Friday, April 4, 2014

No Grains, No Gains - topic: eating out!

No Grains, No Gains - Coping With Eating Out!


The topic of the month for our paleo/primal blogging group is how we deal with eating out (I will abstain from commenting on how I deal with eating at work, because my schedule really allows me to eat at home most of the time).

When I first sat down to write, I imagined a post full of pointers about how to stay Paleo in a restaurant.

But, as I sat with that idea, I realized it would not be truthful to who I am. I'll tell you my real deal and how I really deal with this:

My biggest rule for eating out: don't do it too often!

I know that might seem trite or simple or a blow off of this topic, but it's not. Seriously, unless you have an amazing restaurant nearby that serves local, fresh, (hopefully) organic food, you just do NOT know what is in your food when you eat out.

Now- I'm not saying never eat out. There is something delightfully wonderful about sitting down in a beautiful room, at a really nice table, with a pleasant waiter coming to take your order, and a talented chef preparing your food for you. I love when dinner takes a really long time, and I get to sit and chat over a glass of wine and really enjoy the experience. I love cool places with fun art or architecture (my favorite room in my favorite restaurant is covered wall and ceiling with antique mirrors!!!)

We eat out very rarely. About once a month, as a date night. Or sometimes, low on time or energy, we go to Chipotle to grab a salad (they actually use great ingredients, and I keep my choices paleo) or grab salads from our local co-op. Sometimes we treat ourselves to lunch at the Farmer's Market (where we get great local, grass fed meats and beautiful organic produce). We also have some cute little local cafes around us that serve quality, well prepared food.

Still, about 90-95% of our meals are eaten at home. We also bring food when traveling so we don't have to deal with being forced to eat somewhere we normally wouldn't and get sub-quality food or have to eat non-Paleo when we weren't planning on it.

We put a LOT of time and energy into our food preparation at home. We just really don't like to undo all that work by eating out a lot. We eat the way we do for health - so eating out too often would be putting too much of the unknown into our bodies.

I try and keep true to what I believe: keeping my food fresh, quality, whole, clean and paleo. That is REALLY had to do when you eat out, no matter how much you ask about the food or ask for it to be prepared a certain way. (And I already struggle with social eating!) And when you CAN find a great, little place that serves farm-to-table, organic, clean food... well, it costs a hell of a lot.

Eating out does happen, though. Sometimes as a celebration for a friend's birthday, sometimes as a date night. So what do I do at these times?

Well... I eat whatever I feel the whim to. I could lie and say I stick to paleo, but since I eat out so rarely, I put my eating out into the 5-10% non-Paleo food I consume in a month. (I was only 100% Paleo for the first month when I was doing the Whole30, now I have some small deviances). A night out is often preceded and followed by strict Paleo eating to compensate.

Now, eating what I feel the whim to....  let's clarify: I still try and make good decisions. Most of the time I *do* pick a paleo option. Or I will ask for the starch to be replaced by extra vegetables, etc. We will ask the waiter not to bring bread to the table. The typical sorts of advice you will find all over the internet.

Once or twice a year I might really, really indulge. For Valentine's this year, I had bread pudding for dessert and lots of cocktails. BREAD pudding. Not Paleo, huh? It's alright. It was one day, one meal, and it didn't derail me. Got right back to where I wanted to be the next day by eating clean.

Setting down limits is what helps. We just simply do not go out a lot - meaning we just do not have to deal with the Standard American food choices and trying to turn them into something better. No asking the chef to change things. No worrying about bad oils used or hidden gluten. That stuff cannot slip into my diet because *I* prepare my food.

I know I might seem like an alien with four heads, but I really wish eating out was a special thing to everyone. Chris and I put so much effort into our grocery shopping, food prep and meal times, that the times we DO go out are really, really special. We get dressed nice and really enjoy each other's company. We go to nice places to enjoy the atmosphere and the people. We treat ourselves.

Treated like a experience, eating out loses the ability to be a crazy binge, eat-all-the-wrong-things situation for me.

If it's about the experience, there is no worrying about getting our money's worth- we GET our money's worth by just being there, together or with others who we love.

If you want to see how other women who follow a paleo/primal template have dealt with eating out, give my fellow bloggers a read:


  1. I like the idea of eating out being a real treat! I could probably even afford to go somewhere nicer if it was a once per month thing. Like you, I deal with some social anxiety, and bringing food into the mix is a tough challenge at times. Part of it is me just wanting to "blend in" and not attract attention to myself, I think.

  2. I personally don't fret over foods being organic or not when I'm out. But that's just me. We each pick and choose our own battles. I am still living 1000% healthier now than I was 1.5 years ago. Or the 40 years before that. :)

    1. Yeah, we all have to pick our battles as to what's most important to us! When I eat out (because it's so rare), I personally would rather eat organic grains than vegetables with pesticides on them!! I'm pretty terrified of chemicals and pesticides in the world... It's the thing that is always hovering at the back of my mind, for better or worse!

  3. Hi Jeanette, interesting to read your views.

    Our favourite eatery is probably home, but it is nice to go out and enjoy someone else preparing and cooking your meal. Our local favourite restaurant is a winner and serves great real food with delicious vegetables - just as we like it.

    Have a good weekend

    All the best Jan

  4. We also don't eat out often. Food at home is just so good these days... also I hate waste and if I have vegetables etc in the refrigerator I will use them up. I think it's great you eat at home often... for me too it makes eating out so much more special!

  5. UGH! I wish I didn't have to eat out so much. I pick home made food to restaurant food any day!

  6. Yummmmm!.... Chipolte and Farmer's Markets. If I weren't so gluten sensitive and a recovered binge eater, I would love to eat off template foods once and awhile, more than I do.

    Glad you can enjoy your eat outs. Eating out and making it an event is SMART!! So many young people eat so much junk food regularly. A big salute to you and Chris. :)