I LOVE to eat out!!! Don’t get me wrong, cooking is therapeutic for me; however, I LOVE going out too. I’ve had several questions about restaurants & low carb living — exactly how do the two go together???
I eat out at least four times in an average week. My favorite restaurants don’t necessarily have specified ‘low carb’ menus, but I know what I can and cannot eat. I routinely visit restaurants that have plenty of low carb options; restaurants that offer limited to no options are off-limits to me. If a restaurant doesn’t offer any low carb choices, they don’t get my business–plain & simple.
I eat a lot of salads, so I look for restaurants offering quality, fresh salad options. My FAVORITE restaurants (offering a variety of low carb options) include: Ruby Tuesday’s, Jason’s Deli, Outback, Beef O’Brady’s, & even Cracker Barrel. These restaurants are among my favorites because they either (a.) offer a variety of DELICIOUS veggie side dishes (other than the standard baked potato, rice, or fries), (b.) they serve GREAT salads, or (c.) have a combination of both a & b 🙂 .
Most of my friends are aware of my low carb needs, and are sympathetic to the fact that it’s difficult to eat anywhere. Sure most restaurants serve salads, but you have to be aware of what’s in the salad. For example, I was at a well-known chain restaurant a few months ago & ordered a DELICIOUS shrimp & spinach salad. I figured that salad would be safe because neither shrimp nor spinach are high in carbs. I ate THE ENTIRE salad, and afterwards felt a bit lethargic–very uncharacteristic when you’re only consuming 30 grams of carbs per day. So, I checked out the nutrition info online for that particular salad, and it contained a whopping 60+ grams of carbs!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That was two day’s worth of carbs that I consumed in one meal!!!!!! I was not very happy, to say the least. It was then that I realized I was going to have to be extremely aware of foods I put in my mouth at restaurants. Vinaigrette dressings are typically high in sugar (which is why that shrimp & spinach salad was so high in carbs), sauces & marinades often contain sugar (or high fructose corn syrup), and cream sauces probably contain flour or corn starch. STAY AWAY FROM THESE when dining out. I order steak, chicken, or seafood WITH NO SAUCES, stick with Ranch dressing (it’s the lowest in carbs of all dressings), and make sure nothing I’m ordering comes with any ‘surprise’ marinades or rubs (yes some rubs contain sugar).
My Hubby & I ate out last night at my FAVORITE place, Ruby Tuesdays, & I had a delicious sirloin steak, grilled zucchini, and their PHENOMENAL salad bar — a fabulously delicious and very low carb meal! Eating low carb in restaurants is VERY, VERY doable, just remember a few pointers and you’ll be fine. 🙂