As many of you know already, I am a hardcore paleo eater. I absolutely love it and I think it is simple, effective and the only things our bodies should be eating. We all should be eating as naturally as we can with as much nourishing fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts, eggs and seeds as we can. It is not only good for our health and energy but it also gives us all the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. Eating paleo is also great for diabetes, weight loss, inflammation and reducing many other nagging or debilitating diseases that may hamper ones health. I really do believe it is the healthiest and best way to eat for almost everyone. As long as you are eating the right things it is difficult to overeat, like I always say “fuel up on as many vegetables as you want.” Protein is important and should be eaten with every meal and while you are at it so should vegetables. Protein and vegetables should be the staples for almost every meal with everything else like fruit, nuts or fats, and dairy should be complementary. However, as much as I love eating this way, I do know that we (myself included) are all human and are faced with challenging eating circumstances whether it be a luncheon, a business dinner, strapped for time running the kids between school, practice or whatever or you just do not feel like cooking. I get it, I have been there and go through these dilemmas at least once a week just like you.
My goal today is to help you with a tutorial on what you should eat and should not eat at the different restaurant cuisines you end up dining at. When I dine out, I do live a little and let them cook the food in whatever it is they cook it with. I am not a special case who says, no butter, hold the salt and use fresh oil please. I let the flavoring and cooking slide but I also do make the best healthiest choices I can make. I will do my best to cover all the ones I can think of, so lets get started.
Most of these are heavily influenced with rice and vegetables which is A-okay in my book. Yes, technically rice is not paleo but it is also non-inflammatory and so it doesn’t cause much havoc on your system like bread or pasta which is good. You won’t walk away feeling carbohydrate bloated like after a heavy pasta meal. However, if it is weight loss you are after try to reduce the amount of rice due to the calories. Aim for an entrée with as much vegetables as you can. Avoid anything and everything that is fried whether it be the chicken in your entrée, the egg rolls or the wontons. Generally the soups and salads are great and healthy for you and will fill you up. My favorites are spring rolls, kung pao chicken and vegetables, beef and broccoli and Mongolian beef.
Probably my most favorite cuisine but it comes at a price because it is quite costly. I love sushi and wish I could eat it more often like a couple of times a week. I feel we could all benefit from eating more fish and sushi definitely checks off that box with all the different assortments of fresh fish we can consume. With the exception of the fried shrimp or any roll that is a “crunch” roll, than sushi is pretty much fair game. Go for the sashimi platter if you can or a sashimi salad. The sushi assortment is always great and a surprise because you never know exactly what you are going to get. Stay away from the real heavy baked rolls or the ones that are covered in heavy sauces as well. Edamame is a great appetizer and so are the shoshito peppers. I generally go for edamame, the peppers, a couple of rolls and either the sashimi or sushi sampler.
Here is where it starts to get tricky and pretty deadly. I can not stand Italian and my wife loves it. What’s not to love though right? Pastas, bread and heavy sauces all add up to disaster in your system. There are ways to order around at an Italian place without just having a salad, although that is never a bad option. Your best options are to avoid the bread they give you as an appetizer (a lot harder to say than to do, even for me), maybe order a side of meatballs, check out some soups they may have and try to find an entrée that has no pasta in it. I usually can find some sort of chicken and vegetable or fish entrée that suits me pretty nicely. I know it is going to be drowning in sauces, butter and salt and I am okay with that. I try to enjoy some aspects of eating out without being the picky eater. When it comes down to pizza, a staple food we all indulge on and enjoy, there are several options to help with your dietary needs. First, the thinner the crust the better so thin crust will be less carbs than thick crust which is better but can be deadly because you end up eating more slices so be careful. Second, opt for as much vegetables and lean meat as you can so you can fill up more on nutritious and filling vegetables. Third, try to limit yourself to only a couple of slices like maybe 2 or 3 because I have found it is easy to overeat, especially with pizza and lastly, skip the crust, it will save you calories. As much as you can please try to avoid the heavy sauced dishes like fettuccine alfredo. Your body and your waist line will thank you for it.
Growing up in Arizona I would have to say Mexican is my most favorite cuisine there is. I love the spices, the cheese, the grease, the chips and salsa, the beers and margaritas and all of the other greatness which goes along with it. Unfortunately, it is not paleo friendly. At all. There is cheese and rice, and corn chips and flour tortillas and corn tortillas and grease and fried goodness and lots of other bad stuff. It is hard to eat paleo with Mexican food right from the start of walking in the door. You and I both know it is almost impossible to resist the chips and salsa they put in front of you as you are reading the menu. After several chips, I need to put out the flames of the salsa and quickly need a cold beer. I slug half of that down before I am ready to order and quickly need another one as I wait for my food to arrive as I continue to munch on chips. Bad news for me for sure. It is a weakness of mine I have to admit which more than likely does not bode well for you either. Let’s start look into some of the positives like: salsa. Great for you, nothing but vegetables and spices and completely natural. Good. Guacamole, a great healthy fat, good for you and pairs nicely with your chips and meal. When eating Mexican, I generally go for a side of guacamole and either pick between two tacos (usually chicken and shrimp) or the fajitas. The fajitas are always great because it is like making your own taco but I skip the flour tortillas and just eat the meat and vegetables with a fork. Top it with some salsa and guac and I am a happy guy. I may have a bite or two of the rice and beans but I hardly ever eat all of it. That usually goes to my kids, they love rice.
Oh American, saving the best/worst for last. Here is where all the not so good foods originate from. American food is responsible for such things as hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken wings, chicken fingers, nachos, french fries, onion rings, jalapeno poppers and everything else that is breaded and/or deep-fried. We love to eat and eat things that are tasty, salty, sweet, crunchy and deep-fried which is not necessarily the best for our health. We emphasize on huge portions with meat being the main source and vegetables and starchy foods as sides. We enjoy too many high calorie drinks filled with sugar and other unnatural ingredients like sodas, juices and coffees. There is hope and ways to eat around all of the bad stuff without just eating salads all the time. Starting with salads, it is always a great option to choose from when eating out. Try to eliminate any salad that may have fried foods in it like breaded chicken and avoid croutons and anything processed or crunchy. Do not go for a caesar salad because the dressing is mixed in with it and you can not control it. Always go for dressing on the side and just dip your fork into before every bite and you have dressing with every bite. If choosing to eat a hamburger, most places now-a-days allow you to eat it protein style or lettuce wrapped. If you do choose to go with bread, at least take the top bun off and save yourself some calories. If and whenever you can it is better to eat just the meat and avoid the bread at all costs. Try to choose better sides like fruit, tomato slices, a side salad, coleslaw or cottage cheese instead of the usual fries or onion rings. Be wary of foods that are covered in sauces like barbecue or dressings because they are usually filled lots of calories, sugar and not natural ingredients like high fructose corn syrup. Again, the goal is always to have protein and vegetables with every meal and to eat the bad stuff in moderation.
I hope this help give some insight on what to eat and what not to eat when you choose to dine out. The healthier you choose to eat, the more you will crave healthier foods and the more energy you will have. Strive for eating foods that are good, natural and healthy for you and it will pay dividends for you health in the long run.