To Eat Out or Not to Eat Out

I went to a baseball game last night.  Ok, not A game but THE game if you are a Cubs or Giants fan.  It got me to thinking about having dietary restrictions and eating out.  So I thought I’d share how I handle this because eating out with a lot of dietary restrictions can be quite daunting. But  sometimes, darn it, I want someone else to do the cooking and to serve me.  These days, when eating out, I’m that person.  The one with all the questions about how something is prepared, what substitutions can be made, etc. Most of the time the servers are awesome but every now and then I get one who has no clue or the patience to care. I’m extra sweet and polite on those outings and hope that maybe I educated them for the next patron just like me. 

How do I handle going to restaurants or even travel?  By now, we know which restaurants in our home town are accommodating so those are the restaurants we chose to patronize.  It’s a little trickier when traveling.  For those occasions I prepare.  I look at menus on line to see what’s available and how I can make things work for me.  You can also Google paleo or GF restaurants to find something in the city you are visiting – there are so many options these days. You can visit the Against All Grain blog or The Whole30 blog at  Both share what they eat for the week, where they ate if they were traveling and what they ordered.  Such great resources!  I’ve also learned to ask questions once at the restaurant.  It took a while to feel comfortable with this but because it’s for my health, I don’t care anymore.  And I’m always nice.  ALWAYS.  I also always carry food with me.  Just in case.  Last night was the perfect example.  I knew there was no way there would be anything for me to eat at the ballpark.  So I packed my own food.  My new favorite thing is Epic Bars.  YUM!  I also packed some walnuts and pistachios and some grapes.  And while everyone around me was eating nachos, popcorn, hotdogs and garlic fries, I was fine.  I was perfectly happy with what I brought and I didn’t go hungry.  I know how those foods make me feel so the temptation just isn’t there anymore.  When traveling by car, I bring a cooler stocked with healthy options for me and when flying I carry my freezable lunch bag That thing stays cold for hours. I love to pack eggs, salads, fruit, Applegate farms salami or turkey, maybe some olives and not worry about it.  I also found that carrying nuts or one of those sealable pouches of tuna is a great emergency meal or dose of protein when needed. And, if you somehow find yourself stuck without provisions, seek out a Whole Foods or Trader Joes.  Even our local grocery store now carries a grab and go lunch complete with hardboiled egg, olives and nitrate free, GF free salami. 

Examples of what I eat when dining out:

Breakfast – This is the EASIEST and my preference if we are going out.  I mean, EGGS!  Usually I order scrambled eggs, fruit and bacon or chicken sausage or a turkey patty, if available. This may seem boring but the joy for me is that I’m not cooking so this is a treat. 

Lunch / Dinner– While I have to be careful with my lettuce consumption, a salad is usually the easiest way to go.  No cheese, no tomatoes, no dressing or croutons and a lemon wedge or olive oil on the side.  I also like to order a turkey burger (ask how it’s prepared) with veggies or a plain sweet potato or yam on the side. A pork chop, a chicken breast or salmon is also a good way to go if I can talk them into preparing without using seasoning or marinade. Again, ask questions.  Some meat is pre-seasoned or marinated which will contain wheat, soy and even dairy on occasion. So if I find a protein won’t work, a sweet potato or yam and a serving of broccoli is just fine. Dining out is about the experience anyway so the world will not come to a screeching halt.  I promise you! And what to do about dessert?  Nothing in that dessert case is going to be something I can eat and I’m fine with that.  While my tablemates are scarfing down their chocolate lava cake, I usually sip herbal tea or ask for some fruit.  I also learned from someone to order a salad for dessert.  Yes, a salad.  She asks for her salad to be served last with some olive oil and lemon.  Genius!   And that’s what this type of eating is.  It’s having lunch for breakfast and salad for dessert and not caring what anyone thinks. It’s about being flexible and taking care of you.

When I  first changed my diet, I thought I’d never be able to eat out again.  And for a time I didn’t.  I was too embarrassed to make requests. But I’ve since learned to be brave and speak up. And so can you. Give it a shot. There are some great meals to be had out there. 


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