How to Eat at a Restaurant on Whole30

Whole30 Round 6, Day 3

Day three is traditionally the beginning of the miserable portion of the Whole30 program.

The ‘Hangover’. It’s that time when all the eating and drinking sins you committed right before your Whole30 rise up to bite you in the butt. And the head. If you did New Year’s Eve big and Christmas big, then you probably carbo-loaded a good bit right before starting the program.

All the sudden, you tell your body it is not allowed to have all of the things that it was used to but didn’t necessarily work well with either: cheese, gluten, alcohol, dairy, refined sugar, etc.

I’m knocking on wood as I type this, but so far so good. No major repercussions for trying to amend my evil eating ways.

But as the title of this post indicates, I’m not here to talk about the normal hangoverish issues associated with Days 2-3 (or the even worse Days 4-5 known as ‘Kill all the things’ days).

Let’s talk restaurants and Whole30.

Restaurants and Whole30

The most difficult parts about eating at a restaurant are as follows:

  • Hidden non-compliant additives, especially sugar, dairy (usually in the form of butter with grilled meats and veggies)
  • Limited choices
  • Limited choices while your coworkers, friends, or family order whatever the heck they want. Those jerks!
  • The fear of being the annoying person on a strange, ‘restrictive’ eating plan, asking the server a bunch of questions he or she doesn’t know the answers for.
  • Eating another naked salad with a grilled meat on top of it.

The easiest way to handle all these minor frustrations?

Remember that you’re a grownup human being who can make choices and doesn’t need to eat fries or drink beer or have cheese dip just because Susie from accounting is doing so or because your high school best friend is visiting from the Midwest.

From there, the best thing to do is focus on what most restaurants will have as options, even if it isn’t exciting: some sort of salad or steamed veggies and some sort of grilled meat.

My simple rules and tips, perhaps even tricks, for eating Whole30 at a restaurant:

  1. Find the grilled meats, and just confirm they’ll use olive oil vs. butter if any fat is needed in the cooking. Simple.
  2. Find the salads, and confirm that they will not allow dressings, cheese, corn, soy, any legumes, or those delicious tortilla strips on it.
  3. Find the salads and ask them to load it up with raw veggies, tree nuts, or fruits as you like it. A well placed sliced strawberry or a few blueberries really pair well with…
  4. Oil and vinegar (preferably balsamic) to dress the salad. Be prepared to destroy a white shirt, though, if you go with the balsamic vinegar. It can really stain the thing. At least that’s what my friend told me.
  5. Italian or other seasonings for the salad: I love to use something a little beyond salt and pepper to help give the oil and vinegar a bit of a kick. Ask for them to sprinkle some oregano or Italian seasoning or some fresh herbs into the salad.
  6. Ask for steamed veggies if you’re sick of salad or if there’s another ridiculous romaine panic. Again – confirm no butter!

It might not sound as awesome as a big fat bacon chesseburger and fries, but I guarantee you’ll get more work done in the afternoon or sleep better at night if you stick to your Whole30 guns.

As you might guess, my Day 3 included a meal out with coworkers. They had wine and beer and burgers and Caesar salads. I had my little grilled salmon salad with unsweet tea with lemon.

I went back to work and got some things done vs. trying to find a corner of the building to curl up for a nap. I didn’t get a fry, but I’m a grownup human and it turned out okay.

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