Tips for Dining Out on a Low Carb Diet
Just because you’re on a low carb diet doesn’t mean the days of dining out are over. Quite the contrary! Savvy low carb dieters know all the tricks to staying true to the low carb diet plan and still having a delicious and satisfying meal out at all kinds of different types of restaurant, and in this article, we share these tips with you.
Skip the Bread
This first one should be obvious, but one of the things you’ll often be offered when you sit down at most restaurants is a large bowl of complimentary bread. Not many restaurants feature low carb options for their standard bread offering, but if you’ve planning your dinner in advance, it’s worth asking when you arrange your reservation. Some restaurants may be able to accommodate your request, but don’t get your hopes up too high and assume they will. Even if they do offer low carb bread options as a complimentary appetizer, it would be a good idea to call and check before you arrive so that the wait staff isn’t caught off guard in case the note on your reservation was missed.
Know the Cuisine
Some types of food are always loaded with carbs, and are just not viable options when choosing a place to eat. It might be something you make at home with your own low carb recipes, but very seldom will you see a low carb pasta restaurant for example, so it goes without saying that you shouldn’t expect a lot of Italian places to have low carb on the menu. However, there are many other types of cuisine that are much lower in carbs and have lots of menu selections that suit the low carb diet. Some of these include:
Many Asian dishes such as those commonly found on menus at Japanese restaurants are traditionally low carb, and include lots of protein, vegetables, and seasonings that are low in carbs and sugars. There are a few carbs you’ll want to avoid when dining Japanese, such as edamame (soybeans), tempura battered dishes, and traditional Japanese noodles. However, there are low carb substitutes that you can swap in for any of these, such as other types of vegetables, non-battered dishes, and seafood options.
Contemporary American Cuisine
Steak restaurants are always a pretty safe option for low carb dieters, as long as you avoid the typical sides that are high in carbs, like mashed potatoes. Pair your steak with one of their vegetable side dishes instead of a giant baked potato, and opt for a nice fresh chef salad and a tasty low carb dressing to kick things off. Even if you’re not in the mood for beef, most steak restaurants also serve delicious chicken dishes or pork chops if you want to go for a different taste.
While you may not think Mexican cuisine is low carb because of all the tortilla shells and chips on the menu, classic Mexican dishes like fajitas or tacos can be made low carb in a snap simply by requesting the kitchen leave the tortilla or taco shells off your order and dining knife-and-fork style. Other Mexican dishes like Chili Verde (spicy pork stew), or Carne Asada (grilled spiced steak) are good choices, and you’ll always find lots of grilled veggies and fresh salsas to suit your tastes.
Keep in mind that there are dozens more types of foods, with flavours from all over the world, but it’s really the ingredients that dictate whether something is low carb. If there’s a certain type of ethnic food that you’re interested in trying, simply do a quick search online and see what kinds of ingredients that cuisine typically uses. Alternatively, you could just call the restaurant and ask about their menu, and explain your low carb concerns. We’re sure they would be happy to answer your questions to be sure that you enjoy your dining experience enough to come back another time.
Watch Your Drinks
Drinks can be one of the easiest ways to cheat when you’re on a diet. It’s not unusual to choose something you would normally avoid simply because it’s a ‘special occasion’, and we’re all guilty of doing that at one time or another. However, just because you’re sticking to your low carb diet doesn’t mean fun is off the drink menu. It just means you need to be a bit more selective. Start with a sparkling water to add some flair to your meal, and avoid those sugary sodas. If you’re in the mood for an alcoholic drink, then choose a light beer that is naturally lower in carbs, or a small glass of a dry white wine. Just make sure that you don’t turn a small treat in to a big diet mistake by over indulging.
Plan Dessert at Home
Restaurants typically always try to convince you to finish your meal with a rich and decadent dessert, but that’s not usually a good idea if you’re on a low carb diet. Sensible portions of simple dessert options like ice cream or gelato can satisfy your sweet tooth, or try a specialty coffee to cap off your meal. Alternatively, you could always plan to indulge in a special, pre-selected low carb dessert later in the evening after you arrive back home. That way, you’ll still get your sweet treat to cap off the night, but you won’t have to worry about whether it’s loaded with tons of sugar and extra carbs. With all the options for low carb desserts available online and in store at The Low Carb Grocery, including cakes, chocolate desserts and ice creams, you won’t feel like you’re missing anything.
If you’re in the Toronto area, here’s a couple of popular restaurants that suit the low carb lifestyle:
If you’re living the low carb lifestyle, or simply have a general focus on eating healthy, then check out Live. Founded in 2002, and currently with two locations in Toronto, they feature a plant-based, organic, gluten and refined sugar-free menu as well as a shop for organic food products.
Copacabana is a Brazillian steakhouse with multiple locations in Ontario, including Toronto, Niagara Falls, and Vaughan. They have lots of varieties of meat but ALSO an amazing food bar with tons of vegetables including low carb ones such as Brussels sprouts and artichokes.
We hope this guide has given you some inspiration to try a night out at a local dining hot spot, and the tips you need to successfully plan a lovely evening that won’t sabotage your dedication to your low carb diet.
Remember, just because you’ve gone low carb, doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice the simple pleasure of a nice meal at a nice restaurant. It just means you need to do a little planning ahead, watch what you order, and get a little creative with some of your menu choices. We certainly hope you’ll give it a shot, because we’re confident you’ll have a wonderful experience. Happy eating!