Staying healthy while travelling can be challenging, but even more so on the Autoimmune Protocol. We can’t always go with the flow and have to be mindful about what we eat. But that doesn’t mean we should have to forgo our dream vacation or fall off the AIP wagon. I’ve done a lot of travelling since embarking on my healing journey and learned a few tips and tricks along the way. I thought it would be a great time to share them with you as I sit here on the plane to Los Angeles. I hope that my experiences help take some of the stress away, so you can focus on enjoying yourself!
Plan ahead and do your research – A bit of extra planning and careful research is the key to success travel on the AIP. Home stays like Airbnb or hotels with kitchenette’s can make the world of a difference. While it’s nice to go out and eat every once in a while, it’s much safer to prepare your own food at home. I like to make myself a simple breakfast in the morning (such as a smoothie or coconut yogurt with fruit) and pack some travel snacks for the day. If you do plan on going to restaurants, make reservations in advance and call ahead to ensure they can accommodate any dietary restrictions. Don’t expect to be able to just walk in anywhere and hope there will be something for you to eat. Most restaurants have their menu’s available online, so you can figure out what works for you ahead of time. I like to bring an allergy card with me so my server can pass on to the kitchen staff. If you’re staying with friends or family, make sure to notify them in advance so that they can do their best to accommodate you.
Make a grocery list and meal plan prior to arrival – Making a grocery list and planning out your meals in advance can help save a ton of time and ensure you stay on track. I like to locate nearby grocery stores, butchers and farmer’s markets prior to my arrival. You can also do your grocery shopping online and have it delivered straight to your door. I like to get my meal prep out of the way as soon as possible. I usually spend a couple of hours batch cooking and preparing snacks to last me a few days. If you have room for a small cooler, bring some tupperware from home and take your food with you on the road. Small kitchen tools like the magic bullet can also be very useful for blending up smoothies or making your own coconut milk. I’ve even travelled with my nespresso milk frother so I can still get my daily matcha fix. For longer trips, you can even ship some of these tools ahead of time for your arrival.
Bring your own snacks and travel-size ingredients – In addition to meal planning, I recommend stocking up on AIP-friendly travel snacks. Some of my favourites include homemade energy bars, dried fruit, beef jerky (Beretta Farms or EPIC bar), prepped fresh veggies and fruit, coconut butter, plaintain chips, collagen peptides (add to smoothies or water), AIP muffins, herbal tea, kombucha, wild canned tuna, canned coconut milk and coconut yogurt. I also like to bring my own spices and condiments such as coconut aminos, sea salt, dried herbs, olive oil and apple cider vinegar. If you can’t find them in travel size, just portion them out into small bottles or ziploc bags. Just remember that any liquids have to go in your checked baggage if traveling by plane.
Prioritize sleep, manage stress and other lifestyle factors – Lifestyle factors are just as important as food choices on the Autoimmune Protocol. While you might not be able to go about your regular routine, don’t forget to stay active and move your body. Take some time to go for a walk, stretch after a long flight or find a yoga studio in the area. Know your limitations and don’t feel pressured by social expectations. If that means you have to go to bed early or say no to a glass of wine, communicate the situation with others. Make sure you’re getting enough rest and quality shut eye. Pack an eye mask, ear plugs, pillow or whatever else you may need to get a good night’s sleep. Try not to stress too much about factors that are out of your control. If you choose to eat in restaurants, chances are the food will be cooked in less than desirable oils, meat may not be grass fed and the produce will not be organic. It might not be as nutrient dense, but guess what? That’s OK.
Supplement when necessary – If you have a supplement or medication routine, make sure to build that into your schedule. Some medications must be taken at the same time every day, so keep that in mind when it comes to time zone changes. Traveling can put a lot of stress on your body which in turn impacts digestion. I always keep shelf-stable probiotics and digestive enzymes on hand to help support digestion and keep my immune system in check. I also like to take magnesium citrate before bed to help keep me regular and relieve any anxiety I may be experiencing. If you’re traveling across multiple time zones, melatonin does wonders to prevent jet lag. It’s a natural sleep aid that works by reseting your body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm). I usually take it before bed for the first few nights until my body has adjusted to the new time zone.
Focus on the positives and have fun – No matter how prepared you are, things don’t always work out as planned. If you slip up for a few days, don’t sweat it. We’ve all been there and stressing about it will only make things worse. Try focusing on the positives rather than the negatives and avoid obsessing over every detail. There is so much more to traveling than the food on your plate. Spend time with loves ones, relax on the beach, take a bath, read a good book, see the sights, immerse yourself in the culture, take a cooking class, treat yourself to a massage and don’t forget to have fun! Self care and connecting with other’s are beneficial to your healing and a key component of the AIP.