Picture this: You’ve just got home from a long day at work, your kids are starving, you open the fridge and you’ve somehow run out of soup… and anything else that you can eat on GAPS™. You haven’t planned for this and you have no idea if a GAPS Diet friendly restaurant even exists!
What do you do?
Throw in the towel on GAPS and order a pizza? Fast for an evening? Or go out to eat at a restaurant?
Before you begin GAPS, I think it’s imperative that you do a little homework and decide what restaurant(s) you’ll be able to eat at while you’re on the GAPS Intro Diet. It’s almost inevitable that there will come a time that you run out of food, or you don’t feel like cooking, or you just need to go out and socialize.
Here are my tips on how to choose a GAPS Diet friendly restaurant and what to order:
If you live in a really progressive food area you might have restaurants that are Paleo or Caveman themed. Meat and veggies are the staples of the Paleo Diet, everything will be grain-free, and they’ll probably use organic or higher quality ingredients. They’ll likely be accepting of special requests and happy to share which ingredients they use.
Organic or local-foods restaurants offer high-quality choices, usually with pasture-raised meat and seasonal produce. Sometimes they’re vegetarian so check the menu ahead of time to be sure it will meet your needs.
Next best is a gluten-free restaurant, or one with gluten-free options on the menu. Gluten-free restaurants are very familiar with people who have dietary restrictions and are used to people making special requests. They’ll likely be much more accommodating than a standard restaurant.
A restaurant that offers some variation of meat and vegetables will do. They might have a low-carb menu, or you’ll be able to order a hamburger wrapped in lettuce, something like a steak and roasted vegetables, or a salad topped with grilled salmon or chicken.
Focusing on a meal of meat and vegetables makes it pretty easy to eat at most restaurants. You’re not likely to find bone broth or sauerkraut in most cities, but there are options within the Full GAPS food list.
Be aware that pretty much every restaurant is cooking with canola or vegetable oils. So even if the food seems the same as what you’d have at home, restaurant food is almost always going to be lower quality. I always take digestive enzymes with me when I go to any restaurant and take a couple when they bring my glass of water. They prevent the bloating that I feel when I’m eating lesser quality food and oils.
I learned this tip from a client – when you make a special request at a restaurant, tell the wait staff that you have a medical condition and you’re on a special diet. When people hear that you have a medical condition they’re usually very understanding and will go out of their way to try and accommodate you. You might simply say that you need a meal with only meat and vegetables, or let them know that you have an allergy. If you call ahead and ask, some will even allow you to bring your own sealed container of ghee of coconut oil for the chef to use for your meal. This tip can be helpful so the staff understands you’re not just expressing a preference, but avoiding something that could be a danger to you.
It’s acceptable to take a night off from cooking (or give your cook a night off) for the GAPS Diet. Unless you have a serious food allergy or autoimmune condition like celiac, it’s not going to blow the GAPS Diet to have one meal that’s slightly outside of the GAPS paradigm. You have my permission to stop worrying over little things like this. Keep the big picture in mind and realize that this is one meal. Approach it with ease and enjoy the experience. If you don’t feel great afterwards, you’ve learned something that will help you make a better choice next time.
So your homework this week is to find at least one restaurant in your area that can meet some of these criteria. I’d love to hear about what you find in the comments!