We all like to enjoy a meal out from time to time. It is a nice treat to be able to have someone else cook for us and even better – to not clean up after!
However it is important to remember that the only way to be healthy in the long run is to get into the habit of actually cooking our own food from scratch. While eating the occasional meal out is a must for most the majority of your meals should be cooked by YOU. It is the only way to ensure you know exactly what is in your food and how it is cooked.
Eating out need not be a struggle – nor should keeping on track hinder your progress or mean you need to eat off plan. Enjoy the experience for what it is rather than viewing it as an opportunity to overindulge and regret your choices.
If you do eat out follow these tips to keeping it Paleo and ensure you don’t overdo it or even worse undo all the good work you have done so far.
Top 9 Tips for Keeping it Paleo!
1. Don’t Go To Restaurant Hungry!
This is something we all tend to do. Going for dinner? Better skip lunch. So you don’t eat anything all day and arrive to the restaurant starving. This leads to you overeating and choosing all the worst foods not to mention hitting the bread basket before you even start your meal!
Overcome this by having a light lunch such as a salad with protein or a bowl of soup and grab a quick snack in the afternoon such as an apple and nut butter. You will be far less likely to overindulge at dinner and will be happier for it!
2. Avoid Breaded Dishes or Dishes Covered in Sauces
Always ensure that you are ordering a plain protein such as steak, fish, or chicken and avoid those sauces! Sometimes menus are not that clear on whether the item is breaded or not so ASK! You have no idea what is in dressings. Avoid salads drenched in sauce such as a Caesar salad. I often hear people say “Oh I only had a Caesar salad for starter” without considering that it is covered in (usually) processed sauce and croutons and is about as far removed from a healthy salad as bread roll in my opinion. Choose a salad with plenty of variety of vegetables and ask for some olive oil on the side and add it yourself.
3. Practice Portion Control
Portions have got larger and larger over the years leading to a situation where restaurants now provide us with huge portions of meals to keep us happy and coming for more. The issue with this is we often over eat at these meals, ignoring our natural instincts to stop eating when full. Eat three quarters of what is on your plate and then stop, decide if you are still hungry, and continue if you are not full.
4. Choose Your Salads Wisely
When choosing salads fill your plate with vegetables, greens, boiled eggs, and sundried tomatoes. Avoid bacon bits, croutons, and creamy dressings. Also avoid the mayonnaise laden salads (unless it is homemade) like coleslaw and potato salad. As mentioned above ask for olive oil on the side and add it yourself.
5. Don’t be Afraid to Ask!
Restaurants cater for all kinds of special requests — all you have to do is speak up. Ask for dishes to be cooked with a little olive oil instead of vegetable oil. Request extra veggies and less potato. If you are in doubt about what your food includes or whether it is suitable ask your waiter. That is after all what you are paying for.
6. Make Healthy Swaps
Skip the chips and the garlic potato and order two vegetables; steamed or a salad, and vegetables. Avoid sandwiches and try a lettuce wrap. Substitute white potatoes for sweet potatoes whenever possible.
7. Check Before You Go
Upcoming event and worrying about what you will eat? Look the restaurant up online and check out their menu. That way you have full control over what you intend to order before you go and it makes it a lot easier to stay on track. Nothing on the menu suitable? Call the restaurant and tell them you have specific needs and ask if they would be willing to get you something alternative to eat. Restaurants appreciate the heads up and will be more than happy to accommodate you if possible. It also means that you are not panicking at the table wondering what to order!
8. Eat Slowly
Enjoy the food and your company. Eating your food too fast leads to overeating as you do not register the food until you are overfull. It also inhibits the proper digestion of food and the uptake of nutrients.
9. Avoid The Sauces
A lot of sauces will have added gluten, flours, or creams. Avoid these sauces and substitute the sauce for an olive oil dressing on the side.
How to Make Smart Choices…
Choose: Never a great place to eat. However if you end up in one of these joints order grilled chicken or fish. Ask for the sauce separately and ask for olive oil and lemon juice for salad. Instead of fries order a green salad with the dressing on the side.
Not: Deep-fried foods. There are so many other healthy choices now!
Choose: An 8-ounce black coffee; 2 calories – avoid the treat section!
Not: A large latte; 240 calories laden with poor quality dairy.
Choose: Grilled meats and vegetables, or chicken, and prawn, or lean meat and guacamole or a buritto bowl with extra veg and salad. Many places now do sweet potato fries!
Not: Dishes smothered with cheese, refried beans, and/or tortilla chips.
Choose: Stir-fried prawn, chicken, beef, and vegetables. Ask for your meal to be prepared without MSG (monosodium glutamate – an artificial flavour enhancer that has a lot of sodium). Go for stir-fried dishes not deep–fried ones. Ask for just a small amount of olive oil to be used.
Main course portions can be big – why not share a main course meat dish and order an extra serving of vegetables including snow peas, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, string beans, bean sprouts, bok choy, mushrooms, and Chinese broccoli.
Not: Dishes with thick sweet-and-sour sauces like Kung Pao chicken, large bowls of rice, fried egg rolls, Lo Mein noodles, breaded or deep-fried foods such as orange beef. Don’t ask for prawn crackers or rice crackers before your meal.
Choose: Tandoori chicken or other foods cooked in a tandoor oven; look for “tikka” or “bhuna” dishes which aren’t covered with heavy sauces. Tomato based dishes and coconut based curries are also a good option. Ask for food to be cooked in ghee.
Not: Dishes that come with naan (Indian breads that are often stuffed with potatoes or coconut and topped with butter), deep-fried samosas.
Choose: Vegetable or seafood antipasto, minestrone soup (not if pasta added), fish or chicken dishes served with vegetables, grilled meats. Marinated seafood, marinated or baked mushrooms and vegetables. Steamed or baked shellfish. Tomato based sauces.
Not: Deep-fried and breaded foods such as veal or eggplant parmesan, creamy sauces such as fettuccine Alfredo, dishes stuffed with cheese such as manicotti and calzones. Avoid Caesar salads or salads with croutons or creamy dressings. Avoid processed meats and cheeses.
Eating out need not be a struggle – nor should keeping on track hinder your progress or mean you need to eat off plan. Enjoy the experience for what it is rather than viewing it as an opportunity to overindulge and regret your choices. If you choose wisely make healthy swaps and make better decisions you need not feel the bad effects of a “bad” meal. And remember, we cannot control EVERYTHING. As long as you are eating at home most of the time you will be fine (unless you have serious allergies or intolerances).