Parties are awesome. Whether you're attending a special celebration or just a bash with friends, it's always nice to get dressed up and hang out with people you enjoy. However, party foods are not always so awesome. Especially if you're adhering to a strict diet like Paleo, AIP style. The AIP plan is a great way to help your body healthily support your immune system but it definitely doesn't include traditional party foods.
Most parties feature pastries, potato chips, cheeses, candy, and a ton of other things that aren't on the Paleo list, much less Paleo AIP. So what is a friendly partygoer on the AIP plan to do? Fortunately, these paths have been forged before and we have a few techniques that definitely work for enjoying the party without feeling weird about the snack table offerings.
1) Eat a Full Meal Before the Party
The one trick that all paleo community members learn (eventually) is to eat a fairly big meal before you go to the party. When you're not hungry, what's on the snack table doesn't matter as much and you can pick and choose only what suits your diet and looks tasty for snacking. Eating beforehand has you covered whether or not there are things at the party you can eat, and whether or not it's appropriate to bring a platter or two as a guest.
Take time to cook or reheat yourself a balanced paleo-friendly meal and eat it before the party begins. This way, you won't be hungry or tempted by all the snacks that are not on your diet. Even if there's nothing on the spread that you can eat, you won't go hungry because you have already eaten.
2) Bring a Platter of Paleo AIP Treats
When you're invited to the party, offer to bring a platter of treats for the gable. In fact, there's no need to even mention that you can only eat paleo or that the platter you bring will be paleo-compliant. Just put a little label on the plate that says 'Paleo AIP' on the tray edge. Anyone who doesn't know what it means will ignore it and if there are fellow cavemen or cavewomen in the crowd they will greatly appreciate your contribution in the midst of cupcakes and chips.
Meatballs make a great party snack because they are small, delicious, and unusual without seeming alien. Mini-kebabs or natural fruit treats are other great paleo party platter options. In fact, you'll probably find that your paleo snacks become pretty popular, as there's usually a dearth of protein and good nutrients at the party table.
3) Pack a Water Bottle and a Private Snack
Just in case all your meatballs disappear in the first half-hour, or the party runs long, pack a little something extra for yourself. Experienced paleo community members have confirmed that most cool people won't bat an eye if you have a private meal-wrap or protein bar while everyone else eats from the snack table. After all, unique diets are as out-of-place as they used to be. Most people know someone who has unique dietary needs and who quietly takes care of that.
You may also want to pack yourself a water bottle, just in case every single beverage is pure sugar. Keep an eye out for the hidden water-bottle cooler as well. Many hosts stock bottled water, and that cooler often gets kicked under a table and ignored.
4) Bring a Case of Paleo-Friendly Beverages
An interesting alternative or addition to the paleo platter is to bring beverages instead. When there's a good chance that the only paleo-friendly beverage will be bottled water (if that), one of the best things you can do is bring a case or two of a beverage you can drink. Bring bottles of fruit juice, tomato juice, or unsweetened tea. If you know there will be coffee, bring a box of tea bags. You likely will not be the only person to enjoy having a soda-alternative.
5) Colonize the Fruit and Veggie-Dip Trays
You can also take advantage of the party classics that are often abandoned in favor of cupcakes: The trays of fruit and veggie-dip platters. These are every paleo party-goer's best friend, even if the dip is dairy. You can enjoy strawberries, grapes, and carrot sticks all night long, and have very little competition most of the time.
As someone used to eating raw produce, this can be your ideal way to grab some snack calories at the party. In fact, you can even bring a little container of paleo dressing-dip or some nut butter to spice up the produce platters with a little flavor and protein.
6) Carry a Drink
Not eating at this party? Grab yourself a bottle of water or a cup of tea and hold it the entire time you socialize. This is a very cool trick from experienced paleo party-goers. No one will take note that you're not gorging on brownies and chips if you're holding a drink. Having something consumable in your hand creates the mental picture that you are partaking even if you never make yourself a little plate of sugary-salty snacks.
Whether you're noshing lightly on fruit chunks or have skipped the confections table entirely, holding something to drink gives the impression that you're participating and enjoying yourself so no one worries about you.
7) Relax and Enjoy Yourself
Finally, the best advice we can give is to unwind. Don't worry about the food at the party and it won't bother you. After all, why attend a party if not to have a good time? Your AIP diet is a personal lifestyle thing that you're used to dealing with. Whether you eat ahead, bring a platter, or just fuel up on food packed in your bag halfway through the evening, resolve to unwind and enjoy yourself. If you're having a great time and getting enough to eat along the way, then the party experience should be considered a success.