A Day in Our Life of Managing Autoimmune Disease: Camping Edition

Anna Autoimmune Mom (& Dad) Life, Disease Management & Treatment, Food is Medicine, Healing Kitchen & Diet Tips, Living Well with Autoimmune Disease 2 Comments

For other snapshots into our daily life of managing autoimmune disease using diet and lifestyle, click to read our other post below:

A Day in Our Life of Managing Autoimmune Disease: Weekend Edition

roasting marshmallows over open fire with text overlay - Living Well with Autoimmune Disease: A Day in Our Life of Managing Autoimmune Disease Using Diet &0 Lifestyle: Summer Camping EditionA few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about our experience in trying to sustain an autoimmune-friendly lifestyle and everything that comes with it – diet, supplements, sleep, stress, raising a family, etc.

In the post, I mention that vacations are never an excuse for us to take a break from the things that keep us healthy, particularly in the food department since we have uncommon dietary restrictions.  Therefore, we are limited on where we can go and what we can do. 

But one vacation that always fits the bill is good ol’ summertime camping in Michigan.

Now, let me be clear on our definition of “camping.”  I am currently 34 weeks pregnant.  We have two other small children.  As much as I want to rough it and sleep on the ground in a tent in the middle of the wilderness without electricity, it’s just not going to happen right now.  We decided, instead, on a (tiny) cabin at a family campground.

Not only is camping budget-friendly, but it also requires us to prepare/bring our own food which makes it really easy to stick to the normal diet we eat at home.  And, as our family grows, we see it as an opportunity to build new traditions (we hope to go camping every summer) and also “treat” ourselves by… eating s’mores.

Plus, we are way out of the city life, surrounded by trees, with the beach just 10 minutes away.  Someday, we hope to move to a more rural area, but for now, these little trips give us much-needed time spent in nature.  Big city vacations just don’t have the same effect.

Anyway, the purpose of this post is to give a little snapshot of our trip, as well as an outline of our meal plan and snacks, how we prepped, as well as some other things we brought along to ensure smooth-sailing.

Our Camping Meal Plan

In order to make this feel like a real vacation, and not just a more complicated, time-consuming way to make meals in a foreign place, we did some hardcore meal planning and prep.  There are 4 things we focused on for a successful camping meal plan:

  1. Only bring things that can be grilled or easily put together using ingredients that aren’t messy
  2. Make enough to have leftovers for at least one meal the next day
  3. Prep all ingredients the day or two before the trip so nothing outside of the actual cooking or re-heating on the grill is required
  4. Always pack an extra “just-in-case” meal… you just never know what could happen.  To plan for this, we brought along a few tins of sardines as a back up to any meal.

Our trip was 4 days, 3 nights and the meal plan looked like this:

Day 1
  • Breakfast: eat at home before leaving
  • Lunch: nitrate-free lunch meat lettuce wraps with sauerkraut, cucumbers, sprouts, & avocado
  • Dinner: balsamic chicken kabobs (chicken, onions, zucchini, mushrooms), roasted potatoes, salad, fresh fruit, green smoothie
Day 2
  • Breakfast: leftover kabobs with roasted potatoes, green smoothie, avocado
  • Lunch: grilled chicken thighs, salad, fresh fruit
  • Dinner: uncured grass-fed hot dogs and hamburgers, grilled asparagus, salad, fresh fruit
Day 3
  • Breakfast: leftover hot dogs and hamburgers with roasted potatoes, green smoothie, avocado
  • Lunch: leftover chicken thighs, salad, fresh fruit
  • Dinner: chicken sausage with grilled onions and mushrooms, salad, fresh fruit
Day 4
  • Breakfast: sausage hash (chicken sausage, leftover onions and mushrooms, roasted potatoes), avocado, fresh fruit


In between meals, and sometimes in addition to meals, we had the following snacks available (but didn’t eat them all):


S’mores!  Duh.  I was determined to find or make safe ingredients for the s’more making and I succeeded!  Just two years ago, this felt impossible but thanks to the growing popularity of autoimmune healing diets and demand for cleaner foods, we now have options.  Here’s what we used:

  • Smashmallows which we tolerated really well, but if we didn’t, these are another option.
  • Dark chocolate since no one in our family has issues with cacao. We are fans of Primal Chocolate.
  • Homemade AIP-compliant graham crackers. We used this recipe and they really do taste like graham crackers (but definitely use less salt than the recipe calls for)!

Our Meal Prep Plan

Our trip was Thursday-Sunday, so we spent part of Tuesday and all of Wednesday prepping and packing.  This involved:

  • Grocery shopping
  • Making a huge batch of waffles. I think I made 16 (they are pretty small though).
  • Cutting all the meat and vegetables for kabobs and throwing them in a homemade marinade
  • Cutting and preparing all fresh produce (vegetables for grilling, romaine for salads, broccoli and carrots for snacking, watermelon, strawberries)
  • Preparing the burger patties
  • Cutting and oven-roasting a big batch of sweet and redskin potatoes.
  • Making a huge batch of green smoothie, which was almost a full gallon. We did this on Thursday morning before leaving so it could be fresh(er).
  • Soaking and instant-potting the chickpeas
  • Making a big batch of oatmeal (our kids eat it cold)
  • Baking graham crackers for the s’mores!  See below.  I need to work on my graham-cracker style.

AIP Graham Crackers

  • And then of course packing them all up into various containers so they’d fit into the cooler, and packing up all the rest of our stuff for the trip.

Making Food at the Campsite

We’ve been camping a few times (before kids) and always grilled our food over the open fire, but then we discovered this portable grill and it changed the way we do things.  One of the best purchases we’ve ever made.  We take it with us pretty much everywhere – camping, state parks, social gatherings (like family outings), etc.

Since all of our prep was already done, the actual making of the food was simple.  Just throw it on the grill or take it out of the cooler.  Here are a few pics!

pictures of smoothie, sausage hash, lettuce wraps, and grilled onions and mushrooms

Simple, Natural Remedies for Camping Woes

The one other thing about vacations, no matter when or where, is the fact that all the most random ailments/sicknesses/injuries etc. seem to happen during that time.

For example, on our honeymoon… Frank and I both got either some sort of food poisoning, or the Norovirus (we don’t know which one).  We were at Disneyworld, so it wasn’t some exotic place.  I’ve literally never been that sick in my life.  Like daggers in my stomach… constantly.  Why did it have to happen on our honeymoon?  I don’t know.

Anyway, my point here is that given the unpredictably of health-related events while on vacation, it’s a priority for us to bring along all the natural remedies we need to address them.  Otherwise, we may find ourselves reaching for an OTC drug/product out of desperation.

Of course, a one-time use of an OTC product may not do much damage, but after a really bad reaction to just one dose of common cold medication years ago, I’m not particularly excited about using them.  Many of them also contain ingredients that I know our family is sensitive too, including corn starch, gluten, dyes, etc. 

So we come prepared…

Our (mostly complete) list of minor camping-related-ailment tools:
  • Homeopathic remedies – I bring along my top 100 remedy kit, emergency/first aid kit, and a few other remedies I anticipate needing (like Coffea in a 200c potency, which worked within 10 minutes to help our kids fall asleep the first night).
  • Rescue Remedy for anxiety/over-stimulation
  • All-natural bug repellent
  • Activated charcoal for food poisoning, accidental glutening or other allergy exposure, insect bites, gas and bloating (particularly useful for stinky gas, lol, which we all don’t want in closed quarters)
  • All of our various anti-inflammatory and nutritional supplements that we take on a frequent basis – magnesium, systemic enzymes, fish oil, probiotics, to name a few.
  • A few essential oils:
    • Sweet Slumber is one of our favorite blends to help the kids relax before bed.
    • Lavender for all types of burns and to help relieve itching from bug bites or rashes
    • Frankincense for… everything it seems.
    • Claraderm spray. This stuff is amazing for all skin-related ailments.  I wish I could find a cheaper, non-MLM alternative, but have yet to find one.
  • Shea butter to mix with the essential oils, or just to use for soothing the skin.
  • All-natural sunscreen (if needed).
  • A first aid kit with band-aids, gauze, etc.

And then of course… the fun!

By the time we were actually on the road, I felt like I needed a vacation just from the pre-planning phase of the vacation.  It was all worth it though, because once we arrived at the campsite and didn’t have to worry about where, what, how we were going to eat, we relaxed and enjoyed our trip!

Frank grilling with portable grill

Anna on a bike and Frank eating s'mores


roasting marshmallows over open fire with text overlay - Living Well with Autoimmune Disease: A Day in Our Life of Managing Autoimmune Disease Using Diet &0 Lifestyle: Summer Camping Edition

Comments 2

  1. Anna,
    Im a fellow “auto immune mix up”. Only I have hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos, which I swear makes my body act like it has its own set of auto immune like disorders. Yet only my thyroid, TSH, levels were slightly elevated. I get the butterfly rash on my face in the heat, and it lingers for hours even after cool showers. What specialty doctors do you suggest for these bizarre symptoms?

    1. Post

      Hi Kelly! It is so difficult when our symptoms and test results don’t fit into a perfect diagnosis box, especially when it comes to finding a doctor. What I’ve personally found over the years is that it really all comes down to the doctor as an individual. I’ve had OBGYNs, for example, know more about the thyroid than endocrinologists. I’ve worked with primary care doctors who know more about treating autoimmune disease than rheumatologists and immunologists. So it’s hard for me to make a recommendation, especially when the quality and quantity of doctors varies by location. I’ve always been referred to rheumatologists and immunologists for my autoimmune disease issues and found them helpful for testing and monitoring but not much more than that. And then I’ve found functional medicine doctors (usually just family practice or primary care) the most helpful for lifestyle and dietary interventions to help manage my symptoms.

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