Many modern restaurants and eateries are becoming more accustomed to dealing with, and catering for, a variety of different eating habits, intolerances and allergies. If you’re on a low carb, high protein diet, there is a strong possibility that restaurants will cater to this too. Without announcing that you are on a low carb diet, I have pulled together my top 5 hacks for eating out at any restaurant and keeping your choice low carb. My motto is - if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
1. Swap your carbs for a side salad or other side dish on the menu
The majority of the time, if you ask to swap the standard fries that come with your dish for a side salad (or even double salad if the main comes with fries and a salad already) or for a different side dish on the menu (e.g. seasonal veg), most outlets are happy to do this. Scour the menu to decide on your side dish before the waiter comes to take your order too. Under restaurants of most cuisines, there is usually an easy way to omit the carb option and add extra veggies instead. For example, at a Thai, opt for the stir fry option but ask for no rice and for extra veggies in the dish instead. Or when eating Pho, ask for no rice noodles and add extra veggies into the mix. When a dish has veggies in already, it is usually of little effort to add in more veggies to make the portion more substantial.
2. Opt for naked, or lettuce leaves instead of the bun/wrap
One of my favourite cuisines has to be fajitas, but I don’t always want the mound of wraps that comes with them. Many outlets are happy to provide you with lettuce leaves to make lettuce wraps instead that suit a low carb diet. Alternatively, ask for no wraps and extra veggies/a side salad and create your own fajita salad. Equally, if you’re going to a burger joint, ask for a naked burger or the bun on the side.
3. Pimp out the salad
Sometimes the token salad on the main course list consists of not much more than lettuce leaves and a protein which can appear unappealing and quite frankly boring. This is not ideal when eating out is meant to be fun! Scour the menu for other ingredients used in other dishes, and ask if you can add these in to make the salad more substantial. If the restaurant stocks the ingredients anyway, they shouldn’t have an issue throwing them together.
4. Pre plan the restaurant and get inspired
It is not always an option to decide upon the restaurant yourself, but if you do have a say, there are many restaurants at the moment offering and calling out to low carb options. For example, Grill’d Healthy Burgers now does a low carb Super Bun which has less carbs than a single sushi roll. Check out ‘Our 5 Low Carb Friendly Sydney Cafes’ blog post for some inspiration of other restaurants with low carb options (these are not all just breakfast and lunch focused, some offer dinner too).
5. Be creative
Fear not, if there really looks to be no obvious options at first glance, a lot of the times, if we get creative, restaurants are more than happy to oblige to your low carb diet needs as essentially they will want to cater to your needs so that you come back or recommend to friends. For example, choose a starter for your main course but ask if they can creative it as a main sized dish or change elements of an existing dish around – don’t feel shy!