Hint: it's not ordering the salad!
As a Health Coach, I get so many questions about how to eat healthily when away from home, or out with friends. I was a foodie before becoming a Health Coach, and I love eating out when I get a chance. Here are my top tips for eating out at restaurants:
1. Skip the salad.
Why are you ordering a salad? Do you think it's a healthy option? Think again. Most salad dressings are laden with trans fats and sugar to make them taste better. I LOVE making salads at home, but when you're out, pick something you will enjoy eating.
2. Order what you want
And then modify it. I often order a cheeseburger and ask for no bread. The meat patty and veges will fill you up without leaving you feeling bloated. My rule of thumb is:
Add healthy fat, remove unhealthy carbs.
3. Be OK with modifying your meal
In my experience, most cafés and restaurants these days are more than happy to modify a dish within reason. Some sauces and stews already contain flour and can't be made gluten-free, but if it's a simple request like "with lots of butter please" or "hold the bread", the staff usually don't mind. Hey, you're paying for it, so you may as well get what you want!
4. Avoid cabinet food
Cabinet food is usually bread or carbohydrate-based, because it's fast, easy to reheat and easy to transport. My advice is to read the menu; there will almost always be a healthy option there. The cabinet food appeals to our eyes but our bodies will thank us for steering clear.
5. Scope out the healthiest café in your area and go there
Deciding where to go with a group of friends is often a tough choice, but you can make it easier by suggesting your favourite healthy café. I frequent the same places and always recommend them to my friends, because I love the fresh juices, or the bacon and eggs, or because they always give me LOTS of butter with my order.
6. When in doubt, eggs are the best option
If you eat eggs, they are often the best option. Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, and eggs are always on the menu, nestled between high-carbohydrate options like porridge, pancakes and muesli. My usual is eggs benedict - hollandaise is a great source of healthy fat - with extra butter. If I'm eating out at night, I eat a piece of fish or meat with veges. And some more butter.
Think protein - fat - veges. And if in doubt, add butter.
Want more resources?
Why Butter is Better
Still think low-fat is healthy?
Check out my ebook: Fat is Your Friend, for tons of healthy recipes
Pictured - some of the full-fat treats in my ebook Fat is Your Friend
After all the emotionally charged posts in the last few months, I'm celebrating my new virtual home of katelebrun.com with a post about nutrition!
Specifically, low-fat foods. Many of my clients come in and as part of their programme, describe their daily diet which includes margarine, low-fat milk and yoghurt, and "lite" cereals and muesli bars. Many are confused as to why they aren't achieving their health goals - not just weight loss but also increased energy, better sleep and a good mood - when they are eating a conventionally "healthy" diet full of "whole grains". When I explain that their diet is full of sugar, they often respond with surprise - they have cut out sugar from their tea and coffee, and no longer eat biscuits after dinner.
So why don't they feel any better?
It's easy to identify high-sugar foods such as ice cream and biscuits, but even if we actively avoid adding sugar in to our diet, it's still there. It's hiding as refined carbohydrates. Breads, pastas, rice, potatoes, and other root vegetables break down very fast into sugar in our body.
Our body does not distinguish between white bread and white sugar - metabolically they are the same.
Each time you eat a slice of bread with cheese, you are really eating sugar and cheese. If it's low-fat cheese, you're eating sugar and sugar. When fat is removed from food, the number of carbohydrates rises. And carbohydrates spike your blood sugar, which can lead to energy slumps during the day, inability to relax, and cravings for refined carbs.
We are facing epidemic levels of obesity in this country, and many others. Unsurprising - our lifestyle has become so rushed and busy, that many of us rely on convenience foods instead of home-cooked meals. And almost all convenience foods are carbohydrate-based. Pasta salads, pies, muffins, and of course sandwiches. Flour-rich products have been chemically altered so they have a very long shelf life (think dough conditioners, preservatives and soy products). Bread used to go rock-hard after a few hours, but the packeted loaves we buy these days has up to fourteen days after production before it expires.
Saturated fat was falsely accused of many crimes since the 1980's, when it seemed that there was a direct correlation between eating high-fat food and heart disease, diabetes and obesity. The government released a recommended diet high in carbohydrate, and substituting animal fat for "vegetable" oils. We were told not to eat too many eggs because it would raise our cholesterol, and fatty cuts of meat were out.
Fortunately, all of these principles are being re-examined since modern diseases have skyrocketed since we adopted a low-fat diet. Doctors and scientists are now recommending that natural fats such as butter, egg yolks, avocados, nuts and coconut oil be consumed in greater quantities.
My personal experience is that the healthiest and fastest way of getting to your health goals is to throw away your man-made margarine, canola oil, and low-fat "food", and replace them with nature-made fats. Clients come back to me after I give them a meal plan and they are in disbelief that all their ailments seem to disappear after a month on a higher-fat diet.
Why does a high-fat diet make us feel amazing? Because every single cell in our body is crying out for fat. It's the longest lasting and most nutritious source of energy from a cell's perspective. We need fat to create healthy cells - which is why it is so important for pregnant women to eat healthy sources of fat. Is it a coincidence that fertility rates are dropping like a stone?
An immediate payoff to eating more fat, apart from feeling fuller for longer and your jeans becoming looser, is an improvement in your "beauty markers". Eating more fat is a key to ageing gracefully - our skin, nails and hair are stronger and kept young when we eat enough fat. Our brain is the biggest consumer of fat, and our beauty markers are the last to get nutrients. If you suffer from split ends, weak nails and dry skin, the best way is to nourish your cells from the inside out with healthy fats - I even take a high-quality fish oil supplement every day to ensure I'm getting enough.
Eating a high carbohydrate diet is inflammation-causing, and inflammation is the cause of many, many illnesses. Sugar and vegetable oils, which are present in most processed food like muesli bars, cereals, bread-based products and takeaways, are the biggest cause of inflammation in the body.
On a personal note, as I've written about in past blogs, I went through a stage during my marriage breakup of eating takeaways, anything bread-based and a whole host of sugary treats. As of writing this I still haven't recovered fully from those few weeks, I've had infection after infection, and I'm writing this blog post from my bed. For someone who never gets sick, it is plain to see that my comfort food phase came with a very high price tag.
My challenge to you is to get rid of your yellow oils and spreads, and anything labelled "fat-free" or "diet", and replace them with butter, lard, coconut oil and full-fat. Check in with yourself a few weeks later and notice if you have more energy, better sleep, fewer sick days, and a smaller waistline. I'd love to hear about your experience below!
To your health,