You might be asking "What does food have to do with creativity?" I would urge to read on. The AIP is, in fact, so much more than a food based experiment--it's a lifestyle protocol involving food, sleep, stress management, and movement. The idea is to eliminate certain foods that are known to flare autoimmune conditions, and once your symptoms have improved, to test the foods back in one at a time to see how your body reacts. In doing this, you see firsthand what foods nourish you most, and what foods are triggers for inflammatory responses. At the same time, it's crucial to get deep, quality sleep, gentle exercise, and manage your stress.
As most of my own circle of friends and family may already know, I've been following AIP for almost two years now. I was diagnosed with severe psoriasis in the Winter of 2015, and after trying out several creams, lotions, and other potions with super scary warnings and ingredients that didn't seem to be helping long-term, I decided to give the AIP a shot. My primary care doctor also supported this idea. What did I have to lose?
The transition was a bit tough, as I had previously eaten anything and everything I wanted, with no known allergies. For the first five months on the AIP, I didn't see any changes in my skin. In fact, I saw some of the lowest lows I have ever had with my psoriasis. I lost a decent amount of hair because of it, and was too self conscious to be around many people. I cancelled any haircut appointments and dreaded acting in a production, lest the hair and make-up stylist see my skin and scalp, which were in bad shape. I felt shamed. Feeling this way and being an actor do NOT go hand in hand, and I was determined to get my body back.
Around month six of the AIP, my symptoms had improved drastically. Today, 21 months into the AIP, I am thrilled to say that my symptoms are 85-90% improved, and I have reintroduced a few foods already. I acted in five stage productions and one short film this past year and didn't have to feel self-conscious about someone styling my hair or putting stage make-up on my face. Health is not separate from your life, it IS your life. For me, when I feel like I gained some knowledge of and control over what was happening with my body, I feel like I got my life back. It feels AMAZING!
The AIP has also taught me to speak up for myself when I need to. I have learned to not feel weird about ordering differently at a restaurant when I go out with friends (burger with avocado, bacon, onion, mushrooms, in a lettuce wrap, anyone?) and I have learned that it's ok to turn down to invitations to do social activities that keep me up too late if I am feeling worn out (my bedtime is around 9:30 or 10 PM most nights). It's been amazing to see so many of the people I love support me in this whole experiment and not mind a bit if I don't eat dessert at a holiday or need to request a special meal at a wedding or special occasion. And this summer, I actually had a friend of a friend confess that she has been dealing with psoriasis as well, and she decided to give the AIP a go herself. I was so happy when she told me that she was much improved this fall as well!
In the end, I wanted to share because it's part of my life right now, and so is inextricably linked with my own creative life. And on the slim chance that anyone else is dealing with an autoimmune disease right now and wants to give this whole AIP thing a try, I would be more than happy to share more about my experience. I've also read the stories of folks who have drastically improved their quality of life living with MS, arthritis, Hashimotos, celiac disease, and countless other autoimmune conditions through the AIP. It's so inspiring.
For now, if you are looking for resources, recipes, and community for the AIP, here are my favorite go-to sites:
Grateful to get the chance to share my story with you here. As an artist, my tools are my physical body, my imagination, and my emotions. I will do what it takes to care for those things, for ME, as best as I can. It's full of ups and downs, but in the long run, is trending towards up. I think that's what counts.
Wishing you a restorative and festive holiday season and New Year!