Eating Low Carb While Dining Out
Dining at home is easier for low carb, thanks to meal prepping in advance. Eating out while on a low carb plan can be a little daunting, but it’s easy to make simple food choices to stay on track. Even fast food places can provide options with a little thought. So many people eat low carb now most restaurants accommodate special orders with no problem. Where you choose to eat will help determine how easy it will be to find what you want and need.
Where to Eat and What to Order
When you’re craving comfort food
Diners and cafes are an ideal choice since they generally serve breakfast all day. Eggs, meat, and veggies are a filling and tasty choice. Omelets are a wonderful menu item for low carb eating. Load them with cheese, peppers, mushrooms, onions, spinach, or any other vegetable you might like. Substitute pancakes or potatoes with sliced tomatoes and skip the toast.
Local Suggestion: Venice Ale House
Try the Greek Salad or check out their specials on “Keto Thursday”
For a Special Night Out at a Steakhouse
Steakhouses are another good place for low carb choices. Grilled steaks and chops are satisfying and delicious. Skip the bread and baked potato here, and choose a salad or steamed vegetable instead. Be sure to pick a low carb vegetable such as broccoli rather than something starchy like corn. Caesar, chef, or side salads are available at nearly all restaurants. Add chicken, meat or seafood, extra veggies, boiled eggs, cheese, and nuts or seeds to amp up your meal. Take care to avoid sweet dressings and dried fruits, as they will add unwanted sugar. Keep in mind, if you want a savory dressing such as ranch or bleu cheese, full-fat versions have fewer carbs than low fat.
Local Suggestion: Chaz 51 Bistro
The Blue Cheese Steak Salad is mouthwatering, skip the croutons, you won’t miss them anyway. There’s also the sizzling naked burger, served in an iron skillet topped with cherry peppers and onions.
When You Just Want a Big Cheeseburger
American restaurants and gastropubs are fabulous for the whole family. When ordering a hamburger, ask to replace the bun with a lettuce wrap, or thinly sliced cucumber. If this is not possible, just ask that the bun not be served. Make it more of a meal by loading the burger patty with lettuce, tomato, bacon, cheese, onion, or any other topping you like. If lettuce is available, request extra so you can wrap it yourself. Rather than fries, try a crunchy vegetable like carrots or celery as a tasty side with added texture.
Local Suggestion: Off The Wagon Brewery & Kitchen
With a number of different specials that change daily, there’s always something new to try. The chef is fabulous at making adjustments when needed for dietary restrictions. Try the best burger in Venice with a side of coleslaw and just skip the bun.
When You Need to Order Takeout Chinese or Sushi
Asian food can be a bit of a challenge. The best bet is to order a stir fry with extra veggies, but skip the rice or noodles. Sushi is rice based, so opt for sashimi instead. Try to order steamed vegetables, because sauces are usually not added. Sauces are often loaded with sugar or flour for thickening. Don’t hesitate to ask if a dish has added sugar.
Local Suggestion: Star Thai and Sushi
Chef Mike goes above and beyond for his customers. Instead of rice, ask for your sushi with a cucumber wrap instead!
Mexican can be the Ultimate Low Carb Indulgence
Eating Mexican is easier than you might initially think. A lot of places have bowl meals – basically the same ingredients as burritos or fajitas without the tortillas. If those aren’t available, simply make your own. Open up a fajita or tortilla and only eat the delicious ingredients inside. Deconstructed dishes are all the rage right now. Request extra sour cream, guacamole, olives, and cheese for extra flavor and to make it more filling. Taco salads will work the same way, as long as you can resist eating the bowl.
Local Suggestion: Latin Market and Restaurant
Fight the Challenge of the Carb Loaded Italian Cuisine
Italian restaurants can sometimes be the most for difficult low carb options. Certain chains have very limited options other than pasta and breaded dishes. Look for chicken breast meals or sandwiches here, and simply order them with no bread or bun. Request Alfredo sauce and cheeses as toppings since those have very few carbs, but add lots of flavor. Surprisingly, marinara sauce can be quite high in carb count, and so should be avoided if possible. If you simply must have marinara, ask for light sauce to cut down on added sugar.
Local Suggestion: Made in Italy
The chef is very accommodating of substitutions to allow meals to be as low carb as possible. In fact, if you give advance notice, he may even prepare a cauliflower crust pizza!
When You Want to Enjoy Local Seafood
Seafood restaurants are a great choice as long as you pick grilled or broiled fish or shrimp. Lemon juice and tartar sauce can add flavor, but try to avoid shrimp sauce, as it often has hidden sugars. Order a salad rather than coleslaw due to sugar content as well.
Local Suggestion: Pelican Alley
Newly renovated and reopened after the devastation of Hurricane Irma, this beautiful restaurant has delicious grouper dinners that will delight your tastebuds. Go for the vegetable medley as your side dish and you are all set for a low carb seafood meal.
When You Want A Great Deli Sandwich
It doesn’t get much healthier than a restaurant that serves all fresh meats, cheeses and produce. However, if you are trying to limit your carb intake, it can be hard to go in to a deli and not order a nice big sandwich. Most places will allow you to simply remove the bread and have it as a large salad instead!
Local Suggestion: Shark Bites Deli
Small, family owned and operated deli on East Venice Ave. It’s a family friendly place filled with toys, games and delicious fresh meals! Try their “Picklewich” where they make any of their subs with a large Boar’s Head Pickle instead of the bread!
Think outside the box
Sometimes there just aren’t going to be many options on a menu and this is when you may have to get a bit creative.
- You may be able to order a couple of appetizers rather than an entree to fill your needs.
- Chicken wings are a great item, but take care to pick the right sauce or no sauce at all. Boneless wings are often breaded, so ask before ordering to make sure you know what you are getting.
- Keep in mind not every meal must include meat. A vegetable plate can be delicious and filling.
- Side dishes are sometimes the yummiest things on a menu and can fit your dietary needs better.
- Don’t hesitate to ask about the ingredients used in dishes so you can make an informed decision.
- Since so many sauces and dressings have more sugar than you want, try adding avocado, lemon juice, salsa, full-fat salad dressings, and oil and vinegar for more flavors.
- Order raw veggies and ranch dressing as a dip rather than chips.
- Fried meats are fine as long as they are not breaded. If you must choose a breaded option, simply pull the breading off and discard it.
With a little forethought and a trade-off here and there, you can eat out nearly anywhere without feeling too restricted. By taking a few minutes to check the menu online before heading out the door, you can be sure to get what you want without sacrificing your health.
About The Author
Raye Wiedner is an active widow, living in the Midwest. She has been a health care worker for most of her life, with a passion for trying new adventures.