I was super #blessed to spend a long weekend with my cute, blonde Husband in Estes Park, Colorado this past week. We’re huge Colorado enthusiast, lovers of hiking, and orange leaf junkies and we just don’t get any of that in Texas. And with super cheap flights from Dallas to Denver and a willing kitty grandma to watch Stinky the cat, why the heck not, right? Vacation is the best. Time off from work, quality time with loved ones, and of course… food. Vacation is just non-stop eating out, eating treats, and just eating in general.

Traveling is one of the hardest things to cope with when on a restrictive diet, along with social pressures, social situations, and your own expectations for how food should be… so how do you do it? How do you cope with feeling left out?

It’s not easy to get over the feeling of being left out and like you’re missing out on something on a restrictive diet. The FOMO (fear of missing out) is real, and I’ve sat in many a restaurant with just a glass of water in front of me. My journey will be different than yours, but I can assure you that it took me a long time to get the point where I didn’t care that I wasn’t having wedding cake. It’s hard, and it takes time and commitment.

First, how do restrictive healing diets actually help if they just stress us out?

Restrictive healing diets like gut healing protocols, Paleo and the Autoimmune Protocol, which I’ve used to help heal my Hashimoto’s exist to do just that.. heal. Our health, vitality and very existence depends on a series of reactions in our that are supported by the nutrient that we consume in our food. When we’re deficient in these nutrients, we can be more susceptible to disease. Supporting our body with these nutrient again can help you to heal.

But let’s be real… it’s not all flowers and healing. It’s hard work, it takes time, and it can be stressful. We often feel left out, and sad that we’re missing out on our old way of eating.

Hidden behind the fear of missing out is the truth that you’re doing the right thing for your health. Here are a few things to remember, and ways to remedy how you may be feeling…

Remember: The modern way of eating in most restaurants is unnatural anyway 

It’s easy to go out to a restaurant and watch everyone else chow down on sweet potato fries and burgers and feel jealous, left out and hurt. On my Colorado trip with my husband and I watched tons on tourists wandering the streets of Estes Park with slices of pizza in hand and chowing down on ice cream, and the thought crossed my mind… “why can I just walk into any restaurant and eat what I want if anyone else can?”

To be fair, getting together at parties and dining out together is not a modern thing. People have celebrated and dined together for centuries as a totally healthy, and even necessary part of socializing. However, it wasn’t always this way…

The modern grocery store, and chain restaurants have only been operating for around 100 years. We didn’t always meet up for half off apps and frappucinos are chains and eat sweet potato fries fried in canola oil. These modern ways of eating are unnatural, and unhealthy.

It’s so easy to sit at a table filled with happy people enjoying their restaurant food, or be at a party fueled by alcohol and delivery pizza and feel left out. However, I urge you to feel happy that you’re not engaging in the unnatural way of eating, and to encourage others around you to enjoy real food too.

Remedy: Offer to host home cooked meals & bring along your own food when needed.

My favorite way to remedy feeling left out at social events and restaurants is to invite people over to my own home and serve meals there. I never feel pressured to order pizza… I make real food that’s always Paleo friendly and likely AIP, and you know what? People don’t notice, don’t care, and they always really like it. It’s better than whatever they have out.

So, how do you do it without breaking the bank?

  • Rely on cheaper real foods like big salads, or economical roasts.
  • Ask your guests to bring a side. That way, you’ll at least be in charge of the main.
  • Ask your guests to pitch in dollars to pay for the meal. If people can ask to pitch in for pizza and beer, you can ask to pitch in for real food.

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When you don’t have the option to host, bring your food along! Lunch boxes and ice packs are my hero. 

I remember sitting on an international flight on my honeymoon and seeing sad, jealous faces of fellow passengers as they ate their mystery food and I had fresh veggies and homemade protein.

Remember that you don’t need the fake food 

The common misconception is that if people don’t have a chronic condition, they can get away with eating junk. We convince ourselves that we need junk food to stay sane, to treat ourselves, and to be happy. But, guess what…?

You don’t need junk food to be happy. 

Not even the christmas cookies, not the birthday cake, and nor the celebratory beer. We survived thousands of years without fake food, and you just don’t need it to be happy regardless of what restrictive diet you’re on.

Remedy: Prepare, prepare, prepare food that you love 

Fake food still happens even though we don’t need it. Ice cream and pizza will still be at parties, and you’ll still have to deal with Halloween in a few weeks. 

Just as I recommended bringing food along, I recommend preparing food that feels like a treat t o you and that you love. I spent way too much time thinking AIP was just too restrictive to manage and enjoy until I gave myself permission to love my food, and come up with amazing alternatives like my coconut collagen bites and parsnip fries. I also love to bring along travel friendly fruits like apples and bananas, delicious herbal teas or mineral water to have a drink in my hand when everyone else does, and EPIC bars to get some more protein in. 

Like I said, people will be jealous.

Remember: In social situations, stop trying to please everybody else and blend in.

People can be annoying. Myself included, but really. People get nosey and want you to follow the crowd. They see the good choices you’re making and often judge you for it, when really it’s a reflection on their own poor choices and insecurities.

Whatever the reason may be for others judgment, this healing diet isn’t about them, this is about you. It’s your own personal choice and to blunt… it’s none of their business if they’re just going to be judgmental. 

Remedy: Be confident and short in your explanations to others.

When explaining your diet to others, I loved the advice from Mickey and Angie from autoimmune-paleo.com on the Paleo Women Podcast… “don’t be weird”. If you get flaky and sheepish about your choices, others will be weirded out by it to. 

Be confident, firm, and short. A simple, “I have a chronic illness and am managing it with a specific diet” suffices. If you don’t want to get into details, don’t. You can easily end the conversation right there. 

Remember: You’re doing this to heal.

Even after all of this advice, you still may have a rough night or two at a party where you just really want a cupcake. However, I urge you to remember that you’re doing this to heal. You’re doing it for you, for your body, for your health, for you family and loved ones so you can be the best version of you for them, and for your health during the rest of your life.

You’re doing this for something so much bigger than pouting over a lost cupcake, or feeling weird at a party. This is your life.

Remedy: Give yourself permission to love the process.

When I first went gluten free, I hated it and I was decided on hating it. I decided that I was going to complain as much as possible and cheat as much as I could. I never gave myself permission to be okay with being different and taking a different path.

Give yourself permission to love yourself enough to let go of creature comforts, and to love the process regardless of social pressures, and you’ll be that much healthier for it.