"I could never eat Paleo, I eat out too much." This is something that many people say, and believe. I wanted to give people a resource for staying "Paleo-friendly" and being able to enjoy the social aspect of a meal out with friends.
We rarely eat out. I cook almost all of our meals at home. It's the best way to know exactly what ingredients go into our bodies. But there are times we love to enjoy meals out with friends. We go to Maui for an amazing week-long seminar once a year and we eat out every night! That's okay, because we know what to do...make smart choices!
More often than not, if my husband and I go out, it's Sushi. We love Sushi. I get Sashimi Maguro (tuna with no rice) and seaweed salad or a spicy tuna salad. A great tip...get a roll and substitute avocado for the rice! Bam...Paleo Pro. My "go-to" option when I'm eating out for breakfast: Eggs. Bacon. If I'm eating breakfast out, it's rare...so I'll usually eat some potatoes as a splurge. If I'm in NYC I make sure I hit the "Cupping Room" on Broome Street in Soho at least once...and yes, I will have their amazing Eggs Benedict Florentine. That's what's fabulous about Paleo, it's a "lifestyle", so you decide when it's worth it to splurge and enjoy it! These days I'd actually just ask for it on potatoes or tomatoes instead of english muffins. My "go-to" option when I'm eating out for lunch: Order a salad. Minus any croutons or cheese. Add a grilled protein (chicken, steak, ahi or salmon). No dressing. Oil & vinegar on the side. Bam...Paleo Pro. My "go-to" option when I'm eating out for dinner: Order a grilled protein (same as above) as an entree. Minus any sauces. Substitute grilled veggies as a side. Bam...Paleo Pro! My husband and I also will split a meal if it's a place that serves larger portions. We just don't enjoy being "stuffed". It's just doesn't feel good! I'm not one to ask a TON of questions when ordering...I don't want to be "that woman", so that's what I personally do. I realize that not everyone has the time I do to cook. The following list of 18 tips may help you better navigate the restaurant world and make smart choices too. -The following list is from Paleo Magazine...
This list of tips is not about being ideal. Ideal is that you buy fresh, local meats and produce and cook them yourself.
Before You Go Out:1. Before eating out, look at the menu and decide on a Paleo option. Order (in your mind) Before You Go Out. I know this takes a little time and work, but practically 100% of restaurant menus are online now (if not on the restaurant website, then on Yelp or MenuPages). Spend a few minutes before you go out, and actually decide what you’re going to order. Then, when you get to the restaurant, don’t even look at the menu. Just order.
2. Eat Before You Get to the Restaurant. Doing this is golden. Even if you still plan on eating at the restaurant (since it’s often socially awkward not to), you don’t want to be starving by the time that you get there. Being hungry makes it much less likely that you’ll stick to your plans. Eating something Paleo before you go does 2 things: a) it makes you less likely to order something unhealthy, and b) it allows you to order something like a burger without a bun and not worry about being hungry.
3. Try to Convince Your Friends/Family to Go to Certain Types of Restaurants. In particular, BBQ, Mediterranean/Greek, Middle Eastern, and steak restaurants are excellent, offering a lot of Paleo choices, from kebabs to steaks to seafood. I don’t know specifically which restaurants you have around your area, but you almost definitely have one of these types of restaurants.
4. Many National (U.S) Chains are Good. Applebees, Chili’s, Outback, and TGI Friday’s all have a fair number of options to choose from, including steaks, chicken dishes, fajitas, seafood, and more. You’ll need to be careful about whether some of these options are breaded and/or have sauces with added sugars, but you’ll be able to find good choices.
5. Never Go to Certain Restaurants. You should hang out with friends, even if it’s not convenient for your diet, if for no other reason than that community and friends are healthy. However, you should occasionally turn down offers, mostly if it means you’ll end up going to a restaurant where it’s extremely hard for you to order healthy Paleo food. Here are a few examples: Pizza joints, sandwich shops, many small mexican restaurants, and many italian restaurants. You can often get fajitas at a mexican restaurant and salad or chicken at an italian one, but the options are more limited. Pizza joints and sandwich shops are usually the worst.
At the Restaurant:6. Ask lots of Paleo questions about your food. Don’t Be Shy When Asking Questions. You’re the one paying for and eating the food at a restaurant. You have a right to know what’s in it, so don’t be shy about asking questions.
7. Pretend to be Allergic to Gluten. Gluten is one of the worst things you can eat at a restaurant, but there’s an easy way around it. So many people are actually allergic to gluten now, that restaurants are very keen to avoid making anyone sick and becoming liable for it. Just tell your waiter or waitress that you’re allergic to gluten, and they’ll almost always be extra-careful to make sure that your food doesn’t contain any.
8. Ask if the Dish You’re Ordering is Breaded. (Especially for seafood). I’ve ordered food so many times only to have it come and be breaded. I’m always so disappointed and shocked, even though I shouldn’t be. Make sure you ask.
9. If You’re Very Sensitive to Something, Tell Them You’re Allergic. Allergies and sensitivities aren’t exactly the same thing, but it’s close enough. Restaurants are much more careful with allergies, so use that to your advantage.
10. Say that You’re on a Prescribed Diet. You don’t have to say who prescribed it or exactly what it entails. Just give your waiter or waitress the details that matter. For instance, no gluten, no processed sugar, and no seed oils. Most restaurants try to accommodate prescribed diets, but they’re not always as helpful if they just view it as your preference.
11. Always Ask about the Cooking Oil. Really, this is the #1 reason that eating out is less healthy. It’s hard to go almost anywhere that doesn’t cook in corn, vegetable, or canola oil. This is the first thing I ask when I go out.
12. Ask for Olive Oil as a Cooking Oil. I can’t wait for the day that restaurants have coconut oil on hand. Until that day, the best thing you can usually ask for is to have your food cooked in olive oil, which most restaurants have available. One of the reasons I eat at Greek restaurants more than others is because they cook most food in olive oil to begin with.
13. Beware Added Sugar. Sugar is often added at various stages of preparation and cooking, so wait-staff might not know. For instance, they often don’t think about what went into make the sauce to begin with. Still, it’s a question worth asking.
14. Wait-Staff Doesn’t Know Everything. Get Them to Ask the Chef. Many of the tips above are questions to ask, but often, your waiter or waitress won’t really know the answer. The chef usually does.
15. Substitute Veggies as Side. Vegetables may not even be listed as a possible side, but most restaurants serve some time of vegetable (although many consider corn to be a vegetable).
16. Ask for No MSG. Particularly if you’re eating at an Asian restaurant, but even many other restaurants add MSG. I don’t always remember to ask, and MSG isn’t the worst thing you can eat, but I try to remember as often as possible.
17. Don’t Let Wait-Staff Leave Tempting Items on the Table. For instance, if they try to leave bread on your table, just say “No Thank You, We Don’t Eat Bread.” Having the bread (or other non-Paleo food) on the table just makes it that much harder to resist.
Other Tips:18. Don’t Stress Too Much. Obviously, if you’re very sensitive or allergic to something, it’s a bigger deal. If you’re not, then don’t worry about eating something non-Paleo every once in a while, especially if it’s a small amount and only occasionally. Stress is neither healthy nor Paleo.
See? You can do this! With a little practice....you can eat out like a Paleo Pro too! :)