Thinking that if you’re following the Paleo diet, you’ve got to live (and cook) in a bubble and never dine out? Quite the contrary. As much as I love cooking, I also enjoy dining out and do so quite regularly, all the while staying completely Paleo.
I’ve made it work, and showing clients how to do so at all different types of restaurants, cuisines, price ranges and countries has become one of the most commonly addressed concerns during consultations.
Yes, it does take a bit of creativity, and the confidence and comfort to ask the server to make modifications; but in the end, if you’re putting it in your body, it should be something you want to consume and feel comfortable eating, without worry that you’ll pay for it later.
Furthermore, if you’re polite and gracious in asking the server to make changes and substitutions they stand only to earn a better gratuity for being all the more accommodating!
Following are some tips to help guide you while dining out.
- Peruse the menu and see what looks good, without concern for the extras that come with the entree. For example, if you fancy a filet mignon, but it comes with a Gorgonzola sauce, order it without.
- Scan for mention of any veggies; if you see a spinach omelette on the breakfast menu, that indicates they’ve got the leafy green in the house. So ask if you can order a side of steamed spinach in lieu of the fries that otherwise would’ve come with your grilled chicken.
- Skip the obligatory starch (rice, pasta, bread) and ask for double veggies.
- If you feel uncomfortable asking questions in front of business colleagues or friends, you can always call ahead and ask what menu items would suit someone who cannot eat gluten, soy and dairy. Restaurants take food allergies quite seriously.
- Know that there is a grey area. For example, if there is a baked chicken option on the menu, but you can’t be sure it’s free-range, it’s still a better option than the chicken Parmesan, breaded and doused in cheese.
- Keep in mind that chances are high that your portion size is likely going to be too big, so plan on bringing half of it home and enjoying it for lunch the next day.
Don’t feel compelled to choose between eating Paleo and eating out–you can easily do both. Ask, and you shall receive.
Nell Stephenson, the original “Paleoista,” is the author of Paleoista, Gain Energy, Get Lean and Feel Fabulous with the Diet You Were Born to Eat (Touchstone, 2012) and co-author ofThe Paleo Diet Cookbook with Dr. Loren Cordain, PhD (Wiley & Sons, 2010). In addition to her work as nutrition consultant and trained chef, Stephenson is a personal trainer and competitive endurance athlete who credits the Paleo diet for her transformed health and athletic success. Visit her blog at www.paleoista.com.
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