Eating Out and Food Restrictions

PC: McLovin 2.0

PC: McLovin 2.0

I find myself doing A LOT of cooking on this RepairVite / AIP diet. Here’s the thing, I love cooking, but on this program, it does seem to take up quite a bit of my day. I have completed five full days of the program (not even a third of the way through the food elimination phase). My DH asked me today if we were almost done. He is doing a modified version of the program. He eats dried fruit and nuts as snacks.  He is also drinking coffee (with sugar!). I introduced him to coconut sugar today. He had it in his coffee, but I don’t think it’s going to stick.

Thankfully some days we do plain ol’ leftovers—nothing fancy. However, we had unexpected guests on a leftover day, so we ordered out. It (the food) was a nice change for me/us. My DH and I ordered a rotisserie chicken and a green salad from our local Mediterranean restaurant. It worked! And it was easy and yummy. And we were able to have our guests order whatever they wanted meaning we didn’t have to submit them to our no-this no-that diet. It was a win-win situation. It was such a great experience that it got me thinking, “where else could we order food from and stay within the diet’s parameters?” What other places could I eat at with success? Whole Foods is one possibility. I fantasized about getting a protein burger from In-N-Out. But my doctor said when I re-introduce beef, it needs to be organic grass-fed beef. And that part of the re-introduction isn’t for awhile. Sigh…

Okay back to the idea of eating out. I love cooking. It’s therapeutic for me, but sometimes I get physically tired from my illness, and I am very challenged to do anything let alone stand in the kitchen and prepare food. I also feel like my energy level, when low, compromises the quality of my cooking. So, there’s got to be a way to get our special diet food from other sources, namely restaurants. But gosh, it can be tough. So many places use “avoid” oils, gluten, and refined sugars in their food prep. I looked to the paleo community for some guidance. I found the following suggestions about eating out on a special diet from*.

1) Pick a restaurant that uses fresh ingredients

2) Order a salad and extra protein (chicken or meat) on the side

3) Ask what kind of oil is the food sautéed in

4) Ask if there is there any milk, butter, or cheese on/in a particular dish

And you know how they say not to go grocery shopping when you are hungry because you end up buying out the whole store? Well, I think a similar theory applies to eating out on a special diet. Don’t wait until you are tired and hungry and don’t want to cook to start thinking about where you want to pick up food from or eat out at. So, one of the most important things to do is to do the research ahead of time. Many of the chain restaurants have their menus and nutritional charts online. And feel free to give the restaurant a call if you need further clarification about an item. I feel less pressured to inquire about an item on the phone than when I am sitting down with a menu in front of me and a server waiting table side. And if you are like me and my family, then you will more than likely be staying local with your picks. We prefer to patronize our local businesses, and we also prefer to pick up food and bring it home—when it’s local (closer to home), the food stays hotter/fresher. Yelp, your local chamber of commerce, and good ol’ Google can help you begin your search for nearby restaurants. Do your research ahead of time and make a list. You could also plan to try out one of your restaurant finds once a week just to give yourself a break from cooking and for a change of scenery.

Have you found any fast food places or restaurant that work for a Paleo or AIP diet? What tips do you have when eating out on a special diet? I’d love to hear any recommendations. Thanks for sharing!

*For more recommendations on what a person on a Paleo diet can do when eating out, check out’s article “Eating Paleo at Restaurants“.


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