Whether you have just started AIP or you have been doing AIP for a few months, the thought of going on vacation can make you nervous! Will you be able to manage or will the vacation totally derail the progress that you have achieved thus far? These questions cause many folks to avoid traveling or skip taking vacations altogether! And that is not necessarily a good idea because vacations can help you relax and that in turn can help with your healing. Traveling for work or other personal reasons besides vacation also feel challenging when you are on a restrictive diet.
I first started doing AIP in the December of 2016 and just 3 weeks later we visited our friends in Atlanta for 5 days. They being close friends of ours, I told her about my diet in advance just so that she would not be surprised or upset that I couldn’t eat some of the meals that she cooked. My friend was so sweet that when she grocery shopped, she made sure to shop for ingredients for me too like fish, salad vegetables etc. Since I was staying in her home, I also was able to cook meals easily there for myself in her well equipped kitchen. That was my first experience eating AIP outside and I still remember that vacation and I am proud of how motivated I was and how I did not eat any non AIP food there even though there was a lot of those foods were around me.
Over the past 4 and 1/2 years, I have taken many vacations (these include a couple long vacations to India too). And all the time I have been able to stay compliant. Although I am not strict AIP anymore, I still largely follow the AIP template with some reintros and hence vacationing does have its challenges. Based on my own experience and based on my experience guiding my clients, I thought of writing this post to summarize my tips. These include foods to carry while you are traveling (on the road or by air) as well as tips to stay compliant while outside (what foods you can cook and what foods you can buy). I hope you find these tips useful!
Foods to eat while traveling
On the road (or in air): For the journey whether it’s by road or by air, these are a few of the standard things I make. These last me for an entire 24 hours (or more if I can refrigerate them soon after I reach my destination)
- Chicken Kebabs: These are my ‘go to’ protein while traveling! They are so easy to make in advance and they travel well! I wrap them in Aluminum foil as is or I make wraps using cassava flour rotis or sweet potato parathas, these kebabs and shredded lettuce, red onions and avocado. A smear of cilantro chutney makes these irresistible and so delicious!
- Baked Salmon or Pan fried Salmon – My favorite way to eat Salmon is pan fried. I just add a bit of turmeric, Kashmiri chili powder (AIP reintro) and sea salt for marination. (My cookbook ‘AIP Indian Fusion‘ has an AIP compliant recipe of pan fried salmon)
- Cassava Rotis / Tortillas or Methi parathas: I like to make a batch of these rotis/parathas as they last for 4-5 days at room temperature.
- Sweet Potatoes (Baked or Steamed):
- Veggies: Celery and Carrot pieces
- AIP Snacks like AIP Breakfast Bars, Siete Cassava Chips, Plantain chips, Eat LoveBird Cereal
- AIP Banana Bread, AIP Brownies
- You can also use Eat Gangster’s Banana bread mix to bake a banana bread! So easy!
- Cut up Fruits – Apples, Cantaloupe, Blueberries
- Wild Zora Soups, Bars and Cereals (Use Promo Code ‘cook2nourish15’ to get a 15% discount off your order)-
The soup packets are great while traveling and you can make the soup using hot water which you can get even at airports (at a coffee place). Check for AIP compliant products since they carry AIP reintro / Paleo products too.
Eating while on vacation:
Depending upon what place you have gone for vacation, this can be quite manageable or quite challenging! If you are vacationing for a week, it might make sense to book an airbnb (or you can use vrbo.com to check for home rentals) with kitchen facilities so you can cook your meals. If you are traveling by car, I highly recommend bringing your Instant Pot with you so you can cook something quite easily without spending a lot of time. You could also bring fully cooked or semi-cooked meals too which you can store in the refrigerator. This will also be useful if you are not staying in a place with a kitchen as most hotels will have a mini refrigerator and a microwave so you will be able to store your meals and reheat them. Some examples of meals that you can bring with you include
If you are going to cook your meals on site, then what you can do is bring some AIP pantry ingredients like coconut milk, cassava flour, coconut sugar, herbal teas etc with you so that you don’t have to go crazy shopping for these specialty ingredients in a new place and wasting precious time! In my most recent trip, since we were first meeting our friends in their home and then traveling together to an airbnb, I shipped some of such pantry ingredients to our friend’s place in advance. That saved me a ton of time not having to shop there.
If you are not staying in a place which has a kitchen and are not able to cook meals in advance, then you will have to eat all your meals from outside. Relax, you can still manage to be on AIP!
Following are my tips while getting take outs or eating at a restaurant:
- For breakfast, search for a smoothie place which are everywhere these days (thankfully!). Most places will also allow you to create your own smoothie. So you can make sure to make an AIP compliant one by making sure they don’t add dairy or nuts etc. You can request them to use coconut water or coconut milk or just plain water for blending.
- For lunch, look for places that offer lunch bowls or salads! There again you have the option of choosing what goes into your bowl! Usually they will have a protein (like chicken or a vegetarian protein like chickpeas or tofu), roasted veggies and a sauce. One word of caution – sauces can include non AIP ingredients so ALWAYS ask about the ingredients in the sauces/ dressings. When in doubt, ask them to serve the sauce/dressing on the side so you can taste a little bit of it before mixing the whole thing to your bowl.
- Most decent restaurants (in most big cities in the USA)these days will have salad options. Granted you cannot be sure about the quality of the chicken and seafood (that it is free range or organic etc), but you can definitely ask your waiter regarding modifications. Always skip the dressing unless they can give you extra virgin olive oil or balsamic vinegar based AIP compliant dressing.
- Carefully study the menu! Recently I have been pleasantly surprised by how many restaurants are carrying more healthy, grain free options! For example, a local restaurant in my town now has a dish called teriyaki zoodle bowl which has zoodles (or zucchini noodles) instead of regular noodles!
- Look for Asian restaurants that serve sweet potato noodles! Usually Korean and Vietnamese restaurants will have that on their menu. If you do find such a restaurant, before ordering the dish, you can ask about the ingredients and ask to omit non AIP ingredients. Most restaurants will try to please.
For snacks, you can again use some of these which I mentioned before:
- Siete Cassava Chips, Plantain chips
- Eat Love Bird Cereal
- Cut up Fruits – Apples, Cantaloupe, Blueberries
- Wild Zora Soups, Bars or Cereals
How to stay strong mentally?
Now this is probably more important than the first two sections above. Yes when you are on vacation, your normally strong resolve to stay compliant on AIP can be tested! Vacation puts you in a relaxing mood – you are enjoying the place, the company and you want to feel special! So temptations will lurk everywhere you go! This is what I tell myself to stay strong – ” If I eat something non AIP, I might get a flare and that will ruin my vacation!” That’s the trade off I tell myself. This helps me a lot to ignore any temptations like sweet treats and ice cream! It is particularly hard when everyone else in your family is getting a treat and you are unable to!
Here are some of my tips for such situations:
When my family decides to indulge in some ice cream or some other desserts, these are some things I do to keep myself busy and enjoy my alone time!
- I get an AIP compliant beverage – like tea, herbal tea or iced tea or fresh fruit juice (from a smoothie/juice center). Or I just get sparkling water or club soda. Or just plain iced water. Staying hydrated can curb cravings!
- I go window shopping / shopping on my own while the rest of the family have their treat. I love to shop so that becomes my treat! Or alternatively, you could go to a spa or get a hair cut! Anything to make you happy!
- Promise yourself an AIP treat that you will make once you get home!
Drinks can be an issue anywhere but when you are on vacation, you want to relax so the temptation can be hard. I was never a big wine drinker but I would love to have cocktails while out with friends. So in my AIP life, here are some alternative drinks that I get:
- If in a hotel, you can get kombucha and store it in your refrigerator in your room and then have that as your drink when you have company.
- At a restaurant you can order sparkling water with lemon or a fresh juice (make sure there are no sweeteners added)
Another thing to be prepared for is that as you look for the right place/s for your meals, your normal routine is likely to be disrupted. But try not to get too upset over that. If you feel hungry, make sure you drink water and stay hydrated. Trust me, being hydrated can help you not feel hungry or jittery! I also tell myself that periodic fasting is good for detoxing 🙂
These above strategies usually work for me and so I rarely succumb to food temptation. But if you do end up eating something non compliant, it is OK! Just enjoy the moment and move on and don’t ponder too much about it and don’t feel too guilty as that will make the impact worse.
Hope the above tips can help you face the prospect of travel more optimistically! So what are you waiting for? Yes you can indeed travel and still be on AIP! Bon Voyage!
If you prefer listening to reading, then check out my video on this same topic by clicking link below!
Eileen Laird of the ‘Phoenix Helix’ has also written a series of informative posts related to AIP travel. Check those out too! Here’s the link to that: https://www.phoenixhelix.com/travel-series/