How to Order Real Food at a Restaurant

Hi Everyone!

Today I’m posting some tips on ordering real food while you are traveling. As many know, it is normally difficult to find real food at fast-food restaurant chains (Applebees, Subway, Ruby Tuesdays, Five Guys) when you are in a new place and are unsure of the ingredients your meal. Though it is a bit more work to “hunt” for real food on the menu, it is typically in the end worth it. This summer, for example, my family and I are traveling cross-country on a road trip, and I know that it will be difficult to find real food in some restaurants.

One time, I was at a restaurant for dinner. Knowing that the menu was definitely not real food approved, I had to ask a lot of questions. I ended up finding that the “whole-grain buns” they served had artificial additives (food dyes, artificial sweeteners, bread conditioners, chemicals such as azodicarbonamide, and preservatives) and was sweetened mainly with high-fructose corn syrup. However, I problem solved, and ended up having a delicious dinner. Instead of a bun, I swapped for a lettuce leaf (to make my own “lettuce wraps”), and I chose to get plain grilled chicken with tomatoes and broccoli. I made lettuce wraps out of the different sides, and it was delicious! Here are some tips on how I order real food at restaurants.

1. Order plain sides and ingredients to make your own meals! Sides such as baked potatoes, unseasoned meats, and fruits and vegetables without sauce are typically a good bet.

2. Ask questions about your food. Talk to the waitress about what’s made in the restaurant and what’s store-bought. Store-bought breads and pastas may have unnecessary additives.

3. Avoid the sauces and seasonings. Many sauces made in restaurants have excessive amounts of sugar and corn syrup, as well as artificial flavorings. Instead, season with vegetables you can order as a side, like onions.

4. Choose restaurants wisely. Chances are that restaurants like McDonalds will have less options for real food than restaurants like Ruby Tuesdays. Though it is difficult to order real food at both, sit-down chains have more side options that can be used to make a mostly real-food meal. Also, look for restaurants that are not a chain and are privately owned- they often have larger varieties of real food.

5. Pack real food snacks as substitutes. Lara bars, bags of homemade granola and trail mix, dried fruit, organic applesauce pouches, and whole-grain crackers (like Triscuits) are great options. Pack a few snacks in your bag just in case there are limited real food options.

Thanks, and please share! 🙂

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