The autoimmune protocol (AIP) diet is restrictive, to say the least, but it is very beneficial for those who suffer from autoimmune diseases.
This diet is aimed at reducing inflammation, pain, and several other symptoms that occur as a result of autoimmune diseases. Examples of these diseases include lupus, celiac disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Many people who have switched to this diet and suffer from these diseases have stated they have seen an improvement in these symptoms and their overall health.
Whether you’re considering switching to this diet or already following it, you may be wondering what it’s like to eat out on the AIP.
This article will be guiding you through how you can dine out on this diet, as well as some tips and tricks on how to do so.
What Is The Autoimmune Protocol Diet?
When someone suffers from an autoimmune disease, their immune system begins to produce antibodies that attack the healthy cells and tissues in the body.
Normally, a regular immune system helps your body fight off foreign cells, but when you suffer from an autoimmune disease, the opposite happens.
The result is the experience of an array of unpleasant symptoms, such as abdominal pain, fatigue, joint pain, and brain fog, to name a few.
They are known to be caused by a few factors, such as stress, medication, infection, and genetics.
Aside from the above, studies have shown that if there is damage done to the gut barrier, leading to a ‘leaky gut’, this can also lead to certain autoimmune diseases being developed. This is where food links in, as certain foods can damage the lining of the gut.
Therefore, the AIP diet’s focus is to limit foods that are damaging to the lining of the gut. This diet encourages the elimination of all processed foods and welcomes healthy, whole foods that carry a lot of nutritional value.
What Can’t You Eat On This Diet?
The AIP diet is seen to have many similarities to the paleo diet, which bases itself on foods that humans would eat throughout the Stone Age. However, the AIP is known for being stricter, so many see it as an extension of this diet.
There are an array of foods to avoid, such as processed oils, and any foods that are cooked in these oils, such as canola oil, rapeseed, corn, cottonseed, palm kernel, soybean, and sunflower oils.
No processed sugars are allowed, nor are foods that contain them such as candies, frozen desserts, corn syrup, cane or beet sugar, and chocolate. Artificial sweeteners and food additives are also not recommended, such as food coloring, emulsifiers, thickeners, or stevia.
No eggs or dairy are allowed in this diet, and neither are nightshade vegetables such as eggplant, potatoes, and peppers.
Legumes such as lentils, beans (see also ‘Are Garbanzo Beans Paleo?‘), and peas should be avoided, as well as grains such as oats, barley, rice, and wheat.
What Can You Eat?
This diet focuses on nutritious whole foods that have not been processed. Vegetables are allowed, except for nightshades, as mentioned above.
Meat that has been minimally processed, such as poultry, seafood, and wild game. You should always ensure that the meat has been pasture-raised and grass-fed.
Fresh fruit is allowed, as well as probiotic-rich foods such as kimchi, kombucha, pickles, sauerkraut, and coconut kefir.
Oils are allowed as long as they have been minimally processed such as olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil.
Herbs and spices can also be added to foods as long as they have not come from a seed, and natural sweeteners are also encouraged, such as honey and maple syrup.
Bone broth is encouraged, and it is very nutrient-dense, and certain teas such as black and green teas are also allowed in moderation.
How To Dine Out On The AIP
Being aware of all the foods you shouldn’t eat on the AIP diet, may have you thinking that you shouldn’t dine out.
However, this is far from the truth, and you shouldn’t feel you need to miss out on eating at your favorite restaurants because of this diet.
While it may be rare for a restaurant menu to offer a meal that is 100% AIP-approved, you are likely to be able to mix and match a few things from the menu to create your perfect meal!
Choose The Restaurant Accordingly
If you do get to choose the restaurant, your safest bets are steakhouses and seafood restaurants.
Steak restaurants are likely to have higher-quality meats than diners for example, and they already serve that as their main component, so finding add-ons is super easy!
However, you do need to make sure that your steak is unseasoned, and is cooked in olive oil as opposed to butter, as is the case in many steakhouses. With your steak, you can order a plain sweet potato and some steamed vegetables such as asparagus.
When it comes to seafood restaurants, you’ll be fine with anything that’s been grilled or steamed and has not been breaded, fried, or covered in butter. Asking for sides in these restaurants should also be pretty easy, just ask for some steamed veggies!
Call Ahead Of Time
If you know what restaurant you’re going to, it would be a good idea to call them up beforehand to let them know about your dietary requirements.
List all of your restricted foods, and tell them what kinds of food you can have. Restaurants want to give their customers a positive experience, and they want you to return, so never apologize for being an inconvenience.
It would also be beneficial to let them know what date and time you are going to be dining there.
Be Creative When It Comes To Fast Food
While you should avoid fast food, there may be times when you need to find something to eat at a fast food restaurant.
If you can, try and order a side salad and ask them what kinds of dressing they provide. In order to be safe, ask for it without any dressing, or with just some olive oil.
When ordering meat such as chicken or a beef patty, request that it be cooked without oil, as fast food restaurants are likely to use cheap oils that are highly processed. It must also be cooked without any spices except for salt.
Ask for your burger to be made without the bun, and instead see if they can wrap it in lettuce for you.
As a side, see if they offer any veggie sticks or apple slices, and when it comes to your drink, refrain from ordering any sodas, and opt for an unsweetened iced tea.
In summary, dining out on the AIP is not as tricky as you may have been thinking. Your best bet is to be prepared, and call up the restaurant beforehand in order to see if they can provide the appropriate food for you.
If you do get to decide which restaurant you go to, selecting a steakhouse or seafood restaurant is your best bet. They will be able to offer you a good-quality protein, as well as a variety of healthy sides that you can pair with your main.