Regardless of what eating plan I am using to reach my goals, it’s main focus is ALWAYS real food based. I shop the perimeter of the grocery store, frequent farmers markets, cook and bake from scratch, buy my meat direct, and grow when I can. And I encourage my clients to follow the same practices. But here’s the thing: nobody wants to cook every single day of the year, nobody wants to turn down every occasion out for dinner with the girlfriends, and nobody has time to navigate every last minute life hurdle that gets in the way of dinner at home.
So what does one do if they are real food based AND need to eat out every now and again? Before we even get to the best choices, let’s talk strategy and the first steps to staying on track and dining out:
#1. Make the restaurant suggestion for the work meeting or anniversary dinner so YOU have the control over either it’s Pizza Pizza, the Sushi Train or Mac Convenience Store.
#2. View the menu online before hand and determine what your possible choices are.
#3. Before you even get to the restaurant, get over asking staff for special requests. Dietary restrictions are here to stay. Period. So ask. And ask again.
As a gluten-free, dairy-free, limited refined-sugar family I am VERY accustomed to the above three steps. If you live in the big city, count your blessings, the options now-a-days are plentiful. From organic grocery store buffets, to vegan cafes and farm-to-table restaurants, you can pretty much feel secure in staying on plan right after choosing where you are going to eat out. Now if you don’t live in the Toronto’s, Ottawa’s, New York’s, or San Francisco’s then you might require a tad bit more creativity when it comes to eating out. So what are MY GO-TO’s for eating out in the small cities and towns? How do I navigate menu’s and what do I lean towards picking?
Here are my top 7 Real Food Menu Picks:
1. Burgers wrapped in lettuce with tomato, mustard, avocado and bacon
2. Salad with meat (ask for no sauce), with olive oil and lemon wedges as your dressing
3. Fish. Preferably wild. Sashimi if you’re at a sushi restaurant (or regular rolls if you’re doing rice), or steamed or baked fish elsewhere. Sided with steamed veggies.
4. Seafood (depending on where you live, because obviously wild and fresh are best). Clams, oysters, shrimp, mussels: you can’t go wrong with sea creatures. Just make sure they aren’t battered and deep fried. Fresh and dipped in warm butter is the bestest.
5. Steak. Skip the bbq sauce and get the baked potato, asparagus or salad sides.
6. Soup. Just be careful here because there can be a ton of hidden ingredients like msg and sugar in some soups. Vegan butternut squash is my fav though.
7. Bean Burgers. A great break-from-meat or vegan-eater choice. Ask for full ingredient list and sink your mouth into that black bean goodness wrapped in lettuce.
Eating out isn’t foul-proof but there are definitely ways to eat out AND stay on track with your real food eating goals. So next time you want the night off cooking, don’t fret, with a bit of planning, some requesting and some focus on meat (or legumes), veggies and good fat-filled options, you can, and will, enjoy an evening with your feet up and stomachs satisfied!