Eating AIP in a Third World Country: It is Possible.
I have been eating strict AIP (Autoimmune Protocol or Autoimmune Paleo) for 467 days now. That’s close to 67 weeks, close to 1401 meals. I’ve probably cooked all but 10-12 of those myself (shoutout to Shannon, Kaitlyn, Kandice, and Mom for those awesome meals).
I have also, in that time, done a week hiking trip in Utah in the summer of 2017, a week-long mission trip in Haiti in January 2018, and 10 days in Israel in April 2018. All while being strict AIP.
A lot of people’s advice around domestic travel, even international travel, and restricted eating, goes like this:
- Do lots of research on the restaurants and grocery places near where you’ll be staying
- Pack some snacks
- Book an airbnb or hotel room with a kitchen so you can prep your own food
- immediately go get tons of fresh fruit and veggies and any AIP compliant snacks from the local shop
Except, what if there is no local shop?
What if I am not in charge of any aspect of my schedule while I am traveling?
So that even if there is this local fresh fruit and veggies, I cannot derail a group of 14-90 people on a tight schedule?
And what if it is sweltering outside and there are no places to keep things that need a fridge?
What if there might be AIP compliant snacks, but I don’t read Hebrew?
What if Haiti doesn’t exactly have there are no local restaurants listed on Yelp for rural, poverty-stricken Haiti?
So I think you see where some of the conventional advice breaks down.
I will be addressing traveling in Haiti (considered a third-world country) (one of my favorite places in the world – it is so beautiful, please go if you ever have the chance), and Israel (helpful since it is international – a challenge, and I went on a tour – my time and schedule, restaurant and lodging choices were often not my own).
In Haiti, the water was not safe to drink, nor was street food safe to eat, and we had no room in our schedule to go explore local farmers markets, and all our food was already prepared for us. The wonderful beans, rice, chicken, tomatoe-y sauces – these were all out of AIP limits. Even the tostones were made with canola oil, and the iceberg salad leaves were sitting in between tomatoes and had been soaking up the sun, so I wasn’t going to risk nightshade exposure.
In Israel, almost all of our breakfast and dinners were buffets, and almost all of our lunches were quick bites off the street. So lunch is probably out, but surely the buffets you could find something… except no. Almost everything (like a normal restaurant) has either black pepper or tahini (made from sesame seeds) is huge in Israel, as well as shakshuka (tomatoes), falafel (chickpeas), and pita (gluten). So again I was left with dry greens (usually iceberg and something spinach) or fruit (apples and the occasional watermelon) – not bad, but not sustaining for all my meals.
Many people would say, then, don’t travel. If you have to be so restricted, and you can’t decide your own schedule or there are no food choices available, wait until you can reintroduce some things. But I didn’t want to wait, on either of these trips. It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to go to Israel, and I love Haiti and jumped at my second chance to go.
So how did I do it?
- a lot of planning
- Several lists
- Trial of things previously uneaten before leaving
- a rather large amazon food bill
- making room in my bag for food
- bringing more than I thought I needed
- patience with others and their questions
- a big smile and good attitude around food all the time
I decided I would act like I was not going to eat from anywhere else other than my own food I brought. That way, if I did get to, it would be a treat, a surprise!
I listed a good attitude and a smile – man, this is so important. Remember, AIP is a choice. A choice for your own health and body, for your wellbeing. It is a privilege to have knowledge about the things that damage your body in particular and what heals and helps your body in particular. So comments like “man, that looks good – I wish I could eat that!”, or “sugar and gluten, wow, I guess you just have a great metabolism”. Not that any of you would ever even have those thoughts, but being happy with the food you get to eat, being excited about the culinary adventures your travel companions get to have – this will serve you well in the long run. Ask them about their food, what they’ve liked best. Answer any questions you may get about why you are eating this way, but never be disparaging about different choices others make. Everyone is doing the best they can in their own season with what they have at their disposal.
I made a list of what I would eat every day, and tried to make sure I had a little variety from day to day so I would not get sick of the same thing. I made an inventory of what I already had in stock, what I needed to buy from Amazon, and how much room I could allow in my bag.
Think ahead about what you’ll need. Will you have access to silverware or plasticware each meal? If not, think about bringing a camping spork (if it’ll make it through airport security). Will there be salt or any other seasoning to liven up a bland food? Probably not an AIP approved one, so bring your own! If you only eat half a bag of plantain chips, or want to DIY a trail mix, bring a little container, like one of these.
Here’s what I brought:
- Powerballs (I love and brought lemon and snickerdoodle) (AIP vanilla and an AIP variety pack also exist and are good)
- Tuna (with coconut oil) -> much easier to eat, get out of the package, and more palatable
- Tuna (no coconut oil) -> just harder to extract and eat since its in larger chunks
- Primal Palate AIP Spice blend – I brought Garlic & Herb, although Breakfast Blend and Super Gryo are also amazing
- Plantain chips
- Fruit leather (Whole Foods and Sprouts both have AIP approved ones)
- Dried fruit bites
- Banana cinnamon chips
- Other dehydrated or freeze dried fruit
- Sliced tigernuts
- Homemade tiger nut butter (you can also buy your own)
- Epic Pork Cracklings
- 1-2 things to eat on the plane or within the first 24 hours (bacon, bacon plantain biscuits, Sweet Potato chips, grapes)
It mostly went like this:
- Breakfast: apple and powerballs
- Snack: apple and tiger nut butter, or fruit leather
- Lunch: Plantain chips with tuna
- Snack: trail mix made of sliced tiger nuts, raisins, and plantain chips
- Dinner: plantain chips with tuna, Garlic and Herb spice, and raisins, and occasionally sliced carrots or lettuce of some type
- a ton of water all throughout the day
Surprisingly, I did not get sick of this menu, even after a week. It really involves a lot of gratitude and good attitude, but also planning ahead and a willingness to suck it up without your bone broth, InstaPot, and kombuca. Those were hard losses for me too, but you can keep up a strict AIP diet and go on extended international trips, even to third world countries!
Make sure to prepare your body as best you can beforehand and treat it like a recovery phase afterwards – stock up on bone broth and kombuca, get extra rest, spend time with community and get your walk outside to soak up the sunshine.
Don’t forget to enjoy your trip – Bon voyage!