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So, you’ve decided to do an AIP elimination. It’s time. You’re committed!

You’ve reviewed the Yes/No list, saved posts from some of your favorite bloggers, and maybe even purchased a cookbook or two.

Nothing can stop you now! Except...the grocery store?

We know that navigating grocery store aisles (or even the virtual aisles of your favorite e-commerce store) gets even tougher when you’re avoiding eggs, nuts, and dairy. But did you know those aren’t the only sneaky ingredients you should be looking out for?

Have you signed up for a Strength in Food subscription yet? It’s the best way to discover new, 100% AIP products without the endless hours of searching!

In this post, we’ll explore a few of the trickier ingredients that could sabotage your AIP so you can shop informed!


bags of colorful red yellow orange spices

It’s unlikely that you’ll find cayenne or jalapeno just sneaking into your food. Surely you’d notice the heat, right?

But chili, tomato, and eggplant aren’t the only nightshades you should look out for. Paprika is in the same family and has a nasty habit of sneaking into spice blends you really, really want to use on roasted vegetables.

Paprika is actuallyderived from peppers, and some varieties are blended with even more pepper to create heat or sweetness. This means paprika has the same inflammatory properties as other nightshades, and it’s not allowed during the elimination phase of the AIP.

Be especially vigilant for paprika in spice blends, seasonings, and pre-made sausages or deli meat.

Alternative: Primal Palate’s fantasticEveryday AIP Blends include Super Gyro, Breakfast Blend, and Garlic & Herb.

Paleo Powder’sAIP Paleo Powder makes a great seasoning salt alternative for roasted veggies.

KC Natural’s AIP Meat and Veggie Seasoning,Seasoned Sea Salt, andMastodon Rub are perfectly AIP options for all your seasoning needs.


dairy aisle with many milk alternatives


The list of emulsifiers is long and ever-evolving, so it’s understandable that you might not be up-to-date with “what’s in” and “what’s out.” And even if you’re shopping in the “healthy section” of the grocery store, you’re likely to find Xanthan gum, guar gum, carrageenan, or lecithin on ingredient lists.

The main argument against these ingredients is, like alcohol, their ability to disrupt our gut barrier function. They variously increase intestinal permeability, feed negative bacteria, and reduce our ability to absorb key nutrients. Check outthis fabulous postfrom Dr. Ballantyne for more!

When you’re shopping for the AIP, you’re most likely to see these ingredients in products that need to maintain a creamy consistency without actually using cream. It might sneak into a container of store-bought coconut milk or carton of coconut milk creamer. Instead, look for brands that use only coconut!

Alternative: Coconut milk really does make AIP cooking easier, so if you don’t tolerate stabilizers like guar gum, it’s worth seeking a version that contains simply coconut and water. International supermarkets are a great place to look!


green soy beans spread out on a sheet

Soy has a way of sneaking into so many of our store-bought foods. Soy lecithin is a common binder you should look out for on product labels, and soy sauce is often found in sauces.

We know that in addition to being extremely estrogenic, soy is a lectin, meaning it has the potential to increase intestinal permeability. According to our Co-Founder Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, soy is also a common source of glyphosate,a chemical linked to Celiac disease.

Since improving gut health is one of the AIP’s main goals, this is the opposite of what we want!  

One of the sneakiest places you’ll often find soy is in store-bought chicken broth. So make your own at home, or check out our alternative.

Alternative: Bare BonesClassic Chicken,Classic Turkey, andClassic Rosemary and Lemon are a flavorful and fantastic alternative to grocery store brands, and are so fresh they require refrigeration. They’re made the same way you’d cook broth at home, ensure you’re getting all the beneficial collagen and minerals without the icky additives. It’s a close second to making your own broth!

Alcohol in Extracts

stack of cookies on a white plate with two vanilla bean pods

Besides avoiding the obvious sources of alcohol (you know that glass of wine isn’t AIP, so we won’t rub it in!) you’ll also need to keep a weather eye out for alcohol-based extracts like vanilla and almond.

We avoid alcohol on the AIP because even small amounts of alcohol can feed negative bacteria in the gut.

According to Dr. Ballantyne, “it boils down to the fact that those with autoimmune disease have more sensitive systems and face more challenges to healing a leaky gut than others.” You might find you tolerate a small amount of alcohol, like that which is found in extracts, after you’ve completed the initial elimination stages of the AIP.

You might feel a bit like this is crushing your hopes of AIP baking. We get it! But there’s hope. High-quality vanilla bean is an indulgent alternative.

Alternative:You might feel a bit like this is crushing your hopes of AIP baking. We get it! Don’t despair, because high-quality vanilla bean is an indulgent alternative. Look for vanilla bean pods in the spice aisle, rather than jarred (often those contain emulsifiers). A little goes a long way!


chopped chocolate bar

The bad news? No matter how you slice it, chocolate isn’t AIP. This switch is often a tough one for those transitioning to the protocol from a traditional Paleo diet, where dark chocolate is a common sweet snack.

While chocolate itself might not sneak into your grocery cart (after all, it’s popular enough that anything chocolate is likely to say so on the label!) it’s important to note that cocoa powder is a no-no too.

Especially if you’re relying on Paleo or simply grain-free recipes, you might find it difficult to navigate baking without cocoa. Plenty of grain-free recipes feature cocoa powder or dark chocolate, but this indulgence is best avoided during the elimination phase of the protocol, so we’re here to point you toward an alternative!

Alternative:Carob Powder is the AIP community’s go-to replacement for chocolate. It has a similarly dark flavor, and while nothing is likely to replace good old cocoa, you might find you like it’s natural sweetness.

Avoid Sneaky Ingredients that Aren't AIP

a strength in food delivery box of meat bars broth pork rinds and printed materials

Whether you’re new to the AIP or it feels like second nature, it pays to stay vigilant. These sneaky ingredients that aren’t AIP have a habit of jumping into our carts when we aren’t paying attention.

Still overwhelmed by the long list of ingredients in your snack aisle? We’d love to help!Strength in Food is dedicated to introducing you to the best AIP products, plus the resources and education you need to stay informed and inspired.
At Strength in Food, we diligently screen every product before shipping it to you each month.

Our team takes the guesswork out of the AIP with new foods, resources, recipes, and meal plans delivered each month. No scouring labels or feeling lost in the grocery store aisles! Give yourself the support you need to heal when you sign up for Strength in Food today.

If you’re ready to take some weight off your shoulders,sign up for a Strength in Food subscription today!

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