Enjoy dining out without impacting your health (& finances) by following these rules; you WILL see results in your overall well-being & health.
You know you are going to eat out this holiday season & most likely, you will be with others who are NOT concerned about their health. So, what are the 'rules' you can follow when dining out that truly make a difference in your health as well as your long-term goals?
But first, why did I choose to write this article about dining out now during the holiday season? That is because this is the time when people go out in groups and that is when they eat loads of heavy, creamy stuff and then, when all 'merry-go-round' is done and over with, that is when the real issues start surfacing.
What are the issues when dining out? Let's break them into a 3-step process for more clarity.
BEFORE dining out -
1. Event Gets Planned - Friends or family members call you and you all decide a day and a place to go out for lunch/dinner. This is the first step that always takes place - be it weeks before the event or just an hour before the event.
2. Your Input, Your Voice...Should Matter..to YOU - That is correct. Your input on where and what time to go should matter to you. This is not about when you get off work - I am talking about the quality of food served and the time set for lunch/dinner.
Now, this does NOT mean you pick the most expensive restaurant and disrespect other people's budget. This just means that you pick a place where fresh, local produce is available. More on that below.
DURING dining out -
1. Food Order - When you finally reach the restaurant, you will have to look at a menu and order something. But what has been happening in the past during this part? Most people order something to fit in; if the group is eating heavy dish with bunch of dairy cream, butter, whipping cream, wheat bread, meat, alcohol, sugar filled desserts, etc and you jumped in, then what happened when you came back home?
Point? The point is to learn from history and to not make the same stupid mistakes again and again. The point is that when you sit down to order food, that one decision is either empowering or dis-empowering. THAT is the point.
2. Health Bill - Sorry, I meant....your food bill. Now, you have to pay for what you ate, don't you? Read this last statement again and again; there is a profound wisdom in it. And then remember, you always have to pay for what you ate.
Perhaps, its a good time to remember that finances and health are inter-related like inseparable twins. Therefore, we might as well call out restaurant bills as 'health bills'.
In short, whatever you have eaten in dining-out till now, has been your 'health bill'. Now, whether it was good (for your health) or bad one, your choices are responsible for it. Only YOUR choices - no one else's. Lets not blame the group or the poor innocent date or even the waiter's suggestions! It was YOU who made the final decision and so take full responsibility for it.
AFTER dining out -
1. Dining Out Gone Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! - After you said good-byes and drove home, thinking it was a great dinner...until...your body started speaking to you. After all, when you were dining out, oh boy! you were so happy meeting everyone. Music is going on, people are chatting and laughing, you can barely hear your own voice!
But after the music stopped and all, your body started speaking to you. Finally, it had your attention.
Did you feel bloated? Felt like your stomach was about to burst out? Any pepto-bismol for that night? How about some acidity pills? Or even heartburn?
Any tummy issues? Constipation or diarrhea followed you the next day? You felt tired and feverish and wanted to stay in bed all day? Called in sick? What about some sudden skin rash or dryness? Chronic tiredness from then on?
Oh boy! That was ONE mighty dinner! Wasn't it?
2. The True Cost of Dining Out - May the REAL 'cost-of-dining-out-last-night' please stand up...NOW?
IF you are healthy, have great energy and are ideal weight with NO pains, aches, inflammation or digestive issues, it is time to pat yourself on the back and say you have been making good decisions.
IF you are obese, cancer patient, diabetic, have skin issues, digestive/gastric issues, etc, it is time to acknowledge that you have indeed made LOT of wrong decisions and what you eat when you go out is part of the problem in your case. Period. Reality. No non-sense. Just the point-blank look at your patterns.
So, what is the real cost of dining out? It is selling your self-worth in favor of fitting-in or having company. It is low self-esteem - not being able to find its voice and speak up. It is agony and loneliness, after coming home from the dinner and realizing the same sickness keeps coming back again and again. It is passing life, laying in bed because of chronic fatigue and aches and pains. It is stagnant morality and spirituality without compassion - for oneself and for the other beings of this planet.
It ultimately affects you - you sell your dreams; your true potential, every time you put something 'negative' into your physical vessel - your body.
As we can now clearly see 2 things:
1. Each and every health based decision is interconnected to other parts of us - from our spirituality to self worth to self esteem to financial health to fear of being alone and trying to fit-in always. It is one's fear that causes all this grief and this fear perpetuates a cycle where the lack of self-discipline is always present.
2. Also, each decision either leads to a health goal or away from it - There is no 'mid-way' when it comes to our most important need and greatest blessing in life - food.
Food is a blessing; it is a luxury but because we live in a world of excess and because food is available everywhere these days - from coffee shops to restaurants to office cafeteria to school canteen to gas stations..you name it!, we don't respect it anymore. Humans are eating all the time, more than ever in history and food is available everywhere; these two points have crushed away at the spiritual aspect of food and its reverence has fallen in the eyes of most human beings.
So, what is the other consequence this leads to?
People are just eating mindlessly these days - going rather by impulse or taste and not really 'connecting' with the food. At home, people at least have a chance to be little more 'awakened' - more conscious as one has to work to prepare the food and cater to its needs before it can be consumed. But, when dining out, this act of giving thought and care is completely lost.
You go out, then you order something from a fancy piece of paper and you eat it while talking and laughing - all in midst of loud noises. No thought of gratitude or a mere ritual or prayer is spoken. Then, when you are full, you leave the remaining food, until it is thrown in the bin.
Welcome! to the modern world! where mindless eating and greedy decisions have led to diseases we can't even pronounce or understand; extreme food wastage as well as enormous rise in world hunger and add to it the most barbaric, cruel torture of billions of animals - all covered in a layer of some good toxic pollution, all because of 1 plate of food...gone wrong.
So, here are 5 rules to help YOU each & every time when dining out:
RULE #1 - PICK LOCAL, ORGANIC, PRIVATE RESTAURANT
When you pick a restaurant that serves local, fresh produce, you have got the first step right. This means whatever you will be eating is less pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, artificial colors and preservatives. A HUGE difference!
In every step, work to reduce your toxic load - it matters. It matters beyond the toxic load of pesticides. It matters because 1 choice adds up to the next right choice and so on, until it becomes part of your psyche. When it becomes part of your psyche to always want the best for your body, you end up making million other decisions correct - the right way, the way it always should have been.
Also, avoid restaurant chains. They are horrible! As their menu is the same year round and food costs to production to employee training requires all process to be standardized, the actual quality of food is very low. It is laden with chemicals used to preserve produce during all seasons and because food chains are meant to serve masses, most of their menu items are premade and bought by trucks from their suppliers. When you order something off the menu, they just take it out of the fridge and heat it and maybe add a thing or two.
Solution? Go to small, private restaurants. There, because of competition and a strong desire to bring in profits, the owners work hard to strive above and beyond. This is why most private restaurants have better taste and consistency - time and time again.
For e.g. if you go to your local Thai restaurant, you will notice the food is more fresh and authentic. This is a far call from chain restaurants. Also, because they are smaller, their produce and freezer section is always rotated more often per week. This shows in the fact that now most private restaurants are using fresh, seasonal, local farm produce. They know the taste & authenticity delivers and customers keep coming back for more and more.
So, all in all, your first step should be to lead the group (and yourself) to organic, local, farm fresh restaurant that is privately owned.
RULE #2 - WHAT CAN I GET YOU TO DRINK?
The minute you are seated, you know this question is going to come up from your waiter. What will you drink? The easy choice is fresh lemonade minus the white toxic sugar or even freshly squeezed juice if available. But I don't spend time writing all these detailed, solution-focused articles if there is no need for them. What do I mean? If the easy option was so desirable, then we would have every restaurants serve fresh juice - supply meets demand.
But, clearly, that is not the case coz you see, something else came in between - COKE!! SODA!!
So, the narrower question is: can you have coke?!
Yes & no! I will explain. If you are health wise doing ok, then yes, you can have coke only if you take it once a month or so when you dine out. But there is a rule to follow when having any soda during dining out.
Law of Diminishing Returns - When I studied economics, one of my favorite law was the law of diminishing returns. Basically, it means that after few sips of coke, it is not worth its value. Whatever your desire was that made you want coke, is now fulfilled with just a few sips. Beyond that, it is empty gratification.
Can you have coke? Order 1 can and share it with 4 other people. Sip it slowly and in small sips throughout your dinner. That is all you ever needed - beyond this is no satisfaction. And this is a HUGE difference in the amount of acidity, sugar, etc going in your body from one can verses few sips.
IF you are a cancer patient or even in recent remission, or have any other inflammatory condition, then NO! - YOU CANNOT HAVE ANY SODA. Plz. request water and squeeze some lemon or herbal tea. That is it. Do not go and tip off the balance when your body is struggling so hard to recover and heal itself.
RULE #3 - ORDER LARGE SOUP OR SALAD AND FILL IN FIRST!
Fill in with large soup or salad bowl. If there is one thing the whole world agrees on, it is that the plant based diet is best for all - from preventing to reversing even the deadliest of diseases to saving our planet and animals.
PICTURED HERE: MY EASY TOMATO-BASIL SOUP
But, in this point, we are talking about YOU. What about your well- being? When you order soup or salad or better yet, both, you fill up with real colorful nutrients.
These nutrients give you fiber and lower inflammation in the body by healing your gut. They also act as prebiotics for your gut bacteria (probiotics). Prebiotics are food for your gut bacteria - feed them real nutrients so they can go and do their job. Healthy microbes & their importance have been linked to preventing every disease - from cancer to diabetes to autoimmune...you name it!
So, make the right choice this time and see the difference. Your mission should be to consciously feed, feed, feed your probiotics!
PICTURED HERE: MY BEET-TOMATO SOUP W/CILANTRO
Solution? Order soup/salad and fill up with this first. Slowly, it will become your habit to follow when dining out. With just this one change, you will definitely see a huge difference in your health. By healing your gut and providing dense nutrients consistently, you won't come home bloated and exhausted.
RULE #4 - DAIRY/SUGAR/ANIMAL/GLUTEN FREE ENTREE ONLY!
When ordering your entree, look for something that is FREE of these toxic substances. Even if you are in the best, organic restaurant, what does it matter if you are still going to take dairy, animal body parts, gluten and sugar? All of these are known to cause inflammation as well as intestinal permeability (leaky gut).
Don't believe? Not convinced yet?
Some quick facts on each one of the culprits:
DAIRY: Cows's milk is fed to their babies to fatten them from approx. 100 pounds at birth to approx. 1000 pounds by the time they are weaned. Pretty fast, no? Unless you are trying to fatten up, its time to leave the dairy milk/dressings/desserts. It also contains feces, antibiotics, cholesterol, fat and calories. This causes imbalance and inflammation.
This is NOT the same as 1 day in a year, you had some organic cheese or well, you went out and had a salad dressing. The point is not to make a fuss about everything, but rather to quit an industry for once and for all, that is profiting out of your sickness, cruelty and pollution. Continuous consumption of dairy products (along w/other bad habits) have led us to...well, you know the global epidemics - obesity, cancer, diabetes, inflammation.
Welcome! to the 'educated, highly-informed' human!
SUGAR: One word - CANCER. Sugar(white sugar esp.) is the favorite food of cancer cells. Don't think I need to go on anymore?!
ANIMAL CONSUMPTION (MEAT) - Meat is just a fancy word that hides the truth and separates the reality from illusion. What's on one's plate somehow magically appeared; people don't relate to reality that it was a living being too.
Besides that, FDA finally issued a report that more than 30 million pounds of antibiotics are given to animals raised for food, just alone in the U.S. per year. Pretty horrible and unethical.
Even if you are OK with this cruelty, do remember that these antibiotics are ending up in your body too. Add to it some growth hormones and fecal matter along with toxic waste that accumulates in animal cells and tissue over lifetime. A perfect recipe to bombard your body with toxic overload and bad digestion.
GLUTEN: Another culprit in modern day! The wheat crop has changed enormously and is not the same as it use to be during our grandparents and other ancestor's time. This is why wheat consumption or having any gluten has been linked to intestinal issues like inflammation, tearing of intestinal walls and leaky gut,etc.
During entree time, what to do?
Besides shooting for gluten-free option, another great tip is to ask for more garlic, onions, mushrooms and extra veggies in your meal. Ask the waiter if its possible that they put less pasta/rice/etc in the dish and more of veggies. For few pennies extra, I have never found anyone having an issue with this request (and I always ask so I know) and each restaurant employee knows that a happy customer is a win-win for both at the end.
So, speak up and request more veggies! SO simple! A real solution!
RULE #5 - FOR DESSERT, ORDER FRUIT BOWL OR FRUIT RELATED
This one is easy - order colorful, tasty fruit bowl or fruit filled dessert - minus the dairy. If you can, choose something like hemp brownie or spiced pears. You get the point. Take away all the inflammatory causing foods and choose one which is light and can be shared.
Just like coke (and possibly your entree too), this is another category you should share with others. Spread the love, lower the cost and avoid the bloating! Done.
A BRILLIANT BONUS TIP!
STEVIA & CINNAMON EXTRACT - TAKE THEM WITH YOU!
Go and buy liquid or small packets of stevia and cinnamon extract. Keep them in your purse so that when you go out, you can make your drinks (and teas/coffee/hot coco/herbal teas or fruit drinks) sweet on your own.
For e,g., ask the waiter to bring you water and lemon. Squeeze the lemon and add your stevia as well as cinnamon extract in it. There you have your wonderful lemonade that will NOT raise your sugar and in fact, will help you digest better.
So, if you follow these 5 rules, you have done a lot, not just for the planet, for the small private business owners, for the local farmers, for the animals who somehow you don't relate to when you order them off the menu, for the perpetual cycle of rape and torture that slaughterhouse are, for the pollution and world hunger - and for your own well-being..all with just one new choice today - a bowl or plate of food!
To me, this sounds like a pretty empowering decision! Bookmark this article if you must, read it again and take it with you on your phone so you can see and feel the difference that takes place when you follow this 5-step process (plus the bonus tip).
Cheers! you made it! & remember to wash it all down with some wine at the end. No, just kidding. Though wine is a good idea.
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