We decided to go out to eat with Jared and Julie last night. Frankly, I didn’t want to cook. More accurately, I didn’t want to wash the 27 dishes that I would inevitably dirty up in the course of making dinner. Let’s just say that this new Primal eating and my minor compulsive need to have a clean kitchen are waging war. I let dishes win.
Or at least I let the dishes think they won.
We decided to go the Belltown Pub for dinner, and even though it is called a “pub”, the food was more fancy schmancy than you would expect. And really, I think I did pretty darn well. The following are some ideas that I used to make a more Primal-friendly dining experience. Even if you aren’t eating Primal or Paleo but are trying to “watch what you eat”, these ideas may be helpful.
1. Make sure the people you are going out with understand your diet limitations. Jared and Julie know about our Primal eating, and were more than willing to go to a place that could better accommodate our needs (like a bar and grill that would have salads or vegetables instead of an Italian restaurant that would serve mostly pasta). They also knew beforehand that we might have to do some creative ordering to make the menu bend to our Primal will.
2. Choose a restaurant ahead of time so that you can look at the menu before you go. Julie suggested the Belltown Pub, which is near their house and a non-chain restaurant. I was able to download their menu online and identify possible options that we could eat, as well as identify temptations (like french fries!) that could raise their dirty little heads during the meal.
3. Don’t be afraid to be “that” customer. You know, the customer who takes a full 5 minutes to order because they are adding and subtracting so much from the dish that its unrecognizable from whats advertised on the menu? Yeah, just get over feeling like a big, fat inconvenience and own it. You’re the customer, and the customer is always right, right? Its okay to be picky and only eat the things you want.
I ordered a burger that came with tomato, onion, avocado, lettuce, cheese, and barbeque sauce. I asked for no cheese and substituted red pepper aioli (which is essentially flavored mayo and was being served as a dip for an appetizer) instead of barbeque sauce, on the side. I’m sure the aioli wasn’t perfectly Primal, but if I have a choice between a condiment with preservatives (aioli) or a condiment with preservatives and sugar (barbeque sauce), I’ll stick with the former. Plus, the aioli came out on the bun instead of on the side (of course I didn’t eat the bun, so I should have ordered the burger bunless), and after scraping what I could onto my burger patty, I probably got less than a teaspoon of aioli in the end.
My meal came with french fries, so I substituted veggies. When the plate came out, there were french fries AND veggies 9which were unfortunately drenched in an oil of unidentifiable origin). It was tempting, but I promptly gave all of my fries to Jared and Julie, who were more than happy to take them off of my hands. Crisis averted. And honestly, after the fries were off of my plate, I wasn’t very tempted to eat them. Did they look good? Sure. Overpoweringly so? Not at all.
4. Remember, you are in charge, not the food. I’ve heard from a lot of people “There’s no way I could give up [insert non-Primal food here]. I just can’t resist.” And while I totally get that (I’m fairly certain I did, and maybe still do, have a physical addiction to sugar, and it’s REALLY hard not to satisfy post-meal brownie cravings), you don’t give yourself enough credit if you think aren’t strong enough to resist a food or drink you know is bad for you. Find another food on the menu that you enjoy (in my case, it was zucchini and red peppers instead of french fries), and dwell on the enjoyment of those foods instead. You are stronger than you think.
At the end of the night, I felt really good, and surprisingly energized. It was the first time in a very long time that I could walk away from eating out and not have a heavy stomach, nausea, or a debilitating headache.
And that, for me, is much better than french fries.
The Primal Menu:
Yesterday’s Lunch: Two hardboiled eggs, sweet potato hashbrowns, 2 patties of breakfast sausage
Yesterday’s Dinner: Bunless burger with avocado, tomato, onion, and red pepper aioli, side of zucchini, squash, and red peppers
Brunch/Lunch: Primal Pancakes with a little bit of almond butter, coffee with almond milk