8 Tips for PFC Restaurant Eating

So many of you are doing a phenomenal job of following our PFC approach at home; you’re feeling better with balanced blood sugars, in control of your cravings and your kids are eating veggies! But in the work environment, there’s catered lunches, mandatory happy hours, and company dinners. And then weekends are filled with dinners with friends, which is a nice change from cooking during the week. That said, while you’re managing your nutrition like a pro at home, the thought of ruining everything you’ve worked so hard for in the name of social outings is disheartening. Dining out can be stressful as many menus are overwhelming with so many options, how are you supposed to figure out what fits within PFC guidelines? Read on to discover eight PFC “restaurant hacks” that that will let you enjoy an evening away from home without having to give up your balanced eating convictions. 1. Skip the bread. You’ve heard it a million times, and we’re saying it again. It's a filler food, not balanced, turns into pure sugar in your body, and why spoil your appetite by indulging in too much bread before the meal? You're going to want it, maybe even crave it, especially if your blood sugar levels are on the down slope and it’s sitting right in front of you. That's normal and also why it's not smart to walk into dinner with an empty tank. By following our “Three Three Rule” (PFC every 3) you're going to have a much easier time passing on the bread when your blood sugars haven't completely plummeted. 2. Keep it simple. Don’t order fried food or pasta. Just don’t do it. No one feels awesome after eating fried chicken or an oversized plate of fettuccine. Besides, the point of this post is to show you that eating delicious food, PFC style, at a restaurant is possible. So just don’t do it. Stick with our motto and keep it simple at a restaurant by picking a meat, a starchy and non starchy veggie, and top it all off with healthy fat. Plenty of popular restaurant dishes already fall into this category so don’t think it has to look too crazy. Steak with a potato and a side of broccoli with butter. Totally PFC. Bonus points if you swap your potato for a sweet potato! A big salad with chicken, bacon and olive oil dressing counts too! Bonus points if you add sliced avocado. Grilled salmon with broccoli and rice? Balanced! Bonus if you ask for extra serving of veggies in place of the rice. Garlic rosemary chicken with mashed potatoes and fresh spinach is balanced, too. See? Totally do-able. 3. Specify your fat. Restaurants are notorious for their use of inflammatory, damaged oils because they're cheap. Keep it simple by sticking with olive oil and vinegar on salads, and ask that butter be used for cooking (if possible) and for topping. Sometimes you have to get creative. When I was on the Low Carb Cruise I'd pick up the butter packets from the pancake bar, bring it over to the omelet station and ask that they cook my eggs in that butter instead of the questionable oil they were coating the pans with. I’d also specifically ask for “real eggs,” to prevent them from feeding me the mixture of who-knows-what that was poured from their mysterious carton. Avocados are more common now than ever before, and for good reason. Add ‘em to your salad or to the side of your plate. If you’re comfortable with it, you can always bring your own avocado or stash of quality dressing (travel containers for shampoo and conditioner work really well for olive oil and even coconut milk or almond milk [a couple great dairy-free alternatives for coffee])! 4. Get creative. I can't tell you how many times I've been OVERLY impressed when I asked for a substitution. At several restaurants, when I ask them to hold the bread, they offer me a serving of fruit at no extra charge! Or, I’ve even asked if I could do an extra egg or two instead of the toast and this request has been honored at no charge too. If a certain sandwich sounds delicious, I’ll ask for it served over fresh greens instead of bread and have never had this be an issue. Remember, restaurants want to make YOU happy. Sometimes they have great ideas, but if you’re the one coming in with the food requests, it can be helpful for you to be the one to be creative and make suggestions for what would work. 5. Ask for water. Ordering water not only saves you from drinking loads of sugar, but it's easier on the wallet, too (and being on a budget is a common roadblock we hear for eating healthy, so don’t blow it with beverages). I like wine as much as the next person, but if eating out is a regular or semi-regular activity for you, then this can add up fast. If you insist on ordering a beverage, soda water is a refreshing sugar and artificial sweetener-free option. Unsweetened tea and coffee (black or with heavy cream, butter, almond milk or coconut milk) are good options too. For alcoholic recommendations I have a full blog post and TV segment on that. 6. Choose lean meat. I'm ALL about fat but I'll take this opportunity to remind you that toxins are stored in the fat from conventionally raised animals. If you're dining at a place that offers organic, grass fed, pastured options then by all means, go big and order the fattiest cut you can find! If not, order a lean option and get your fat from one of the healthier choices as outlined above. 7. Be careful with food sensitivities and allergies. If you have a sensitivity you NEED to ask about EVERYTHING. Don't assume that your server or the chef is going to know what “gluten free” or “dairy free” means. For clients with food sensitivities, we often find they are better off when they say they have an allergy. I dined at a favorite restaurant with someone who has a dairy allergy, and it was then that I learned my favorite mashed sweet potatoes are pre-made with half and half….Yuck! Milk is often added to omelets too, so if you’re avoiding dairy, ask for shelled eggs. When in doubt you can always ask to see the allergy list—most restaurants have a menu that specifically outlines which allergens are included for each item. Lastly, don’t feel like a burden about asking. Many times I’ve asked to see the menu and the server had been flat out wrong by stating there wasn’t gluten or dairy in an item. 8. Plan ahead. I’m a big fan of planning because I think it drastically reduces stress levels, and this is especially true for those who are new to this PFC lifestyle. Do your research before arriving at the restaurant. Check out their menu and maybe make a phone call. I do this all the time, especially when I’m deciding between a few restaurants. I’ve had managers put the chef on the phone with me to answer my questions—which I think is really impressive and makes me feel even better about eating there! So there you have it! Eight ways to still enjoy eating away from home without having to sacrifice your PFC lifestyle. Are there any tried and true pro-tips that you can recommend? Definitely share any secrets you have when it comes to eating out in balance in the comments below and get our free Getting Started Guide for the PFC category lists so that you can bring 'em with you digitally or hang on your fridge.

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