In this post, I will show you that it is super easy to Keto when eating out.
Food is also a social experience; eating out with friends and family, enjoying yourself at birthday parties and picnics, and so many more situations is an essential part of feeling connected. In this post I will help you go into these situations with a plan so you can stay Keto and have fun with your friends and family.
Surprisingly, it’s super easy to eat Keto on the road, whether you’re at a fast-food place or sit-down restaurant. One of the best hacks I know of is to look at the menu before you go out and see if there’s a way to customise it to make it Keto. Almost everywhere you go, you can ask them to customise, and it works. Getting protein and carbs shouldn’t be difficult, so your primary concern is getting enough fat. Most restaurants cater to “low-fat dieters,” not to high-fat dieters. But recently in South Africa, I have seen more and more restaurants have “Low-carb and Banting” options on their menus. So, if they have, well then that will make your choices easier.
You know, come to think of it, as a family we have been living this Keto Lifestyle since 2015. And we have never felt we are depriving ourselves while eating out and designing our meal Keto-style. Eating out is more about the social part and less about the food. So, change the way you think about eating out; it is not about all the “yummy” bad foods that you now have to deny yourself. That’s not only nonsense, but it is not true either; you can have amazingly delicious meals when eating out and still stay in Ketosis. I guess that’s why we have always stuck to Keto regardless of where we go to eat out.
Here are a few tips to help you be prepared for these situations:
IDEAS FOR EATING OUT WHILE KETO
- Fajitas without tortillas, no rice, no beans, top with extra guacamole, sour cream, and a squeeze of lime.
- Beef or chicken salad, no tortilla, no tortilla chips, no rice, no beans, top with extra guacamole, sour cream, and a squeeze of lime.
- If you’re vegetarian, look for egg options, too. If you’re vegan, veggies sautéed in olive oil and topped with extra guacamole is the way to go.
Think Mediterranean Diet. The Mediterranean Diet is believed to be one of the better or healthier diets with plenty of monounsaturated fatty acids from olive oil, olives. Cheese, meats and greek salads and veg like peppers, aubergines are good choices. A Mediterranean Restaurant is an excellent choice when dining out. We love going to Mythos as they have a tapas section on their menu with many options that can easily be classified as Keto-friendly. Here’s a link to their website, and you can have a look at an image of their Meze menu below. See if you can spot the Keto-friendly options…
The problem with Italian is that it is renowned for pasta and pizza. But most Italian Restaurants have other options as well:
- Grilled salmon or chicken topped with butter or olive oil with steamed vegetables on the side. Request side of olive oil or butter to drizzle on vegetables.
- Some Italian restaurants may offer “zoodles” (spiralized zucchini). If your Italian restaurant does, you may have zoodles with meatballs or chicken with alfredo sauce or pesto. (Caution to alfredo sauce: ask if their sauce is made gluten-free. Some places use flour as a thickening agent; if flour is used, it may kick you out of Ketosis. If it is not gluten-free, it is best to avoid. And go with previous options.)
A great favourite for us is Col’Cacchio because they have a low-carb section on their menu with cauliflower base pizzas, zucchini noodles, and Bringle lasagna, to name a few. They even have a delicious low-carb cheesecake. Here’s a link to their website, and you can have a look at an image of their Carb-conscience menu below.
Asian restaurants can be tricky since their dishes are mainly rice-based and have quite a bit of sugar in their sauces. But there are a few things you can stick with: egg drop soup, chicken lettuce wraps, pepper steak, and sashimi. Tofu if you’re vegan. Don’t be afraid to request a side of olive oil to drizzle on meat or soy to increase fat.
Personally, I love Indian food and regularly cook it at home. Eating out is a bit more challenging to control because restaurants use thickening agents like flour in their sauces, and often the vegetable choices are high carbohydrate veg like potatoes that are added to the meal. Naan bread, samosas and rice are the worst kind and unfortunately something you’ll have to forego.
Luckily though, many Indian restaurants offer cauliflower-rice and banting-style rotis. Your best options at an Indian restaurant would be the tomato-based meals.
STEAK RESTAURANTS & PUBS
These restaurants usually have a lot of options you can potentially choose from:
- Lettuce wrapped bacon cheeseburger with a side salad, no croutons. May have Caesar, ranch, or blue cheese dressing.
- Chicken wings with traditional buffalo sauce with carrots and celery dipped in blue cheese or ranch.
- Cobb salad, no croutons, with ranch or blue cheese dressing
- Steak (without basting) with a side salad, no croutons. May have Caesar, ranch, or blue cheese dressing.
Pub food is already pretty hard if you’re vegan, but look for a big salad or some good sautéed veggies and lots of guac or avocado.
TRAVELLING ON A PLANE
I have two tips when you are travelling overseas or flying for an extended period:
First, go for the simplest real food that you can get, for example instead of fish cakes to fish, instead of burger patties choose steak. And then if you have the option, go for salads and vegetables and healthy things that you can recognise on the menu.
Second, take food with you. If you travel locally, you can take anything you like, but internationally you will probably only be able to take snacks that can be eaten on the plane and not taken into another country. Drink water only. Typically I like taking nuts and some biltong (beef jerky) – although this might not be allowed to some countries.
The nice thing about staying in hotels is that most hotels offer a buffet breakfast where you can put together a decent Keto meal. Eat a big breakfast, it will keep you going most of the day, and if you are in Ketosis, you won’t feel the need to eat until supper anyway. I usually ask for poached eggs – simply because I don’t trust the oil that they use to fry or scrambled eggs; most hotels and restaurants will use sunflower oil. I will then add some bacon or other animal meat, with some tomatoes, mushrooms and avo. If you are comfortable with eating dairy, you can add some cheese. Have some coffee or tea with pouring cream, but avoid fruit juice. This goes without saying, but avoid all the different types of bread, croissants and cakes… who eat cake for breakfast anyway?
- Choose a simple dish like steak and a salad or vegetables.
- Avoid floury sauces, bread or chips (french fries).
- I don’t have ever order chicken unless I know it is organic.
- You can eat something small before you leave home, so you are not too hungry when you get to the restaurant.
- Choose salad or vegetables instead of french fries, potatoes, noodles, pasta, rice or bread.
- Remove the bread but keep the butter to put on your steak on fish.
- No bun with your burger – obviously…
- Eat curry without the rice and get a veggie dish, cauliflower rice or cabbage strips on the side
- Stay away from sticky and sweet sauces or dips – it might sound weird, but often I take my own mayonnaise with to the restaurant (if I see people stare, it might give me an opportunity to educate them)
- You can never go wrong with antipasti platters of cheese, olives, veggies and good cured meats
- If sandwiches are your only option, eat the inside and leave the bread
- drink sparkling water with some lemon in instead of juice alcohol or even diet cold drinks
- No desserts!
- Stick with meat and fish dishes and ask for extra butter or a cream sauce to add more fat with leaner cuts of meat
- Avoid crumbed dishes like schnitzels and crumbed veal chops
- Drop the rice and pick out the potatoes in Indian curries. Don’t eat the poppadoms or the naan bread either.
- If you like sushi, eat sashimi or a Japanese salad with salmon or tuna.
- If you enjoy Thai food go for coconut milk broth with prawns or tom yum soup. No spring rolls, dim sum, rice or noodle options.
- Kebabs always a good choice, but avoid the bread
- And then always check the oils and the fats that restaurants use; stay away from any seed oil like sunflower oil and canola oil.
At the end of the day, life is going to happen—what’s that saying? “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans”—and you can’t go live in a cave to stay away from the temptations of life. So face them with confidence and know that you have control over your fears.
Don’t be scared to go out to eat, thinking you’re going to “mess up.” Remember your why. Remember the community that’s rooting for you and helping you stay accountable. If you fail to prepare, you’ve actually prepared to fail. That is so true in so many situations in our life, right?
Check the menu out ahead, go in with a plan, bring some of your fave Keto snacks, and then don’t fear to be in uncomfortable situations. You’ve got this. Plus, you can just throw me under the bus and tell them that Chan, your Keto Coach, said you couldn’t eat that non-Keto cookie.