How To Eat Clean While Dining Out Or Traveling

How To Eat Clean While Dining Out Or Traveling

Food choices are foundational for better health.

First of all, what is “clean eating?”

When you eat clean, you choose whole or minimally processed foods that are real foods or made from real food ingredients, rather than choosing their highly processed counterparts. Real food is any food that sprouts from the Earth, roams around on it or swims in its waters. Think pasture-raised roast chicken instead of fried, breaded, fake chicken-like strips, grass-fed beef burgers instead of “plant-based” patties, fresh fish or steak at an Italian restaurant instead of the refined flour, blood sugar-spiking pasta dishes, opting for a high-quality olive oil & vinegar to drizzle on your salad instead of mystery salad dressings – stuff you could whip up at home, really!

Why “eat clean?”

The name of the game is “prevention.” Since the healthcare system here in the U.S. is only set up to treat the symptoms once health issues develop, we need to be proactive and focus more on maintaining optimal health. Because what we prevent, we don't have to treat with pills later down the road when the condition becomes chronic. Eating clean also allows you to tune-in to your body’s needs and avoid mindless snacking. While all bodies are unique, EVERY body needs nutrients from nutrient-dense, real food to function optimally.

Eating out is fun

Whether you’re on a healing protocol or just an everyday wellness enthusiast, eating out is something you’re going to want to do from time-to-time. Ideally, every restaurant would be stocked with local, seasonal produce and sustainably-raised meats and seafood all cooked in ‘better-for-you’ fats. Since that isn’t always the case, I recommend doing the best you can when eating out. And with a little creativity, you can make most restaurants work for you regardless of the cuisine-type or menu-options. Just keep in mind that when you eat at a restaurant, you give up control over the quality of food that goes into your body.

Osteria la Buca in Los Angeles always has a fresh crudo option on the menu


Do some research first

Nourishing your body while dining out isn’t as difficult as you make it out to be—it just takes some research. Make a list of the healthiest spots to eat in your city, or the city you’re planning to travel to. Scour menus and look for fresh, organic vegetables, sustainably-raised proteins, fermented foods, and healthy fats. There are absolutely healthy restaurants that focus on high quality ingredients, seek them out and support them! Steak houses are usually a good option as are fish-focused restaurants. Keep it simple and I think you’ll find that simple food is always the most delicious food.

Here’s how to make any menu work for you:

Think protein and vegetables first. Take a look at the protein options listed on the menu, first. Do they have a roasted chicken? Steak? Fresh fish? Lamb is always a great option as well, as most lamb is pasture-raised, not factory farmed. Next review the vegetable options. Some restaurants may only have salads – which is great – but also look for roasted or sautéed, or even grilled, non-starchy vegetables as a side dish. Then look for what healthy fat options they have. Can you ask them to cook your eggs in butter instead of canola or vegetable oil? Is avocado or guac an option? Do they have olive oil instead of salad dressing (which can contain added sugar and industrial seed oils)? Even a little cheese works to check off the “fats” box if you tolerate it.

Salad Niçoise from Kismet Los Angeles

If after first glance all you see is refined carbs, starchy carbs, gluten-filled carbs, and more refined carbs, you might be able to make some simple modifications like wrapping the burger in lettuce instead of a bun, having the burrito in a bowl instead of a tortilla, or swapping fries for a house salad. Go easy on the chips at Mexican restaurants as corn crops (among others) in this country are often GMO and are sprayed with glyphosate – a harmful environmental toxin. Do keep on the lookout for those devil-in-sheep’s-clothing type dishes such as meatballs that contain breadcrumbs, “pan-fried” items that might be breaded, or sushi rolls with soy sauce – which contains wheat – and avoid those. Speaking of sushi, this is a type of food that can wreak havoc on blood sugar levels, so focus on the sashimi over the rolls and order a seaweed salad or cucumber salad for a dose of nutrient-dense fiber.

Seaweed Cucumber salad from Sushi Enya in Pasadena

Do the best you can

What you choose to eat the majority of the time directly affects how you feel and function. Real, nutrient-dense food will make you feel like a vivacious, optimally-functioning, confident, present human and processed or fried food makes you feel…way less than optimal. How do you want to feel the majority of the time? Think your health is worth investing in? Contact me today for a personalized, functional nutrition plan.

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