I want to share with you my anytime top tips for surviving restaurant pit stops and getaways so that you can feel your best! So many of us have dietary restrictions on some level so thinking about the following suggestions will help you feel prepared and in charge of your diet while traveling. If you have a suggestion that's not listed, please add it for others in the comments below!
Tip #1: Plan ahead - Research your route and the towns/cities in which you are traveling through and make note of healthy options such as restaurants, natural health food stores, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, etc. You can easily pick up a lunch or dinner at one of the stores I mentioned instead of relying on a restaurant. I’ve even found cafe´s and locally owned coffee shops to carry gluten-free, sugar-free, whole-foods options, but I needed to call ahead or go online to do the research first as it is not always apparent from a roadside sign.
Tip #2: Call ahead - If you are staying at a hotel that has an inclusive restaurant, call the concierge desk to make sure they give the staff a heads up that you are staying with them and that you have dietary restrictions. If a menu is not posted online, ask about your specific concerns. Most restaurants are used to accommodating food allergies and sensitivities so don’t think you’re asking them something they haven’t been asked before.
Tip #3: Ask to Read Labels - As I stated before, restaurants are becoming more and more accommodating to food allergies, so they are sensitive to those requesting certain food preferences. Having said that, don’t be afraid to ask them to bring a label out to you so you can read the ingredients in something you are about to order. I do this ALL the time because my son has reactions to artificial food coloring, additives and preservatives. Also, most restaurant foods will contain hidden sugars, MSGs, processed soy and hidden wheat so it’s worth a few minutes of questioning.
Tip #4: Avoid Trans Fats -
- Ask that your meat and/or vegetables be cooked in butter or olive oil to avoid highly inflammatory and often trans fat based vegetable or canola oils. If you have a dairy sensitivity, ask for olive oil preparation.
- Sub out fried sides (french fries) with steamed vegetables or rice side dishes as a healthier alternative.
Tip #5: Pack your own sweetener - Carry your sweetener with you or ask for honey. I will carry a few packets of Stevia in my bag so I don’t have to even consider using the white sugar or even the raw sugars at most establishments. And don’t even think about grabbing an artificial sweetener. Opt for the real raw or white sugar instead if you’re not prepared with your own.
Tip #6: Scrutinize your "healthy" salad - Ask for olive oil and vinegar and pass on the in-house made dressings, unless you ask for a list of ingredients. This is a great place to avoid sugars and extra calories. Also, ask them to hold the croutons and extra cheese on top. You can ask them if they can sub in some walnuts or almonds instead.
Tip #7: Hold the Bread - Many restaurants are holding their bread baskets now unless otherwise requested. You can also let them know upon being seated that you would like your bread basket to be held. This is crucial if you have a gluten intolerance on any level as your body will start the inflammation process and you will probably end your meal feeling bloated and uncomfortable.
Tip #8: Know your meat - Only order meat that is organic and/or grass-fed to avoid feed-lot quality meat, which has been pumped full of hormones, additives, and toxins. If you don’t have any options there, then order fish, as long as its not farmed salmon, which are loaded with antibiotics, corn and soy products and other toxic chemicals.
Tip #9: Water is key - Drink a glass of water BEFORE you head out to the restaurant (or about 20 minutes before eating) and then limit water consumption during your meal. I know this sounds counter intuitive, but many people are not digesting their foods properly and an overload of water to the stomach while eating will raise the pH of its acids and not allow it to do its job as effectively had the acids not been diluted. This will also curb your appetite and keep you from overindulging.
Tip 10: Take a digestive enzyme - I like Digestive Enzymes Ultra by Pure Encapsulation. You will see this enzyme listed under the supplements category on my Amazon storefront. This enzyme will help you break down and digest your food more easily, which is very helpful while eating at any restaurant to help you avoid gas, bloating and other digestive upset from either eating too much or from eating some funky ingredients that you weren’t counting on. Like my packets of Stevia, I carry this with me at all times to avoid feeling uncomfortable.
Have you already tried some of these ideas? How have they worked for you?