How NOT to travel on AIP

We recently took a trip to Puerto Rico for 4 days for a wedding. I was extremely worried about maintaining such a restrictive diet while traveling, so I put a lot of effort into being prepared. To my knowledge, there are no Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, or organic markets in PR, but I knew I could find an abundance of tropical fruit to supplement what I could pack in my suitcase. Our hotel room had a mini fridge and coffee maker where I could boil water for tea, but I had no method of cooking meat or veggies. I was most concerned about having access to quality protein during the trip, so I sprang for some Sophia’s Survival Foods grass fed beef jerky, which has two flavors that are AIP friendly. I also brought along several tins of BPA free, wild-caught tuna and salmon. For quality fats, I packed garlic-infused olive oil, packets of coconut butter, olives, and a few avocados (which are abundant in PR, but we had some at the house that would’ve gone bad while we were away). For healthy carbs (and to satisfy my sweet tooth while everyone else was eating piraguas, pan sobao, and mallorcas) I brought a bunch of dried fruit: pineapple and coconut, apples, and mango. Plus some homemade fig/coconut bars and coconut/date balls (similar to this recipe, but omitted the cashews and agave). I packed several tea bags and cans of coconut water for when I got tired of drinking plain water, and homemade seaweed snacks for when the salty cravings hit. Here’s my stash just prior to packing.


Our travel day went smoothly, and with lots of jerky, seaweed snacks, and dried fruit in my bag, I was never hungry. Though I did stare longingly at other passengers’ pizza slices, sandwiches, pastries, and lattes.

When we arrived, we went straight to the closest grocery store and stocked up on fresh fruit and leafy greens. I felt well prepared to be completely AIP compliant for the duration of the trip.

I was exhausted from traveling, so I stayed in the hotel room and slept while the rest of the family ventured out the next morning. I ate lots of fresh fruit and more jerky for breakfast. And lunch. The wedding was that evening, and as I contemplated what to put in my bag to eat for dinner while the rest of the guests dined on the fancy, professionally catered, four-course meal, I started to dread eating more jerky and dried fruit. And I wasn’t feeling the tuna. We weren’t even at the wedding yet, but I was already feeling excluded from the festivities. I certainly couldn’t drink alcohol (because I KNOW I react badly to alcohol) or eat wedding cake (too much refined sugar), but couldn’t I at least eat the same meal as everyone else? So I decided to just pack some dried fruit to eat in lieu of wedding cake, and allow myself a cheat dinner.

It was incredibly delicious. Some kind of pea soup garnished with a root chip- I wanted to lick the bowl. Then, beautiful greens arranged like a shell or fan and tied at the bottom with a thinly sliced cucumber, with tomatoes, bleu cheese, prosciutto, and a lovely vinaigrette. Again, had to stop myself from licking the plate. Then pork medallions with tamarind gravy, mashed potatoes, shredded carrots, and crispy asparagus. I gave my dinner roll away, but added the leftover butter to my mashed potatoes.

Then we danced the night away. I couldn’t drink like everyone else, but it didn’t matter because I was buzzed on the amazing meal I’d just eaten.

Then they brought out the cake. Chocolate with white cherry icing. And I realized I’d already eaten my dried fruit in the car on the way back from the ceremony. And I just really wanted some cake. And I’d already deviated from my diet plan, so what could it hurt? I’d just take a couple of bites. Mmmmmm. That was really good. What the heck- I’ll just eat the whole thing.

When I’d scraped off every last chocolatey crumb and every last smidge of icing, I leaned back, and realized I felt nauseous. It was definitely too much sugar, too fast. And I immediately regretted it. Eating the meal was fine, but I should’ve skipped out on the cake. Now, all there was to do was wait and see what the repercussions would be.

The next morning, I felt a little hung over, but was otherwise fine. (And everyone else was hungover, too, so I fit right in.) The whole crew met for brunch at Denny’s, and, again, I just couldn’t stomach the thought of more fruit and jerky. So I figured I’d just get what I want, but not go crazy.

So much for that. I got the Lumberjack Grand Slam. Two eggs, two sausage links, two slices of bacon, ham, hash-browns, toast (asked for whole wheat, but there really wasn’t anything “whole” about it), and two pancakes loaded with hopefully regular butter (as opposed to fake buttery spread) and drizzled with totally fake syrup. I doubt there was a drop of anything from a maple tree in that bottle. Anyway, I gobbled up everything but the hash-browns and a few bites of pancake. Oh- and I had decaf coffee (because I KNOW my system can’t handle that level of caffeine) with non-dairy creamer, which is loaded with nastiness.

Sooooo, between the wedding dinner and brunch, I definitely was exposed to gluten, dairy, nightshades, eggs, nitrates/nitrites, seeds (coffee), and all kinds of preservatives, additives, rancid oils, and high fructose corn syrup.

After brunch, I felt really tired. But that was to be expected after a day of traveling followed by a late night partying. I had to be extremely mindful of my energy levels and not push myself, so I spent the remainder of the afternoon in the hotel room, sleeping, while everyone else went out. The rest of my meals that day were AIP compliant, including this delicious tuna salad (tuna, capers, coconut butter, and lime juice) on a bed of greens with carrot sticks and topped with guacamole (avocado, lime juice, chopped culantro).


The next day was our travel day back home. I stuck with fruit and jerky for breakfast, but had crackers, cheddar cheese “product”, and a few bites of chex mix on the plane, along with a ginger ale. (I didn’t plan as well as I did on the way there.) And when we got to MIA, we ate at La Carreta. For any Latinos that frequent the Miami airport, you know this is the place to be for authentic, home style island fare. I figured it would be my last hurrah, and loaded my plate with cheesy sausage pasta and mashed potatoes, and shared a tres leche with my husband and daughter.

I half expected to wake up this morning with crazy stomach bloat, a swollen tongue, and no energy to get out of bed and get my daughter to school. But I was fine. I’ve had a few lesions coming and going, with a worrisome one at the back of my throat, but everything seems to be holding steady. I did need a nap this afternoon, but that’s not entirely abnormal, and I expected it as I’m still recovering from the traveling.

So, all in all, I seem to have handled the trip relatively well, along with the barrage of reintroductions of restricted AIP foods. I don’t believe that just because I didn’t have an immediate reaction, it’s ok for me to eat these foods again. I think I’ve made progress in healing my gut and building my immune system with probiotics, etc. But I’m still having autoimmune reactions, so I still have a lot of healing to do. I know there is a connection between my flares and hormonal fluctuations, so my focus may be shifting to balance my hormones in the near future.

I think sticking to AIP through the holidays may not be realistic for me, judging by my epic failure during this PR trip. I’m not sure what or how I’ll reintroduce foods, but I’m going to need to loosen up the restrictions if my sanity is going to survive the holiday season. Until I decide how to properly reintroduce foods, I’ll be back on AIP in the meantime.

This morning, I was back to my usual meat patties with chimichurri and raw sauerkraut. After four days with no probiotics, I know I’ve got some re-inoculating to do. And while I did enjoy my weekend away from AIP, I’m happy to be back to my healing diet. I’m grateful to have gotten through it without immediate repercussions, but I’m certainly not going to push my luck. Pancakes aren’t THAT delicious.

Recovering! (and a confession)

Feeling much, much better. Totally back to normal. Getting to bed early (even if I don’t sleep very well through the night) has made a big difference in how quickly I heal and how well I feel during the day. Baby girl has had a cold, so it’s kind of like sleeping with a sniveling piglet who bonks me over the head with her sippy cup in the middle of the night and randomly whines in her sleep… “But I toldddddd Mommy I wanted some grapesssss. She faileddddddd meeeeeee.” Not really a prime sleep environment. Plus, considering that I’m still recovering from that last flare, I haven’t had high expectations for my energy levels during the day. But they’ve been really strong. Cleaned the whole house on Wednesday (after being sick for so long, it was disgusting!), got baby girl off to school Thursday and wore her out at the playground later in the afternoon, and so far today, I’ve made a big batch of lamb/veal/grass-fed beef patties to freeze, along with making breakfast for the family. Don’t know what the afternoon will have in store for us, but I don’t expect I’ll need a nap.

Now that I can eat again, here’s what I’ve been eating…

Made an organic (but not grass-fed) beef pot roast on Wednesday. Lots of carrots, onions, celery, garlic, herbs, and some chopped bacon for extra fat and flavor. Served it topped with homemade kraut, or on a bed of mashed cauliflower. Or on a bed of cauliflower topped with kraut…


One thing I’ve been suffering from is lack of convenient, portable, AIP compliant snack foods. I love Larabars, but no nuts on AIP makes them a no-go for now. So I made a variation using unsweetened dried coconut and dried figs. Had to add a bit of cinnamon and honey for flavor, but they turned out great. Blended everything up in the food processor, then mashed into the bottom of a small plastic container to form them into bars. Wrapped in snack size zip-lock bags, and done! Portable snack. AIP friendly.


And for breakfast this morning, I made sweet potato “nests” topped with an egg for my husband and daughter. No eggs for me on AIP, so I just had an eggless nest with raw kraut and 2 of the delicious lamb/veal/grass-fed beef patties I’d just made. (Sorry, ate half a patty before remembering to take a pic.) That stuff floating around on top of my orange juice is fermented cod liver oil- one of the few supplements I’m taking these days. It sounds disgusting (and it is if you try to take it straight), but mixed in some juice, you can hardly tell it’s there. My 3-year-old drinks it like this with no problem.


Ok. Confession time. Wednesday was my first day eating solid food after nearly a week of liquids (see previous post). My mouth was still hurting, and no matter what I ate I still felt hungry. I think my blood sugar was out of whack after not eating for so long. I’d been walking past my daughter’s bucket of Halloween candy daily, with no desire to eat any of that processed, fake, GMO-laden, glutenized, unnaturally colored and preserved, poisonous junk. But something happened on Wednesday. Something changed. I had to have it. I was like a junkie. Hiding from my kid, hunkered down next to the garbage can in the kitchen.


I ate four pieces. The ones pictured above, plus a snack sized bag of skittles. Well, not the ACTUAL ones pictured above. At the time, there was no thought of picture-taking or blogging. In fact, I was more concerned with hiding the evidence. From who? I don’t know. But understand, I view this stuff as poison and honestly believe that it heavily contributes to the disease I am fighting. But I could. not. stop. myself.

It’s now been two days, and I haven’t had any immediate reactions. Though I don’t know how it might affect my long-term healing (gluten exposure can take months to get out of your system). At any rate, this reinforced the importance of blood sugar regulation to control cravings. And reminded me that “if it’s in the house, I WILL eat it.” It’s not a matter of willpower. It’s a matter of setting yourself up for success. That candy would not normally have been tempting for me, but given the unique combination of factors that were beyond my control, I was left with an insatiable craving for sugar, calories, and fat that was impossible to deny in that moment.

So now, I move on. I wish I hadn’t eaten that crap, but I understand why I did. And I’m grateful there were no immediately noticeable consequences. And now the candy is put away in an inaccessible spot where we will all probably forget about it until next Halloween. At which point it will still be perfectly fresh. Ugh! That’s disgusting. 😉

A Challenging Flare

Part of me hoped weaning off prednisone would lead to a newly balanced system that minimized my flares. Not so fast. Getting off prednisone was a huge accomplishment, but I’ve still got a mountain of healing to do before I’ll experience remission.

The small oral lesions that I mentioned in my last post turned out to be a bigger problem than I originally anticipated. Located on the bottom of my tongue (one on each side) they developed into nickel/quarter sized lesions, along with a few smaller ones scattered throughout my mouth and a mess of thrush on top of my tongue. By Thursday evening, I could no longer eat solid foods. By Friday, even pudding was impossible to eat. Because my tongue is so swollen, I can’t chew food without biting into my tongue. And because it takes up so much room in my mouth (and hurts) it’s not functioning the way it should in terms of helping to move food to the back of my mouth and helping me swallow. So everything needs to be puréed smoothly, and then thinned out with enough liquid so that it flushes easily to the back of my throat and can be swallowed. Add to all of this the attempt to stay AIP compliant (which, obviously becomes a secondary concern at this point) and the fact that I haven’t been to the grocery store in a while and do not have the energy to go now, and daily nourishment becomes a pretty ginormous challenge.

It’s been 5 days since it got too bad to eat. I’ve lost some weight (down to 115, at 5′ 7″, wayyyy too skinny for me). But I can tell things are healing and it won’t be long before I’ll be able to eat normally again. In the meantime, this is what I’ve been surviving on:

Puréed soup. It doesn’t look like much, but was really delicious (and super nutritious) for me, considering my condition. It had rich bone broth (which I’ve been drinking constantly on it own as well, every day) carrots, onions, celery, garlic, ginger, and rosemary. All blended up and then thinned out with more bone broth until it was a consistency I could handle. I drank the whole bowl and most of the big mug pictured. Even drinking is a messy, painful, and time consuming venture, but I know I got a lot of nutrition out of this one. Plus, my sickness has no impact on my hunger. I’m starving, and I can feel it. It’s just a matter of getting nourishment past the “zombie tongue”.


This was a puréed can of “lite” pears. So it does contain some sugar, as in the processed white stuff they use in conventional canning. This was a can leftover from back before I was as conscious about it as I am now, but since we were out of applesauce, I was glad to have it. It also expired yesterday, so it needed to be eaten or thrown out. (When a canned good expires, you know it’s probably time to go. It was likely purchased in, say, 2009?) Anyway, I blended it up, juices and all, and sprinkled on some cinnamon. Really yummy.


As things are healing, I’m able to tolerate slightly denser food. This is a very ripe banana mixed with a tablespoon of coconut butter for extra fat. It was really delicious, but really painful to eat.


And this morning I was able to eat guacamole quite easily. I got some fresh parsley from the garden, and zested in some lime (no juice, as that would be EXTREMELY painful- I’d probably pass out!) and thinned it out with some coconut kefir.



I’m excited that I’ll probably be able to eat some thicker consistencies today. Definitely going to do some smoothies and puddings. And I think I’ll be eating solids by tomorrow. Yay!

The other thing that has been really hard about this particular flare is that it has made talking extremely difficult and painful. My 3-year-old is a big talker and has lots of questions, which I have not been able to respond to for days. If she needs discipline, I cannot discipline her. Giving her direction involves snapping my fingers, pointing, and hoping she figures out what I’m telling her to do. Thank goodness I’ve had LOADS of support from my husband and mother-in-law this week, and they have taken care of all her needs, leaving me free to rest and heal and figure out what to feed myself. I’m very grateful. Without their help, I would not be healing as quickly as I am.

I should be back to normal in a few days, but I thought it was important to document some of what I’m going through right now. I’m hopeful for the day this kind of thing will be far in my past. But for now, this is my life. And it’s just something I have to go through. I’m ok with that.