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What can I ask the restaurants I eat at?

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  • What can I ask the restaurants I eat at?

    I eat a lot at restaurants (regular ones, not fast food joints) and I'm wondering whether they are offering high quality foods (health-wise). I want to e-mail them a few questions. I mainly order beef, pork, chicken, all w/ vegetables and rice. What can I ask them about their cooking standards (questions about oil?), what about the quality of the meat/vegetables?

    Thanks.
    Last edited by DisappearingOne; 10-19-2012, 11:17 AM.

  • #2
    You can start by asking what oils they cook with and whether they offer grassfed, free-range meats. The likely answers are "soy" and "no".
    Misti
    ***
    Grain Free since 2009, WP from 2005
    ~100% primal (because anything less makes me very sick)
    Goal: hike across Sweden with my grandchildren when I retire in a few years

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    • #3
      Any of the larger (US) restaurants are required to have nutritional information about their food; easy to find by googling the restaurant name and "nutrition", but that will only give you an idea of macro-nutrients.

      As Misti said, ask what kind of oil they use and where they get their meat from.

      The way they answer will give you clues... "vegetable oil" is all the nasty stuff. If they make a point of specifying what sort of oil, there's maybe a 50/50 chance that it's what they say. They might use Costco 5-gallon jugs of olive oil that have been sitting around for a year to make their salad dressing, but the nasty stuff for cooking.

      I can guarantee that if they don't advertise as supporting local farmers/ranchers, it's going to be CAFO meat and bulk veg. And even if they do support local farmers/ranchers, unless they make a point of saying so, it's still going to be grain fed and not organic.

      I don't eat out very often, but when I do I try to opt for "grilled" and the "light" menu options. At least then it minimizes the amount of nasty oils I have to ingest. A lot of restaurants will toss their regular "steamed" veg in soybean oil! Aarrgghh!

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      • #4
        I was suprised to find out how many restaurants use soy oil. Even the "olive oil" to dip your bread in at Carino's is mostly soy with just a bit of olive oil in it.
        It's just another day in paradise
        As you stumble to your bed
        You'd give anything to silence
        Those voices ringing in your head
        You thought you could find happiness
        Just over that green hill
        You thought you would be satisfied
        But you never will-
        Learn to be still
        -The Eagles

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Periwinkle View Post
          I was suprised to find out how many restaurants use soy oil. Even the "olive oil" to dip your bread in at Carino's is mostly soy with just a bit of olive oil in it.
          Really!?! That is bordering on criminal if you ask me. So wrong.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Misti View Post
            You can start by asking what oils they cook with and whether they offer grassfed, free-range meats. The likely answers are "soy" and "no".
            This.

            Restaurants are out to make a profit, not to nourish you. If a restaurant is using quality ingredients, they'll be bragging about it, not keeping it a secret. If they aren't using quality ingredients, they'll likely boast about their "fresh cut" vegetables, etc.
            Last edited by 2ndChance; 10-19-2012, 03:18 PM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Periwinkle View Post
              I was suprised to find out how many restaurants use soy oil. Even the "olive oil" to dip your bread in at Carino's is mostly soy with just a bit of olive oil in it.
              This is true of many bottled olive oils as well, actually.
              "The cling and a clang is the metal in my head when I walk. I hear a sort of, this tinging noise - cling clang. The cling clang. So many things happen while walking. The metal in my head clangs and clings as I walk - freaks my balance out. So the natural thought is just clogged up. Totally clogged up. So we need to unplug these dams, and make the the natural flow... It sort of freaks me out. We need to unplug the dams. You cannot stop the natural flow of thought with a cling and a clang..."

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              • #8
                Ask your waiter how his/her day is going. If you go to any restaurant these days expecting something remotely in line with your diet, you are a silly individual.
                You lousy kids! Get off my savannah!

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Grumpycakes View Post
                  Ask your waiter how his/her day is going. If you go to any restaurant these days expecting something remotely in line with your diet, you are a silly individual.
                  There are a few, but they're pretty rare in general. Unless a restaurant explicitly advertises their meat as "grass-fed", their seafood as "wild-caught", or their veggies as organic, it's a pretty safe bet that you're getting generic, factory-farmed foods, and your foods are most likely cooked in soybean and/or canola oil. Restaurants that offer grass-fed meat and organic veggies are usually VERY proud to advertise as such.

                  For most "normal" restaurants, usually the safest bets are things like:

                  -steamed veggies(almost every place has these)
                  -baked sweet potato with no toppings(if offered)
                  -Some kind of steak, chicken, or seafood that's simply grilled, with no sauce(try asking for it without the oil)

                  Note to those outside the U.S. - Australian beef is pretty common/popular in a number of countries, and my understanding is that it's quite often grass-fed.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Grumpycakes View Post
                    Ask your waiter how his/her day is going. If you go to any restaurant these days expecting something remotely in line with your diet, you are a silly individual.
                    Probably the best advice. Emailing restaurants with these questions is a waste of time. 99% use vegetable oil and grain feed animals. Asking the waiter in the restaurant itself is even sillier as it is just going to delay your service while he's back in the kitchen trying to figure out the sure to be disappointing answers to your questions.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Grumpycakes View Post
                      Ask your waiter how his/her day is going. If you go to any restaurant these days expecting something remotely in line with your diet, you are a silly individual.
                      Unless you go to a vegan/raw food place. Those people will probably be more concerned with what they put in their food than you are.
                      F 28/5'4/100 lbs

                      "I'm not a psychopath, I'm a high-functioning sociopath; do your research."

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                      • #12
                        If your city has a weekly farmers market, go to the market and when you see someone pushing a stack of crates on a dolly through the market picking up orders, ask them what restaurant they work for. Then go eat at that restaurant. If you can afford it. I can guarantee you that if your meals are in the $10-50 range you're not eating organic vegetables, grass-fed beef and real olive oil. Otherwise, order steak, ask for it rare. Ask for steamed vegetables and a baked potato. That's probably the best you can do for a big meal. Get a salad and smuggle in your own dressing. That's probably the best you can do for a small meal.
                        Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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                        • #13
                          I think eating out... call it your 20% and don't worry about it. If they are serving pastured and grass fed meats, it will very proudly be stated on the menu as such. You might ask for things like "cook my eggs in butter" or "no oil on my veggies".

                          For me, I just call it 20% and get something good. This weekend I had duck with pomegranite jus, a potato gratin and shared a cheese plate and bourbon gelato with flourless chocolate cake. I had a little heart burn, but the meal was awesome. It would have been less awesome to get all type A and end up with plain grilled something and steamed veggies.

                          I guess though, if you eat out a lot, you can't do that.

                          http://maggiesfeast.wordpress.com/
                          Check out my blog. Hope to share lots of great recipes and ideas!

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                          • #14
                            I stick to questions that will really impact me. Since no gluten, egg or dairy anymore, I just can't have them without getting bad side effects, that is more than enough to restrict me.......
                            Started Primal June 2012 at 148.5lbs, and 5' 1", reached goal weight in 5 months.
                            Lowest weight 93lbs - too thin. Now stable at around 100lbs much better weight for me at my age.
                            Primal, minus eggs, dairy and a myriad of other allergens.

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                            • #15
                              My parents own a restaurant that's pretty in line with primal for the most part (they do serve grains, but there's plenty of stuff without it). They don't advertise their vegetables as organic because they grow them themselves and although they are organic, are not certified as such. I'm not sure about the meats - i know their supplier is a local farmer who brings his pet pig with him to drop off deliveries, and I know it's a small operation.

                              It's funny - their restaurant has become quite the meeting place for the Ironman crowd - there sure do seem to be a lot of them around here!

                              But my point is that you're more likely to find better quality food at a small owner-run place. The big chains have major corporate interests to satisfy, and that will always come at the expense of food quality. My parents could certainly run their place cheaper using Cheney Bros. provisions, but their priority is fresh, healthy food. If you look, I'm sure there are places like that around you too.

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