It’s no secret that I follow the keto / low carb WOE (way of eating). I also travel a lot for work and enjoy a date night out with the husband and dinner and drinks with friends. You might be thinking to yourself, wow, must be hard to keep that up while eating out! Well my dear reader, that’s where you’re mistaken!
My biggest, bestest tip: stick to a protein and a veggie and tell the staff that you’re gluten free. I aim to be gluten free always because of my allergy, but I’ve found that saying you’re gluten free enables staff to be more sensitive to your dietary restrictions. They’re typically quick to let you know about cross contamination (sometimes restaurants fry everything in the same oil) and if there’s flour in a sauce or coating.
Don’t be afraid
Never be afraid to ask for what you want, or what you need! I have no qualms telling staff that I have an allergy or a sensitivity to the ingredients that I want to avoid. What’s the worst thing that can happen if you ask for an alteration, or ask for them to leave something off the plate?
If the burger comes with fries and a bun, I ask them to leave off the bun and swap the fries for a side salad. Not once has this posed an issue – except when I was in the Edinburgh Airport and their Burger King could not comprehend what a bun-less burger was. True story! The manager had to come over and make the burger for me because they couldn’t figure out how to put it into their system. Then I took my burger and found a place to sit by my gate, opened it up, and there was no napkin or cutlery. I looked around – that gosh darn eco-friendly airport had NO napkins or plastic cutlery ANYWHERE!
What would you do in that situation? Can you guess what I did? That’s right – I used my built-in cutlery and ate that mother with my bare hands, grease and all, like a true American! (what?)
Anyway – back to my thoughts on eating out while living that low carb life. It’s really not scary! Ask restaurant staff to leave the no-no stuff off the plate, see if they’ll swap if you feel like you’ll want more food – if not, just don’t eat the foods you don’t want. Notice how I didn’t say don’t eat the foods you can’t have. Really, you can eat anything you want. No one’s going to tell you, you can’t have that, like a toddler. I’m not the keto police! There are no “keto” foods. There are keto friendly foods, sure. But a food is not “keto” or “not keto.” You’re an adult, I’m assuming. Make your own choices and own them.
For me, I know if I indulge in pasta or bread or sugar, there’s a serious risk of me having a bathroom emergency. And no, not talking about having to go touch up my makeup, if you catch my drift… I know if I stay on plan, I’ll leave feeling satisfied without any tummy troubles. That mindset helps me stay on track.
When I was in Oxford, I ordered hotel room service. I didn’t tell them on the phone, “I’m keto so I can have X, Y, and Z.” Ain’t no one got time for that. Instead I said to the staff, “I’ll have the lamb and vegetables and no potatoes, please.” Here’s what I got:
I didn’t eat it all either – I prioritized the meat and the veggies that I wanted to eat, and there were veggies left over! I did the same thing another night at that hotel – “steak and veggies please, no potatoes!” Bam:
There was one time when something kind of funny happened. I was out with coworkers at a pub in Oxford. We were getting dinner, and the menu was pretttttty carby. There were a couple of options that I thought I could easily keto-fy. I was going back and forth on a salad, a burger, and the pork steak and eggs. I settled on the pork and eggs and asked for a side of veggies instead of chips (french fries, or steak fries for my fellow Americans). The guy gave me a puzzled look at first, and asked if I wanted a salad or hot veggies. Hot, please! Then he asked if they could give me what was in season – I said sure, as long as it’s not potatoes.
Don’t get me wrong – I adore cooked cabbage with a little salt (it’s a great alternative to pasta if you saute it in some salted butter and top with tomato sauce and cheese). It just looked a bit funny on the plate, and my coworkers were a bit perplexed.
I broke those runny yolks and went to town – these days, I always prioritize the protein. After I ate that, I wasn’t even that hungry for the greens!
What about sushi?
This can be interesting – I’m a big fan of fish. First, it tastes divine and can be prepared so many different ways. Fish is filled with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins like D and B2. It’s rich in calcium and phosphorus and a great source of minerals, such as iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium. It’s packed with protein, vitamins, and nutrients that science has proven can lower blood pressure and help reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke. All in all, I love me some fish and I eat it whenever I can!
Ordering sushi can be interesting – it’s a known fact that rice has lots o’ carbs. You might think that sashimi is the way to go, and that’s correct! I love me some sashimi! But there are other options, as well!
One option is to simply ask for them to prepare the standard (simple) rolls without rice. In my personal experience, a kitchen will only refuse this if they don’t make the rolls fresh. Sometimes the more complicated, specialty rolls need the rice to hold everything together – so just be prepared for a possible ‘no.’ I frequently ask for them to leave off the rice when ordering in a restaurant and when ordering delivery. I clean up pretty well…
Another option is to ask for a Naruto (pronounced Nah-roo-toe) roll. This is a roll wrapped in cucumber! Not all places have this option on their menu, but it never hurts to ask! They might make it for you special. If anything, they’ll be impressed that you know your stuff. Here are some of the Naruto rolls I’ve enjoyed:
I’ve had these with salmon, tuna, yellowtail, and all three combined! They’re light and yummy, and an excellent alternative to regular rice rolls. See? Ordering food while following the low carb / keto WOE can be simple and easy!
But what about Italian food?
Yup – I hear that. Italian can be a challenge. It’s my ultimate comfort food, or at least it was! Homemade pasta is my weakness, along with pizza. What do I do when I end up in an Italian restaurant? You guessed it! Protein and veggies for the win! I tell them that I have a gluten allergy, and usually they say that they have a gluten-free pasta option. I tell them it’s never quite the same as the OG, so I’d rather avoid it. 99% of the time I’m sure you’ll find them willing to accommodate your requests as long as they aren’t too out there. If not, then think about it. Is it really so hard for a restaurant to leave a few ingredients off, and prepare you a veg on the side? If it is, it could be because they make their food in advance and it’s sitting out, or perhaps they’re reheating from frozen. In that case, I’m typically happy finding a new restaurant.
One suggestion I’ve heard of people doing but haven’t tried myself is asking for a restaurant to substitute pasta for broccoli or zucchini! Another excellent option, although I prefer to get in more protein so I’d naturally go for a larger dish.
Again, just leave off the rice, beans, and tortillas! I personally love getting fajitas and then just eating the meat and peppers and onions and lots of shredded cheese on top. Also, gimme that sour cream!
There are so many options for low carb chips out there these days, you can bring your own with you and enjoy some guacamole, too! If you’re asked to explain why you want to leave off ingredients, just say you have a sensitive stomach, or you simply don’t like them. I always say that I have a sensitive stomach, but if they wouldn’t mind doubling up on the meat and/or onions and peppers then that would be appreciated. It’s always worked out for me! No need for them to give you food that you won’t eat and they’ll end up just throwing away. When you explain it that way, they’re usually happy to accommodate.
I think you’re ready, friend! You’re prepared to order food and stay keto / low carb! I believe in you! Let me know how it goes, and of course if you have any questions. I’m happy to help – just ask.