Just by including processed and restaurant foods in our diets, we’re being exposed to more sugar in a year than our ancestors would have seen in their entire lifetimes.
Most restaurants will accommodate your eating preferences, but you may need to take initiative and order with a keener eye and thicker hide than you have in the past.
Eating out without a plan can make it really difficult to shed fat, but we put together a few tips so you can eat out and still feel great.
11 Tips to Eating Out
Tip #1: Choose the restaurant yourself: Always favor farm-to-table over fast-food and chain restaurants. If you can find a restaurant that uses locally sourced produce and meats—even better!
Tip #2: Ask your waiter if they have a “gluten-free” menu. If not, ask which dishes are gluten-free. The waiter is your friend—let them know that you do not eat gluten, or added sugar. If you have to, tell them that these foods make you ill.
If you’re at a nice restaurant, often the chef will visit the table to speak with you and create a special meal.
Tip #3: Order a salad, soup, or lean protein appetizer. Make green veggies the first thing to hit your belly.
Tip #4: Ignore the bread, chips, tortillas and other cheap carbs—these cheap, high-glycemic foods are meant to stimulate your appetite to encourage you to order more. And a single roll from the restaurant made with domesticated “dwarf” wheat could ruin the weekend. It can be tempting to snack if there’s a basket of chips in front of you, so it can be advantageous to politely tell the waiter, “We don’t need any chips. Thank you.”
Tip #5: Ask for sauces and dressings on the side.
Tip #6: Always choose raw, boiled, steamed, poached, or grilled over baked or fried.
Tip #7: Order a lean protein and vegetable dish for your entrée.
Tip #8: Ask for extra vegetables instead of the starch.
Tip #9: You don’t need to clean your plate—ask for a doggie bag.
Tip #10: Eat slowly and push the plate away when you are 80% full.
Tip #11: Never eat dessert alone. If you want dessert, ask if they have any gluten-free options, or order fruit or cheese and split with a companion.
Damage Control: Avoid These Foods At Restaurants
Humor me for a moment. What is your favorite part of a hamburger? The meat, the bacon, the gooey cheese, grilled onion, tomato, and seasonings, right?
And how about pizza? Most people don’t even eat the crust unless it’s stuffed with cheese.
These days, bread, dough, and other starches are often little more than vehicles for their toppings.
Save yourself the misery of a “food hangover” by skipping the breads, chips, and starches at restaurants, and sticking to the lean meats and veggies.
Avoid These Foods When Eating Out
- Breads, Rolls, Tortillas & Chips. Processed grains spike blood sugar, increase insulin levels, and cause fat storage. Heirloom, heritage, and ancient varieties are always better, but should be properly prepared before consuming by fermenting, soaking, and sprouting to maximize nutrient density and to remove harmful anti nutrients like lectins and phytates that can damage the gut.
- Corn. Almost 90% of the corn grown in the U.S. is genetically modified. This corn is modified by splicing a toxic pesticide into the very DNA of corn itself, creating a grain that breaks open the stomach of any insect that ingests it. If you eat corn, be sure it’s organic to avoid doing damage to your good gut bacteria.
- White Potatoes & French Fries. The white-fleshed domesticated potato spikes insulin and leads to fat storage.
- Fried Foods which are usually breaded, fried in industrial oil and often contain gluten and MSG.
- Sauces & Dressings. When eating out, order your sauce and dressing on the side, as most are contaminated with MSG and other appetite-enhancing chemical additives.
- Beans & Legumes: At most restaurants, beans and legumes are often prepared incorrectly or incompletely. Since legumes contain lectins, a protein that can damage the gut, improperly prepared legumes have been implicated in irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, peptic ulcers, autoimmune conditions, allergies, and type 2 diabetes. Lectins aren’t a problem for most people, however, when grains and legumes are prepared according to the healthful traditional techniques of our ancestors—soaked overnight in an acidic medium.
If you’re eating out and you taste a sauce, dressing, or dish that seems sweet, it’s likely packed with sugar or an artificial sweetener.
Be careful—ignorance isn’t bliss when nutrition is concerned. If something tastes too sweet, it’s usually not worth finishing.
If you do end up eating something that you suspect is laced with MSG, gluten, industrial oils, or chemical additives, take some Activated Charcoal.
I always keep a little container of emergency charcoal pills in my backpack. Activated Charcoal helps absorbs toxins so they’re not absorbed into your body. In comes in handy in a pinch.
Where To Eat Out & What To Order
Use Yelp, Google, or sites like OpenTable to find better restaurant options. Use keywords like: “farm-to-table”, “grass-fed”, “gluten-free”, “paleo” or “organic” when searching for options.
Once you’ve picked out a few restaurants that look good, check out the menu and about page on their website. Are their ingredients from local farms? Are any of their ingredients organic? If they serve beef, is it from grass-fed cows?
Go for the highest quality you can find and afford.
It’s not a big deal if you find yourself eating at the local diner or Italian restaurant and they don’t have organic veggies. With a simple damage control strategy, you can eat almost anywhere.
What To Order When You’re Eating Out
Here are a few examples of what to order at different types of restaurants:
- Farm-to-Table Restaurant: Big salad of fresh veggies (dressing on the side), grass-fed beef, wild-caught salmon, or quail with beet and goat cheese side salad.
- Mexican Food: Get the fajitas with grilled veggies and guacamole. Let them know you don’t need any chips or tortillas.
- Italian Food: Get a big salad with the dressing on the side, or the steamed fish with veggies.
- Sushi: Order the sashimi (raw fish without the rice), and skip any items that have imitation crab (AKA krab), tempura (which is deep fried), or have added sauces or dressing. Also, avoid the soy sauce, and consider bringing a small jar of your own coconut amions or Bragg’s liquid aminos.
- Seafood: Steamed fish and raw or steamed veggies. You can often get raw oysters (skip the sauces and just squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the top) or ceviche, with a big side salad (dressing on the side).
- American: Go for the lean protein and raw or steamed veggies, like chicken breast and steamed broccoli or a big salad with the dressing on the side.
- Airport: Seafood or sushi restaurants often have clean options. We’ve also had luck getting scrambled or poached eggs at various airport restaurants, and asking for veggies on the side instead of toast or hashbrowns.
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What are your go-to restaurants for ordering Wild foods in your town? How do you get by eating as clean as possible when dining out? Share your tips with us in the comments below.