When you first hear about the London AS Diet (or the Low / No Starch Diet) it can be overwhelming.
If you’re anything like me you’ll have two questions:
1. “Where on earth do I start?
2. “What foods can I eat and what should I avoid?”
The key thing to bear in mind when creating your wellness plan (often known as an elimination diet) is that it is not a punishment. In fact the opposite is true.
Follow the steps and remember the end goal: to eliminate pain feel better than ever before.
✅ To find out which foods are uniquely suited to your genetic makeup, microbiome and environment. These will be foods that help you thrive, feel great, have less pain and more energy.
✅ To find out which foods are not suited to you and can trigger problems. These will be foods that can cause physical pain, stress and health issues.
✅ To embrace the fact that there are no fixed answers (everyone’s results will be slightly different!)
Disclaimer: This resource is based on my own personal experience and the personal experiences of others who have had success following this diet. We are all different and what works for one person may be different for another. Always speak to a medical professional if you’re unsure.
Choose A Wellness Plan (Select ONE)
To make things easier I’ve created 3 wellness plans to choose from to help you.
When you’re starting out with something new (and let’s face it, this diet is very different to what most of us would have been used to!) it can be helpful to have a clear plan to follow.
Important: These guides are based on my own personal experience and the fantastic knowledge and experience of many others who have successfully use diet and gut health to manage their AS. Please feel free to tailor them according to your needs.
Remember, nothing is set in stone and we are all different. What works for one individual might vary for another. However, there are a number of key elements have proved very consistent for patients who have had great success following this diet. These include the complete removal of starch, cow dairy, refined sugar and processed foods. You can see a full list here.
- Speed of Results
- Willpower Required
- Speed of Results
- Willpower Required
⭐ Strict Plan
- Speed of Results
- Willpower Required
Get inspired! See how others have achieved AMAZING success on the diet:
These foods are generally safe for most* people when starting the AS Wellness Plan
This is a broad sweep of ‘safe’ foods that are ok for the majority of people when they are starting out. While I recommend sticking to this list until you get to ‘pain free’ if you find it too restrictive you can try one of the more flexible Wellness Plans above, such as the 🔗 basic plan or the 🔗 flexible plan.
However, if you’re able I highly recommend using the 🔗 strict plan. For most people this will yield by far the fastest results and you’ll be able to reintroduce foods back in faster.
Meat and Fish
(especially oily fish)
Sauces and Dressings
✅ Avocado oil
✅ Olive oil
Vegetables and Salad
✅ Mushrooms (a funghi!)
✅ All leafy green salad
🚫 Avoid at start of diet
✅ Blueberries (in very small amounts, if at all to start)
Nuts and Seeds
🚫 Avoid at start of diet
* This is not a perfect list (there is no such thing because we are all different). Your experience may vary.
Please don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t seem to be working at first, there are other things you can try.
This is a rough guide to give you an idea of which core foods appear to be ‘safe’ for the majority of people.
For example, sugar is inflammatory. That means berries, while a safer form of sugar for the body to absorb, will likely not be tolerated in large amounts, at least not at first.
There may also be other ingredients in this list your body has a reaction to. If so please don’t panic. See the list of foods to avoid at the start of your diet for more hints and tips.
Ankylosing Spondylitis Anti-inflammatory Superfoods:
Important: Again, just because these may be superfoods for some people, it doesn’t mean they will be for you. Test and scrutinise everything (no matter how celebrated by influencers or backed by studies). Even foods which are beneficial for most could act as a trigger for others. Olive oil is a good example. Some find it triggers their ankylosing spondylitis whereas others find it beneficial and even offers pain relief
Foods to AVOID
The fastest route to pain-free is to avoid everything on the list below when you are first starting out and building your personal AS wellness plan
You may be completely fine with many of these ingredients (hopefully you are!) but the ONLY way you can find out is to start from scratch.
Step 1: Avoid ALL of the below 100% (no ‘just this onces’ or ‘I’ll just have a little’). Do this until you are pain free, or at the very least have experienced a dramatic reduction in pain. Such that you don’t need painkillers.
Step 2: Reintroduce different elements ONE at a time. For example, once you are pain free you could try eating a few tomatoes (they are nightshades) with a meal. Wait a few days to see if your body has a reaction. No reaction? Great. Test it again. When you’re confident it’s NOT triggering pain, add to the list of things you can eat.
Step 3: Repeat step 2! And remember to make a special note of the things that make you feel great.
Avoid ANY starch
Avoid ANY processed food
Avoid ANY refined sugar
Avoid ANY nightshades
Avoid ANY alcohol
Avoid ANY dairy
Avoid ANY seed oil
Avoid ANY gluten
Important: Check the list below for more possible triggers as well
Other possible triggers
Again we are all different. Some people may also experience a reaction to one or more of the following:
Inulin | Oxalates | Histamines
Starch includes ALL root vegetables, starchy fruits (such as bananas), breads, wheats, starchy grains
Dairy includes milk, cheese and yoghurt, especially from cows, and also eggs (note: you can try re-introducing eggs and also goat and sheep dairy products after elimination)
Seed oil includes but is not limited to rapeseed, sunflower and vegetable oil
Nightshades include tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, sorrel, paprika, okra, tobacco and more
Gluten can also be found in certain alcoholic drinks such as beer
Inulin can be found in onions, garlic, asparagus, artichoke, leeks, yams and more
Oxalates can be found in spinach, soy, almonds, raspberries, dates and more
Histamines can be found in higher quantities in avocado, coconut flour, dates, pineapple, raisons, beef, cured meats, fish, leftover meats and more
🚀 Now comes the important part
It’s time to create your AS wellness plan.
This is where you record your results and find out what makes you feel great, what doesn’t and (further down the line) what foods are safe to reintroduce.
I’ve included a detailed guide as well as a template you can adapt and use here:
This could be the single best thing do
If you’re new to the alien sounding concept of the microbiome and how diet can affect your body, all of this might feel overwhelming at first.
Please don’t worry, it gets easier! This starter diet designed to get you results in the fastest time possible. You may find at a later date that you are fine with many of the ingredients listed on this page. However, I strongly recommend starting out strict (and not cheating). Right now you have no way of knowing which foods will cause you inflammation and this is the faster way to get answers.
Be strict and put the work in. Start with the core safe foods listed and avoid all the core potential trigger foods and see how you get on for the next few months.
If you are still experiencing pain then investigate inulin, oxalates and histamines.
Treat this as an investigation. The payoff for so many is worth it a hundred times over:
You will get answers in the fastest time possible
Trying to figure out which foods and ingredients trigger pain – out of the hundreds we encounter each day – would take years. Even then you could never be truly certain what was causing what, there are just too many variables. By starting from a baseline of ‘safe foods’, and getting to pain free first, you can slash the time it takes. Introduce one new ingredient at a time and you can quickly identify and pluck out the pain foods triggers one by one. It’s not easy, it can be boring and it requires willpower but it’s the most effective method.
No more guesswork
Do this thoroughly and keep strict records from the start. This way you’ll know exactly what makes you feel great and what triggers pain. No more doom scrolling restaurant menus or feeling like each morning is a lottery with regards to pain
Many of us live pain-free and no longer need ANY medication for our AS
The absolute no.1 goal of this website is that you are able to get pain free through diet and exercise alone. There are no guarantees and everyone is different but as long as you do this safely, and with the approval of your doctor, there is nothing to lose by trying
These are some of benefits I’ve enjoyed:
- I no longer wake up 15 times a night…
- I’m now 90% – 95%+ pain free most of the time…
- I no longer take any medication for AS…
- I’m happier, more focused and more energetic.
I hope this has the same impact for you
What to expect when you’re first starting out
There are few things I wished I’d known about in advance before starting the elimination. Don’t panic if you experience some, none or all of these.
Remember, many of these reactions are temporary. You changing something your body has been used to for several years… decades even so a period of adjustment is completely normal.
You will feel hungry (click for more)
This was without doubt the hardest part for me.
When you start this diet there are, there will be less variety in what you are eating.
And this is compounded by a double whammy. What many of us don’t realise is that starchy foods often create that ‘full feeling’ in your stomach
So when you remove starch and there are very few foods (to begin with) with which to plug that gap, it can be hard.
Certain foods are also addictive. Are body is used to them and craves them. An elimination is not only a huge shock to the gut and the microbiome but its a shock to the brain as well which has formed neural pathways associated with the pleasure derived from eating certain foods.
Weight loss (click for more)
You body has been used to processing complex carbohydrates, processed foods and refined sugars and now has to adapt to processing and burning different types of fuel, so this is a a big adjustment.
Many people find they lose a lot of weight at the start of the elimination diet, particularly as you are finding your feet. This can be unsettling and it might feel like it will never stop but as your body settles and you figure out what foods you can safely eat and the right portion sizes things will improve.
In my case it was 3 or 4 months before I started to hit an equilibrium.
1) Give yourself much bigger portion sizes. This might sound obvious but typically on an elimination diet (and beyond for many of us) you might have a plate of salad, for example, with a portion of meat for lunch. While this can look volumous on the plate salad will not fill you up. Remember we’ve been used to having filling carbs (rice, potatoes, pasta etc) and if you remove that you leave a gaping whole. You will need to ensure you have a decent sized portion of protein (more than you might have normally had pre-elimination diet) to make up the difference.
2) Use olive oil and/or avocado oil on everything. They contain healthy fats and though it might not feel intuitively as if they would help fill you up and a generous drizzle on salad (or anything) can really help maintain a healthy weight.
3) Try not to snack too much – for many this can make pain worse – and instead focus on really getting those portion sizes right and figuring out what healthy trigger free meals you can have.
Unusual bowel movements (click for more)
This will vary for everyone but any change in diet is a change to the contents of your gut.
This in turn can dramatically impact your digestive system and microbiome and naturally there can be a period of adjustment. For example:
– You may find you are going to the toilet more or less than usual to begin with
– You may find your stools are more runny than usual at times, particularly if you are trying new supplements (Apple Cider Vinegar had an almost diarrhea like effect on me for the first few days)
Typically things even out, stabalise and improve over time.
In my case my bowel movements are now more consistent and more regular than they were prior to the AS protocol. It took a few months for things to settle into a natural rhythm.
Third Party Diet Resources
Fantastic Google Docs created by the brilliant members of the ‘Low / No Starch Lifestyle for Ankylosing Spondylitits’ Facebook group. A detailed set of lists which contain vegetables, fruits, seafood, fats, sweeteners and more
Website which offers recipes and information on ingredients based on your dietary requirements. In the second section there’s an option to set ‘Starch’ to 0g. Then when you search for foods e.g. broccoli it will tell the starch content