There is no doubting that the release of Eileen Laird's book, 'A Simple Guide to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol', has filled a gap in the AIP market. It's no great surprise that starting any elimination healing protocol is a very daunting task but add an autoimmune illness into the equation (with often debilitating symptoms and brain fog), it becomes a labour of love to keep it up. So that's where this small, pocket-sized paperback (also available as a Kindle download) which can be read in a day and popped into your bag for easy reference, will become invaluable. Because despite its compact size, it holds a wealth of information and a lot of good, sound advice which will allow you to progress in your healing. As simple and to the point as the beautiful illustration on the cover, Eileen's warm and reassuring tone, not to mention straightforward, easy to understand and practical advice, is one of informative (never holier than thou) conversation between friends.
A Simple Guide to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol is aimed at those of you contemplating or starting out on the Autoimmune Protocol (I also think it would be an awesome resource for anyone living with, or caring for somebody with autoimmune issues) and boy are you lucky because, despite the fact there is info to be had online, it often takes many hours of searching for. And I know that from personal experience.
With 27 chapters, Eileen (who writes the popular blog Phoenix Helix) is sure to answer all the questions you may have when embarking on the AIP. Questions such as "what is the AIP", "what will I eat?", "how do I survive a flare". Don't expect any recipes - there are other cookbooks out there to help with that - Eileen concentrates on the other aspects of this healing protocol, explaining the importance of managing stress, sleep, detoxification, respecting and being kind to your body, learning how to recognize symptoms. She also offers sound advice on how to travel, how to eat out and where to find support (including at what point to find yourself a practitioner). I love that not only does she tell you what foods to avoid but why. I'm all for eliminating if I'm told to do it but I'd really like to know the reason.
In summary, with the rapid growth of the autoimmune movement and availability of information, it is vitally important to be able to trust the source of your advice. Eileen is one of the most informed advocates of the AIP that I know of, in fact she was one of the original bloggers on the subject so you can rest assured her advice is 100% accurate. So, having the bare necessities written in easy to understand lingo, in one compact book, is nothing more than a dream come true. And reading the rave reviews Eileen has attracted, it's clear I'm not the only one to think so!
As well as answering every possible question you may ask in her book, Eileen has graciously agreed to some of mine!
1. Welcome Eileen, what brought you to the Autoimmune Protocol and when was that?
In January 2012, rheumatoid arthritis appeared in my body and changed my life. Within 6 months, I was disabled - it was a sudden and severe onset. Frightened by the medications offered, I desperately sought another solution. I found the GAPS diet first, which did start to alleviate my symptoms, but it wasn't until I combined GAPS with the AIP that I got truly got my symptoms under control. I was able to reduce my inflammation by 95%. I'm very grateful to say that I haven't had a flare in over 2 years.
2. When you first pressed the publish button, what did you think would come of your blog and did you ever imagine that you would end up writing a book?
What a great question! I started my blog 3 years ago, and my goal was simply to share my experience and connect with other people on a similar path. I didn't know if any readers would ever find what I wrote, but I was so passionate about dietary healing that I needed an outlet, and that was my blog. I never expected it to become more than a hobby, never mind lead to books, a podcast *, wonderful friendships, and the being part of this amazing, authentic, inspiring AIP community that I bet is in the hundreds of thousands of people by now.
3. How long did it take you to write the book and who did you imagine yourself writing it for?
I wrote the book I wish I had when I started the AIP over 3 years ago. I really feel like my readers are my friends, and I have so much empathy for what they are going through, especially when they're at rock bottom and desperately seeking a solution. It's such an overwhelming time, and we've all been there. I wanted to write a book to help people feel less alone in that moment. It's a short book (on purpose), and it's based on the knowledge I've gathered in my own 3+ years on a healing diet, so it only took 9 months to write.
4. Your e-book “Reintroducing Foods on the Paleo AIP” is a godsend to anyone wishing to add back foods after the elimination stages. What foods have you been able to introduce and what do you need to avoid?
Thank you for saying that! I love being the Reintroduction Lady and guiding people through that process. It's so empowering to learn to communicate with our bodies that way. I've been able to reintroduce eggs (which is huge), chocolate (which makes me happy), white rice (it's so nice to have one shelf-stable convenience food). I also do well with fruitbased and seedbased spices, and both seed and nut oils. When it comes to seeds and nuts themselves, I can eat them in moderation, but if I eat too many or eat them too often, cumulative inflammation arises. The same goes for fresh legumes, and I enjoy a glass of wine or hard cider once or twice a month. The foods I need to avoid 100% are dairy (I even react negatively to ghee) and nightshades (I call them the devil because they cause the most intense and long-lasting flares) and I also avoid gluten and other grains.
5. Did you make any New Year resolutions and if so, are we allowed to know what they are?
That's funny. I'm not a very private person - my husband might call me an oversharer. I actually started the AIP on 1/1/13, so I have a fond place in my heart for New Year's resolutions, actually. This year, I gave myself the challenge of 30 Days of Mindfulness. Meditation has been part of my healing protocol from the beginning, but in a more intermittent way rather than every day. I wanted to try a daily practice and see how that felt. So far, so good!
6. When you’re not writing blog posts, articles for Paleo Magazine or books, how do you like to spend your time?
One of my goals this year is to take more time off doing nothing! I'm such a productive person by nature that a day spend lying on the couch reading a novel is a huge achievement for me. For the past year, I've taken most Mondays off and offline (that means no computer or smartphone), and it's been heavenly My goal this year is to take a second day each week to do the same.
7. What do you say to people when they question your way of eating?
First, no one questions me in any kind of confrontational way. I would never get in an argument with someone over food. However, people sometimes ask me questions about the AIP - either because they're curious - or they want to cook me dinner and want to make sure I can eat it. That's the best gift ever - when someone cooks for us, isn't it? I tend to answer questions the same way I wrote the book - simply and gently. I only offer as much information as people really want to know. I don't proselytize. People are so sensitive about food that they can become very defensive about their own choices very quickly. I think being a silent role model works best, especially when people know the difference it has made in my own health.
8. What would your last supper be, AIP-style?
If it was REALLY my last supper - like right before I was taken out to the firing range - let's face it, it wouldn't be AIP! Bring on the butter and nightshades! But if you're asking what a decadent AIP meal would be? Honestly any meal where someone else does the cooking AND the dishes. That's such a rarity, and I love almost all AIP food, so I'd always be pleased with the menu (unless you added olives - I don't do olives. They are the last vestige of my picky eating childhood.) But organ meats, vegetables, fermented foods, seafood? All foods I used to despise as a child, and I love them now. It's wonderful how much the AIP has changed my palate along with my health.
* A note from Kate: Eileen's podcast has been shortlisted for two awards in Paleo Magazine's Best of 2015 for the categories 'Best New Podcast' and 'Best Podcast'. Please consider taking the time to cast a vote for her 🙂
ENTER THE GIVEAWAY: Eileen is kindly offering one lucky reader the chance to have your own copy of her new book. The giveaway is open to everybody - if the winner is a U.S. resident you will be sent a print copy, if based internationally you will be sent a pdf. A winner will be chosen at random and contacted by email. In the meantime, if you would like to buy a print or pdf copy, click here. Giveaway ends midnight PST on the 30th January. Good luck everyone!
Disclaimer: Eileen gifted me a pdf copy of The Simple Guide to the Autoimmune Protocol. It was my choice to review the book and all thoughts are entirely my own.