Finding freedom in food probably sounds like the exact opposite of that, am I right?
Many probably feel that way, at least. It’s incredibly easy to look at an AIP compliant food list and think, wow, what am I going to eat? It’s so minimal, so limiting, so… thanks-but-no-thanks (especially when implementing it for a child).
I mean, coming from the typical SAD diet, you’re not wrong.
Never in my life did I think I’d be trying so hard to turn cauliflower into rice… something it’s not.
Even with the possibility of a new and improved immune system, high energy levels, a radiant glow, the perk of weight loss and cell deep healing, it can still feel way too limiting to commit to.
Doubt automatically creeps in. Negative thinking rules the roost.
AIP feels impossible.
AIP feels demanding… painfully focused…
But I urge you to train your brain to repeat over and over that this elimination diet can instead feel like freedom, fulfillment and hope.
Hope of a new beginning, hope of shedding the burden of physical atrophy.
How to Appreciate & Savor Limited Food Freedom on AIP
I’d like to share some tips with you on how to appreciate and savor even limited food freedom, in a way that appeals to all senses and creates an experience that relaxes the muscles of negative thinking. The standard “Food is Fuel” or “You Are What You Eat” slogans simply don’t work anymore because what we eat is so intertwined with our emotional being. We’re trained, not unlike Pavlov’s dogs, to eat at social gatherings, work meetings, Church events and so on. So when the bell of those instances rings, we automatically desire what we’ve been conditioned to expect. While we can’t change the past and undo culture, we can move forward bravely with a new understanding of the freedom AIP compliant food can have.
Sense of Sight
The Autoimmune Protocol consists of a plethora of vegetables, stemming from carrots to broccoli, from to radishes to squash. Nearly any color imaginable, you can find it in nature. Have you ever chopped up a purple cabbage and admired the vibrancy of it’s royal purple color? Or tried to peel a cooked beet and been covered in the ruby colored juice? How about blending up a fresh spinach smoothie and seeing the pop of gorgeous green? Let’s not forget about fruits! Dragon-fruit has an unbelievably vivid pink flesh and the common lemon is a stunning neon.
There is a bounty of beauty available, a feast for the eyes. We simply need to notice it.
Slow down, take a second to rest in the fulfilling visual appeal of nourishment.
Sense of Touch
While buying pre-chopped vegetables or frozen fruit in a convenient bag is, well, convenient, consider doing the work yourself… with your bare hands. Prep the food, make the recipes, touch the textures, varieties, types of health-giving foods you’re spending good money on.
I like this viewpoint from Like to Cook, “When you cook, you need to get your hands dirty, you do something more physical, which really helps you to break up the routine of your day and kick your mental exhaustion.” (1) The author also goes on to say, “The reason is simple: when you cook, you stimulate your senses. The feel of the new flour you bought at the market, the smell of those fresh strawberries, the sound of the whisk beating, all those things can stimulate your senses, which contributes to get more endorphins, those feel good hormones that put a smile on your face.”
Slow down, take a second to rest in the fulfilling touch that comes with preparing nutritious meals.
Sense of Smell
The smell of food is a trigger. Whether that trigger is good or bad is up to us. It’s not an uncommon understanding that the sense of smell is closely connected to memories and is probably more so connected than any other sense. And not only that, but the sense of smell is highly emotive. (2) We smell Grandma’s cookies, we automatically remember the taste, the emotion. Before you know it, we’re desiring. When thought meets emotion, temptation is born.
So what can be done?
Slow down, take a second to rest in the fulfilling aromas of what isn’t limited. Let the scent of fresh garlic ignite hunger, let a delicious, tender roast slow cook all day and fill your home with the fragrance of an impending feast. Redefine what smells appetizing and be excited over the allurement of a wholesome meal.
Sense of Sound
There are many sounds that us humans find relaxing such as a birds singing, rain falling, the quiet after a fresh blanket of snow, the sound of a dryer humming, a fireplace crackling or the short but steady breaths of a baby sleeping. Why do we deeply appreciate and find a sense of peace and relaxation in these sounds? Our brains are constantly in motion, thinking of one thing and then another. Sounds like the examples above pull you into the moment and give you permission to just be, to block out the chaos and simply focus on one thing.
Cooking and preparing food can offer this same relief. The sizzle of bacon, the bubbling of boiling water, the crisp sound of celery being chopped, the scooping sounds of ingredients being portioned out. It all comes together like an orchestra.
Slow down, take a second to rest in the fulfilling sounds of a bustling kitchen.
Sense of Taste
I’ve saved this one for last because the taste of real, healthful food choices is astoundingly different than chemically flavored ones. Experiencing vegetables can be exactly the same for an adult as it is for a one year old: Open mouth, insert vegetable, spit out vegetable because it tastes weird and foreign.
But there’s a light at the end of the health food tunnel. EatingWell.com states, “Cultivating a “taste” for a specific something requires exposure. Nutrition experts frequently counsel mothers about the importance of exposing young children to lots of different tastes: it conditions them to accept a variety of healthy foods.”
Us adults are not unlike children in this regard. In order to retrain your taste buds to enjoy and accept healthy foods, you must up the exposure to them. This concept makes me smile because AIP doesn’t just expose us to them, it’s more like a full immersion baptism. 😉
But once the taste buds are on board, what a symphony of flavors to be had! Oh how I love the savory flavor of baked chicken legs, the crunch of salted and grilled asparagus, the spicy kick to ground fresh radishes, the punch of flavor in olives, the comforting taste of sweet strawberry preserves and the pucker of grapefruit. Find your food favorites, the ones that are so good they’re like delicacies to you and make your taste buds sing. When you find choices that spark excitement, enjoy them thoroughly, chew slowly, savor the flavor and remember the satisfaction.
Slow down, take a second to rest in the fulfilling tastes of cell-healing food.
I hope that this article has encouraged a different way of thinking, a whole new perspective. Saying no to junk food, or even just non AIP compliant (but otherwise healthy) fruits and vegetables isn’t saying no to joy… it’s saying yes to hope, fulfillment and freedom on a whole new level. By choosing to commit to the Autoimmune Protocol, you’re saying yes to food freedom in the most healing, beautiful, satisfying way. Don’t look at an AIP food list and think of the limitations… think of all the ways those healing options can be truly pleasurable.
View my recipes here!
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