What’s the most important part of AIP? (hint: it’s not food)
What was the first thing that you did when you started researching the Autoimmune Protocol? I started by reading the list of foods that aren’t allowed during strict elimination. And then I thought, “OMG, if I have to give up all this food, what is there left for me to eat?” This led me to start collecting AIP recipes like a hoarder and ordering all the AIP cookbooks on Amazon. I was so focused on the food part of AIP that I didn’t even realize for a while that AIP is not just a diet but a lifestyle.
According to Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, there are actually four additional lifestyle factors to consider:
- Plentiful Sleep
- Stress Management
- Gentle Movement
- Social Connection
I have to admit, though, that these other factors were less of a concern for me than getting the food rules right. One reason is that it was easier for me to put into practice something that has clear rules rather than a general guideline to “reduce stress” or “get more sleep.” I only uncovered the real reason, though, just this past weekend, and it goes much deeper into what I believe about myself as a person.
First, though, let me ask you a question: What comes to mind when you hear someone talk about “self-care?” If you’re like me, you probably have a vision of a pedicure followed by a bubble bath and a good book. It sounds heavenly but really, who has time for that? I’m over here trying to be a good wife and mom to two little boys while running a business, so the last thing that I tend to think about is time for myself. In fact, I even tend to feel selfish when I think about doing anything that would be considered self-care.
But what about “soul-care?” How do those words resonate? Self-care can be easy to put off because of the bubble bath vision. But without soul-care, you’re not who you need to be for your spouse, your kids, your job, or most importantly, yourself. To me, “soul-care” is giving myself permission to heal my mind as well as my physical body. When food is used together with the other four factors, the AIP lifestyle is so much more powerful than a diet by itself could ever be.
I was introduced to the concept of soul-care by Wellness Life Coach Susie Barolo this past weekend at a women’s conference. As I listened to her speak about the five pillars of wellness that directly correlated with the AIPLifestyle (nutrition, sleep, stress management, movement, and social connection), I reflected on how I could use these lifestyle factors to heal my soul:
- Sleep: Susie spoke about how sleep is the #1 thing that helps everything else fall into place, and that less than 7 hours a night is detrimental to good health. This one is a real challenge to me, because I consider myself a night owl. It’s finally my time to get things done after the kids get into bed. However, I’m committing to going to bed 15 minutes earlier every night this week.
- Gentle Movement: How can I heal my body through exercise? My goal is to do at least 8-10 minutes of movement every day, even if it’s just stretching for a few minutes in my basement. On my good days I’ll go to the gym and hit the elliptical.
- Stress Management: I’m really working on giving myself a little grace this week. Things don’t have to be perfect to get done, and I don’t have to be perfect either. I’m working to back off of my high expectations in order to get back to my true self.
- Relationships: Human beings need connection. As Susie said this weekend, “The word wellnessdoesn’t have an I in it. That’sillness.” BAM! We need to surround ourselves with a handful of supportive people that we can truly share our lives with. Personally, I will be scheduling more time out with friends and a much-needed vacation with my husband.
I recommend that you start with just a couple of small steps that will make a difference in your healing journey. Too many changes at once can be overwhelming and might actually cause a set-back.
So what can you do this week to go beyond food in AIP? What are the one or two things that you can put into place to practice soul-care? Comment below, or post directly to our Simply AIP Facebook group here (https://www.facebook.com/groups/294743447720378/).