How to Rock AIP During Holidays and Events

How to Rock AIP During Holidays and Events

*Just a quick heads up- this post may contain affiliate links which means if you click on them and buy something,  I will earn a little bit of money (at no additional cost to you) to help continue maintaining this site. 

Doing the Paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP) is tricky in itself- it’s a tough diet. When you throw in the temptations, frequent social gatherings, and guilt trips that come along with the holidays, it gets especially interesting.

In this guide, I’ll cover some strategies to help get you through successfully. 

Think About Your Priorities and Pick Your Battles

How important is this event or get-together? The holidays and other social situations can bring a lot of awkwardness when it comes to AIP. Depending on the occasion, it may be better just to skip it for the sake of your sanity. However, if it’s a very important event, that may not be an option.

Think about your priorities. Obviously, your health is a priority- that’s why you’re jumping through hoops to stay on AIP. Then again, family is pretty darn important too and you may decide a family get-together (say Thanksgiving dinner or your sister’s wedding) is not skippable. 

If it’s something you decide you cannot skip,  then it's worth the effort to plan ahead and make it work for you. 

Be Realistic

Realize that in most cases, it will not be possible to control every aspect of meals if you’re not the one making them. If you go to an event or restaurant or someone's house, it will be challenging to stick to your AIP diet perfectly. If you're ok with this, then go for it. If you keep things as simple as possible, communicate, and plan ahead, you can still have a pretty good outcome. 

Communicate

If you’re staying with family or friends, communicate with them about your dietary restrictions and let them know what you need. 

I know it can feel a little awkward calling up the host (even if it’s someone you’re pretty close with) and asking for certain things for the big meal but it will save you from an even more awkward and stressful situation/conversation later. Just imagine waiting until you get there and the host has prepared a big beautiful meal and you say “sorry, I can’t eat any of that.” 

So, definitely give them a call. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, just let them know what your basic needs are in order to eat at least a couple of the dishes at the meal.

If You Have a Way to Make the Situation More in Your Control, Do It:

  1. If it’s a local gathering (or even if you’re staying with someone, you can offer to bring one or two side dishes OR you can offer to help prepare a couple of dishes so you have some control over part of the meal while also helping lighten the load for your host.
  2. Offer to host (if appropriate)- obviously, this is more work and possibly more stress but this way you have control over the food served.
  3. Suggest meeting out somewhere that has AIP friendly options. 
  4. Suggest a non-food alternative way to hang out and socialize that doesn’t require jumping through hoops for your diet.

What If You’re Going to Someone’s House That You Don’t Know Very Well?

Firstly, I’d say to avoid this situation during strict AIP if at all possible but if you can’t avoid it, do what you can. 

Maybe you’re going to eat at the house of your significant other’s boss or boyfriend's parents whom you’ve never met or {INSERT AWKWARD SITUATION}.

In those cases, calling up the host and discussing dietary needs may be out of the question. If you don’t feel comfortable communicating with them yourself, you can either ask your significant other (or whoever may have direct contact or a closer relationship with the host) to get as much information as possible and potentially communicate your needs if appropriate. 

If it’s a situation where you just don’t have a good way to communicate with the host, you can: 

  1. Not go (obviously). Sometimes it’s better to decline meal invitations eating with those you don’t know well because figuring out dietary restrictions really is just too awkward and cumbersome. 
  2. Go and do the best you can, knowing you probably won’t stay perfectly on AIP OR you just might not end up eating much. 

What About Company Holiday Parties (or other big social events)?

Here, again- you’ll want to think about priorities, if this is a super important event for you and you must go, then do what you can to make it work for you. 

Do Some Research- If the event will be hosted at a restaurant or with a caterer, find out which company it is and find out if everyone will be ordering what they want or if it’ll be buffet style, etc. Ask to speak with the cook/chef if possible and find out how they prepare and serve their food. 

Depending on the setting and situation, the restaurant/caterer may be able to make special accommodations so you’re able to eat AIP for the event. More times than not, restaurants are more than happy to prepare a meal in a way that keeps their customers happy. 

If it’s looking like the restaurant/caterer won’t be so accommodating, eat something before the event so you’re not starving. Sip at some water or club soda. If there are any simple options like fresh veggies or fruit or meat without sauce on it, grab some of those.

As a sort of last resort and if you feel comfortable with it, you could bring your own food. 

Keep it Simple

If you have the opportunity to order your food from a menu, choose something as simple as possible that requires the least substitutions. 

If you’re eating at someone’s house where you’re not able to discuss dietary restrictions with the host (or felt it wasn’t appropriate), just focus on the simplest foods. In many cases, this will be meat.

In the case of Thanksgiving, it'll be turkey. Your other best options might include a salad (assuming it’s a very simple salad, skip the dressing) or just fresh fruits/veggies. These are easy things to request from the host ahead of time too if you’re able to.

Dealing with Temptation

Try to prepare ahead by having something AIP compliant that you love available and with you. If you have the opportunity to prepare a favorite dish to contribute, this will make your life much less stressful.

Aside from preparing your own foods, there are some great resources you can use for ready-made meals and snacks. See below.

Plan Ahead- Snacks!

As with any other restrictive, diet...snacks can save the day. Be armed with your very favorites.

If you’re planning for an entire stay somewhere (say for the holidays), consider bringing some ready-made snacks/meals to get you through (not necessarily for the big holiday/event meal but all the other meals during your stay). They cost a little more than making your own but sometimes it's worth it for the sake of sanity and practicality.

Of course, your local stores and Amazon can be good sources for stocking up on AIP snacks but here are my other favorite resources

Wild Zora

This company is a fantastic resource for convenient AIP compliant shelf-stable foods. They have a section of their site dedicated just to AIP compliant products.

The soups are made from dehydrated meat and veggies so they are very lightweight. They’re awesome for a quick meal when you’re at work or camping or traveling or just don’t have time to cook.

The meat and veggie snack bars are perfect for a quick on-the-go snack. They also have a new line of grain-free hot cereals, which is super exciting. 

Visit Wild Zora using this link to save 15%

Paleo On the Go

Paleo on the Go has a fully AIP compliant menu and delivers nation-wide. If you’ll be traveling, you can have some meals sent to your destination. You just need a fridge/freezer and microwave.

These guys have a ton of tasty AIP meals that just need to be reheated. They even have an AIP bakery section with a bunch of yummy items that are handy if you’re wanting to satisfy cravings while staying compliant…things like birthday cakes, tortillas, muffins, biscuits, pop tarts, etc.

If you decide to try it out, you can use the coupon code “foodcourage” at checkout to save $15. 

ShopAIP

ShopAIP is such a cool AIP resource because they literally only sell AIP compliant foods (they also sell personal care products). My favorite thing about their site is that they actually have the products organized by elimination and phases of reintroduction so you don’t have to spend so much time figuring out which foods are compliant with whatever phase you’re in. 

They ship products not only all over the US but also to Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. 

They've also got a rewards program that allows you to earn points towards discounts on future orders. 

Holiday and Party-Worthy AIP Recipes

Cranberry Orange Coconut Bars

Caramel Apple Bread

Kale Salad with Rainbow Carrots and Cranberries

Glazed Cinnamon Donuts

Pumpkin Cherry Cake with Salted Caramel Glaze

Pumpkin Cranberry Cookie Dough Balls

Accept That Not Everyone Will Get It

The AIP is unique from most other diets in that you essentially have to be 100% compliant in order to be "successful". Most diets go with something like an 80/20 rule and allow little "cheats" here and there.

Not everyone will understand this 100% thing and some may either try to make you feel guilty about not partaking in holiday foods with them and/or try to persuade you to "cheat"  on your diet.

Try to prepare yourself for these scenarios and have a plan for how you will handle them. You're strong and you know what you need to do.

Go Easy on Yourself

It sucks but slip-ups happen all the time. If you fall off the wagon, either because of lack of AIP foods or temptation, just forgive yourself get right back on track. Keep moving forward.

Also, even though 100% compliance is what you're going for, 90-95% during an event or trip is still better than falling off the wagon and throwing in the towel completely.

I ate AIP through the holiday season last year to include traveling to New Mexico for Thanksgiving with my family, traveling out of state to attend my husband's company Christmas party, and doing a Caribbean cruise for New Years' with my in-laws. While I wasn't always able to be 100% compliant when away from home, I got it as close as I possibly could and I didn't regret it.

Yes, 100% compliance is generally the goal but life is full of choices.  These events and family time were important to me, so I accepted that I would be looking at say 90-95% compliance during those times and just have to get back to super strict AIP when I returned. It worked out fine and I felt pretty darn good along the way. Plus, my thyroid antibodies went down- yay!

Do the very best you can even if you aren't able to adhere perfectly. You will still reap some benefits and feel much better than you would otherwise.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this post. Leave a comment below and let me know some of your best holiday/social event AIP survival tactics. I'd love to hear from you!

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @foodcourage for the latest AIP/Paleo recipes and Food Courage happenings!

 



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