I know my way around a kitchen, but I also know my way around a menu. Years ago when I made significant changes to my diet, I had to learn how to order from a restaurant to avoid foods that upset my sensitive stomach. Thought it may be helpful to share 3 simple things I’ve learned!
- When in doubt, à la carte. Your best bet to avoiding inflammatory oils, sneaky sugars, allergens, and trigger foods like gluten and dairy (if you’re sensitive) is to choose items that are offered separately. Even if the menu doesn’t specifically offer the option to create your own meal, you can almost always create a hybrid version of a menu item that fits your needs. For example, a side salad with olive oil and lemon, a side of steamed or roasted veggies (you can double check what oils they’re cooked in. You can almost guarantee they’re using canola oil, which can be harmful to the body, but can ask for olive oil instead), your choice of protein, and a side of rice, dietary-friendly pasta, potatoes, or depending on the restaurant, gluten-free bread or pita.
- Choose an entree that is protein-centric. Protein is the most satiating macro-nutrient, it helps with regulating hunger, repairing micro-tears in the body and supporting muscle growth. Have you ever wondered or noticed that it’s easy to over-eat pasta, but difficult to over-eat chicken? The nutrient and caloric density of meat (and other high-protein entrees) signals to our body and brain that we’ve been nourished much faster than less calorically dense foods, like pasta, would. Choosing a high-protein entree helps balance your plate naturally, in addition to at least half your plate with veggies, and about a quarter of your plate with complex carbs and healthy fats. If you’re interested in learning more about protein intake, click here.
- Simple is best! If you’re unsure which ingredients come in a cocktail (or mocktail), or second-guessing if a dressing or sauce is made with ingredients that may trigger your sensitivities, ask for a simplified version. For dressing, a side of olive oil with a lemon wedge and a sprinkle of salt works wonders. And a sparkling water with a lemon wedge makes for an elevated choice of drink.
I really enjoy going out to eat and indulging in meals that I don’t always make at home, and I encourage you to do the same! I always feel better when I prioritize my protein intake and avoid inflammatory oils and added sugars. I do my best to navigate a menu to suit my needs, but I’m also good at going with the flow. Hope you found this helpful 🙂