Let's be honest: You can't eat out on Whole30


vacafrita

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My brother is a chef and enjoys the challenge of having to cater to changes in a dish, actually. So, I'm sure that's a possibility at restaurants that employ chefs. 

 

I find eating out is more expensive for me (I actually do have to always avoid dairy and gluten), sure. But, very possible. Actually, the higher end restaurants are easier to find delicious, fulfilling dishes at. 

 

I think getting over the mindset that you're somehow a problem or annoyance is your real issue. You know, we speak with our dollars when it comes to food, and if you want to see healthy, whole food options at more places, you might have to be that person that requests it. The more often you do, the more they get the hint. There are actually restaurants in our area that have had the paleo or vegan requests so much, they have literally added these options to their menu and one even started using coconut oil. So, it isn't that you're troubling someone (sure, maybe a waiter who doesn't want to work that night, perhaps), you're telling the restaurant what people really want. A good business wants to cater to their clients, and a restaurant is no different.

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This looks like a great option! The burger is just beef, although it would be worth asking if they put anything on the grill. Mushrooms and Relish are sweetened, but tomatoes, lettuce, pickle, green pepper, onions all look good to go. even hot sauce and jalapeños look good. no condiments, but you can't win them all  :)

We've done Five Guys a couple times. We get it to go and I top it off with homemade mayo and chopped up Bubbie's pickles once we get home. We asked and at least at ours, it's a dry grill. The owner of ours said the beef has enough fat in it to be just fine with nothing else.

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  • 2 weeks later...

As a former vegetarian (of 20 years), I have very strict rules about only eating free range animals... and that is a bit challenging for some restaurants. But I cherish the ones I do find and become a very regular customer and good tipper. That helps :-)
We found a hamburger restaurant here in The Netherlands (long way from SF) that actually own their own free range animals. We eat there at least 3 times a month.The food is lovely, no additives and my wife's weirdest order was "the vegetarian stacked up veggie burger, without the goats cheese and please put a lamb burger in it instead". The waiter usually sits down in a free chair, because ordering can take a while with all our "no cheese but bacon please, no bun but oven baked sweet potato and can we get oil and vinegar instead of ready made salad dressing?".  
Even though we are picky clients, all the staff knows us and likes us... and I have asked the waiting staff and even the chef. He says he welcomes the challenge to make us something nice within the Whole 30 rules.... So being "That Guy (or girl)" doesn't have to be that bad or awkward.
 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have to totally agree with the original poster - the only places I've found that somewhat work - JJ, Panera, chipotle and noodles & co. - not exactly sit down restaurants and so many restrictions - just easier to cook at home!! Thank goodness it's only 30 days, right? :-)

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Maybe I'm weird, but it is extremely rare that I dine out 'for the food'.  For me, the dining out experience is usually for the company or purely because I just don't feel like cooking.  If I'm going to dine out for 'the food', I don't do it during a Whole30.  In fact, that's one of the benefits I like the most about Whole30 - food has taken on a much lower priority in my life now and I am much happier for it!

 

I will say that where you live and dine does make a BIG difference though.  We have some excellent paleo restaurants here in Portland, some which are well familiar with Whole30 and can easily alter meals as necessary.  In these places, I do go out for the food and I let them wow me.  It rarely disappoints!

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It's definitely a bit labor intensive to eat out during Whole30. Yes, you have to ask the hard questions.

 

I personally start with asking the server to speak to the chef and figure out what could be made with little or no changes and start there. I've always gotten great meals and no one seems put off by it.

 

If you try to eat out at modest or cheaply priced chain restaurants, you might have a tougher time. I prefer to spend money on nicer places and I think you have a much better experience there. Most nicer places have a entrees on the menu that involve good quality piece of meat that doesn't need to be doused in cheap ingredients - the chef knows how to make those dishes sing with few additions.

 

Nicer places are also more willing (and able) to accommodate you. A lot of the chain type places are limited - they can't take wheat and soy out of their pre-made burger patties, after all.

 

Honestly, I prefer eating at home. My cooking is pretty darn good and my palate is so alive when I'm eating absolutely zero sugar or junk. Everything tastes amazing.

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  • 2 months later...

We have some excellent paleo restaurants here in Portland, some which are well familiar with Whole30 and can easily alter meals as necessary.  In these places, I do go out for the food and I let them wow me.  It rarely disappoints!

 

Hey GLC1968 - fellow Portlander here!  I've got the Cultured Caveman just a mile or two from my house, which is AWESOME.  What other paleo-friendly places have you found in Portland? 

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I recently was faced with eating out at my office's after Christmas , Christmas party.  I scanned the menu ahead of time to pick out a few candidates and when it was my turn to order, I asked the waitress in a funny manner to have a seat and sharpen her pencil.  I ordered fajitas with no cheese, no sour cream, extra peppers and onions, no tortillas, and extra guacamole.  The waitress laughed, delivered my perfect order, and I gave her a well deserved hefty tip with my complements to the chef.  

 

I am used to being "that guy" because I have life threatening allergies to shellfish.  Just remember that sometimes "that guys" like to enjoy an evening out with the crowd and it is extremely stressful and makes me self conscious when I have to explain my issues.  It is just as awkward to us as it is to the wait staff except if we get "contaminated" we get an epi-pen, a trip to the hospital, or could even die.  They just get pissed off or put out.

 

I was happy with my fajitas.  This is my first Whole 30 and I was proud of my self for being content with my order and not diving head first into a bowl of crap.

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I'm in Houston, TX of all places, and I can think of two awesome restaurants who have extensive Paleo menus.  And the food is delicious!  And there is also a Paleo prepared foods company where you can get full fresh Paleo meals.  These are trendy, very cool places with great chefs.  So I bet there are more places in other cities following Paleo.

 

Of course, these places also serve wine, lol.  I often drink San Pellegrino in a wine glass (even prior to W30) with a lime.

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I am going out tonight to one of the top rated Thai restaurants in the Puget Sound. It happens to be on my island, lucky me. I emailed the restaurant and the manager called me back asking what my restrictions consisted. He explained that the owner/chef was working with a local dietician on inflammatory eating.  They are making separate recipes mirroring their current ones without sugar and soy.  They have a wok beef with asparagus or green beens depending on the season, their green curry does not have sugar and they use ReD Boat fish sauce!!... and I can eat their spring roll without the sauce. I will report back on my experience tomorrow. 

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I appreciate your quandry, and also your clarification about what it means to "eat out" to you, vacafrita.  I'll only "eat out" if the quality and or ingredients are of a higher caliber than I am consistently making at home... and I have to confess that since going pretty full paleo back in '11, there are fewer and fewer restaurants that I would ever consider "eating out" at anymore.  I think what you're experiencing -- not being able to eat out easily while W30ing -- is common both when W30ing and when you've gotten used to higher quality food on the reg.

 

For me, no longer being able to eat at Olive Garden (yick!) or Applebees (gag) helped me to discover interesting ethnic foods that are more innately paleo and W30.  I find some Asian-food menus (read: sushi, some Korean places) both meet my "I can't do it this well at home" criteria and are easily modified for W30.  When eating out at a sushi place, I bring a little sistema cup of coconut aminos, order sashimi, and gorge myself guilt free.  I also discovered Ethiopian food since eating paleo, which is great when I'm not W30ing but has too many legumes to substitute respectfully while in one.  Greek food is super easy to accommodate too -- hold the feta and pita usually works to quickly W30 a meal, at least around Rochester.

 

I'd encourage you to look outside of the typical white American cuisine and/or eateries while W30ing: your definition of "eating out" includes appropriately high expectations for someone who now feeds himself quite well: keep looking, and you'll find a gem or two. 

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Looks like if you eat out you order plain meat, salad with oil and vinegar, possibly some soups. Meat, protein or fruit. I just started and I keep telling myself that.

You can get steamed veggies as well, a baked potato, fresh lemon squeezed on the salad, sliced avocado, sashimi, etc.

Soup dining out would be really tricky: for me, I'd only get gazpacho that I could confirm was compliant.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ultimately, W30 is a lifestyle change, not a purge or cleanse.  When you treat dining out as an adventure, something that needs to proceed precisely like the preconception, your gains may vary and your patterns changed and wisdom gained may not carry forward.  If you treat dining out as someone who cooks what you want better than you do, that'll go far.

 

If you're going to places that have actual professionals rather than recent CIA Greystone grads, in a city like SF, they should have built a menu that touches on almost every taste and need.  A true hospitality professional wants nothing more than to send you home happy.  In a city like SF (echo in here?), there are plenty of diners that take control of their dining experience and satisfaction. Career executive chefs hear it day in and day out.

 

Since reading It Starts With Food and the other books it led into, I take control of the people I pay to feed me the one day a week we go out.  I make it clear that this isn't acceptable, but not as a flag waving ass aka That Guy, I just make changes to what is on offer and expect them to oblige.  I don't treat food as a performance art.  Well, except Paula Deen's Krispy Kreme bacon cheeseburger...

 

Chefs may hear finnicky requests all the time, but that doesn't mean they like it. Restaurant employees straight-up hate "That Guy," mostly because That Guy pisses the chef off and he, in turn, makes things worse for the staff.

 

Chefs and line-cooks do their jobs mostly by physical memory -- they have a specific routine that they go through to manage multiple unique dishes cooking at once. Even at a place that has a changing menu, they have a mix of cooking techniques and main ingredients on their menu that lend themselves to easy-to-follow physical patterns in the kitchen. Requests like ours don't just make it harder for the chefs to cook our own meal, they disrupt the entire kitchen by setting off a chain reaction.

 

So, yeah, we can get food at the restaurant. But no matter how nice we are to the waiter... we're still being jerks in the eyes of the staff.

 

All that being said, I have a lunch meeting with a funder at a restaurant in two hours. I'm very thankful they have a buffet -- otherwise, I'd be getting a dry burger without the bun and drilling them about soup ingredients.

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So, yeah, we can get food at the restaurant. But no matter how nice we are to the waiter... we're still being jerks in the eyes of the staff.

I think that's a bit harsh.  I've never gone anywhere and felt like the staff thought I was a jerk because I requested my omelette without cheese.  We also have our favourites (one diner, one pub, one "nice" restaurant) where now the staff know what I am going to order and they get compensated handsomely for it because having those places is extremely valuable to me.  

 

I think it takes relationship building and kindness and extra gratitude at the start...if you ever want to go back and create the same order again.

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Chefs may hear finnicky requests all the time, but that doesn't mean they like it. Restaurant employees straight-up hate "That Guy," mostly because That Guy pisses the chef off and he, in turn, makes things worse for the staff.

 

Chefs and line-cooks do their jobs mostly by physical memory -- they have a specific routine that they go through to manage multiple unique dishes cooking at once. Even at a place that has a changing menu, they have a mix of cooking techniques and main ingredients on their menu that lend themselves to easy-to-follow physical patterns in the kitchen. Requests like ours don't just make it harder for the chefs to cook our own meal, they disrupt the entire kitchen by setting off a chain reaction.

 

So, yeah, we can get food at the restaurant. But no matter how nice we are to the waiter... we're still being jerks in the eyes of the staff.

 

All that being said, I have a lunch meeting with a funder at a restaurant in two hours. I'm very thankful they have a buffet -- otherwise, I'd be getting a dry burger without the bun and drilling them about soup ingredients.

 

Yes, speaking  from experience, from working the line in the back of the house, I was always more than happy to make adjustments to meals for customers. I was and am not one of these chefs who scream and throw pans and I figure that if the customer is happy, they will be back. I worked in a very busy brew pub on the Oregon Coast and was always making changes for customers. Maybe it was because the KM and GM were both vegetarians and they always asked for changes. BUT I was always happy to do them. I actually had customers tip me from the table because I was willing to, and happy to, make changes. One in particular, was a seafood dish--the customer was allergic to fish and I just subbed chicken breast for the fish and completed the dish. Took no time at all.

 

I am sorry that you have run into chefs that are jerks, because they are out there. I wish you had visited the restaurant where I had worked, because I would have made any adjustments needed with a smile :-)  

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Some restaurants have more flexibility and menus which aren't difficult to adapt or adjust, some have no interest in catering to everyone and are happy to exclude groups of customers.

 

Restaurants are in the business of hospitality, making people feel welcome and not making them sick when you feed them.

 

Some are just better at it than others :) It never hurts to be polite, call ahead or say thank you.

 

Calling ahead is the best time to find out they have nothing compliant to feed you, you can always eat before you go if there's no venue choice.

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Well, if it is hard for you in SF how about us in Europe? We have to research well in advance and translate our claims to people on the other end in different languages, leave alone that some folks here never ever heard of paleo.

 

Re."that guy". When I was on Whole 30, I was traveling a lot (Spain, France, Switzerland while living in the UK, and all this within 30 days) and I did eat out. I was "that guy", and you know what? I am proud of it. The program has taught me that I have to do what is best for me and not care much about how I'll be perceived. When you do any, any at all, amazing stuff, you will always be criticised. I had no problem at all to reject a recently made (for me, on my demand) tartar sauce because it had one single non-compliant ingredient, in a posh Swiss restaurant. Like whatever, it's my health, my choice, and I'll stick to it. In London, eating out was a breeze : you just go for a double burger with no bun and get a side salad which you ask for with no dressing. Then you ask to bring you a half of a lemon and a bottle of olive oil (oil and vinegar normally stand on tables) and you got it.

 

So yes, the Whole 9 team says the truth when claiming that it is easy to eat yout while on the program. Not only you clean up your body, but also you boost your discipline (preparation!) and learn how to pursue your own interests regardless of the enlighted opinions of others. 

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