Paleo and AIP: Meal Planning

I am doing this more for me, but I want to detail what I have learned and am still learning about meal planning for the paleo and AIP diet/lifestyle for us right now.  (Please comment if you have any tips.)  I have gleaned a great deal from websites, podcasts (I listen while cooking, folding clothes, driving, etc.), friends, and books.

  1. I subscribed to Paleo menu plan.  It’s very inexpensive and provides a dinner meal plan, recipe, and shopping list for each night of the week.  They even have an iPhone app now which makes it super handy when shopping.
  2. I also carefully plan each component of breakfast, lunch, and multiple snacks for the day.  The kids need at least two snacks during the day (and they usually inhale more – good grief, would they STOP growing already!), and I am eating at least every two hours (per my plan.)
  3. I have a framed board in the kitchen where I write this all out with a dry erase marker so that everyone can see what the plan is for the next few days.
  4. (I still have not figured out lunch planning for Chris.  Poor guy gets left out so much.)
  5. Planning includes these considerations:  when do we need to pack a lunch, when do we have evening activities and dinner has to be fast, when do we have morning activities and breakfast has to be fast, the servings of fruit per day that G requires right now differs greatly from my plan so I need to make sure we both get what we need, Chris cannot have certain foods (highly acidic, obviously), and to complicate all of it, the AIP diet for me is extra special so that requires extra thinking.
  6. I try to cook more than we need because leftovers are necessary.  We don’t just open our pantry anymore and grab goldfish and nacho cheese chips for a quick snack.  It’s fresh fruit, fresh veggies, or leftovers for a snack (particularly if you need protein).  In fact, if we need a quick meal during the week, I plan to cook double and freeze/refrigerate it for later.  (My goal is to do this more often so I have a stockpile…just not there yet.)
  7. Traveling is a whole ‘nother story…and a separate post.
  8. I now have a notebook for planning and while I’m writing out the plan on one side, I’m simultaneously writing out my shopping list.  Once the list is complete, I then divide the list into the (usually three) different stores (or farmer’s market) I need to visit to purchase everything I need.
  9. I check my pantry to make sure I am stocked up on essentials:  olive oil, coconut oil, coconut butter, sweet potatoes (a must), and whatever else comes to mind.  Some of this I order online anyhow.
  10. I also make a list of “condiments”, nut milk, sorbet, etc. and ingredients I might need to buy for them (if not already on hand) and what I need to make.  This might include salad dressing, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, cashew milk, cashew cream, coconut milk, sorbets, chocolate mousse (made from avocados – Chris and the kids LOVE it!), or other special treats I decide on for the week.
  11. You’re picturing an enormous grocery bill, right?  Right.
  12. I make sure the list is complete and ready to go.  I put a cooler in the back of the car, visit the ATM for cash for the farmer’s market, charge the kids’ games and grab some books for them (including some memory work for school) and the marathon afternoon of shopping begins.

Next up:  Paleo and AIP: ShoppingComing soon:  Paleo and AIP: Home from Shopping, Now What? Paleo and AIP: Traveling, Paleo and AIP: Dining Out

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Our Lifestyle Changes

Where We Were…

We, like most of America, have followed the Standard American Diet, or SAD,for a large part of our married lives up until two months ago, give or take a few days.  This includes processed foods, fast foods, refined sugars, and pretty much nothing good for you.  Anything in a box or a bag with a label and a long list of ingredients is a “processed food” for all intents and purposes.  We are the land of convenience and are tricked into thinking there is nutrition in these items because of sprayed on synthetic nutrients and ingenious marketing ploys.  There are even chemicals specifically designed to enhance taste to make food addictive and pleasurable (ever eat a whole bag of cheesy nacho chips?).  Welcome to MSG, which is a chemical by many, many names.  Do not believe the “MSG-free” label.  Read the ingredient list…it’s there, in another form.  And causes a host of health issues.    In this world of big money, companies needed products to last longer on store shelves so they added chemicals to help those products do just that.  There are numerous preservatives that our bodies were never meant to ingest.  Food for thought?  (Pun intended.)

Health Issues…

I have lived with chronic migraines for the past decade and a half or so.  I have researched and read and tested foods and triggers to no end.  I know my triggers and have some more to find.  Add on to that list a lifetime of allergy and asthma, a sensitive tummy, reproductive system issues, etc.  Chris has had progressive GERD to the point of anatomy altering surgery being recommend.  (We couldn’t say “no” fast enough.)  He continues to have sinus issues as well.  G, as has been previously detailed, was diagnosed with Asperger’s earlier this year and has serious digestive issues as well as allergies just like his momma’s.  All of this is related, bear with me.


The SAD has an incredibly serious lack of whole-food nutrition and can actually contribute (or cause) a “leaky gut” which can lead to serious immune responses in the body and that’s just the beginning.  The health consequences are enormous.  Nutrition has a large impact on our well-being and I had already been clued in to that due to my migraines.  To help G (one of many therapeutic approaches, it takes a village!), we were recommended to an amazing nutritionist who immediately started helping him with his issues by getting his detailed health history and so on.  We started with a gluten, casein and soy-free diet and added numerous supplements.

Challenging, but do-able.  I am used to reading labels so I just had to take it to the next level.  As in…do not buy anything with a label and if I do, if there is something in the label that even remotely sounds like a chemical, don’t buy it.  Whole foods and spices only.  We adjusted to cooking every meal and every ingredient “from scratch” – right down to the mayo and salad dressing.  Once you get into the routine, it’s not so bad.

G’s digestive issues started immediately improving.  For myself, my migraines improved and my 6-year-long fresh-fruit allergy disappeared.  Interesting.  We progressed to a completely grain-free diet once we realize that the grains we switched to were causing stomach upset in most of us.  At this point, we are basically on a Paleo diet (no grains, no legumes, no dairy, only whole foods and healthy fats, etc.).

Fast forward…Chris’s acid reflux starts to hit intolerable levels.  The thought of surgery and being dependent on prescription meds (which are working less and less) is just disheartening, so we call Julia.  Or rather, I make an executive decision on Chris’s behalf and he sees Julia.  *grin*

Once again, a full health history and plan of action to heal Chris’s stomach is recommended – continue on the Paleo diet with specific foods to avoid and plenty of healthy fats and some supplements to aid digestion and coat the stomach.  A world of difference has been seen already, even though this is a marathon not a sprint.

As for myself, my frustration with food by this time has escalated.  Over the course of starting the Paleo lifestyle, I discover more and more triggers and food sensitivities and it feels like there is nothing I can eat without getting a headache or stomach upset.  When nearly every event in life revolves around food (think about it…it really does), then food becomes depressing.  A necessary evil.  Something to dread.  I had had enough.  It was my turn to meet with Julia.  Oh yes, we invest in the family plan.  (No, it doesn’t exist but I call it that.)

So after a complete health history, we jump right to what is called the Autoimmune Protocol.  The AIP diet.  For at least 30 days.  It is Paleo and then some (no eggs, nuts, nightshades).  The idea is that the highly reactive foods are removed from your diet for 30 days to allow your gut to heal, your immune system to calm down, and then slowly add things back in.  I have even more specific instructions based on my circumstances as well.   It is completely overwhelming when you look at it initially, but after doing Paleo for a bit, it’s not too far of a step and if it will help my health to get where it needs to be, then let’s go!

I’ve summarized this information to give you a background on where we have been, where we are, and where we are going – what our goals are.  All future posts will make sense with this background information.  I’ll provide more resources, progress, and such as we go.


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Randomness 104

  • We said goodbye to a friend and amazing middle school minister recently.  He passed into Heaven last week way too young due to a congenital heart defect.
  • I’ll never forget my view from behind the keyboard as I helped lead the band during the worship service (his funeral).  Hearts hurting so deeply but truly dependent on our God are truly reflected in the most beautiful faces I have ever beheld.
  • We are moving ever forward on our plan to being able to travel again!  Woohoo!  We are halfway through now as G had a very successful week at the day camp he attended (9am to 2pm daily).  Steps 3 and 4 coming up soon.
  • We are finally back into a regular school schedule for a weeks now and Classical Conversations started!
  • 3 out of 4 of us are now on a specialized nutrition plan with our nutritionist.  More on that later.  As in…your eyes might bleed from all the nutrition and food information.  Move on to another blog if you’re not interested.  All two of you.  :)
  • 1 out of 4 of us has a stomach of steel.  Good thing.  But that person benefits by learning at a young age what a healthy lifestyle is.
  • We also were sad to lose Chris’s Aunt Kathy recently.  She is very missed.
  • We are tired of funerals and are quite done with them.
  • It was good to see extended family though.
  • Makes me miss my own family and Kentucky.
  • A lot.
  • Kentucky is God’s country.  In case you needed to be reminded.  :D
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The Next Step

So we move onward and upward in our “diet” (really, not the correct term) change.  I’ve heard “lifestyle changes” and I think it’s apropos.  It really has changed our lifestyle:  we rarely eat out anymore, we make everything by hand, planning and time management are essential, and we are seeing the health benefits.

*It’s important to note that every now and then I have fun little pity party and refuse to cook and clean my kitchen twenty-one times a day and we all just eat plain chicken and raw fruit for a meal because this is just. plain. hard.  And I miss brownies from Chick-Fil-A.  Sigh. 

Let me start again…

So we move onward and upward in our “lifestyle changes.”  After speaking with the nutritionist again, we are going completely grain-free.  Our hope here is to further help G’s tummy issues (I’m preserving his dignity by reserving the details) and Chris and I also noticed our own tummy issues when we tried new grains, namely quinoa.  And frankly, believe it or not, it’s just easier to go grain free.  I know it sounds strange, but the massive amount of available grain and starch flours available  and the complexity of mixing them was mind-boggling.  Grain-free?  You can easily stick with almond and coconut flour.  As long as we don’t react to almond and coconut…we are testing those individually now, starting with almond flour.  *Since I started writing this post, we have tested almond flour and it is not friendly to our family tummies, unfortunately.  Moving on to coconut flour. 

I also learned that we have been drinking a little too much juice.  It was even healthy juice!  But too much fructose does not do a body good and we have to cut it back to 1-2 servings a week.  I love juice so this will be a big adjustment.  A BIG adjustment.  Really big.  The kids do, too, but day 1 of no juice and they are doing pretty well.

What it boils down to is what is called a SCD diet, or specific carbohydrate diet.  Or as I like to call it, Paleo Extreme.  (That’s not really a term, Paleo is a real term, but not Paleo Extreme.)

The new “rage” out there is this Paleo Diet.  You can google it and it’s everywhere.  As a Christian and a firm believer in “young earth creation”, I certainly cringed when I first heard the term and their philosophy behind it, but I believe in the nutritional value of it for a variety of reasons (and I have researched it to the nth degree, it’s what I do).  And I won’t bore you with those details.  Plenty of other bloggers have hashed it out from various angles and I’m not going to recreate the wheel.  I can tell you it is working for us.  We feel better, tummy issues are getting resolved, we have more energy, etc.

For the two of you who are reading, I’m mostly going to post this list of resources for myself, but here are my favorite sites, including our nutritionist:

  • (I think?)
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“I love having a mommy like you.”

G and I are early risers.  Early.  We both woke up around 5:30am this morning.  I gave up trying to go back to sleep and so did he, apparently, when he crawled into bed to snuggle with me around 6am.  We had a whispered conversation.  I treasure these moments.  Here’s a snippet that I’m sure I’ll never forget:

Me:  G, I am so proud of you and how well you are doing with no tantrums and no crying and such good behavior!
G:  I know.  I love having a mommy like you.

I’m pretty sure I choked up in that moment.  Then a million thoughts went through my head.  Quick, freeze this moment in time!  Snapshot!  Wait, what did he say?  Will he ever say it again?  Oh my, it’s made this whole painful year worth every single miserable second and I love him so much I’m not sure I can stand it.  Is it ok to eat your young because you love them so much?  Is that what God means by an all-consuming love?  He loves having a mommy like me.  ThankyouLordthankyouLordthankyouLord!!  

It’s.  All.  Worth.  It.  Even if he never said those words to me.

A friend recently asked on a discussion page “Tell me about a time you came up on an obstacle that seemed impossible.  How did you conquer it?”  My reply?  I usually freeze, freak out, then attack it ferociously.  Mama Bear is an understatement.

“I love having a mommy like you.”  I’m going to remember this so when the difficult days come, and they will, there is a reminder that morning always comes again.

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