Eating out on the gluten-free & paleo diet- my favorite tips so you can enjoy your meal
Eating out: It’s hard to avoid especially when family is around or you’re invited to a gathering. While most people would not think twice about having to eat at a restaurant those who suffer from allergies like myself can find this very stressful.
About 5 years ago I developed an allergy to gluten. For about 2 years after that I was on and off gluten until I decided that it would be best for me, my digestion, and my body to go off it completely. Then about 1 1/2 years ago I also stopped consuming dairy, cold turkey. The first few months were the toughest because I was not consuming any calcium or even replacing butter with vegan spreads. Fast forward a few weeks- It was then that I started trying out non-dairy milks (coconut milk & almond milk), yogurt (my favorite is “so delicious”), vegan butter (earth balance), and other delicious non-dairy & gluten-free treats. It was definitely a change of pace for me but now, today, I am so glad I stopped consuming it. I even have gone a step further and started eating the paleo way. It did take some getting used to because I have a major sweet tooth but for the most part I follow the lifestyle to a T. Sometimes I do eat sugar or have a piece of butter on my toast but that is completely fine because you have to enjoy life. 🙂
When I first started eating the paleo way eating out was such a stressful task. Most times I would eat a full meal before going out just so I didn’t have to eat a complete meal at the restaurant. I would normally just order a salad and water then smile awkwardly in my chair as people would say “that’s all you’re getting?”. Who wants to do that the rest of their life? Certainly not me, that’s for sure. So, I started doing research and writing down this and that so when I had to eat out I could enjoy my meal and not worry about a thing. Today I am going to share the “this and that” which I wrote down so that you too can enjoy your restaurant meals stress-free.
ENJOY today’s post 🙂
Before arriving at the restaurant look online at their menu and see what foods they offer. You can plan out your meals ahead of time and figure out ways in which you can make your dish paleo or to fit your dietary needs. This way when you do arrive at the restaurant you won’t feel like you need to rush and figure out the “safe” foods on their menu.
Do not be afraid about calling up the restaurant before hand and asking them if they can change certain dishes. Or, you can ask your waiter if they can omit and/or add certain ingredients to dishes. I have used this tip many times and it has saved me loads of stress. I used to be afraid and embarrassed about calling up restaurants or talking to waiters about my allergies because I felt like they would think I was annoying or asking too much, but this is so not true. In the end it all boils down to you being comfortable. You want to enjoy your meal and not worry about becoming sick from eating something you are allergic too. Do not be afraid to ask.
Know the “safe” foods to eat on the paleo diet. When I first became paleo this was something I knew little of. When you are eating out always know that you don’t have to order what is exactly on the menu. Meaning, you can change dishes and add ingredients so that you feel comfortable. Here is a little cheat cheat I made for you which should help. Feel free to print it out so you can refer to it.
Build your own healthy meal: You don’t need to order a burger with no cheese and sit there eating the plain dish, instead add some avocado to the top of it, some fresh tomato, onions, fresh veggies. Build your own healthy and allergy friendly dish by omitting and/or adding certain ingredients. FYI: avocado is the best ingredient to add to every dish for healthy fat, and to add some flavor and substance.
As you become more comfortable with the paleo way of eating you will also become more comfortable and better at knowing which restaurants are “okay” to eat at. Since I have been at this for some time now I know which restaurants, cafe’s, and places I can find foods to fit my needs. Start a little list after you eat somewhere so you know if this place was A OKAY for you or if fell into the category “it’s a no from me dawg” – True American idol fans know whose wise words these are.
If you are going out to eat and the party planner has not yet picked a place, discuss with them if they would consider eating at a “safe” restaurant from your list. This way you know you can find foods to eat there and will not have to worry about planning ahead.
Have NO shame in bringing your own ingredients to the table. Something I have done time and time again is when we are going out and I know this place will not suit my needs or I am unsure if it will, I carry my own little snacks/ ingredients. I have brought my own paleo bread to put on my burger, my own little jar of butter, paleo jam (recipe coming soon), raw nuts to add-on salads, and the best one yet- my own gluten-free friendly salad dressing. These are my favorite travel friendly tubs – Click here to shop them.
This tip is not just for eating out but for home eating as well. As my dad always says, information is power. When you are still transitioning into your new lifestyle, whether it be paleo or another, do your research. Learn which foods you can eat and ways you can substitute “bad” ingredients for “good” ingredients. The more information you have on your new lifestyle the better. You can better plan which foods make you sick so you can avoid them, know which ingredients taste better in certain dishes, and start memorizing and experimenting with your favorite allergy friendly dishes so you can make them on the spot and expand your weekly meal ideas. Information is power!
Or say screw it and eat whatever you want (minus foods you are allergic to), and be happy about it. Eat the sugars, fried foods, cakes, ice creams, French fries, cheeses, sodas, and all with a big smile on your face. Do not stress out about it because it’s only one night and this one night will not cause you to spiral into an unhealthy body.
Disclaimer: I am not a health professional or a dietician. I am not suggesting the paleo diet or suggesting to not eat healthy for one night. If you are on a diet for your health as per doctors orders make sure to discuss with your doctor any changes you want to make. If you are looking to transition into a healthier lifestyle, again always consult with your doctor so you know if that is something you are able to do. I am just sharing my experience and tips from the paleo way of eating, I am not a doctor or nutritionist.
Thank you so much for reading today’s blog post. If you have any questions feel free to reach me by leaving a comment below or by reaching out to me using the “contact” tab located at the top of my blog. Also, if you have any specific posts you want me to blog about reach me using the same methods mentioned above.
Have a great day!