Here’s how to stick to the auto immune protocol while on vacation, from what foods to select at a breakfast buffets, to suggestions from chefs.
Being away from the kitchen can be disruptive to a healthy diet, especially if you are trying to stay away from grains, nightshades, seeds and nuts… And because so many people asked me how I do it… here it is:
My guide on how to stick to the AIP while going on vacation!
I did it on an island in Thailand, while staying at the amazing resort Intercontinental Ko Samui who provided me with all the best food options to replace potentially allergic foods.
After informing the restaurant manager about my intolerances and talking to the chefs, I was able to enjoy the most amazing vacation without feeling that I wanted to go back to my kitchen to cook something good I could eat!
My feeling was actually quite the opposite, and some of the amazing dished they created for me there, now give shape to my foodie dreams.[/vc_column_text][thb_gap height=”32px”][/vc_column][/vc_row]
In this guide, while sharing some of the best autoimmune paleo compliant meals I have enjoyed at the Intercontinental Ko Samui, I give you ideas and inspiration for some delicious dishes that you can order or request too whenever you are traveling.
Sticking to the AIP while going on vacation has never been easier!
Breakfast buffets can be overwhelming when you are on a restrictive diet. It’s hard to walk in front of those freshly baked croissants and pastries without even grabbing a bite. But if you find some tasty alternatives (and stay away from the bakery section), sticking to the AIP will be easy!
Here are some AIP breakfast ideas for putting together a nourishing meal when you stay in a hotel:
- Fruit plates: I loved all the fresh tropical fruit such as papaya, mango, pomelo, passion fruit and pineapple. A squeeze of lime on top and you have a delicious start to your day. NOTE: Since the AIP recommends you to keep your fruit intake down to 2-3 pieces a day, make sure you control your portions.
- Mixed salads with protein: The Intercontinental displayed beautiful bowls of greens every morning. I filled my plate with baby spinach, chopped Romain, radicchio and sliced cucumbers, which I liked to sandwich with pieces of smoked chicken, duck or salmon.
- Seasonings: Raw chopped onions, capers, olives, lemon, olive oil and vinegar are easily available in every breakfast buffet. And if you can see them, just ask the staff, they’ll be happy to accomodate you!
- Drinks: Freshly squeezed juices (I used to get mine with cucumber, greens, carrots, ginger and lemon to keep the amount of fructose on the low end) are always a good way to start the day by flooding your body with vitamins. Along with this, smoothies, hot water with lemon & turmeric and big pots of green tea were my go-to breakfast drinks.
When you can take advantage of such an abundant breakfast buffet (we used to have that around 10 am, after the gym), at noon you are not exactly starving.
For lunch, I liked to enjoy a chilled coconut water on the beach, a refreshing watermelon slush or a piece of tropical fruit that’s low in sugar, like dragon fruit for example.
Being platinum members at the Intercontinental, gave us free access to the club lounge, where they served an incredible high tea from 4 to 5 and cocktails with canopy from 6 to 8… so, as you can imagine, the chances to eat were many!!
While usually high teas are unapproachable when you are on the autoimmune protocol, this soon became my favorite meal of the day! After informing the chefs about my dietary restrictions, they would surprise me every day with the most delicious treats.
Here’s a list of the best snacks I got, so that you can use it as a reference to suggest ideas to your hotel:
- Baked sweet potato cubes: finding good carb options that don’t come from fruit is crazy hard when you are traveling and trying to stick to the AIP, so these sides were always very welcome!
- Seared salmon or tuna: a clean grill (always make sure you remind the kitchen to do that to avoid gluten contamination), a drizzle of olive oil and some salt, and you have the most nutritious and tasty tapas.
- Sashimi tower: when they they first brought it out, I though it was genius! Slices of raw yellowfin, salmon and pickled ginger layered together to create the most amazing bite! Request this at your hotel (or even when you go to a Sushi restaurant)!
- Low fructose fruit: Pomelo, like all other citrus fruit, contains very little sugar (see what its benefits are here). A couple slices are enough to cure your sweet tooth ;)
Happy Hour is one of those other tricky times for AIP eaters. Since alcohol and sugar are not allowed on the protocol, enjoying a drink can turn into an awkward situation, especially if you are with people who don’t know about your diet.
Having a few ideas for ready to order drinks will make your life easier when the waiters comes get your menus:
- Coconut water: Especially if you are traveling to South East Asia, you can never get tired of this delicious and hydrating drink. Ask for a spoon so you can scrape out all the pulp and enjoy some healthy fats too!
- Virgin Mojito: Sparking water, lime and fresh mint make for a delicious mocktail you can enjoy without any issues!
- Herabl teas (iced or hot): Lemongrass and ginger are some of my favorite flavors when I am in Asia. Otherwise, mint, hibiscus or a simple green tea opt for decaf if it’s late) are always a great choice!
- Hot Coconut Milk: At the Intercontinental Ko Samui, they purchase hand made coconut milk from a village nearby. Trust me when I tell you it’s the best thing I’ve ever tried! I love to order it hot, with just a tiny bit of honey… and I am in heaven!
AIP dinner options are usually the easiest to figure out when it comes to eating out, as if you just stick to clean protein and veggies you are good to go.
However, keeping each and every meal exciting is the key to success on a challenging diet such as the AIP and some of the delicious dishes I enjoyed during my vacation in Ko Samui can be a good source of inspiration for you too!
- Grilled fish with veggies: there’s no better place than the beach to enjoy fresh seafood! I loved ordering seared scallops with pear, spinach and broccoli… but the teppanyaki buffet on Monday really stole my heart.
Imagine an ice display covered with wild caught fish that you can pick and hand to the chef, and then watch him grill them… it was heaven!
- Chicken Soup: enjoying the local cuisine is part of the fun of traveling. So why not ask the chefs if they can create the AIP version of some of their specialties? I did it with Tom Kha Gai, a delicious Thai soup in coconut milk, and the recipe they came up with was even better than the original!
- Ditch the menu: Sometimes navigating the menu can be disheartening, as not a single item listed can pass the AIP test. I rather not even read it and talk to the waiter instead. “Do you guys have sweet potatoes?” “Could you bake some for me with just olive oil and salt?”
Ask for whatever dish you feel like you would want to eat if you were home. If they have it, they’ll be happy to please you.
Now I would like to hear from you! Do you have any other tips on how to stick to the AIP while going on vacation? Have you had any amazing travel experiences you’d like to share?
Please let me know in a comment below and feel free to reach out if you have any questions!
Born and raised in Italy, Ambra is a healthy recipe developer, food and travel writer with a passion for healthy living and wellness. She is the founder of 'Little Bites of Beauty" and the author of the cookbooks "Healthy Italian Desserts Made Simple" and "The AIP Italian Cookbook". She shares her daily food & travel adventures on her Instagram @LittleBitesofBeauty