Lately, there’s been more and more discussion about how the AIP diet is “militant” and “too
restrictive.” I don’t normally participate in these types of
because I RARELY feel like these types of heated discussions on social media are productive – everyone is going to have their own opinions and trying to convince someone of something via social media is never going to be effective.
Someone isn’t going to say, “Well gosh, at 10:50am this morning I actually thought that paleo was the best diet ever, but after Jane let me know that VEGANISM was actually the best diet ever, I’m switching my whole life around!” No. At best, people will leave those conversations not feeling battered. At worst, folks will feel bullied, attacked, and invalidated. Diet has become as dogmatic as religion, and you can hardly express an opinion without being attacked from all sides.
That’s why I’m taking the opportunity to clearly articulate something and respond in general to the swirling comments I’ve seen throughout the last year or so about AIP being a harmful diet. I hope that while this is heavier topic and while I may be taking a stern stance on this, you understand that I’m only bringing my opinion up because I truly care about each and every one of you, and I want you to experience the level of health and happiness that you deserve! And much like a concerned parent might have a “come to Jesus” talk with their child, so I am going to have one with you. J
Before I attempt to debunk the myth that the AIP diet is TOO restrictive, I want to acknowledge something – and that “something” is that orthorexia is a very real thing. What is orthorexia, you ask? Orthorexia is a form of disordered eating characterized by an overly restrictive and obsessive way of eating. Note that it is not an “eating disorder” per say (such as bulimia or anorexia), but a term to describe disordered-eating patterns. Dr. Steven Bratman coined and began using the term back in the 90s to describe patients who were overly health-obsessed. Many people suffer from this and maybe don’t even know about it. If you’ve ever counted calories, if you obsess about every little thing that touches your mouth, if you religiously restrict and avoid certain foods or food groups, then you may be orthorexic.
The reason I bring this up is because yes, I suppose AIP’s guidelines could lead some people to the verge of orthorexia – and I think that although people aren’t using this specific terminology to describe the problem, it’s why AIP is catching some flak. In fact, many of you may have just read that description and are thinking, “Holy $hit that’s me! This AIP diet has made me orthorexic! SCREW THIS DIET AND ALL THAT IT TOUCHES!”
But before you go kicking AIP to the curb and casting it as the most recent villain in your life, you need to know something. You need to understand that this diet (and all diets) is a concept. It’s a set of recommendations that have been proven to help people on their path to healing. It’s not a thing. It’s not a person. “AIP” does not sit in a dark, smoke-filled room with other AIP Mafia members and say “You know what, Frankie? We’re ready for our biggest heist yet. We’re going to make Amanda stop eating all the foods she loves, obsess over diet, never be able to go out with her friends again, and – get this – we’ll make her ORTHOREXIC!” [queue maniac laughter]
No. A diet is a CONCEPT. It has no power. It has no weapons. It has no opinion or thoughts of its own. It’s something, written down on paper or in books or on blogs, that is discussed and opinionated about. PEOPLE give power to it. YOU give power to it. Believe it or not, nobody (and certainly no diet) can make you do anything.
You always have a choice.
You can choose to follow the diet 100%, you can choose to follow it 50%, or you can choose to follow it zero percent, and instead take a sultry bath in cheese, milk and chocolate (if you’re into that sort of thing). At the end of the day, AIP is meant to be a template; a set of diet and lifestyle recommendations that help jumpstart you on your healing path. No diet can make you obsess over every little thing that goes into your mouth. No diet can make you think you’re a failure if you slip up and have a bite of your kid’s granola bar or gluten-free cracker. No diet controls your life. YOU control your life, and as such, YOU must take responsibility for your life, your thoughts, your possible obsessions, and your relationship to the AIP diet.
So please, stop the heated posting and blaming of the diet, or saying that “the diet” has caused you to become overly restricted, afraid of food, depressed, powerless, or obsessive. No, my friend, YOU have done this. It’s your interpretation of the diet, a concept, which has led to these things. Again, there is no “AIP mafia leader” in a dark room pulling strings and making you feel this way. The diet hasn’t done anything.
I urge you to examine your relationship to AIP. If you think that it’s an overly obsessed and restrictive way of eating, that’s because your mindset is causing you to be overly obsessed and restrictive; the diet is only going to be as strict as you let it be. For every loud voice in the community that claims that the AIP diet has done more harm than good, there are 10 more people who report that AIP gave them their life back, and that AIP significantly diversified the foods they were eating (for most people, it seems like their diet before AIP consisted of a rotation of the same 5 foods).
So again, please know that you must take responsibility for your own health. When you give your power away to a doctor or a diet, you’re the one who loses. Take back control of your health and give yourself permission to take the AIP diet only as seriously as you want to, customize it to you using N=1 experimentation, and find balance in every moment (i.e. if you want to go grab tea or juice with a friend, just do it and have fun!)
Much love to you all.