Eating in restaurants while on the paleo diet can be tricky business, especially if you’re not sure what actual ingredients the meal you are trying to order is made of. In a nutshell, foods that are allowed on the paleo diet are meats, seafood, eggs, vegetables except legumes, fruits, nuts and seeds and plant based oils. From beverages, limit the intake to water and tea.
First of all, you should pay attention to the choice of the restaurant. If there’s a new restaurant in town that serves organic whole foods and uses bio ingredients, you should try it. Don’t go looking for some fancy restaurants that serve gourmet specialties, because you’re obviously not interested in that. Instead, look for some local places that have the labels fresh and organic. At last, the best thing to do is to tell the waiter straightforward what are the principles of your diet and which foods are allowed, and which aren’t. His job is to know the menu, not yours, so ask him for some suggestions and then you can pick the ones that are the best for your own taste.
Start by carefully selecting the starter. Chose a big green salad with lots of veggies and don’t forget to tell the waiter not to put any croutons or cream based dressings over your salad. Instead, ask for some olive oil and vinegar on the side. If you’re not in the mood for salad, ask for an egg based starter, like two egg omelet with fresh herbs and bacon, or some spinach and mushrooms. It doesn’t need to be bland or complicated, just be creative. When it comes to the main dish you can never go wrong with a good piece of meat, just be careful with the sauce. If you have doubts about the ingredients, check with the waiter, and if you’re not sure if you will like the taste, ask them to put the sauce on the side. If you’re in for a lighter lunch ask for some steamed or roasted vegetables, mushrooms, or maybe even a broccoli or mushroom soup. For dessert you can order some fresh fruit and that’s that. Unfortunately, there is no paleo approved cheesecake or pudding.
There are a few slippery slopes when it comes to restaurant meals. Mainly, you have to be precise about the oil the restaurant is using when preparing your meals. Most restaurants will probably use sunflower oil or corn oil, and those options are not 100% paleo. So you have to be precise and ask them to prepare your dishes in olive oil or coconut oil.
Moreover, you have to make sure that there are no dairy products in the meals that you are ordering, since a lot of them may come with butter, milk or cheese in their regular versions. Don’t forget that it’s not enough to just order a meal and say that you don’t want the meal to be prepared with this or that. If you want broccoli soup and the chef is preparing it with cream and butter, what are you going to end up with? Purred broccoli, which is definitely not what you were thinking of ordering. So instead of trying to recreate every option on the menu, just tell the waiter to bring you some easy meals that are made of what you want.
Most importantly, don’t let yourself feel bad if you’re asking the waiter tons of questions. Don’t forget that you’re eating and in the end, you will be paying for the bill, so make sure that you have all the information you need and that you end up with a paleo approved meal on your plate.