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Eating in your favorite restaurants and staying paleo can seem like a very difficult task, particularly at first, but if you plan ahead, it’s definitely a fun possibility. Of course, when you are eating paleo, you’re probably going to cook a lot more and eat more of your meals at home, but it is possible to enjoy the occasional treat, such as a night out with friends.
The basics of the paleo diet, meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, are likely going to be available in many forms in your favorite restaurants, but it’s important to keep a close eye on non-paleo additions to the restaurant meals. You may feel like you’re being a bother to your server when you go out and insist only on paleo-friendly options, but don’t worry, they’re used to it. Eating paleo is similar to dealing with a diner who eats only gluten-free food, or has food allergies, or follows any other specific diet.
Tips for eating paleo in any restaurant:
- Order your meat without sauces, or ask for the sauce on the side. Many chicken and beef dishes come covered in various, potentially unidentified sauces, and they are likely not paleo-friendly.
- Choose side dishes carefully, or leave them off altogether. You can replace the common, potato-based sides (mashed potatoes, French fries, baked potatoes, and the list goes on), with extra vegetables. Just make sure your vegetables, like your meat, aren’t covered in sauce. If you can’t get extra vegetables that are in line with your paleo diet, just leave them off altogether.
- When ordering seafood you’ll most likely definitely want to leave the sauce off, if it comes in any. Sauces for seafood are almost always creamy, dairy-based, and definitely not paleo. Seafood also often comes in deep-fried form, so be sure you specify your cooking desired cooking method (grilled, seared, baked, sautéed).
- Mexican restaurants are a great choice for paleo options. You can order dishes such as tacos or fajitas, without the tortilla, and enjoy all the meat or seafood and veggies. Guacamole and pico de gallo also generally work well for followers of the paleo diet. When ordering at a Mexican restaurant, it might be best to ask your server to leave off the tortillas entirely, to avoid the temptation of having them lying on your plate.
- When going out for sushi, you can often order specially-made rolls that don’t involve rice. There are also rolls included on many menus that are only wrapped in a thin slice of cucumber.
- Research restaurants in your area ahead of time, so you have a ready-made list of paleo-friendly dining options. Most restaurants have menus posted on their websites, so plan ahead and choose what you’ll eat and how you’ll order it before going to the restaurant. This will take the guess-work out of the process, that can often lead to the temptation to stray from your paleo lifestyle. If you’re really ambitious, you can make several lists. One list for restaurants close to work, one for restaurants close to home, one for inexpensive dining options, one for more expensive options, etc. It’s also a good idea to include several paleo-friendly options on each restaurant list, to avoid burnout.
With a little planning, you can enjoy a night on the town and stay paleo!