The moment you decide to brave Whole30 – well done, friend, well done – is, unfortunately, the same moment that you decide to become quite arguably the most difficult friend in your social group for the course of a month. But just because you’ve got some new dietary restrictions on the horizon doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to go off the grid until you’re ready to (slowly, and in moderation) start reintroducing those pre-Whole30 foods back into your diet. While your time on the restrictive diet may seem best spent prepping your own meals from scratch at home (power to you!), we’ve got a few crucial tips to help you navigate the world of eating out so that dinner dates and tête-à-tête lunches are all but off the (dining) table.
Focus on what’s allowed, not what’s not.
The first critical part of mastering the art of eating out on Whole30 is to make sure that you’re focusing on what you can eat instead of stressing about all the things that you can’t. When you’re doing a diet that’s as restrictive as Whole30 (no alcohol, no sugar, no grains, oh my), it can be easy to get caught up in all of the temptations on the menu that are off limits. But instead, focus on the things that you are allowed to eat – think grilled protein, veggies, and healthy fats like avocado – and try to work with that.
Go with a game plan.
Staying on track at a restaurant often starts before you even set foot in the restaurant at all. Go online and check out the menu beforehand to see what items on the menu are Whole30-friendly, and if you’re not entirely sure of something, go ahead and give the restaurant a call. Taking the time to prepare before going out to eat could make all the difference when it’s time to order and you’re deciding what to get.
ATA (Ask them anything).
We know, we know – it can feel a bit awkward to be the one at the table who has a laundry list of questions for your server about how things are prepared, what ingredients certain dishes contain, and whether or not you can make a substitution or seven. But even if it feels like asking too many questions makes you a pain, we promise it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Just remember that all of your questions are coming from a place of wanting to be healthier, and that’s a perfectly acceptable reason to be a little picky and inquisitive. At the end of the day, succeeding at Whole30 – just as is the case with any health plan – comes down to knowledge and making sure that you’re aware of what you’re putting in your body.
Ditch the bread.
While a lot of your favorite items on the menu might traditionally be accompanied by bread or other off-limits carbs – think burger buns and tortillas – you always have the option to order your favorite dish without the grains. Maybe swap out some lettuce for your taco shell, or go ahead and fork-and-knife your bunless burger patty like a champ. There are plenty of alternative ways for you to enjoy some of your favorite dishes without having to feel limited by menu items that come ready to go with no grains. The only thing to be sure of here is that your meat is prepared according to Whole30 requirements.
Mind your dressings.
Going to go straight for a salad instead of dealing with substitutions and other amendments to your dish is also a totally reasonable way to go about eating out while sticking to a Whole30 diet plan. But beware – a lot of the usual dressings and toppings on salads can go against the Whole30 guidelines, so you should always be sure to ask about what comes on your salad. Make sure that your dressings don’t have added sugars or that your salad isn’t topped with any kind of cheese. Not entirely sure if your salad is safe, even after asking? Just take a more DIY approach. Ask for a simple garden-style salad with some oil and vinegar on the side so that you can whip up a minimal dressing of your own. It might not be the fanciest, but we promise it’ll taste just as good.