Eating Out with Confidence

Eating out can be one of the most enjoyable and social experiences, while being the most anxiety- and guilt-ridden ones at the same time. While I choose not to eat out very often when at home, I do travel regularly and so find myself navigating the best options. I want to give you my rules and tips that I've learned/created on my path to great health. I used to leave restaurants defeated and kicking myself for awful choices and vowed never to go out again. Nothing is better than leaving a restaurant feeling like you conquered the world by eating good, nourishing foods. 

  • Be prepared:
    Before going out to eat, I ALWAYS scan the menu online. The internet and review sites like Yelp have made this incredibly accessible. I review the menu ahead of time and essential create my order before I get there using some of the tips below. You can even put some things that sound good into your pie chart for the day and make sure you stay on target.
  • Ask to play chef:
    Often, I will ask (politely) that the restaurant prepare my foods as close to how I would at home. One of the largest detrminents to eating out is the high amounts of omega-6 fats you get from seed and vegetable oils (the most frequently used being soybean oil). I now request that my vegetables be cooked in butter or steamed. I have a friend that brings his own butter to restaurants. I haven't done this yet, but wouldn't put it past me to do soon. I have also combined two or three different entrees into one, asking for a certain cut of protein with maybe the preparation and vegetable side that the chicken dish comes with.
  • Protein and vegetables:
    Every restaurant I've ever been to serves meat/fish and vegetables. It's just a matter of making sure they are prepared consistent with how I prefer.
  • What 'what you eat' eats:
    This is the cardinal focus. Always assume the fish is farm-raised and the chicken/pork/beef are feedlot stock. I always ask about any fish being wild-caught and can judge based on how the staff answers whether they are BS'ing or not. I prefer to see "Wild Caught" written on the menu before choosing. I avoid farm-raised fish at all costs. I also avoid conventional chicken. When in doubt, I will opt for the burger without the bun. Yes, it's feedlot, but the best of all options. Take a fork and knife, cut up with the all the fixings and eat like steak.
  • What's on the table will be eaten:
    I generally ask ahead of time for the waitstaff not to bring bread or chips to the table. If it's not there, there's no chance of eating it.
  • Mind your dressing:
    Nearly all salad dressing are made with high omega-6 soybean oil. I ask for olive oil and/or vinegar or salsa for my salad dressing.

What I eat --

  • Mexican: I ask for a spoon instead of the neverending basket of chips and enjoy my salsa like a cold soup. I order guacamole right away as well to enjoy with my salsa. I always order the fajitas (steak, chicken and or shrimp) without tortillas and ask for a bowl. I make a mean fajita salad at every Mexican restaurant.
  • Italian: Most people avoid Italian restaurants as the American-Italian cuisine is Carb City. I never choose them on my own, but don't turn down an invite either. I opt for the cheese and sausage board if they have one (true Italian eating). Most have gluten-free menus for which I will order the gluten-free (no breadcrumbs) meatball and sauce, no pasta. 
  • American/pub food: Cheeseburger (as long as they have real cheese, not American cheese), no bun, lots of onion/tomato/lettuce, yellow mustard. Vegetables sauteed in butter. I may also order chicken wings if I can ensure they are not breaded.
  • Sushi: This used to be my favorite cuisine, but the sugar-laden rice, farm-raised fish and soybean oil-based sauces have ruined it for me. I try to see if there is any wild fish and order sashimi, or nigri with makes this a cleaner option. I never choose to eat sushi if the choice is mine.
  • "Fast food": I used to go Chipotle at every possible opportunity, but their public display of soybean oil has killed it for me. I typically find a grocery store and go with wild-caught smoked salmon and full fat cream cheese or full fat cottage cheese. If those are not options, I will get a Kind bar to hold me over or go to the deli and get a few slices of Boar's Head or Applegate Farms meat with some full fat cheese and yellow mustard.

Anything I missed? Share your dining out tips and tricks in the comments below...

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