Following AIP diet? Here Are 6 Tips to Help You Enjoy a Nice Meal OutFriday Oct 14, 2022
Following the Autoimmune Protocol Diet (AIP) is no easy feat, especially considering all the crazy amount of restrictions and things you can't eat. Some normalcy would be nice and you're thinking about going out to eat. But it can be nerve-wracking sitting down at a restaurant for a meal you didn't prepare at home with ingredients you KNOW won't cause any flare-ups or terrible symptoms.
You might think to yourself: Can I eat out on the AIP diet and actually have a good time?
We have some good news for you. Eating out on the AIP diet is definitely possible! And this guide will show you how. If you make it to the end of the post, we even have some AIP-friendly restaurant options to keep you on track with your diet while enjoying a nice meal out.
AIP Diet Basics
The AIP diet is a short-term elimination used to improve symptoms of a variety of health conditions, such as IBD , rheumatoid arthritis, and celiac disease . During the elimination phase, you forgo foods like grains, legumes, dairy, and processed carbs. Then, you gradually reintroduce foods one by one to identify the specific ones causing you problems.
1. Do some prep work ahead of time
You can find most restaurant menus online. Use search terms in Google like "gluten-free", "dairy-free", "soy-free" or anything else you can think of to describe your diet limitations on the AIP diet. Compile a list of AIP-friendly restaurants and then get ready for the next step.
2. Call ahead of time
It might be worth calling ahead of time to get more info and verify that they're able to accommodate your special diet. Make sure you call when it's not too busy (i.e. if your restaurant of choice has a buzzing happy hour, try not to call between the hours of 4-8 p.m.). When you call at a time they're not busy, it increases your chances of being able to speak with the manager or head chef, aka someone who really knows the ins and outs of the menu and what they can accommodate.
3. Be courteous to the waitstaff but clear about your AIP diet restrictions
Once you get to the restaurant and it's time to order, make sure you have a few dish options in mind heading in. That way, if for whatever reason your first choice is no longer available, you still have a couple of options to choose from.
Explicitly (but politely) explain your dietary limitations. Being courteous can go a long way toward the waitstaff wanting to help you and make sure the restaurant gets your order exactly right.
Your waiter or waitress is unlikely to be an expert on the AIP diet, so take your time explaining and keep in mind you may have to repeat yourself more than once. It's better to explain a few extra times than end up sick or in the ER, right?
4. Go à la carte
If you can't find anything AIP-friendly on the menu, go à la carte and build your own meal. For example, you can make a meal out of plain chicken breast or a burger patty, avocado, with sides of vegetables and some fruit. Protein, veggies, and fruit is always a good combination when you can't find anything.
Ask how your order is cooked (to see if there is a possibility for any cross-contamination) and be mindful of ingredients not listed out on the menu, such as nightshade spices (chili powder, paprika, etc) and oils (like soybean and canola).
Wondering can I have balsamic vinegar on the AIP diet?
The good news is that you should be okay with that. Honey mustard is another sauce that should be fine. However, you'll want to avoid creamy sauces like ranch and blue cheese because they're sure to contain dairy.
5. Double-check once your food arrives
Make sure the food was prepared correctly. Double-check once it arrives, and if it wasn't, don't be afraid to ask for it to be sent back. Just make sure you ask politely and be nice when explaining why!
6. Thank the waitstaff and enjoy your meal!
Be gracious and thank the waitstaff, manager, cooks, etc for accommodating you, especially if they went above and beyond to make sure you had a positive dining out experience. Showing gratitude can make them want to go the extra mile for you in the future or for other people with dietary restrictions.
Best AIP Restaurants
- Restaurants with gluten-free options
- Restaurants with vegan/plant-based options
- Seafood restaurants
- Mid to upscale restaurants that may be more inclined to accommodate your AIP diet requests.
Restaurants to Stay Away From on the AIP Diet
As you probably know, not all places are going to be AIP-friendly restaurants. Here are some restaurants you'll want to avoid while on the AIP diet.
- Chain restaurants have an increased chance of cooking with oils you can't eat on the AIP diet and will have a lot of dairy and grain on their menus.
- Asian: For those wondering can you eat sushi on the AIP diet, that's probably the one exception in terms of Asian cuisine (just make sure the sushi is prepared following AIP guidelines).
Seems easy, right? Eating out on the AIP diet doesn't have to be hard, and now you have some tips to do so with confidence.
- Eating out on the AIP diet has a lot to do with being prepared, so have a game plan heading in. Research ahead of time and find some AIP-friendly restaurants. If you really want to dot all your i's and cross your t's, call the restaurant ahead of time during non-busy hours to speak with a manager about your dietary restrictions and see if they can accommodate you.
- When it's time to order, be clear about your dietary limitations and don't be afraid to ask questions (but always be polite in your dealings with waitstaff!). They are trying to accommodate you, after all.
- Build your own meal if you can't find anything on the menu and once your food arrives, double-check to make sure everything came out okay. Be sure to thank the waitstaff for accommodating you and going the extra mile.
About the Author
Chad Richardson is a freelance writer from Cincinnati, OH who also enjoys going to the gym and doing his best Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation, scrolling through Netflix trying to find a new binge-worthy show, and catching a game to root on his hometown sports teams.