One of the biggest roadblocks for people trying to adopt a healthy eating lifestyle is a lack of time. Everyone would love to do food prep and bring a lunch every day to work and prepare a fresh dinner every night. But the reality is we are all so busy that it is difficult to actually do that.

Moreover, lunch is an integral social part of the office experience. In my office, I hear coworkers start talking about what they’re going to do for lunch sometimes as much as two hours before the actual time to depart will be. I recently read a tweet from a gal who after going Paleo no longer receives invitation to join her coworkers for lunch. This to me seems crazy because Paleo people can eat pretty much anywhere. Who doesn’t serve meat and vegetables?

I’m guessing that the person had become religiously zealous about it. It reminds me of an old adaptable joke to any lifestyle or religion:

So today, this one is for you Craven Cavegirl in Costa Mesa. Let’s talk about how to eat out.

First off, some general tips:

  • Don’t be scared to skip breakfast, especially if you get enough sleep. Intermittent fasting combined with good sleep cycles is a fantastic method for fat loss and lean muscle gain according to modern studies
  • If you like salads, make your own dressing and carry it with you. Healthy Oil plus an acid = salad dressing. Examples include olive oil and vinegar, grapeseed oil and lemon, oil and red vinegar, whatever you like!
  • Safe condiments: mustard, hot sauce and salsa. Low calorie, low/no carb and a ton of taste for what could be bland food.
  • If you’re going to eat, nothing beats bringing your lunch of course.

So here’s a bunch of restaurants and my recommendations:

Waba Grill/Flame Broiler:

  • Paleo/Low Carb: Order any meat with all veggies. They don’t charge extra for this. Order without sauce.
  • “Healthy” Non-paleo options: Brown/White Rice. Still go no sauce if you want to avoid sugars.

Chipotle:

  • Paleo: order the salad and you can skip the dressing. Lettuce, Veggies, Any meat (except for that soy crap they’re passing off as health food), salsa and if you’re feeling spendy, add the guacamole.
  • “Healthy” Non-paleo options: get some rice or black beans. They even have Soyrizo although I can’t discourage the consuming of Soy unless you know that the beans are properly fermented and I can’t vouch for theirs.

In & Out/5 Guys:

  • Paleo: Order your burger Protein Style, no sauce. Pickles, Onions, Mustard and Tomato are all good choices here. (Five Guys call this “Bunless Burgers”. If you’re at Five Guys, you’re probably outside of California and I’m sorry).
  • “Healthy” Non-paleo options: Diet Coke. Skip the fries no matter what son. But you know this.

Carl’s Jr./Burger Joint of your choice:

  • Paleo: Go for the Low Carb 6 Dollar Burger. Mustard, Pickles, Onions, Tomato. Skip the fries.
  • Paleo low cal: Do it with Turkey or Chicken! They have green chile you could have them put on there for flavor too.
  • “Healthy” Non-paleo options: Salads available. Skip croutons and cheese to keep it low cal and better.

McDonalds:

  • Go somewhere else.
  • Ok, if you really HAVE to eat here…
  • Paleo: Cup for water. Don’t eat the cup because it probably has Trans Fat in it.
  • “Healthy” Non-paleo: Premium grilled chicken sandwich with no sauce. Add in mustard.

 Grocery Store (a great option that you can find just about anywhere):

  • Paleo: Grab some cold cuts fresh from the Deli and you can actually control exactly how many ounces of meat you get. You can grab pre cut veggies or a small salad too. Just be careful of that dressing or better yet, carry your own oil and vinegar. Croutons are gluten filled devils!
  • Paleo low cal: Salad bars, vegetables.
  • “Healthy” Non-paleo: Cottage Cheese, Yogurts, Pre-made Meal replacement shakes.

Restaurant:

  • Paleo: Tell them you want meat and vegetables. I tend to focus on the fish choices because they’re often served with vegetables. There should be at least one dish on the low cal menu that is just meat and vegetables. Try to avoid marinades and sauces that could be filled with sugar and crap. Blackened is typically a safe word.
  • Paleo low cal: Fajitas! Just tell them to keep their beans, sour cream and cheese. You’re left with a meat and veggies. 
  • Again, Salsa is typically your friend but the chips are no bueno. Hot sauce can come to the party in your tummy too.
  • “Healthy” Non-paleo: Salads, again skip croutons and ask for Oil and Vinegar (most restaurants will carry them, just make sure it’s not canola or some other crap).

Now go to lunch. Don’t be such a stick in the mud! You can do this :).