Nourished On The Go: How to Order at Restaurants
So many of you have expressed an interest in having more guidance when it comes to eating at restaurants. Although it's not possible to cover every restaurant that exists, there are some universal guidelines that will help you have a better, more nourishing experience when out and about. Let's dive in!
Restaurants: Choosing a Restaurant
The first step in setting yourself up for a nourishing experience when out and about is to first be aware of the type of restaurant you choose. Many places (like an pizza restaurant or a fried chicken place), might not have any healthy options, so be aware that not restaurants or fast food places will even have healthy options. Oftentimes, I will check a menu before I go somewhere (just a quick Google search!), to make sure that there are carb heavy gluten free options, like rice (or rice noodles) or potatoes, along with protein that has not been fried. I also like to see if they make their food fresh, or if they are microwaving their food. Many casual dining chains (like Chiles, Outback, Red-lobster, in the US), microwave their food instead of cooking food fresh, so I avoid these restaurants 100% of the time. I lean towards choosing local restaurants, or restaurants small chain restaurants. If they use local ingredients, then that's a bonus. I have discovered that the best options at times for a healthy meal on the go include gourmet burger joints, Korean BBQ, Thai food, Mexican food, and Greek food. At burger joints, I like to get a grass fed burger with roasted potatoes (instead of fried), chicken, rice and veggies at Korean BBQ, rice noodles, veggies and shrimp at a Thai restaurant, chicken fajitas with veggies and rice at a Mexican restaurant, and chicken, veggies, and rice (or potatoes), at a Greek restaurant.
The Formula: Building a Nourishing Plate on The Go
Step #1: Check a restaurant menu, and make sure they have non-fried protein, gluten free starches (rice, potatoes, or cassava), and fresh veggies.
Step #2: If you cannot find a dish that sounds like a good fit for you, ask if you can order a la carte (see formula below), meaning your protein and sides could be paired together to create a meal. This can be especially helpful if you are dairy free, or if you need to avoid hard to digest veggies like onion or broccoli, for example. You can also make adjustments, as in asking for fried chicken to be grilled, or to have olive oil and vinegar on the side instead of conventional dressing.
Step #3: If you need to use an a la carte formula and create your own meal, follow these steps: full portion of grilled or baked protein (chicken, steak, fish, or shrimp) + a side (or two) of carb heavy starches, like potatoes or rice + light veggies (like steamed spinach) + fresh fruit (optional).
How this could look:
grilled chicken + basmati rice + seamed spinach and a fruit cup
grilled steak + potatoes + asparagus
baked fish + wild rice + sautéed kale (cooked in butter)
grilled shrimp + potatoes and carrots + lemon and fruit
bison burger + mashed potatoes + grilled veggies
Although these examples above are not encompassing, it can be helpful to see these examples. When eating at a restaurant, it can be helpful to use digestive bitters (I like Herb Pharm), and to even have an activated charcoal capsule on hand. Peppermint oil on the stomach can be helpful as well, and making sure you are not eating anything raw (sushi, rare steak), especially if you have low stomach acid, will be helpful as well. If you don't have bitters on hand, you can always squeeze lemon into your water, but avoid dropping the lemon into your cup, as they often are not washed well. You can even bring your own organic ginger tea bag (traditional medicinals is my favorite) to steep in hot water at the end of a meal - most restaurants are ok with this if you are of course also ordering and paying for food.
I hope that these tips are helpful! I am going to be sharing a coffee shop guide as well, so stay tuned for that.