Eating Out

>> Saturday, February 14, 2009

Generally my rule is 80/20, which means that 80% of the time I eat whole, natural foods and the other 20% of the time I don't worry about it. That pretty much means that everything we eat while we're at home is unprocessed because I spend 80% of my time at home. I don't even keep anything in my house that would tempt me. However, I do enjoy eating out. And sometimes because of our busy lifestyle it's a necessity. Because I know that I have laid a good foundation for my body, I try not to feel guilty if I'm out and bombarded with bad choices. Sometimes, I'm at a friend's house and I don't have a choice and therefore I just don't give it a second thought. But if I do have a choice, then I try to choose wisely.

When I was first getting started, the key for me was to plan ahead. In fact, I researched my favorite restaurants, even viewed their menus online and made a list of what I would order when I'm out. This took forethought and effort but made it easier in the long run because I didn't panic and wonder what in the world to eat.

Here are my general guidelines for eating out:
  • Avoid sandwiches and wraps because the buns are ALWAYS made with white flour.
  • No breading or sauces. They are most likely full of white flour and sugar.
  • Avoid buffets. Their food is usually prepared with lots of butter and sauces.
  • If I go to Mexican restaurants (Mo's is my favorite!), I ask for a "naked" burrito. They will serve beans, rice, and veggies in a bowl instead of a tortillas with white flour.
  • I also ask if their tortilla chips are made with corn or white flour. Skip it if it's white flour.
  • Avoid any/all dairy products. Dairy sold in public is highly processed and full of hormones/chemicals. Skip the cheese!!
  • Ask the waiter to cook meats and veggies in olive oil instead of butter, because butter in restaurants is usually full of unwanted fats. Order veggies steamed.
  • Order meats/eggs/fish rather than casserole type dishes because you never know what's in those sauces. Pick steak over meatloaf everytime.
  • Avoid cream based soups made with processed butters, flours, etc. Choose veggie soups.
  • Anymore, restaurants have their menus online. If I know where I'm going, I look up their menu online and choose what I'm going to eat before I go. Most restaurants even have menus for special diets (dairy-free, wheat-free) making it even easier to make choices.
  • And, of course, skip the soda which is full of white sugar or even worse, artificial sweeteners. Choose water instead or unsweetened iced tea.
So, here are my favorite places to eat:
Wendy's: I order chili and if I'm really hungry a baked potato with chili on top. I skip the cheese on top though.
McDonald's: LOVE their southwestern salad! Not too much else to choose from here, except maybe a grilled chicken sandwich without the bread.
Taco Bell: Surprisingly, Taco Bell came out with their Fresco Menu. There are about 10 items to choose from which have no cheese/dairy on them. Instead they use fresh veggies and pico de gallo. We order the crunchy tacos which uses corn instead of white flour.
Starbucks: green iced tea, unsweetened.
Ted'd Montana Grill: One of my favorite restaurants because they serve grass-fed beef.

Remember, many restaurants claim that their food is healthy merely because it's low in calories or fat. But you can eat low fat and still have a poor diet. It's about the QUALITY of food. It's better to eat a good steak, than to eat a cheeseburger topped with a bun made with highly processed white flour. Try to choose "whole" foods. The closer it is to the way God made it, the better.


JD Collier February 16, 2009 at 6:50 AM  

This is good stuff ... I'd love to hear your thoughts on feeding kids. My boys have been pretty good about trying things, but we eat some things that they just can't handle. Any suggestions on ways to get the good food into kids?

Susan Ginn February 16, 2009 at 9:45 AM  

Hi JD,
Great to hear from you! I would probably start by replacing foods they already eat with "real food". In other words, if you're using Jiff peanut butter, replace it with 100% peanut butter. Replace your jelly with fruit spread. Replace your syrup with 100% maple syrup. Ketchup can have lots of extra sugar in it...replace it with all-natural ketchup. Replace margarine with butter. They might not even notice the difference or I'll bet they actually appreciate the difference because real food tastes better. You can buy all these things in regular grocery stores, but we LOVE Trader Joes products better and they're usually cheaper.

Look at my blender batter recipe too because your kids will love them!! They taste so much better and they're so healthy. We also eat lots of oatmeal in our house but we don't buy highly processed oats, we buy them in bulk and soak them overnight to make them more digestible. We serve them with peanut butter and jelly on top. The kids love it.

That's a start at least. Let me know if you want more suggestions. I have found that eating real food is especially important for special needs kids. Processed food wreaks havoc on our bodies, especially on bodies/minds that are already so vulnerable. Since switching to whole foods, our 2-year-old son has not had a seizure in over a year!

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