I know that on social media it can look like a lot of people avoid ALL inflammatory ingredients 100% of the time. While that may be true for some, that is not totally realistic way to live – especially if we want to go out with friends, try new restaurants and eat the foods we love.
While learning about harmful ingredients is super important, it doesn’t mean you need to avoid them at all costs for the rest of your life. Being mindful of where harmful ingredients are hiding and the amount you are having can have huge benefits to your health. And there’s no reason to have fear of anxiety with this! Food fear is real, and totally not necessary!
The truth is, when we are eating out, inflammatory ingredients are EVERYWHERE – Industrial seed oils, conventional animal protein, refined sweeteners, etc. and while I often recommend that we should be cooking most our food at home, never eating out does not sound realistic or fun. Going to restaurants with friends and family is such a special part of life. I love to try new restaurants and celebrate special occasions at my favorite spots.
Here’s the truth about what is really in our food at restaurants: we don’t know. If a restaurant does not advertise using olive or avocado oil, they are most likely using canola and/or soybean. Even Sweetgreen uses canola oil in their salad dressing. (Most people would consider Sweetgreen a healthy option doesn’t it?!) Similarly, if they are not advertising that their protein is organic, grass fed, etc. it is very very likely that it is not. If you were a restaurant owner, and going out of your way to invest in organic grass fed beef, you would advertise that on the menu right?
That being said, there is no reason to eat out and have fear or anxiety about this. Avoiding these ingredients at home and opting for healthier choices like avocado oil, coconut oil, etc when you are cooking is so important. When you eat out, you don’t need to worry as much because you know that your meals at home are supporting you feeling your best.
This doesn’t mean you should let all wheels off when you are eating out. It’s not just a matter of having inflammatory ingredients or not – how much you are having is equally as important. There is a difference between going to a restaurant and ordering a big salad and splitting a side of a fries vs. going out to a restaurant and ordering a cheeseburger, a side of fries, a milkshake and a beer. Balance is key here. Instead of eating clean all week and then going out and overloading on the pizza (and not feeling great after), try having a salad and half the amount of pizza.
There is no perfection here, all it takes is just being mindful and asking yourself, what will make me feel my best? And a lot of times that is giving into what you are craving AND having something that makes you feel physically good too. When there aren’t these strict yes or no “rules” put into place, eating out is a lot more enjoyable, and you can do it stress and guilt free.
1. Do your research
Having a list of healthy restaurants on hand is great for last minute plans or to go meals. When brainstorming somewhere to go, you will already have a list of your favorite places that are also in line with your health goals. Once you know where you are going, look up the menu beforehand! That way you know some healthy options you can order when you get there. If you have food sensitivities, don’t be afraid to call the restaurant ahead of time and ask questions.
2. Focus on blood sugar balance
Make sure you have protein and fat in your dish so that you can have stable blood sugar balance. This will eliminate any fatigue, shakiness or cravings after your meal. Studies show that if you start out with a glass of lemon water before your meal, it will minimize the blood sugar spike of your food (and bonus- the lemon water will also stimulate your gastric acid secretion for optimal digestion!)
3. Don’t be afraid to create your own plate
Be upfront with the waiter about any food sensitivities and ingredients that you want to avoid. If you dont see something that you want, dont be afraid to ask for something off menu! I often times like to look at the sides and create my own dish with a few veggies and a side of protein.
4. Simple swaps can make a big difference
If you don’t want the tortilla chips, ask for a side of veggies to dip into the guacamole. If they are offering complimentary bread, ask for them to bring a different appetizer instead. Swap the salad dressing for a side of olive oil and lemon slices. Don’t be afraid to get creative and be direct with what you want. Little swaps can really add up to support you in feeling your best!
I hope this encourages you to go out and enjoy yourself while still feeling your best at the same time!
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