“To travel is to take a journey into yourself.” ~ Danny Kaye
There are certain winter months where the livin’ is easy. Not much going on, lots of cozy nights by the fire sipping a bulletproof brew. Ahh. October was NOT one of those months, at least for me. I love to relax and could definitely make couch potatoism a thing, but when it comes to my career, I’m a bit masochistic.
I decided cramming two speaking engagements and a cruise into my already jam-packed schedule of full-time mom, digital analyst and blogger was somehow a good idea. And as former musical theatre performer and aspiring professional presentation coach (since I need more to do), I put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to perform my very best.
But, I was playing with a new deck of cards this year. After having one of the worst health years of my life including activated Epstein Barre, a parasitic infection and hypothyroidism, I adopted the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol diet. Affectionately known as the AIP, this diet (or more accurately, lifestyle experiment) is designed to put into remission autoimmune conditions like Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and countless other ailments through the healing powers of low-inflammation, real food. You can learn more about AIP with this post from The Paleo Mom.
After the excitement of snagging two speaking engagements in one month died down, I suddenly felt a wash of trepidation. Traveling and performing with such finicky health sounded scary, especially on such a restricted diet where many AIP-unfriendly foods are still potential landmines for me. All I could think was…
Rather than wing it (impossible on the AIP), I decided to take something into my own hands and plan the bejeezees out of these trips. Before I begin, I wish to disclose that I am on an Autoimmune Paleo template, meaning I do not strictly adhere to the protocol, but have been able to reintroduce egg yolks, cashews, pecans and small amounts of dry white wine. I will clearly note this where it applies. To learn how to safely and sanely reintroduce foods on the AIP, check out this awesome AIP Re-Introduction Guide from Eileen of Phoenix Helix.
So, after surviving both trips and encountering many pitfalls, I offer to you my blueprint for traveling on Autoimmune Paleo without going bonkers. I’ve divided this into two parts: Part 1 will discuss regular meals and travel-friendly snacks and seasonings, and Part 2 will cover dining out and mind-body wellness. So friends, let’s hit the road!
Paleo Autoimmune Protocol-Friendly Travel Meals
Cooking and freezing enough food for three days away was an undertaking I wasn’t willing to do considering the preparation for my speech. So, I turned to the lifesaving Autoimmune Paleo Meal Plan from Paleo On The Go, a company that sources the finest ingredients and prepares AIP and regular Paleo meals that are easy to transport. I packed 3 days worth of food from the Paleo On The Go 21-day Autoimmune Paleo Meal Plan in an insulated cooler bag. I have no doubt their food kept me alive on these trips. The meals are quite good (the
I packed 3 days worth of food from the Paleo On The Go 21-day Autoimmune Paleo Meal Plan in an insulated cooler bag. I have no doubt their food kept me alive on these trips. The meals are quite good (the Thai Chicken Soup and Paleo Shepherd’s pie are standouts) and I also ordered some muffins and snacks for The Judgey Bear to make my absence a little easier for Daring Dada!
All of the POTG meals come frozen and vacuum-sealed; to prepare them, I packed my trusty electric steel hot pot to boil the packs in water (in case there was no microwave). They have tragically discontinued this product, so your best bet is a plastic hot pot.
Note that while I loathe cooking in plastic and microwaving, I had a choice to make here: I could either boil the food in plastic packs or microwave the food. This is where for me, the benefit of eating such well-sourced, nutrient-dense food well outweighs a few temporary encounters with plastic and microwaves.
Upon checking in, I immediately called Room Service and made besties with the maitre d’. My first hotel was incredibly accommodating, asking thoughtful questions and politely dismissing my groveling for making their lives more difficult. (Note: I have to learn to stop apologizing for these restrictions. I didn’t ask for my current situation, and would sometimes give a limb for a massive morning muffin. There’s nothing to apologize for.) Some of my favorite room service combos included:
- Breakfast berry bowl with my own coconut milk and bacon (I verified the bacon was sugar-free)
- Filet mignon with baked sweet potato and steamed broccoli
- Scallop salad with baby greens, avocado, olive oil and lemon dressing
Paleo Autoimmune Protocol-Friendly Travel Snacks
Snacks were a lifesaver during these journeys; many I made myself in Casa Mavericka and some I purchased from the infinite interwebs. Here’s my go-to list:
- Plantain chips: I snarfed both homemade dehydrator chips from The Paleo Approach Cookbook and bought Inka Plaintain Chips which are seasoned with just sea salt and palm oil.
- Homemade grass-fed beef jerky via Mommypotamus
- Homemade elderberry immunity gummies via Wellness Mama
- Homemade pumpkin pie fruit leather (my own recipe!)
- Artisana pecan / cashew nut butter travel packs. (I can tolerate most nuts, but avoid these if still on strict AIP.) These were CLUTCH when my blood sugar would dip around 4p and I was stuck in a conference session.
- SeaSnax portable seaweed snacks
- Pacific organic chicken bone broth. Bone stock is my jam, man, and I was floored to learn from Tamar England of The Paleo Mom (who wrote a great article on cruising while on the AIP) that Pacific now makes shelf-stable bone broth!! I considered making travel broth gummies per this recipe from Nourished Kitchen, but part of my challenge to get through each day is learning when to cut back on the DIY. This is where I chose, but now you have two options for taking your bone broth to go!
I made sure to pack protein, carbs and vegetables for every meal in an insulated cooler in my suitcase, and kept my dehydrated snacks and in baggies in my purse. If making your snacks yourself, I suggest creating a plan to prepare them a week in advance, like so:
- Up to 7 days before: Start beef jerky, freeze what you’re not taking
- 3 days before: Start plaintain chips
- 2 days before: Start pumpkin pie fruit leather
- 1 day before: Make elderberry gummies
Paleo Autoimmune Protocol-Friendly Travel Condiments & Seasonings:
If you’re on the AIP, you know that seasonings are dangerous territory if you’re dining out and traveling. I decided to play it safe and always have AIP-approved oils, butters, milks and sweeteners at the ready so that my food didn’t always taste like cardboard. Here’s what I packed:
- Organic extra virgin olive oil packets from Marconi
- Real Salt travel salt shakers
- Artisana coconut oil packets (for eating & oil pulling) and coconut butter
- Organic (guar gum-free) coconut milk by Natural Value (bring a can-opener!)
- Raw honey packets by Honeypax
And that should have your main meals covered! Stay tuned for the next installment where I’ll share my tips for dining out, my custom AIP restaurant card and a prescription for maintaining mind-body wellness while juggling all of this stuff!
What are your tips for traveling while on the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol?
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