While a low carb lifestyle does involve some sacrifices, eating out does not have to be one of them. People who embrace a low carb diet can still enjoy meals out with friends or family, happy hours, and other social activities that revolve around eating. With a little bit of preparation and planning, you can eat healthy, low carb meals and enjoy eating out while not compromising your diet.
Here are some tips on eating out on a low carb diet:
1) Help choose the restaurant: More and more restaurants are offering low carb options: lettuce wrapped sandwiches, large selections of hearty salads, and protein focused entrees. If you are able to, be involved in the restaurant choice. This will ensure that you end up somewhere you can eat a delicious and nutritious meal without feeling deprived or tempted to ditch your diet.
2) Review restaurants and menus before you go out: Reading a restaurant menu before you go will prepare you for your dining experience. You may be surprised at the number of healthy options, or you may realize that there is very little on the menu that you can eat. Either way, you will arrive at the restaurant prepared and will have a plan for your meal.
3) Have a healthy snack before going out: Some places are simply not equipped to cater towards low-carb eating. If you know you are going somewhere where sticking to your diet is going to be tricky, eat something before you go. Arriving on an empty stomach at a restaurant that has limited low carb options puts you at high risk for straying away from your diet. Chances are there will be something you can snack on, so be prepared to order something small and fill up in advance.
4) Ask for substitutes: While you don’t want to go totally off menu, there are often many simple substitutions that can be made to accommodate your eating habits. These simple substitutes will make your meal healthier without putting too much extra burden on the kitchen:
• If you are craving a burger, order it without the bun. You can ask for a lettuce wrap or for your burger to be served on a salad.
• If you are ordering a meal that is served with a carb-heavy side dish, ask if it can be replaced with sautéed vegetables or a salad. Most restaurants have some type of sautéed vegetables or salads on the menu, so this is a simple substitution to make.
• If you order something that comes with chips or crackers, ask if you can get veggie sticks instead.
Ask to skip the bread: A basket of warm, crusty bread is a huge temptation! If the company you’re with is ok with it, ask to skip on the bread and order some healthy appetizers instead.
5) Don’t be afraid to ask questions: Americas obsession with carbs means that they are often hidden in places you may not expect. Something as seemingly safe as a salad can be full of carbohydrates if they are served loaded with croutons, breaded chicken, or tortilla strips. Make sure to communicate with your waiter so you do not end up disappointed when the seemingly healthy menu item is not what you expected. Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask what options they have on the low carb side. Many chains are starting to offer (but not advertising) a low carb menu because of the increasing demand for it.
Lathe Poland is one of the creators of the documentary film Carb-Loaded: A Culture Dying To Eat.
Why is this low-carb website named CARB-LOADED?
Because we made a documentary about modern food culture!