7

votes

Does anyone have a hard time sticking to the diet when they eat at restaurants?

Answered on January 12, 2015
Created February 14, 2010 at 12:56 AM

Sometimes I try so hard to stick to the diet, but when I go to restaurants it seems like its almost always an absolute failure. I order what should be 100%Paleo, but that rarely happens.

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on September 27, 2010
at 12:48 AM

I love pho - my favorite prepaleo food. I will try ordering double meat next time.

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on September 26, 2010
at 11:43 PM

I miss phone - my face prepaleo food. Will try double meat ordering next time.

D738a5b2a67f3c36518a2ac9f32d27af

(821)

on June 11, 2010
at 08:01 AM

(cont.) ::eyeroll:: Not in a place that is emphatically, politically vegan and begrudgingly vegetarian, it's not. I could be wrong as I haven't waited tables for paleos, but I'm sorry, the moral of the story is vegans are much bigger PITAs than paleos. I used to be vegan so I can say that. ;)

D738a5b2a67f3c36518a2ac9f32d27af

(821)

on June 11, 2010
at 07:58 AM

This isn't all that related, but it reminds of when I waited tables at a vegetarian/vegan restaurant. One of the routine questions was "do you want butter or margarine on your toast?" We used Smart Balance vegan spread=margarine. I was taking some folks' order, asked the standard question, and the fellow shot back "You mean Smart Balance (tm)!?!?" I explained that yes, we only used that brand and that "margarine" was shorthand for "Smart Balance" (it is listed as SB such in the menu). He was still pretty outraged and explained that in some places "butter" is shorthand for "margarine".

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on May 21, 2010
at 11:19 AM

Alot of those places bring sugar butter to the table, beware the whipped concoctions

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on May 20, 2010
at 08:12 PM

Thanks, Jason! gharkness: you're right, your version is better! :) I'll make the edit. Thanks!

D251185e140e7f3d8df603a08fdbeabd

(95)

on May 19, 2010
at 10:04 PM

Jae, you again have a great answer and prove to be an awesome member of this community! Thanks!

145d4b0f988af15acc6b26eccc1f4895

(1932)

on May 19, 2010
at 05:21 PM

My friends learned a long time ago to consider me weird. I purposely cultivate that so that they know to expect that I won't do anything in a "normal" fashion. That way, they're never surprised at what I might do. It was slightly harder at work when we had a cake and alcohol-free "champagne" to celebrate a major milestone. I probably should have pretended to take some cake and some of the "champagne," but I wasn't thinking, and made myself stand out, when I would have been better served to pretend. I guess it all depends on the circumstances how to handle it best.

145d4b0f988af15acc6b26eccc1f4895

(1932)

on May 19, 2010
at 05:13 PM

'Solve the temptation issue: Let your friends know ahead of time that you'd like to stick to Paleo' Easier: let them know that you WILL BE sticking to Paleo. Decide first, then you won't have to make that decision as the food is presented to you. (this is well-covered in point 2)

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on May 19, 2010
at 03:46 PM

Thanks, Aaron! =)

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 19, 2010
at 03:14 PM

Great answer. *clap clap*

48d73cb880d957ebc147d658f21c0318

(261)

on February 18, 2010
at 09:53 PM

But keep the butter!

Df11e66ec4dd4f749eca409633b6a3fb

(595)

on February 15, 2010
at 03:54 PM

Amen! Makes a huge difference.

65125edd5aafad39b3d5b3a8b4a36bb7

(6092)

on February 14, 2010
at 08:22 PM

I agree, Thanksgiving and Christmas is much harder to deal with than restaurants. Last Thanksgiving, the dinner was turkey and the rest was breads and starches. There was only one dish that had green stuff, and it was green beans - a legume.

99546d10b3c1774cc4bccf6f275acb40

(176)

on February 14, 2010
at 02:19 AM

I hear ya on the MSG...this place prominently advertises that they are MSG free. Great idea about getting it sans noodles...I'll ask about that next time.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on February 14, 2010
at 01:21 AM

I love Pho too -- sometimes I order it sans noodles/broth only with double meat and broccoli on the side. Only thing about pho is that a lot vietnamese places lace their pho with MSG....

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22 Answers

18
77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on February 14, 2010
at 05:03 AM

Well, yes, it's hard, for several reasons:

  1. You're generally going to be eating with people who aren't eating Paleo, so you will be tempted to stray from your regular habits. They're indulging, so why can't you?

  2. You're probably going to be exposed to vegetable oils, and thus a high amount of omega-6 fatty acids, or trans fats or oxidized fats, or both. Soybean oil, corn oil, and canola oil are used often in restaurants--probably because they are cheaper than olive oil or butter? Also, many people erroneously think that they are healthier than cooking with saturated animal fats. If you get a salad, the dressing will often contain hydrogenated vegetable oils (trans fats). If you get anything fried, anything with mayonnaise, and some grilled items, it's hard to avoid vegetable oils and trans fats. Yuck.

  3. If you eat mostly grass-fed/local meat at home, it's pretty hard to keep this up in restaurants, although it is possible in some places.

  4. Most main dishes are typically served with bread, rolls, a rice pilaf, pasta -- some kind of grain, often wheat. Depending on how strict you are, you might be concerned about potatoes, too.

Possible solutions:

  1. Solve the temptation issue: Let your friends know ahead of time that you will be sticking to Paleo choices (or as close as you can get) and ask them to keep you accountable. Ask them not to let you eat bread, tortillas, desserts, etc. If they are good friends, they will support you on this, even if they don't eat Paleo themselves.

  2. Figure out what to order: If possible, figure out ahead of time what you're going to order. Most restaurants have menus posted online. You can plan ahead and have a strategy for which items to order, what substitutions you might need to make, etc.

  3. Make smart substitutions. Sandwiches: you can often get lettuce wraps instead of bread, even at fast-food sandwich shops, like Jimmy Johns. Rice/bread/pasta served with entrees: you can almost always get them to substitute grilled or steamed vegetables, or a side salad. If you have a temptation problem, and substitutions just won't work, ask your server not to bring you the bread (or whatever) that comes with your meal.

  4. Avoid vegetable oils and trans fats: Ask for items to be cooked in butter. Some places will accommodate you. What's the harm in asking? Alternatively, you can stick to salads, steaks, some grilled items (ask if they use any kind of oil) -- items that are generally safe. As for salad dressings, you can always eat salads dry, or opt for vinaigrette dressings made with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I suppose neither of those ingredients are technically Paleo, but seriously, they're close enough.

  5. Just cook at home most of the time. I know, not really the answer you were looking for, and maybe you do this already anyway. But if you're serious about eating Paleo, it's pretty darn hard to do it well AND eat out often.

  6. Go ahead and indulge yourself. If you follow step 4, you'll only be eating at restaurants around once a week, or even less. In that case, just go ahead and indulge a little bit. If you have food sensitivities, auto-immune issues, or inflammatory conditions, you may want to be careful even with your indulgence meals. For instance, you might opt for a piece of dark chocolate (or, if you're like me, a whole bar). If dairy is ok for you but wheat is not, then gluten-free or at least wheat-free ice cream may work, while a cookie won't. Go ahead and have that risotto, but skip the garlic bread. Figure out what works for you.

  7. For many people, it gets easier in the long run. When I first went Paleo, I regularly indulged in pizza, probably once every week or two. But now, 10 months into Paleo, I don't even miss it. I never thought I would say that, but it somehow crept up on me. I can't say this holds true for everybody, but it seems to happen for a fair number of folks who take Paleo seriously. It's not a diet that I resent; it's a set of healthy lifestyle choices. When I eat Paleo, I just feel better, so it's not hard to stick to it. I hope it gets easier for you, too!

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on May 20, 2010
at 08:12 PM

Thanks, Jason! gharkness: you're right, your version is better! :) I'll make the edit. Thanks!

145d4b0f988af15acc6b26eccc1f4895

(1932)

on May 19, 2010
at 05:13 PM

'Solve the temptation issue: Let your friends know ahead of time that you'd like to stick to Paleo' Easier: let them know that you WILL BE sticking to Paleo. Decide first, then you won't have to make that decision as the food is presented to you. (this is well-covered in point 2)

D251185e140e7f3d8df603a08fdbeabd

(95)

on May 19, 2010
at 10:04 PM

Jae, you again have a great answer and prove to be an awesome member of this community! Thanks!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 19, 2010
at 03:14 PM

Great answer. *clap clap*

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on May 19, 2010
at 03:46 PM

Thanks, Aaron! =)

6
93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on February 14, 2010
at 01:16 AM

Here is a PaleoHack for ya:

Send the bread/bread sticks back as soon as they get to your table. Out of sight, out of mind.

48d73cb880d957ebc147d658f21c0318

(261)

on February 18, 2010
at 09:53 PM

But keep the butter!

Df11e66ec4dd4f749eca409633b6a3fb

(595)

on February 15, 2010
at 03:54 PM

Amen! Makes a huge difference.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on May 21, 2010
at 11:19 AM

Alot of those places bring sugar butter to the table, beware the whipped concoctions

5
A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on February 14, 2010
at 06:38 AM

When you're just starting out, it's about practicing the proper frame of mind. So I suggest that you go into the restaurant thinking this:

What would I eat at home that I'm lucky enough to have a chef cook for me here?

Don't go in thinking that you're gonna fail and eat pasta (just one last time?!). Go in expecting to be an awesome paleo eater! Go in thinking about what you'd serve yourself at home (meat and veggies!); but that you get to have someone else (a chef) cook for you!

For example, usually I buy grass-fed ground beef and sometimes flap meat. Our budget doesn't allow for more expensive cuts of meat. So tonight, my husband and I went to an Italian Steakhouse. I was excited to get a steak and sauteed spinach. I don't usually cook that for myself at home. Yay! Something paleo; but different!

P.S. It also helps to look at the menu before you go (if it's online) and make your decision about what you're going to eat while you're not smelling bread and beer.

4
20e8de7248f6cdeaafb9608864085edf

on February 14, 2010
at 03:11 AM

The moment I sit down in a restaurant I tell the wait staff that I am gluten intolerant and that I cannot have bread of any form at the table.

I also substitute on the menu when I want to - it has been my experience that when the wait staff and chef understand they substitute happily. Tipping well never hurts either :-)

erminator

2
E7a462d6e99fec7e8f0ddda11b34a770

(1638)

on May 19, 2010
at 07:35 PM

Just as an FYI, you need to be careful in all but the higher-end restaurants. I have asked for eggs, for example, to be cooked in butter and then found out they used "butter oil" which is either soy or canola oil with "butter flavor" added to it. I had one place swear to me that this WAS butter, but I KNOW what clarified butter tastes like and "that weren't it". ;(

D738a5b2a67f3c36518a2ac9f32d27af

(821)

on June 11, 2010
at 08:01 AM

(cont.) ::eyeroll:: Not in a place that is emphatically, politically vegan and begrudgingly vegetarian, it's not. I could be wrong as I haven't waited tables for paleos, but I'm sorry, the moral of the story is vegans are much bigger PITAs than paleos. I used to be vegan so I can say that. ;)

D738a5b2a67f3c36518a2ac9f32d27af

(821)

on June 11, 2010
at 07:58 AM

This isn't all that related, but it reminds of when I waited tables at a vegetarian/vegan restaurant. One of the routine questions was "do you want butter or margarine on your toast?" We used Smart Balance vegan spread=margarine. I was taking some folks' order, asked the standard question, and the fellow shot back "You mean Smart Balance (tm)!?!?" I explained that yes, we only used that brand and that "margarine" was shorthand for "Smart Balance" (it is listed as SB such in the menu). He was still pretty outraged and explained that in some places "butter" is shorthand for "margarine".

2
5ce29f97b172e7ef941043764f05143c

(20)

on February 14, 2010
at 01:53 AM

Be specific with your order and be assertive- send it back if they prepare it wrong. Salads without cheese, good meats, nice fish, veggies-- that's pretty good paleo food to me. Easy to eat. And, in my experience, the better the restaurant the more likely they are to cook it however you want.

1
13c5a9f1678d75b93f269cdcf69f14d5

(2339)

on June 11, 2010
at 03:19 AM

re: steaks cooked in butter. Lots of places use a veg oil/butter blend. Talk to the manager if you really want to know. The waitstaff answers are inconsistent.

1
2ac40062935f569c9a86493f7177d2a0

on May 19, 2010
at 01:43 PM

I have to go to a lot of lunches and my secret is I always name where we go. So you make the initiative to control where you go and direct the conversation early in the conversation and it's a breeze. It can be easily done as folks are always initially wishy-washy about the "where." I know of several places that have fish in butter and cauliflower, nice steak salads, etc. etc.

If I'm shooting for a cheaper eat, say treating a group, then I'll go to Chipotle and get a salad with beef and guac as they'll load our place with a big gallop of the stuff. While their meat is vegetarian (grain) fed with some higher Omega 6's, at least it's higher quality, naturally raised. Pop some more fish oil, and I'm still meeting my mark.

CONTROL WHERE YOU GO! It will make a potentially uncomfortable situation much easier.

1
Ce0b5fd94b1034e96cf710b6f138c29d

on May 19, 2010
at 12:22 PM

I don't really have a problem at restaurants. It's just a question of understanding Paleo logic and going to places where they have Paleo stuff on the menu. I don't eat bread, substitute vegetables for pasta, potatoes, rice, etc., and stick to plain chicken, seafood, and steak dishes. I ask for no dressing on salads, don't order dessert, and stick to water or the occasional beer.

I miss Indian food sometime, but given that I weighed 260 when I was living mostly on takeout Indian, and am at 214 on Paleo (not to mention the normal blood glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride numbers I've been getting since I went Paleo), not cheating is pretty darn easy.

1
64c41a128b1865f595f9891bb9f13982

(40)

on May 19, 2010
at 04:11 AM

I keep it simple: I explain that my order is going to be a little complicated, but that I am following a specific diet and I would love the chef to work with me...then I order meat (ask for them to prepare with olive oil or lard and whatever spices they want and a veggie steamed with the meet drippins poured over them! Yummy and it is fun for the chef to make something interesting and have free range on spices and such. My meals often look so much better then the people I eat with that now several of them just ask for what I am getting.
When in doubt, salad, meat, no dressing (see if you can score some meat drippings) - that's how I roll. :)

1
70d9359a2086e890a4c3bccb2ba8a8cb

(2254)

on February 15, 2010
at 07:07 PM

The only hard time I sometimes have in restaurants comes from my dining companions offering me to try something (non-paleo) from their dish. Depending on the situation and the food in question - and how insistent they are - I may just accept it (as eating out is a rare occasion anyway), or politely decline it, or accept it but just a little bite instead of the generous portion they might be offering.

Often it's a food that I don't actually even want to try, i.e. not interested in it so it would be just out of politeness, but if I am tempted then I usually have no problem accepting it. For instance, I never order dessert myself but if someone offers to share something particularly delicious and indulgent, I'll have a bite or two and be more than happy.

When it comes to my own orders, I almost always stick to paleo choices as I've found, so far, that there are always plenty such options available (most of them delicious, like steak and fish and seafood and veggies and so on!) and I don't see the point in straying intentionally.

1
6b73f0c4b971e2dde7147920e329fe7f

(2041)

on February 14, 2010
at 08:33 PM

If I'm particularly hungry, I'll ask for a half stick worth of butter on the side to eat straight or spread on my meat.

1
Abadb1320bdb5f9df411c275694e1dce

on February 14, 2010
at 05:55 AM

I always feel if you can go in with the proper mindset that's the first obstacle. Unlike at home or at somebody else's home, you need to go through the physical act of ordering before the food arrives and it's not just an arm's length away.

Think about the repercussions which may make it a bit easier. I feel pretty crappy if I eat carbs such as digestion.

I've yet to really come across a cuisine that was entirely Paleo-unfriendly aside from maybe Vegan?

1
99546d10b3c1774cc4bccf6f275acb40

(176)

on February 14, 2010
at 01:18 AM

You don's specify the type of restaurant but I'll just say that when we(DH and I) go out to eat, its usually a date and so we choose a higher quality establishment.

I usually have a steak with seasonal veggies(that I don't eat if their over cooked) and a side of melted butter to dip my steak in...I'm salivating :) If I want a cheat meal, we go to a local asian cuisine place that has the best Pho I've ever had. I like the shrimp spring roll too. Everything is hand made from real food and its worth the prices. We almost never go to a fast food place as the smell of the places nauseate us. I will get the girls KFC about 3-4 times a year as a special treat.

Basically what I'm saying is to choose quality establishments and don't be afraid to call ahead of time to ask about how their food is prepared. In my experience, a good chef will be thrilled to prepare you a simple meal cooked in butter. Such a rarity in this time of "low-fat" everything.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on February 14, 2010
at 01:21 AM

I love Pho too -- sometimes I order it sans noodles/broth only with double meat and broccoli on the side. Only thing about pho is that a lot vietnamese places lace their pho with MSG....

99546d10b3c1774cc4bccf6f275acb40

(176)

on February 14, 2010
at 02:19 AM

I hear ya on the MSG...this place prominently advertises that they are MSG free. Great idea about getting it sans noodles...I'll ask about that next time.

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on September 27, 2010
at 12:48 AM

I love pho - my favorite prepaleo food. I will try ordering double meat next time.

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on September 26, 2010
at 11:43 PM

I miss phone - my face prepaleo food. Will try double meat ordering next time.

0
Medium avatar

(167)

on January 12, 2015
at 07:48 AM

Like others have said, claiming gluten intolerance or a downright wheat allergy will make things easier. I only do that if I'm NOT dining with non-paleo friends ~ it's not fair to deny them their bread too. 

Almost all restaraunts will substitute steamed veggies for rice or potatoes. I don't worry too much about the vegetable oil they're frying in ~ if you eat a balanced diet overall, a bit of extra vegetable oil will not throw your omega 3/ omega 6 balance out of whack. 

Absolutely watch out for dipping sauces and condiments, though! They're loaded with sugar, modified corn starch, maltodextrin, and a ton of other crud you don't want to be eating. Most salad dressings contain soybean oil, which has a high chance of being GMO-derived. Soy sauce contains wheat. Ketchup and steak sauce contain loads of sugar. Balsamic vinegar is a safe one, though. 

0
947b190e4cb0f4e0356b959d6fa7b50a

(55)

on June 11, 2010
at 03:17 PM

I brown-bag everything now, because it is easier. But that's not the answer you're looking for, I'm sure.

As the old diet adage states "if you fail to plan, then plan to fail."

Research the local restaurants first. Lots of them have an online presence. Compile a list of places where you can safely order, and under each, come up with the menu choices that will be suitable for you. Carry the list with you or keep it on your iPhone if you have one.

My first step towards going Paleo was going gluten-free first. It became the reason I got my iPhone. I bought Apps that let me check things on the fly - there was no way I could navigate my way through that food jungle any other way.

But even that wasn't enough. I had to create my "Restaurant master list" in order to make quick decisions about dining out.

By the time I went full paleo and became keto-adapted, eating out became less important or necessary. I skip the dining out and opt for other activities.

0
B3c62d89cd47b7d7209b6a99243d0ded

on June 10, 2010
at 12:56 AM

Some restaurants have gluten free menus now. Google for them. Bonefish grill is one. http://media.bonefishgrill.com/menus/gluten_free.pdf

If they have gluten free choices you are already dealing with a kitchen that is ready to be helpful.

Also, if it is a real chef back there, requests are welcome unless they are swamped!

0
F643ceedde9bbf290f31fc2f814100ed

(486)

on May 19, 2010
at 07:07 AM

I often tell the that I'm alergic to bread and wheat. I do this because they always seem bewildered that I don't want bread. After my meal I tell them that they are allergic to bread too!

0
Bebc8909d95205d0f266c839304c7d3c

on May 19, 2010
at 05:38 AM

I find restaurants are increasingly paleo-friendly, because more and more people are eating starch-free diets. No one even raises an eyebrow these days when I ask to substitute the potatoes for extra veggies. Also, I just skip going to places that don't have any options for me, like Perogi Palace, Pasta Hut or Diabetes Delight! :P

0
65125edd5aafad39b3d5b3a8b4a36bb7

on February 14, 2010
at 08:23 PM

I think some restaurants have more paleo friendly menus. You could try something like Montana Ted's - they usually have bison burgers and utilize more whole foods in their entries.

0
01cb59e52ccd12110de78e5068c6e4e1

on February 14, 2010
at 04:48 PM

For me restaurants are easy compared to events at friends' houses. It's hard to say no sometimes when they have the loaded baked potato boats and chips w/ dip and nothing to drink but beer. I typically will eat a paleo meal at home and bring a bottle of scotch--fewer carbs than beer!

65125edd5aafad39b3d5b3a8b4a36bb7

(6092)

on February 14, 2010
at 08:22 PM

I agree, Thanksgiving and Christmas is much harder to deal with than restaurants. Last Thanksgiving, the dinner was turkey and the rest was breads and starches. There was only one dish that had green stuff, and it was green beans - a legume.

145d4b0f988af15acc6b26eccc1f4895

(1932)

on May 19, 2010
at 05:21 PM

My friends learned a long time ago to consider me weird. I purposely cultivate that so that they know to expect that I won't do anything in a "normal" fashion. That way, they're never surprised at what I might do. It was slightly harder at work when we had a cake and alcohol-free "champagne" to celebrate a major milestone. I probably should have pretended to take some cake and some of the "champagne," but I wasn't thinking, and made myself stand out, when I would have been better served to pretend. I guess it all depends on the circumstances how to handle it best.

0
118c80acf27cc770098c489e98de17a1

(118)

on February 14, 2010
at 08:53 AM

I've been paleo for several months now, and I just don't sweat it at restaurants. Cough up the few extra bucks for a steak (paleo people tend to save on monthly food bills anyway), don't eat the breadsticks, and stop worrying.

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