There’s something about making your own jam that just feels so warm and cosy.

 

Weirdly, considering my own gigantic sweet tooth, I’ve never been a huge fan of jam, in the traditional sense at least. I was never the girl with jam sandwiches, and the idea of jam on toast does nothing for me. Jam for cakes on the other hand… now we’re talking.

 

What I’ve really noticed through this whole AIP diet experience is how my tastebuds have evolved and changed. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I used to be a slave to my cravings. So many times I’ve felt like crying (or actually have cried) after binging on so much junk food that I felt sick, and it gave me only minutes of happiness. Since being refined sugar-free, I still feel the odd craving for something really sugary-sweet (hello, Wafflemeister), but in reality, I don’t think I’d actually enjoy the taste anymore.

 

This diet has taught me so much about different nutrients and food groups, which has made me want to learn and discover a new way of eating that nourishes my body. I have spoken before about how I’ve begun to listen to what my body responds to, now it’s up to me to nurture with food that will make my body AND my mind happy.

 

That being said, I don’t think I’ll ever be quite ready to give up the sweeter things in life, but I do want to learn how to adapt to a new, mindful approach to cooking. I work full-time with a part-time postgraduate degree, so taking some time out of a day to cook slowly is a real novelty. This is how my plum jam recipe came to be. It only uses 3 ingredients, and can be left fairly unattended for it to stew away into a gorgeous consistency. Personally, I love mine dolloped on top of some AIP-compliant brownies…

3 Ingredient Sugar-Free Plum Jam

A delicious and easy plum jam recipe, perfect for using up overripe plums.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 ripe plums
  • 1/2 tbsp raw honey
  • 1 lemon

Instructions

  1. Quarter your plums, removing the stones. The riper the plums, the sweeter your jam will be, so you could reduce the amount of honey depending on their ripeness.

  2. Add to a saucepan and put on a low to medium heat. 

  3. Mix in the honey and juice of 1 lemon. 

  4. Pop the lid on until the plums start to release their juices and simmer.

  5. Remove the lid and mix, then reduce the heat to low and leave to cook for 1-2 hours. You can leave for longer if you like a smoother consistency. The longer you cook, the sweeter it'll be.

  6. Take off from the heat and leave to cool, then jar the jam, storing in the fridge to set. I would keep this up to a week, but it rarely lasts that long!

Before you say anything, I knowwwww, the autoimmune protocol (AIP) diet is all about healing your gut with all the right nutrients. So snacking shouldn’t be at the top of your agenda, but sometimes, you get cravings. Especially if you’re a certain 20-something girl at a certain time of the month, y’know?

I’m fairly certain that this is the longest time I’ve ever gone without eating chocolate, which is great! It also means that I have a sweet tooth to rival Willy Wonka, so if I’m going to be without my one true love, then I need a substitute snack on hand.

In the UK, it’s not as easy to find AIP snacks. Whenever I have searched long and hard, it seems that the best snacks come out of the United States. Once you factor in shipping costs, it’s not worth thinking about. What’s more, is that these kind of healthy snacks don’t come cheap, so it’s often way more cost-effective to make them yourselves. More on that in another post to come…

Alas, I have tirelessly searched for the best AIP snacks available in the UK that will keep your sweet/snacking tooth at bay until your next meal. These are my favourite autoimmune protocol treats for those days that you don’t feel like creating something delicious yourself! I’ve started documenting my AIP journey, so let me know how you’ve got on with the diet, too. I could do with all the help I can get!

Ape Snacks Coconut Curls

Ape Snacks Coconut Curls - Best AIP Snacks In The UK

I’m starting with my ultimate number one snack find. I’m not going to pretend they are cheap, because at £1.20 a bag they are costly little buggers, but my oh my… what a find. These coconut curls from Ape Snacks are made from coconut and rock salt, so totally AIP complaint, and also totally DELICIOUS.  I never used to like coconut but having had these, I think what I never liked was the fake-sweet flavourings of coconut, the real thing is so different.

Bear Fruit Yo-Yo

Bear YoYo Fruit - Best AIP Snacks In The UK

Ok, so technically these are for kids. But when so much dried fruit in the supermarket has preservatives, sugar and sunflower oil in it (ew, sunflower oil, seriously?), these little snacks from Bear are a godsend! They are made of JUST dried fruit, and are great for a post-lunch snack or mid-morning pick-me-up! They come in a few different flavours so you can mix it up a bit. It’s worth a big ol’ disclaimer that fruit should be kept as a treat so that your fructose levels don’t go cray, but everything in moderation!

Emily Veg CrispsEmily Veg Crisps - Best AIP Snacks In The UK

Vegetables crisps are pretty widespread now, but it’s surprising how many packaged on the market are still full of oils and preservatives. Luckily Emily Veg Crisps are all natural and I’ve found them in loads of supermarkets! This is another AIP snack that is actually way more cost effective to make yourself, but if you are tight on time, they’re great!

The title is a little misleading, I am over halfway through the initial 30 day detox stage of the autoimmune protocol diet. If I’m honest, I never thought I would get this far.

 

My relationship with food has always been complicated, but  my willpower with diets has never been successful – I have always ended up binging when I restrict myself too much. This time though, something has been different.

 

Maybe it’s the support I’ve had from my family, friends and especially my boyfriend, who has been my main supporter in this diet since I first contemplated starting it. Maybe it’s been the finite preparation every week that I’ve undertaken to ensure I never get hungry and risk binging. Maybe it’s knowing that in a few months, I could be a little closer to knowing what is making my body rebel against me. Maybe it’s a combination of all of these things.

 

What I know for certain though, is that my body has never felt better. Not since before my diagnosis at 17 have I been able to maintain my energy levels and not a single bone ache in my body, without the help of prednisone, of course. Not that I’m without a little ache in the morning, but seriously, if that is all it is, then I could take that for the rest of my life. This freedom from pain is seriously addictive.

 

I know that I’m fairly lucky in the grand scheme of things, as a lot of people who undertake the autoimmune protocol diet don’t have such immediate results. I was lucky that my arthritis was caught quite early, so has yet to cause any joint damage, which can tend to affect people’s results on the AIP diet.

 

In all honesty, I will actually be a little nervous to start reintroducing food. Sure, the restrictive diet is a little tedious at times, and potentially finding out what foods trigger a flare up will be both fascinating and relieving. But this past month has taught me a lot about listening to your body, being mindful of how things like sleep, work and play can affect us, and a LOT about self-control! I tend to think of our lives as chapters of a book, as cliché as it sounds, it helps my mind gather itself. If the current chapter has been about mindfulness and listening, the next is all about learning and evaluating.

I love food.

 

That’s one thing you have to know about me. I LOVE food.

 

I never used to; when I was a child I was probably one of the fussiest eaters on the planet, because I simply didn’t enjoy eating or food. So when that started to change when I was 16, it was like a monster had been unleashed. I think about food when I wake up, in between meals, and I’m always planning around my next meal.

 

So when it occurred to me that my diet might be one of the sources of my chronic pain, it really hit me hard. I’ve lived with rheumatoid arthritis since I was 17, and whilst I’ve dipped in and out of trying different diets to help, it’s never been a priority. I’ve always made an excuse – I can’t, I’m at university, I work full time, I have too much on, I socialise too much. The excuses have been endless.

 

I take two different types of medication, both of which are potent enough that they produce some pretty nasty side effects, but also have kept me out of a wheelchair and able to hold down a full time job since I graduated, so for that I am grateful. But I also don’t want to punish my body by feeding it the wrong food for the rest of my life, simply topping up with toxic medication that can have other life-altering side effects should I stay on such a high dose for my weight.

 

The thing about a chronic illness, is that you feel entirely out of control. Which, as someone who is a self-confessed control freak, is never good from a mental health aspect. So a few weeks ago I wanted to take control, which meant dealing with the one aspect that I’ve always tried to ignore. My diet. I have a large appetite and a sweet tooth the size of Everest, so to tackle my diet I was going to have to be drastic, and quick, in case I had a change of mind… nothing like trying to trick your own brain to do something worthwhile!

 

This is where I learnt about the autoimmune protocol diet. Properly, that is – I’ve been aware of it for a long time but always dubbed it way too extreme to ever attempt whilst I’m living a busy life. But after reading the Autoimmune Wellness Guide that was recommended to me, the authors’ made me realise that this was a way of getting some kind of control back over my body. For someone who has spent many a low moment cursing every single joint in a prematurely-aged body, this is huge.

 

So here I am.

 

I’m 2 weeks in to my elimination diet. I cannot fathom the changes I have already seen. To put it into perspective, before this diet, I wouldn’t be able to pinpoint one single day that I would wake up without an ache or pain, which were frequently debilitating. These two weeks have seen me waking up without aching joints in the morning, with more energy and productivity levels are HIGH. I’m hooked.

 

To those that don’t know, the autoimmune protocol is kind of like a detox for your gut, to repair the health of it that when deteriorated, can exacerbate flare-ups and digestive problems and all sorts of aches and pains. To do this, you have to eliminate certain (and by certain, I mean the majority) of food groups and slowly reintroduce them after a minimum of 30 days elimination. As a quick overview, you are allowed to eat any kind of meat, vegetables (excluding nightshade vegetables ie. peppers, white potatoes, chilli, tomatoes) and fruit. That’s it.

 

Yes, it’s bloody hard. I’m not going to portray it as a peachy-keen, easy ride, because giving up all my favourite sweet foods, with little substitutions available for someone who doesn’t have time to prepare all week long, is no easy feat. I’ve had social events where for the first time in years I’ve gone completely sober, having to eat beforehand because I know there won’t be anything compliant at an event, and stepping out early from events because I know I’ll just be miserable surrounded by snacks and alcohol.

 

The results have astounded me, which is motivation enough to carry on and see where it takes me. I’m becoming more adventurous with my cooking and baking, which has given me something to focus on. Plus, I’ve lost a few pounds in the process, while not the primary aim, can only be a good thing if those pounds lost are from foods that are doing no good to my body.

 

I’m also really curious to see what my body reacts to when I reintroduce, and the feeling of having that control over whether I feel good or bad, is one that is killing me with anticipation! I’d love to document this journey so that if it’s successful, I can look back in a few years and see the moment where I decided to finally take control.

 

I hope you’ll come along for the ride.