By popular request, here are my autoimmune protocol (AIP) holiday tips and AIP Holiday Survival Guide!
Yes, eating according to the AIP Elimination phase while enjoying the holidays, without “cheating,” is totally possible!
I ate AIP throughout the entire holiday season last year, and I plan to again this year. Why? I felt great throughout the holiday season! In fact, I enjoyed my healthiest holiday season in many years!
Disclaimer: My AIP Holiday Survival Guide can help you enjoy this holiday season on AIP, but there is work involved. Living well with, and finding joy with autoimmune disease, takes real effort. The good news? It’s worth it. So let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work preparing for our most enjoyable holiday season yet!
AIP Holiday Tips: Find Clarity
First things first, I challenge you to find clarity and purpose for your holiday season by reflecting on the following questions (you can print out the questions here and write down your answers):
How do you want to feel physically this holiday season?
What can you do today to best support how you would like to feel physically this holiday season?
What can you do throughout the holiday season to feel your best, physically?
How do you want to feel emotionally this holiday season?
What can you do today to best support how you would like to feel emotionally?
What can you do throughout the holiday season to feel your best, emotionally?
What are the holidays really about, to you?
What does enjoying the holidays look like for you?
What daily habits can you start doing today to help you prepare to feel your best this holiday season (you can click here if you need ideas)?
What are potential setbacks to you enjoying your holiday season?
What will you do if and when these setbacks occur?
AIP Holiday Tips: Reconnect with Your Why
Your “why” is the glue that is going to hold your determination and resolve to stick to AIP together this holiday season.
Your “why” is going to be what stops you from binge eating leftover Halloween candy.
Your “why” is going to be what you think of when everyone around you is gorging themselves on Thanksgiving dinner and dessert.
Your “why” is going to be what comes to mind when you are out holiday shopping, and you smell your favorite holiday cookies baking in the food court.
Your “why” is going to be what you turn to when you are at a holiday party, and your family and friends try to pressure you into eating and drinking ALL the things.
Your “why” is going to be what you cling to when you feel the last of your resolve slipping and you start to rationalize “just one cheat day” will not hurt.
Your “why” is going to be what not only helps you survive the holidays on AIP, but it will be the rocket fuel that propels you to thrive this holiday season!
So, let’s write that down our “why” too.
In fact, let’s write out our “why” on little colored post it notes and post them everywhere….on our fridge, in our pantry, on our dashboard, in our office, on our bathroom mirror, and so on.
Having a “why” is great and all, but we need to consistently remind ourselves of our “why.” Especially when life gets busy…and holiday life gets real busy!
AIP Holiday Tips: Consider Your Options
Alrighty, now we are crystal clear on what we would like to see happen this holiday season, and we are armed with our why.
Next? Let’s think through our options as far as eating AIP at holiday gatherings.
Note: with any of the following options, I recommend communicating with your loved ones, and letting them know about your diagnosis, and your AIP diet and lifestyle. More on this later.
Option 1: Bring your own AIP food to holiday gatherings.
There are a few different ways you can opt to bring your own AIP food:
- Prepare your AIP holiday favorites ahead of time and freeze in individual portions. When time for a holiday gathering, grab out your individual portions, and either heat before you leave, on your way in a portable oven, or when you arrive. With this option, you can prepare your AIP food weeks in advance to cut down on stress.
- Order an AIP meal delivery service, like Paleo on the Go. Paleo on the Go (POTG) even has holiday packages you can order. Their meals come frozen, and you can keep frozen until needed. The holiday packages feed multiple people, or you can divide the portions into individual portions and use them for multiple holiday gatherings for yourself! When ordering, you can use discount code SHANNA for $15 off your order!
- You can prepare your AIP food the day of the holiday gathering.
Option 2: Host a Holiday Gathering and Cook AIP for the Crowd
There are so many incredible AIP food and recipe bloggers, as well as AIP cook books. With so many incredible AIP recipes, your loved ones will not even realize they are eating “AIP.”
You could also do a combination of both AIP and non AIP foods. If you need some tips for cooking AIP for a crowd, I’ve got you covered! Click here to read my “How to Cook AIP for a Crowd” blogpost.
Option 3: Bring a Couple of AIP Dishes to Share
Offer to bring a couple of dishes to share at the family gathering, and choose AIP options. A word of warning: just make sure there are separate utensils to serve your AIP dishes to avoid cross contamination issues. Consider placing them away from the other dishes, if concerned.
AIP Holiday Tips: Plan Ahead & Plan Early
Regardless of what options you choose, I encourage you to plan ahead and plan early.
Unfortunately, there are no magic AIP fairies that suddenly appear when we need them most (wouldn’t that be amazing if there were?!).
I learned the hard to plan ahead and plan early to set myself up for AIP success.
Some things to consider when planning:
- Cooking and food prepping – not just for holiday gatherings, but also to cut down kitchen time for everyday meals during the busy holiday season.
- Hydration – plan to drink plenty of clean water throughout the holidays, and especially when on the go.
- How long will you be gone for holiday gatherings? Always pack extra AIP snacks and more AIP food than you think you need. Inevitably some gatherings or holiday errands go longer than expected – be prepared every time you leave the house.
- Remember nutrient density. One of the goals of AIP is to flood the body with a variety of nutrients. The holiday season can be distracting; try to remember the importance of nutrient dense, whole foods.
AIP Holiday Survival Guide: Communicate with Loved Ones
Food and tradition is at the heart of many holiday celebrations. Some families make the same holiday dishes year in and year out, and may be opposed to any kind of change. Further, family members may get offended or hurt to hear you will not be eating the holiday dish they so lovingly prepared.
Try to be extra sensitive in such circumstances, and lovingly communicate your health situation and dietary needs. If inspired to, you can even explain you would rather be eating the same as everyone else, but that your body feels best when you eat AIP.
Assure them of your love for them, but remember not everyone will understand.
I promise some of your loved ones will not understand, and will not support you. They may even make hurtful comments.
That is okay. Love them anyway.
Remember they do not live your life – you do!
Remember they do not have to live with the consequences of eating non AIP foods – you do!
Remember it is not your responsibility to make them understand, or to please them.
You are trying to live your best life. How you do so is between you and the Lord. No one else.
If you are explaining your diagnosis and the AIP to loved ones for the first time, and need a little help or some ideas, I offer a free downloadable AIP Elevator Pitch, which you can download here.
AIP Holiday Survival Guide: Lifestyle Tips
Think of ways to slow down and enjoy your loved ones. Ideas include reading holiday books or working on holiday puzzles with kids. Or snuggling up by the fire and watching a Christmas movie.
Sleep is so incredibly important to autoimmune wellness! When planning gatherings and trips, make sleep and rest a priority.
Start shopping early, make your holiday plans early, and build in extra self-care (click here for self-care ideas).
Shop online When Possible
Shopping online not only saves time and energy, but also helps you avoid the stores with the overwhelming artificial smells and scents!
Make Adjustments As Necessary
In other words, fine tune what is not working. Adjust your daily routine as needed throughout the holiday season to best support your health. You know yourself best – what do you need to add or cutback on?
Practice Extra Self Love and Understanding
if you have a day, or days, when you feel unwell, show yourself some extra love and understanding. This whole “living with an autoimmune disease” thing is not a perfect science. There are ups and downs and in-betweens. If you have some down days, remember you are not a failure! Look at your symptoms as feedback, and get the rest you need.
AIP Holiday Survival Guide: Surround Yourself with Support
You are not the only one AIPing this holiday season! There are many, many, many of us supporting our autoimmune health through the AIP while enjoying the holiday season this year!
Each week leading up to the end of the year, I will be sharing an AIP holiday tip and offering holiday support in my free weekly newsletter! If you are not already signed up, you can sign up here!
Also, I share AIP and autoimmune inspiration and tips daily Monday through Saturday on my Instagram and Facebook pages, as well as in my Instagram Stories.
There is a truly incredible online AIP community, and I welcome you with open arms. This community needs you, your experiences, and your love and support! We are all unique, with our own individual stories. We are stronger together!
Congrats! You are ready to start preparing TODAY to not only survive the holidays on AIP, but to truly ENJOY them!!
Get excited! I believe this is going to be your most enjoyable holiday season yet!
Last, but not least, take a moment now and imagine yourself successfully navigating the holiday season on AIP! Imagine yourself enjoying the holidays with your loved ones!
Remember your joy is not dependent on eating food that will harm your health.
Sending you so much love and support as we enter this holiday season!
Please reach out anytime for love, support, or with any questions.
You SO got this! I believe in you. I am cheering you on SO loud!
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