See update below.
Whether it’s a night out or a multi-week vacation, I see this question being asked online quite a bit.
(Actually, I just got back from a road trip to the West Coast, where I got to see my son graduate from Marine Corps boot camp. So I got to put all of this into practice.)
It seems a lot of people freak out and think it is too hard to stay true to the ketogenic lifestyle and still eat away from home. To me, eating out is simple. I think people make it complicated and, for some reason, have a hard time thinking things through.
There is nothing that says if you order a burger you can’t ask for it without the bun or just set the bun aside. You don’t need fries or a potato – you can ask for veggies or a salad instead. You can get a sandwich and just eat the insides. Remember, it’s your food, you should ask for it the way you want it.
Some options when eating out:
- Water with lemon – not diet sodas
- Burger without the bun. You can ask them to wrap it in lettuce if you still want the experience of picking it up and taking a bite. I however, eat mine with a fork
- Veggies, not fries
- Veggies, not potatoes
- Salad without carrots and croutons- ask for bacon, egg and cheese topping
- Steak topped with mushrooms
- Chicken – with the skin. Not fried chicken, unless it is fried without breading
- Vodka with soda water or diet tonic water – do NOT get a margarita
- Shrimp scampi
- Eggs and bacon or sausage – not pancakes or waffles. Get an omelet filled with meat and cheese. (WARNING: Some restaurants, like IHOP put pancake batter in their omelet eggs…so ask). No toast or bread of any kind. Ask what their fresh fruit is – you can eat blueberries, strawberries and cantaloupe
- Coffee – you can ask if they have real heavy whipping cream. If they don’t then half and half is an okay alternative, but you could also just toss in a couple pats of butter
Don’t complicate things by trying to pull breading off of stuff and don’t cave because “I am at a restaurant and this is a special occasion.” No, your health is priority number one and doesn’t need a vacation into disease territory.
Be sure to ask your server questions. While I was in San Diego recently and ordered a tri tip steak, one of the topping choices was crusted blue cheese. At first I thought, “Ooooh, I am getting that.” However, the word “crusted” was bothering me, so I asked. It turns out they use flour. So, instead I topped my steak with mushrooms.
I order salads without croutons, but I also know that restaurant dressing probably has sugar and hidden carbs. I eat the dressing anyway, because I order it on the side and rarely use all that they give me. Although I am diligent about staying on plan with my food, obviously at restaurants I don’t/can’t really weigh and measure my food. I exercise common sense and I don’t eat past full.
(THIS IS A NOTE FROM BRIAN: I never eat any salad dressing…I usually pour parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes on my salads. I call it my salad “dry rub”.)
From experience I can tell you that going on vacation doesn’t have to be a weight gain, nor do you have to get in to the mental zone of “Well I am on vacation so I am going to eat what I want.” Why destroy your good work for the sake of temporary taste?
Gorging on carbs and sugar will make you feel ill and make your vacation less enjoyable. Not to mention the guilt.
The last two vacations I went on I lost weight. Back in September, on a nine day trip I lost 5.5 pounds. The six-day trip I just returned from I lost 4.6 pounds.
Don’t cave, stay strong and keep your eye on the goal. Have tunnel vision and don’t keep telling yourself you are missing out by not indulging in foods that are basically poison to your body. Remind yourself that the only things you are missing out on are stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, diabetes, body fat etc.
Keep it simple, don’t let the menu overwhelm you, don’t let your carb addicted friends and family sway you with words like, “Oh, just once…” or anything similar!
Remember, you have a goal! You can’t cheat and win!
Editor’s note: When this post was originally published, cantaloupe was included as an option. We want to take just a second to clarify that. The truth is that most fruit is problematic, even in limited quantities. We have discussed why here.
Cantaloupe, specifically, falls into a grey area. Its nutritional profile, gram for gram, is similar to that of blueberries, so on the surface it would seem to be a potentially friendly food. On the other hand, serving sizes of each are vastly different. Most berries are served in quarter cup increments, whereas melons are more like one half or one full cup servings, which means that they aren’t being consumed in the same way. Melons also tend to be sweeter tasting than all but the ripest of berries, and that sweetness and the addiction to it is very commonly the source of stalls, cravings, and hunger. So, while the comparison may be technically correct, it is not a particularly fair or practically accurate one when it comes to how people actually consume the two fruits.
All of that is to say that we consider cantaloupe one of those foods like peanuts that may be ok for some people, but that we do not really recommend.