So, you’ve begun your round, and you have committed to 30 (or more?!) days of compliant eating, sticking to the plan.
But, life happens! Maybe you are invited out or perhaps there’s a social engagement already on your calendar. Or, you just want to go out to dinner because the thought of cooking another meal (and cleaning up!) puts you right over the edge, and all you want is to sit and have someone bring you food to eat!
Is it possible? The bottom line is, YES! You can make eating at a restaurant work for you during Whole30!
I have completed three full rounds of Whole30 and enjoyed restaurant prepared meals during each round. Full disclosure: It absolutely takes a little bit of planning and preparation! But, if you’re doing a round of Whole30, you’ve already committed to planning and prep – and even if you’re not physically making the meal, it’s your responsibility to make sure your food is on plan.
Here are some tips:
There are a number of chain restaurants at which you can find a compliant meal. Most chains will have ingredients and allergy information listed on their websites. There is also contact information listed on their sites. If you cannot find what you’re looking for, send them an email and ask! I have eaten at FIVE GUYS Burgers & Fries and Chipotle Mexican Grill on my rounds. At FIVE GUYS you can get a burger wrapped in lettuce with tomato and bring a handful of cashews or almonds. You can also bring in your own homemade mayo/Whole30 compliant ketchup and some roasted veggies to have on the side. At Chipotle, the only compliant meat is carnitas. You can get it as a salad with any salsa except the corn, obviously, and ALL THE GUACAMOLE!
If it’s not a chain, call the restaurant ahead of time. Take a look at the menu, find some options that look like they will work for you and write down some questions you’d like the answers to. It’s best to call between lunch and dinner service so you can ask the questions you need and not stress the staff out. You’re going to get more time from them and might even get to speak directly to the chef!
I did this one time during my first round! The restaurant staff wants you to have a great dining experience and you want to be low stress when you get there. Having a plan for what you’ll order is going to be KEY to a successful restaurant experience.
Here are some questions you could ask:
Are the burgers cooked on a flat top or in oil?
Are the burgers straight beef or mixed with a bread product of some sort?
What kind of oil are the vegetables roasted in?
What are the ingredients in your ‘house vinaigrette’?
Get over feeling weird about bringing your own condiments. I’m serious. Get over it. It’s your meal. You can get individual packages of coconut aminos in case you want to get sashimi when you go out for sushi with friends, ghee to go on a baked potato or almond butter packages to have on sweet potato.
I have also been known to bring my own container of dump ranch to add to a garden salad. I have NO SHAME! And you shouldn’t either! Also, spoiler alert: the wait staff is so busy that they probably won’t even notice or care. If that weirds you out, you can totally ask for olive oil and vinegar or even a wedge of lemon to squeeze on your veggies.
The Whole30 website has so many great references to help you maintain your social life while on a round, so check out this Dining Guide for more tips!
*One final note about making sure you get a meal that accommodates the Whole30 requirements. Please, PLEASE do not say that you have an allergy if you do not have a legitimate allergy. You can certainly say you are doing an elimination diet program and are avoiding certain ingredients, but claiming you have an allergy desensitizes restaurants to individuals who have very real and serious reactions when certain foods are consumed.
Where do you tend to eat out during a round of Whole30? Do you have any tips or suggestions to successfully navigate restaurant menus?