Maintaining a lean, healthy body from the inside out does not mean you cannot have a great time dining out. In fact, enjoying a healthy and delicious meal outside of your personal pantry can be very gourmet! Many individuals think that their options are limited when eating out, but the trick is to educate yourself on the right questions to ask restaurant staff. Your health is number one; do not be afraid to ask for every item, option and restriction required to design a perfect healthy meal for you! Let’s break down a meal and discuss how to optimize it in an organic and healthy way that corresponds with the Advanced or Core plans.
My clients often ask me:
- “What kind of meat should I choose?”
- “How do we ask for the right meats at a restaurant?”
- “Should I just cut meat out when I eat out?”
These are great questions. Truthfully, you do not always have to cut out meats when you dine out! They can make your dinner decadent if you are mindful and safe about your choices. Ideally, we want to ask for “farm to table” meats, which generally specifies that they are organic, they have never been frozen, they have been grass fed and farm-raised, and they are free from antibiotics and other harmful hormones.(1) “Farm to table” meats are premium choices, because the meat-eater (and the server!) is completely aware how his or her meat has been treated. If you cannot find a “farm to table” restaurant or cut of meat, grass fed beef is your next best bet, if you are hungry for red meat. One could also ask for an organic cut of meat, however some newer regulations have allowed farm animals to be fed organic soy or corn, which are definitely undesired options on the advanced and core plans. If you are in the London, Ontario area be sure to check out some of my go-to spots for organic options.
Here are my top meat specifications when dining out:
Lamb: It’s typically grass fed, particularly if it’s not from America.
Wild Caught Fish: This fresh fish is free from antibiotics and harmful hormones. It is high in protein and rich in Omega 3’s, which you need.
Naturally Raised Chicken: This meat has never been injected with antibiotics and roams free on local farms. Unlike free range chicken, whose livestock standards are vague, these chickens roam free and live naturally on local farms.
100% Grass Fed Beef: Be sure to choose a lean cut of this option! Because farmers of grass fed beef are typically raising the cattle with more health consciousness, you will typically find that these meats are free from antibiotics and hormones, and often not been frozen.
I will admit that because I cannot always trust my source when looking for meat when eating out, I will often go vegetarian when I’m outside my home or not in a trusted restaurant. When travelling, I bring along hemp seeds, which are high in fiber, Omega 3’s, and protein, and work great on a salad. There are many great plant-based sources of protein!
Fill up on veggies when you’re eating out. Fresh, organic vegetables are obviously best.
Ask for your portion of veggies steamed or raw, and be sure to specify that your serving has not been marinated or pre-soaked in unspecified sauces in order to avoid unnecessary sugar and trans fat intake. Always ask your server for a double serving of steamed or raw vegetables instead of the regular portion of starch that restaurants typically tend to serve their patrons. This way, your body will be full on nutrient dense foods that will leave you feeling energized, instead of heavy or lethargic. When ordering up your veggies in a conventional restaurant, avoid the pesticide-loaded Dirty Dozen. If you know that your restaurant is not organic, you are safer chose veggies that belong to The Clean 15 according to EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides (The numbers fluctuate every year with up-to-date reporting, but below is a general guide).
Toppings, Condiments and Extras
This is the tricky part! It’s always important to be very aware of the sides, condiments and add-on’s that are made available with your cuisine. Many restaurants pack on sauces and sides that are high in sugars (which we know cause inflammation and many harmful diseases like cancer and diabetes). Although they may add flavor, they’re also adding sugars, carbohydrates and chemicals that are toxic to the body.
Take a savvy approach to your meal and order simple balsamic and olive oil dressing to add flavor to your sides. Be sure to request 100% olive oil, as some restaurants offer “olive oils” that are only 10% olive oil. Trust me, I have on many occasions asked to see the bottle.
Even when going out for coffee or tea it is important to be mindful of options there as well. Find some local shops in your area that offer organic, sustainable options that will help you stick with your plan.
All it takes is a few educated requests and modifications. Dining out can still be very feasible on the Advanced or Core plans if you take the time to ask the right questions. Keep asking questions until you are satisfied. Today’s restaurants know they must be prepared for customers on special diets. So, if you do choose to splurge and eat out, take these simple steps – or as many of them as possible – and you’ll be glad you did the next day.