I really enjoy eating out at restaurants with friends, family, and loved ones. But I’m well aware of the challenges it poses, such as avoiding bone-damaging ingredients and balancing the pH of a meal.
These concerns are legitimate, but that doesn’t mean we can’t splurge and “break the rules” once in a while (I know I do!). If I eat out more often than usual, however, I want to stick to bone-healthy meals. So I ended up creating my own “restaurant rules”.
Today, I’m thrilled to show you my eight strategies I use when eating out so you too can stick to the Save Our Bones dietary recommendations while enjoying restaurant meals.
Let’s get started!
1. Substitute Foods Where You Can
When you look at the menu, consider the “extras” and side dishes. If the waiter or waitress typically brings white-bread rolls to the table before the meal, see if you can substitute with raw vegetables and a dip. Most restaurants have celery, tomatoes and carrots. You can make the same request for veggie substitutes if the restaurant serves corn chips and dip.
Another area to consider substitutions is side dishes. Instead of a baked white potato loaded with acidifying butter and sour cream, ask for a baked potato with plain yogurt or olive oil and herbs.
2. Speak Up About Salt
Restaurants typically use large amounts of salt to boost flavor, and many of them rely on processed, frozen, and preserved foods, such as frozen egg rolls, deli meats, and packaged chips. Soups are another potential source of very high sodium levels.
So when dining out, don’t be afraid to request that no salt be added to your food. And choose menu items that are not pre-packaged or deep-fried, because too much sodium is very bad for your bones.
According to Dr. Linda Frassetto, whose meticulous research I have quoted often on this site and in the Save Our Bones program, excess salt harms bones by skewing the sodium-to-potassium ratio. When the ratio is too high on the side of sodium, it creates a state of metabolic acidosis. Increasing your intake of potassium-rich fruits and vegetables is just one side of the equation; reduction of sodium is essential for preserving and bringing about an alkaline state.
3. Choose Bone-Healthy Cooking Methods
When you look over the menu, opt for cooking methods that do not involve deep frying (like French fries, breaded chicken, etc.) or pan frying, like burgers and some fish dishes. Opt for baked or broiled whenever possible.
By choosing low-fat cooking methods, you can avoid GMO oils like canola, corn, and soybean.
And remember, if there is a fried item on the menu that you’d like, it doesn’t hurt to ask if it can be prepared by a healthier method.
4. Choose Healthy Salad Dressing
Prepared salad dressings are often full of sugar, preservatives, unhealthy fats (often GMO), and even monosodium glutamate. But just about any restaurant will provide you with oil and vinegar or lemon juice if you ask. Make sure you request bone-building olive oil so as to avoid shady “salad oil” that almost always contains GMO soybean oil. And if they have apple cider vinegar, all the better!
5. Sauce On The Side, Please
Like salad dressing, the average prepared sauce can be loaded with sugar, corn syrup, MSG, and a host of other bone-damaging ingredients. While having the sauce on the side doesn’t change the ingredients, it does give you control over how much of it you eat, and you don’t end up with a meal that’s drowning in a bone-damaging unhealthy prepared sauce.
6. Increase The Amount Of Vegetables
Here is one of those times when asking for more is the healthier option! If your meal comes with steamed or sautéed vegetables on the side, ask for a double portion. This balances your meal in favor of alkalizing foods, and helps fill you up with nutritious, bone-rejuvenating veggies. The restaurant may charge you more, but personally, I have never had that happen when I ask for extra vegetables.
7. Share The Sweets
You don’t necessarily have to skip dessert. Check the menu and see if they offer frozen yogurt, and ask for just one scoop. Sometimes they offer half-portions of their regular desserts, and remember to ask for alkalizing fresh fruit on the side. In fact, just having some fresh fruit for dessert is an excellent, bone-healthy option.
Here is something else I’ve tried. When the main course is a pH-balanced or alkalizing salad, go ahead and order a regular sized dessert and share it with the others at the table.
8. Order Bottled Water – Even If They Claim Their Water Is “Filtered”
Many restaurants serve tap water. Savers are well aware that in most municipalities, tap water is full of fluoride, and ingesting it destroys bones. Even if the restaurant assures you that their water is filtered, it’s still best to order bottled water, because the average filtration system does not remove fluoride.
The Save Our Bones Diet Does Not Have To Be Rigid
I know how it can be when you first begin to form your plan for a bone-healthy diet. You might feel like you have to follow it “to the letter.” But that’s the beauty of the Save Our Bones approach to bone-building nutrition – it’s not so rigid that you can’t splurge now and then by eating out, enjoying food at parties, and so forth.
It is all a matter of balance. Of course a pH-balanced diet is essential for rejuvenating bones, but if the majority of your meals are prepared at home (mine are), then it’s perfectly fine to deviate from that now and then by eating out. After all, part of healthy bones is feeling happy and decreasing stress, so go out and have fun!
Preparing Food At Home Need Not Be Drudgery
Many people, and I’m sure some Savers, choose to dine out because they don’t feel up to the task of preparing bone-healthy meals and snacks every day. But there is no need to worry in this regard, because it does not have to be drudgery.
In fact, with the Save Our Bones cookbook Bone Appétit, making meals to build your bones can be simple, easy, and enjoyable.
Bone Appétit begins with a list of Foundation Foods, so you know right off the bat which are the foods that nourish your bones in the alkalizing and acidifying categories. It continues with a list of important Foundation Supplements, and the foods that are highest in each respective supplement (for example, “Highest Food Sources of Vitamin C” or “Polyphenol Rich Foods”).
Bone Appétit is full of beautiful color photographs and delicious, bone-rejuvenating recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner (including scrumptious pH-balanced desserts!) that make planning bone-healthy meals a cinch.
And for “fast food” that takes 20 minutes or less to prepare, you can choose from the Quick Picks section at the end of each chapter.
In addition, Bone Appétit comes with three exciting bonuses:
- Calcilicious, a recipe collection of easy-to-prepare dishes that are rich in calcium.
- Blender Magic, a colorful collection of nutritious, bone-healthy smoothies and “shakes” that you can prepare in your blender.
- The 30 Day Meal Planner, a truly helpful resource that organizes your meal planning daily, including snacks to nourish your bones for a full month.
If you don’t have it yet, I invite you to explore this delightful cookbook that makes preparing food for your bones fun and healthy.
Till next time,