Eating outside the home often comes at a high cost. First, we spend our hard-earned money eating unhealthy food filled with ingredients that are not meant to be consumed by humans. Then, down the road, we spend those same hard-earned dollars trying to heal from the diseases that were caused by eating out in the first place. Seems ironic, doesn’t it?
Eating out while caring about your health can feel like a minefield. From hydrogenated oils to sugar, from additives and preservatives to poor-quality fats, restaurant and convenient foods are nothing short of toxic. And yet, eating out is unavoidable in this fast-paced world of work and travel.
Thankfully, you don’t have to let travel, work, or socialization get in the way of your 100 Year Heart. With some preparation and mindfulness, you can live a very full life while protecting your health.
Health starts with changing your mindset
One of the most common complaints surrounding eating healthy is that it’s more expensive. While it’s true that buying high-quality food costs a bit more, it’s an investment that saves thousands down the road. But, truthfully, can you really put a price on health?
Interestingly, the average American dines out close to six times a week, spending over $3,500 on eating out each year. Today’s society has no problem spending money on expensive sugar-laden coffee beverages or unhealthy fast food. Sadly, these habits come at a considerable cost. Americans are sicker than ever.
When you aim to live your life differently than the majority of the world, you’ve got to make different choices. This means that most of your food will be prepared and eaten at home. A healthy heart starts with the right food. Unfortunately, that food is not found in most restaurants, convenience stores, or workplaces.
Preparing food at home doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on fun events. It simply means shifting your mindset. Instead of socializing at a local restaurant, how about preparing a fun picnic to be shared at the lake or park?
Mindfulness, creativity, and preparation are the keys to success when eating on the go.
Five tips for eating healthy away from home
While eating out at a restaurant instead will be the exception, rather than the norm, it’s still possible to enjoy an occasional night out on the town. Here are some tips to help you navigate eating away from home while protecting your 100 Year Heart.
- Choose health-conscious restaurants
Fortunately, in response to public demand, many restaurants are more focused on healthy eating than they used to be. As a result, most cities have at least one or two establishments deeply committed to serving whole, natural food and sourcing ingredients responsibly.
When searching for heart-healthy restaurants, look for terms such as farm-to-table or sustainable dining. Seek out items such as grass-finished burgers, wild-caught meat, organic, free-range poultry, or wild-caught seafood. Choose places that focus on organic, whole foods. They do exist!
- Make a game plan and stick to it
Once you’ve chosen a restaurant, peruse the menu before heading out. Decide what you will eat ahead of time, thus avoiding any impulsive buys. Also, consider calling the restaurant beforehand to ask about any available specials. Oftentimes, health-conscious restaurants will feature local, fresh options on their special menu.
- Manage your hunger by eating before you go
Everyone knows that you shouldn’t go to a grocery store hungry. The same is true for a restaurant. It’s much harder to avoid the bread basket when you’re starving. So when you head out to eat, be sure to feel relatively satisfied. Munch on some organic veggies, a handful of nuts, or another organic snack prior to leaving your home.
- Avoid unhealthy oils
One of the reasons it’s dangerous to eat out is the high use of cheap, industrial seed oils. Most restaurants use these highly-inflammatory oils for cooking their food, including vegetable oils such as corn oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, and sunflower oil. Not only do most restaurants use these oils, but they use them and reuse them, making them a rancid toxin for your body.
Whenever you’re eating away from home, avoid fried food altogether. Request that your food be cooked in healthy oils such as coconut or avocado oil. If that is not possible, ask the chef to cook your food in butter or lard. Ideally, look for food that has been steamed, grilled, roasted, or poached.
- BYOD – Bring your own dressing
When eating out, most health-conscious people opt for a salad. Sure, leafy greens and vegetables might be healthier than other items on the menu, but not when you add on the salad dressing. Ninety-nine percent of pre-made salad dressing is laden with sugars, unhealthy vegetable oils, preservatives, and emulsifiers. Bring your own salad dressing to avoid bathing your vegetables in toxins. If that’s not an option, request olive oil, lemon, and vinegar on the side.
Eating healthy on the go
No matter how much you love to explore, traveling inevitably comes with stress. Between traffic, airport lines, and the mental load associated with being in an unfamiliar place, traveling gets the nervous system revved up.
Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of traveling is finding healthy eating options. Airports are notorious for serving over-priced, processed food loaded with additives and preservatives. While driving to your location may offer more flexibility, avoiding fast-food or convenience store options is still not easy.
Ensuring you are eating as close to your regular diet as possible will allow your body to reduce stress naturally. Here are a few ways to ensure the protection of your heart on your next trip:
- Plan ahead if traveling by air
Most people are worried about what can be carried on an airplane when traveling the friendly skies. The good news is that TSA allows most food to be brought on flights, as long as it is packaged correctly. Salads, cut-up vegetables, nuts, and other prepared food are permitted. You must package liquids, such as salad dressing and nut butter, in a 3.4 ounce or smaller container. However, keep in mind that all food must go through x-ray machines, so packing it in an airtight container is best.
Consider using a cooler as one of your carry-on items. Then, once you get through security, you can visit an airport restaurant for ice. Also, since you can’t bring liquids through security, consider investing in a high-quality water bottle with a filter.
- Book an accommodation with a kitchen
While you may want to explore the local fare when traveling, you won’t want to do so for every meal. Instead, consider booking a hotel with a small kitchenette or another accommodation that will allow you to cook your own meals.
On a related note, finding a healthy place to stay while traveling is becoming easier as some hotel chains have begun offering alternative accommodations such as air purification or water filtration systems in specific rooms.
- Make your first stop the grocery store or farmer’s market
Meal planning doesn’t have to stop simply because you’re away. Before you travel, research the best grocery stores, health food shops, or local farmer’s markets. Then, have a travel meal plan and stick to it.
- Pack snacks
Whether you are traveling by plane, car, train, boat, or bicycle, you’ll want to be adequately prepared with ample healthy snacks. Some favorite portable grab-and-go snacks include:
- Raw trail mix
- Kale chips
- Seaweed snacks
- Almond flour crackers
- Grass-finished beef sticks
- Sardines or anchovies
- Nuts or seeds
Many people live life eating healthy here and there, rewarding themselves with “time off” when desired. However, optimal health is not a part-time job.
Health is a lifestyle that must be followed. Whether you’re enjoying a quiet Sunday morning at home or hustling through an airport for your next big trip, you must prioritize your heart. While moments of splurging are certainly allowed, they must be done consciously, with eyes on the goal of your 100 Year Heart.
What you’ll find, over time, is that the simple pleasures of a small bowl of fresh, organic raspberries or a little maple syrup in your latte are, by far, much more rewarding than an unhealthy meal out.
For more practical information on using food to prepare your body for health, consider enrolling in our Foundational Nutrition course today!
Eat well, Live well, Think well
Medical Review: Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD 2022