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7 Ways to Survive AIP and still have a Social Life
An AIP Social Life might seem impossible, but these simple tips will help you navigate everything from dinner dates to visiting friends to special occasions with as little pain as possible. So get out there and have fun, it’s good for you!
This post has been on the back burner for a while now. I had it all outlined out in my mind (and in the notes app on my phone), but I just never sat down to write it. But, as with most things, something happens to prompt the actual doing of the thing that needs doing. And this post is no different.
A friend of mine started joined the ‘AIP club’ a few weeks back and his wife messaged me with this question early on. How can he handle all the coffee meetings and lunch appointments and meals at people’s houses that are part and parcel of the life of a pastor? I gave some simple suggestions and then decided it was time to get serious about this post.
We’ve all been there. Whether you’re 21 and navigating college and dating while on AIP, or you’re a mom who likes to hang out with the neighborhood moms or you’re a high powered business executive, we all have to find balance in life. We know that having friends who love and support us on the AIP journey is a huge key to success, but leaving the confines of our kitchen or our lunch bag can be terrifying.
This is where the rubber meets the road… You’re doing great keeping track of our food and stress and sleep and are mastering this AIP thing, when all of a sudden you get a wedding invitation, a birthday party invite, friends invite you over for dinner, or the team decides to go out after work. What is an AIPer to do?
7 of my Top Tips for Balancing AIP and your Social Life:
Plan Non-Food Outings
We all tend to equate time with friends with food, but that doesn’t have to be the case. If you have any say in the planning process, why not suggest a hike, a trip to the zoo, a bike ride, a visit to the museum or even a drive to a nearby park or historical site. We even have 2 malls near us with board game stores that allow you to come and play for free. No food is needed for any of these.
Host Events in Your Home
Instead of living in fear of having to go out, be proactive and invite people into your home where you have 100% control over the food. This can be as simple as a burger night (where you can provide buns for those who must – if you want), to a full AIP dinner, or you could get creative and host weekly book clubs, game nights or other events that allow you to have fun with friends without the stress.
If your family or friend group used to always call out for take out, find and AIP alternative and have it cooked and ready. There are so many great options out there now for Chinese, Indian, Lebanese and even pizza. I have a whole ebook of Indian AIP recipes to help you in just this kind of situation.
When you’re inviting people over, there are plenty of AIP meals that will be loved by all. Here are some of my favorites for sharing:
Meet at Non-Meal Times
If you have to go out with clients or have some sort of business meeting, try to schedule them mid morning or mid afternoon. You can easily meet at a coffee shop or cafe and just enjoy a cup of tea, an unsweetened iced tea or even a bottle of sparkling water without looking weird. If you don’t make a big deal about it, no one will even notice, or if they do, they may be jealous of your self control.
Take Your Own Food
This is easiest when invited to a potluck since everyone is asked to bring something. You can bring something that you know will satisfy you and make sure you’re at the front of the line. This Greek Chicken salad is always a crowd pleaser and great from bringing along to events like this. Bringing food to other events can get a little trickier, but it’s still possible.
Consider these options:
- Wedding – find out what the caterer is serving, make something similar and ask them to heat and plate it for you. I’ve done this several times without anyone knowing what I had done.
- Restaurant – If you know there’s nothing at all on their menu you can eat, bring your food and just don’t make a big deal out of it. If others are ordering and eating and you’re not too obvious most places won’t say anything. In case someone does say something, ask to speak to a manager, explain your situation and apologize. Explain that you love their restaurant and a chance to eat with your friends, but that your health isn’t something you can risk. If there is something you can order, bring along what you need to go with it (sauces, seasonings, salad dressing, an avocado, etc.).
- Someone’s Home – If you’ve been invited to a friend’s home, consider sharing this post with them. Most of the times our friends and family want to serve us well, they just don’t know how and this simple post gives the basics of the AIP and some simple AIP friendly meal ideas that they can cook for you.
- Ball Game, Amusement Park, Movie, Etc. – These are some of the trickiest situations, because they almost always have signs posted saying you can’t bring outside food. However, if you call ahead and ask the manager or someone in charge, they often will allow it given the special circumstances. If they insist that you can’t, bring something to eat in the car right before walking into the event to tide you over and enjoy a bottle of water during the event.
- Airplane Travel – This is my favorite one. In fact I even wrote a whole ebook on it with 25 travel friendly AIP recipes plus tons of tips for traveling well on AIP. I love taking my food on the plane and the people sitting around me always get jealous when they see me pulling out my meatballs, sweet potato salad, guacamole, salads and more.
Go for the People – not the Food
Too often as people we look at the cup as half empty instead of half full. Try to look at the positives of the situation. Be thankful for time with friends. Enjoy laughing and chatting. Focus on the people instead of all the food you can’t eat. One trick I learned early on is that if you keep a drink in your hand it’ll be less likely that someone will try to force you to eat anything. Have fun and remember that you can always eat later.
Learn to Order Well
If you must go to a restaurant, go in with your battle plan in place.
- Check the menu online and look for something that can be customizable. My top picks are steak, grilled chicken, grilled fish or burgers. You might also be able to get a plain salad and ask for it to be topped with your protein of choice.
- Call the restaurant early in the day or several days earlier and ask to speak to a chef. Make sure you call at a time they aren’t busy, so a few hours before lunch or dinner rush when they might be able to step away for a few minutes. Ask questions like…. what kind of oil do you cook in? Does your house spice blend include paprika? Can you make me a plain grilled meat and steamed vegetable dish? Or, talk about your restrictions and ask what they can recommend. If they know when you’re coming, they may be willing to make a special meal just for you.
- Once you arrive, ask all the questions you need of the server and be clear.
- If your food arrives and something seems off, ask to clarify that the order is right.
Communicate Your Needs
Don’t just suffer in silence. Be bold and advocate well for yourself and your needs. This is true when it comes to wait staff and potential dinner companions. If someone wants to be with you, they want to be with you and shouldn’t care if you eat ‘weird.’
I’m blessed because my hubby used to be in the hospitality industry and he knows how to speak to restaurant staff. As soon as the waiter approaches our table, he looks them straight in the eye and says, ‘my wife has a lot of food allergies and needs special attention to her meal.’ I then place my order (a steak cooked with no seasonings and steamed vegetables also with no seasonings, for example.) My hubby will then make sure the no seasoning is written on the order pad and have him/ her repeat it back to us.
It’s better to ask lots of questions and seem annoying at the beginning than to get your food and complain or to suffer later.
You may also find situations where you can simply state what you want. My hubby has often simply told a server (especially at hotel buffet breakfasts) that I would need a plate of steamed vegetables with no oil or seasoning, and we’ve always been pleasantly surprised that people will comply.
Don’t just assume something can’t be done. If you don’t ask you’ll never know.
And a BONUS tip… If you’re anything like me then stress is almost as important as food. Try to relax and have fun.