself that this was too hard, too inconvenient, and not fun. It was only when I gave myself permission to enjoy the process and shifted my mindset that I was able to experience healing.

3. Plan ahead

What they say is true… failing to plan is planning to fail. We all know that feeling of getting home late from work after battling a crazy day at the office and traffic on the way home and not having anything to eat in the fridge. Those are the moments where you just want to order a pizza and throw in the towel. Trust me… I’ve been there.

Planning ahead does take an extra step each week, but it saves you time later! Spend time every Friday/Saturday planning out what you want to eat for the week, and then take a couple of hours to batch cook on a Sunday. I love making batch cook friendly meals like my one pan chicken pesto, egg roll in a bowl, or Mexican breakfast skillet on the weekend so I can have meals throughout the week!

 

4. Take advantage of compliant short cuts

There are a lot of healthy lifestyle shortcuts that make life easier for most people, but don’t apply to an autoimmune protocol. We can’t just grab almonds at a gas station, or order scrambled eggs at a diner. Our short cuts have to be a lot more well thought out, but they do exist!

One of my favorite shortcuts are the Artisan Tropic plantain strips. They’re so much more convenient than making your own plantain chips from scratch, and are totally AIP compliant!

They’re made with palm oil (not inflammatory seed oils like most chips are) and are sliced into long strips which make them perfect for dipping into guacamole 😉

Artisan Tropic has several flavors of compliant snacks, like their cassava strips, sweet plantain strips, and cinnamon plantain strips, but my all time favorite are their sea salt plantain strips! They seriously remind me of potato chips, and my husband agrees! I like having them as a snack, or serving them as a side with something like tuna salad or liver pate.

 

5. Build an arsenal of resources for ideas, inspiration, and support

You can’t do this alone! We all need a helping hand to give us some ideas when we feel bored, inspiration when we feel hopeless, and support when we need someone to talk to. Here are some of my favorite AIP resources…

A functional medicine doctor

Facebook Support Groups

Blogs

Books

 

I hope these tips were helpful! What are some of your favorite tips for making the autoimmune protocol easier?

The Complete Guide to the AIP Diet

Getting my autoimmune disease diagnosis of Hashimoto’s at 17 changed everything for me. I went from being healthy on paper to a chronically ill person overnight. It took time to come to grips with my Hashimoto’s disease, and even more time to heal my Hashimoto’s, but it’s all possible. Diet was an enormous factor in taking control of my autoimmune health, and the AIP Diet was a game changer for me. I believe in this approach, the template, and what it did for me, which is why I decided to write The Complete Guide to the AIP Diet.

The Complete Guide to the AIP Diet

 

First, what is the AIP Diet or Autoimmune Protocol Diet?

The AIP diet stands for Autoimmune Protocol, and it’s designed for those with autoimmune disease to reduce inflammation to allow their bodies the opportunity to heal. It removes inflammatory foods, gut irritants, and immune stimulants for a minimum of 30 days. After the elimination period, foods are reintroduced one by one to see if the body has healed and can tolerate them again.

Many continue to follow an AIP template even after their autoimmune symptoms have reduced. This can be a preventative measure to stop symptoms from flaring again, or it may just be that you feel better eating more of an AIP template.

Regardless of how long you follow it, AIP is meant to be a short-term healing solution and not a long-term way of life.

What if I don’t have issues with “x” food?

There’s a common misconception that if you don’t have a noticeable reaction to a certain, you don’t have to avoid it. However, that’s not always the case. All too often our body can be so inflamed that we don’t even notice reactions to certain foods.

For example, I ate tomatoes pretty much every day of my life for over 20 years. It got to the point where I didn’t even feel a reaction because I was constantly in a reactive state. Once I eliminated the food from my diet and added it back in, I was able to calm down the inflammation to where I could see a reaction.

Giving your body the time to heal and taking a break from the foods listed here can be incredibly eye-opening. There may be some foods on this list that you never really have any long term issues with, but giving the elimination diet at least 30 days to gauge your reaction is necessary for understanding what you can and cannot tolerate.

What can you eat on the AIP diet?

  • All animal proteins (excluding eggs)
  • All vegetables (excluding nightshades)
  • Fruits in moderation
  • Healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, animal fats, etc.)
  • Bone broth, organ meats
  • Grain-free baking flours (cassava, tigernut, tapioca, coconut, etc.)

 

Find a more extensive list with PDF downloads here! 

What should you avoid?

  • All grains (wheat, oats, rice, corn, etc.)
  • All dairy (all dairy of all types)
  • All legumes (all beans such as lentils, black beans, chickpeas, and vegetables like green beans as well as peanuts)
  • Nightshade vegetables and spices (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, all peppers, red spices)
  • All nuts and seeds
  • Seed based spices (mustard, cumin, sesame, etc.)
  • Eggs
  • Soy
  • Thickeners, gums, and food additives
  • Poor quality seed oils (sunflower oil, canola oil, soybean oil, etc.)

 

Click To Download This AIP Diet  Wallet Sized Cheat Sheet! 

Do you have to follow it forever?

No, you do not! The point of the autoimmune protocol is to allow you body time to heal and then reintroduce foods one by one.

I know it’s confusing to see bloggers like myself who seem to follow the autoimmune protocol permanently, but we don’t. Though many bloggers serve the AIP community, the majority of them have reintroduced foods. I myself still follow and AIP template, but have reintroduced foods like rice, almonds, coffee, chocolate, and more.

Many follow the AIP diet for 30 days to a few months before they start reintroducing foods.

How do reintroductions work?

When you’re trying to gauge your reaction to foods, adding them all back in at once is the opposite of what you want to do. You want to go slowly, and mindfully to avoid overloading your body, and to allow yourself the time to see a reaction.

Here is the step by step process for reintroducing foods…

  1. Follow the protocol for a minimum of 30 days, until you get to a point where you’ve noticed a significant amount of healing.
  2. Start with the level 1 reintroduction schedule.
  3. Eat the food in isolation (don’t do multiple new foods at once) and wait 3 days to gauge a reaction.
  4. Track your reactions with a food journal. You’re looking for things like headaches, mood swings, skin changes, fatigue, bloating, etc.
  5. Add foods that work to your rotation, and table the foods that don’t work.
  6. Repeat the process.

So what does the AIP reintroduction schedule look like? Here is a brief outline of how the levels of reintroduction are phased… Click to Download the PDF

AIP Diet Reintroduction Schedule

For more resources on reintroductions, check out this e-book and this blog post

How do you know you’re healing and are ready for reintroductions?

This answer varies for everyone. Here are the two ways that I would gauge whether or not you’re healing…

  1. A change in your labs/blood work.
  2. A noticeable reduction in your symptoms.

The details of that are different for everyone and need to be addressed on an individual basis. Talk to your own doctor or practitioner about what healing may look like for you personally.

 

Does the AIP diet really work?

Everyone is different. Many with autoimmune disease find success with an AIP diet, while others do not. There’s no way to guarantee that this approach will work for you, but here are some stories of encouragement of those who healed with the AIP diet..

I know what you may be thinking… “Stories are all anecdotal. Where’s the science?” I’ve got you covered! There was a recent medical study on the autoimmune protocol diet that you’ll find here. The results are astounding and encouraging!

When it comes to living well with autoimmunity, what else should you consider other than diet alone?

Healing is about so much more than just diet alone. Here are some other factors to consider…

  • Stress reduction
  • Sleep
  • Home and body care products
  • Movement
  • Community Support
  • Underlying infections
  • Working with a doctor (check out this post)

… just to name a few!

AIP Diet & Lifestyle Resources

The list of AIP resources is growing by the day! This community is vibrant and flourishing, and there are so many amazing blogs, books, and influencers to follow. Here are just some of my favorite resources…

Books-

Blogs-

 

Where do you even start?

Where do you start? First is more research and some soul searching. Making sure that this is the right step for you right here, and right now. Just because this isn’t a good fit today doesn’t mean that there aren’t elements that you can take and start applying until you’re ready for the next step down the line.

The resources above are all amazing next steps for more research as is my e-book, the 30 Day Autoimmune Protocol Makeover which lays out a 30 day guide to the AIP diet complete with lifestyle plans, meal plans, shopping lists, recipes, and more! You can check it out here!

 

Regardless of where you choose to go after reading this, I hope it was helpful in answering some questions and guiding you towards your next steps.

AIP Diet Food List (With a Free Printable PDF!)

When I first heard about the Autoimmune Protocol (or AIP) diet, I felt the same way that most do… overwhelmed! What the heck was okay to eat? What wasn’t allowed? I have tons of AIP recipes on my blog, and now I’m excited to be sharing a complete AIP diet food list along with printable PDF guides, and explanations as to why certain foods are and are not compliant.

AIP Diet Food List (With a Free Printable PDF!)

First, what is the AIP diet?

The autoimmune protocol diet is designed to lower inflammation to allow the body to heal. It’s meant to be a short-term protocol to allow inflammation to reduce while healing autoimmune disease. You can read a full guide to the autoimmune protocol here! 

Does the AIP diet work for everyone that has an autoimmune disease? No. Does it help many? Yes!

There are so many other factors in healing autoimmune disease rather than just diet alone, such as addressing infections and imbalances, sleep, stress reduction, movement, lifestyle changes, and more. We can’t expect diet alone to heal everything.

However, food has a powerful impact that cannot be denied. In this blog post, we’re going to be focusing specifically on the foods that are allowed and not allowed on the autoimmune protocol, and a brief explanation as to why.

And for quick reference, I’ve also included PDF printable guides to take along with you and even fit in your wallet!

Foods Allowed on the AIP Diet

Click to Download the Printable Guide.

Vegetables

Why they’re important …

Both vegetables and herbs are rich in phytonutrients, and fiber that allow our bodies to thrive! Though the AIP diet still included animal protein, it’s still highly plant-centric as it suggests up to 9 servings of vegetables a day.

Here are the vegetables that are allowed…

  • Artichoke
  • Arugula
  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels
  • Bok Choy
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Chard
  • Cucumber
  • Fennel
  • Jicama
  • Kale
  • Leek
  • Lettuce
  • Mushroom
  • Onion
  • Parsnip
  • Rutabaga
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Sweet potato

Get the asparagus recipe pictured below.

Herbs & spices

  • Basil
  • Bay leaf
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Cinnamon
  • Dill
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Saffron
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Turmeric

Fruits

Why they’re important …

Fruits are fiber-rich and many contain antioxidants that protect the cells from damage. It’s recommended to not overdo fruit and to stick to around two servings a day.

  • Apple
  • Apricot
  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Berries
  • Cherry
  • Citrus
  • Coconut
  • Date
  • Fig
  • Grape
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Melons
  • Peach
  • Pear
  • Persimmon
  • Plum
  • Pineapple
  • Pomegranate
  • Watermelon

Proteins

Why they’re important …

High-quality animal protein provides us minerals, healthy fats, and much-needed energy. Animal protein is highly debated, but the AIP diet advocates for animal protein as a healing food. High-quality choices like grass-fed, pasture-raised and wild-caught are preferred when possible, but do the best you can!

  • Beef
  • Bison
  • Bone broth & organ meats
  • Chicken
  • Duck
  • Fish
  • Lamb
  • Shellfish
  • Pork
  • Turkey
  • Venison

Fats

Why they’re important …

Healthy fats regulate the inflammation process in our body, act as a carrier for nutrients, and allow us to stay satiated! Healthy fats are incredibly important to include at every meal to keep you full, and keep your body on a healing path.

  • Avocado oil
  • Beef tallow
  • Chicken fat
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Palm oil

Click to get the cilantro avocado lime sauce recipe pictured below.

Avocado Cilantro Lime Sauce Recipe (AIP, Paleo, Whole 30)

Pantry Staples

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Arrowroot starch
  • Carob powder
  • Cassava flour
  • Coconut flour
  • Coconut sugar
  • Dried fruit
  • Honey
  • Tapioca starch
  • Tigernut flour

Foods Not Allowed on the AIP Diet

Gluten & Grains

Why they’re not compliant…

Those suffering from autoimmunity are also dealing with some level of intestinal permeability. Gluten and grains can promote intestinal permeability (or a leaky gut) and are best avoided while you’re trying to allow the body to heal.

  • Amaranth
  • Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Bulger
  • Corn
  • Millet
  • Oat
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Rye
  • Sorghum
  • Spelt
  • Wheat

Dairy

Why it’s not compliant…

Dairy can impact the integrity of the gut lining and stimulate allergies and inflammation. High quality dairy may be fine in moderation for some after healing, but it’s avoided during the AIP diet.

  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Cream
  • Ghee
  • Milk
  • Yogurt

Legumes

Why it’s not compliant…

Legumes like beans can be damaging to the gut lining and are best avoided while trying to heal.

  • Black beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Fava beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Lentils
  • Lima beans
  • Peanuts
  • Soybeans

Nightshades

Why it’s not allowed…

Nightshade vegetables can trigger inflammation, especially in those with joint issues.

  • Eggplant
  • Goji Berries
  • Ground cherries (not regular cherries)
  • All peppers (spicy peppers, bell peppers, etc.)
  • All red spices
  • Potato
  • Tomato
  • Tomatillo

Nuts & Seeds

Why it’s not compliant…

Nuts and seeds (and seed spices below) can be inflammatory to the gut lining. These are often safely reintroduced when they’re properly soaked and sprouted.

  • Almond
  • Brazil nut
  • Canola
  • Cashew
  • Chia
  • Coffee
  • Cocoa
  • Flax
  • Hazelnut
  • Hemp
  • Pecan
  • Pine nuts
  • Pistachio
  • Pumpkin
  • Safflower
  • Sesame
  • Sunflower
  • Walnut

 

Seed & berry spices 

  • Allspice
  • Anise
  • Caraway
  • Celery seed
  • Cumin
  • Fennel seed
  • Mustard
  • Nutmeg
  • Black Pepper
  • Poppy Seeds

All Alcohol

Why it’s not compliant…

Alcohol just doesn’t promote healing. It may be enjoyed in moderation after healing has taken place.

All eggs 

Why it’s not compliant…

Eggs are one of the most common allergens and can irritate the gut.  Yolks are less irritating than whites, and many are able to reintroduce yolks more easily than whole eggs.

All additives and sugar

Why it’s not compliant…

Additives like gums, food dyes, and sugars don’t promote healing. Natural sugars like honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar are fine in moderation.

Is this all overwhelming? Grab my wallet size cheat sheet!

Okay, that was a lot. Even those that have been in the AIP community for years still question some of the nitty-gritty when it comes to what is and is not compliant. You don’t have to memorize this list front and back!

If you’re just starting out with an AIP diet and just need the high-level basics, I have a cute little baby wallet-sized cheat sheet for you to stash in your purse or pocket.

Download the wallet-sized cheat sheet here!

Get more support for putting meals together…

My blog is packed with tons of recipes for the AIP diet to make all of this easier! However, it can still hard to put into practice…

That’s why I created my e-book Autoimmune Makeover! It’s an easy to follow 30-day guide focused on making over your lifestyle with autoimmunity that includes lifestyle recommendations, 30 days of meal plans, shopping lists, easy and delicious AIP recipes, and more. Get your copy here. 

Remember… it’s not all about food.

Again, food is important, but it’s not everything. Stress, lifestyle, sleep, and more are all important factors for healing. Be sure to stay tuned for more about healing autoimmunity, and check out my podcast for tons of other helpful info 🙂