Taking on a healing protocol like the AIP is a beautiful process of self-discovery and personal growth. It’s challenging, but empowering. Stressful, but soothing. The AIP forces you to become more mindful of your body and the interplay between the food we eat, the environment we live in, and the amount of stress in our lives. Unfortunately, for many of us the stress of taking on new tasks like cooking adds up quick. Along my journey I’ve come across some tools that help make things a little easier, keeping me focused on the positive and making healthier decisions. Below are my favorite 10 must have tools for rocking the Autoimmune Protocol. From cooking gadgets to stress management, they are practical items & tools that can help make lifestyle changes like the AIP a little more approachable by saving time or shifting your awareness.
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Staying Hydrated: Glass Water Bottles
One of the most approachable first steps we can take when making diet and lifestyle changes is switching out sugary processed drinks for water. These glass bottles by Aquasana are a great alternative to disposable plastic bottles that leach toxins in the heat. If I don’t carry water with me, I don’t drink it. Over time I’ve learned that if I don’t see my water I won’t prioritize it. Having water with me and accessible is critical for me to get in what I need. I’ve tried all sorts of storage, but these glass bottles from Aquasana finally made it click for me. They don’t leak so I can slip one in my purse for when I’m on the go. I’m incredibly clumsy, but these have been very durable so far. I was initially worried that I would break them, but I’ve dropped mine about 4 feet onto concrete without even a scratch. They are made of a thick high quality glass. I keep them filled up in the fridge, so it’s easy to grab and go. I like to see results, so seeing the number left in the fridge go down throughout the day is really motivating!
Healthy Food Recreation: Spiralizer
Before my celiac diagnosis I was a hardcore pasta eater. Spiralizing veggies like zucchini, squash, and sweet potatoes helped me recreate some of my favorite dishes while sparing my body the terrors of gluten and grains. It also helps me pack in the vegetables, without getting burnt out. Zucchini has a very long growing season here, so they are naturally our first choice for noodles. I love them both raw or lightly cooked. There are many spirazlizers on the market, but I recommend the tried and true Paderno Tri-Blade. It comes with 1/8 inch, 1/4 inch, and ribbon blades which adds some great diversity in the kitchen. Since zoodles are so I easy, I pack my julienne peeler when I travel for zoodles on the go!
Time Saver: Instant Pot
I couldn’t put together a top 10 list without including the Instant Pot 7 in 1 Multi Cooker. It’s all the rage, and for good reason. The Instant Pot is well recognized for it’s electronic pressure cooking feature. I had never pressure cooked before getting my Instant Pot, so I was terrified that I was going to blow up the house. No fear though, it’s packed with a bunch of safety features and will not open if there is pressure inside. It’s a great time saver as most recipes require very little hands on prep time. My favorite thing to make is bone broth, with a full batch being completed in under 3 hours!
Better Sleep: Blue Light Blockers
Diet is usually the focus of an AIP or paleo lifestyle, but sleep is one of the most important factors to optional wellbeing. It helps us to repair, rejuvenate, and replenish. I struggled with poor quality sleep for quite some time as it’s a very common problem for people with fibromyalgia and autoimmune conditions. I’d contend that it’s a problem for a large percentage of Americans and it’s definitely an underlying factor of our lifestyle related disease epidemic. The good thing is that sleep can easily be improved with a little time and attention.
Exposure to artificial light after sundown tricks our bodies into thinking we should still be awake, which inhibits melatonin (sleep hormone) from raising and cortisol (stress hormone) from dropping. Blue light emitted from screens like phones, computers, & TV’s is especially disruptive to our circadian rhythms. Blue light blockers are an instrumental piece of my sleep hygiene, and not a night goes by when I don’t wear them (I have no shame I even wear them out of the house). They are an inexpensive (under $10) and approachable way and help balance your circadian rhythm. Put them on at sundown for the most benefit, or at least 2 hours before bed.
Eat Yo Fats: Avocado Storage
Eating a lot of fat is pretty new for most people starting AIP. Avocado’s quickly became a favorite food of mine, but I was constantly throwing out browned avocado halves because they just don’t stay fresh in the fridge. This Avo Saver keeps them green and works even better if you slip a piece of onion underneath. But what about all that glorious guacamole? I love these itty bitty Ball mason jars for grab & go guacamole snacks. As longs as they are filled up, the airtight seal will keep them browning for 3-4 days. I make a batch at the beginning of the week to put in lunches!
Get Cooking: Cast Iron Skillets
Lodge Cast Iron
Transitioning to a more holistic lifestyle often means that your nasty chemical laden non-stick pans find the garbage can. When cared for properly, cast iron is one of the best non stick cooking surfaces out there. They hold heat evenly and can also be used in the oven. I love melting my fats on the stove top, then tossing in some veggies and moving them to the oven to roast. Aside from the perfect cook and flavor, cast iron is my favorites because they are so easy to clean. You can simply wipe them with a paper towel after most uses, or hit them with some water and salt if you need something more abrasive. I use my Lodge 10 inch skillet the most, but my 6, 8, and 12 inch skillets are used regularly. I love my dutch oven too! Since they are heavy I store them right on the stove top. For people with glass stove tops you can still use cast iron, just be careful not to drag or drop it along the glass.
Your New Best Friend: Vitamix
A Vitamix was the first big purchase I made when I changed my lifestyle, and it was well worth every penny. It is the one kitchen item that made the biggest impact on my ability to transition to real foods. I started my journey with green smoothies, but hated the chunky mess my ninja left me with. The Vitamix is a beast, turning greens into juice very quickly. It’s incredible versatile and is my go to for smoothies, soups, ice creams, sauces, and even the yuca dough for my paleo garlic knots. It’s super easy to clean – just add water, soap, blend, and rinse! Grab a refurbished model for a huge discount and the same great 5 year warranty! The base of the unit is refurbished, but the blender container, lid, tamper, and additional items (like books) are brand new.
Stress Relief: Adult Coloring Books
Like diet and sleep, stress management is an essential pillar of wellbeing and maintaining a paleo lifestyle. Coloring is a great way to disconnect from the world, express some creativity, and tune down the stress. It’s one of my favorite ways to relax and get into a flow. Coloring books also make a great gift! There are some wonderful Facebook coloring groups if you need some inspiration.
Planning Ahead: Food Storage
Packing meals and planning ahead is essential to maintaining a paleo diet. My coworkers and friends make fun of my giant lunchbox, but working 10 hour days means I need to bring at least 2 full meals and a snack with me. This coleman has a spacious hard inner liner which makes packing my pyrex glass storage dishes safe & simple and is really easy to remove and clean. A few ice packs keeps my food cold for 10-12 hours.
Reflection & Personal Growth: Journaling
Following a healing protocol is definitely a journey of personal growth and discovery. Take time to reflect on your experience, jot down moments that move you, and the goals you have. Journaling provides a space to process our experiences, clarify our thinking, and notice our emotions. I think this is especially helpful in discovering our strengths and tapping into resiliency. Journaling can also help our physical health! Studies have demonstrated that journaling can boost the immune system, decrease symptoms of chronic health conditions, and counteract some of the effects of stress.
I hope these tools help make life a little easier. What are some gadgets, tools, or other items that you have found helpful for maintaining a paleo lifestyle? I’d love to hear from you. Comment below!