ATB BB Series 9: Eating outside on the Low Carb diet
For those of you who eat out often and get most of your nutrition either on the run or on the road, this dining guide will help you make selections in keeping with your Low Carb – High Fat Diet.
Alcohol: A single 3-ounce glass of dry red or white wine once in a while.
Beverages: I never drink Coke / Pepsi as it is nutritionally empty but if you have to, stick to the Diet versions. Other than that have water, tea (not iced version that has synthetic sugared flavors) or coffee without sugar and coconut water (fresh). No juices – even if they are freshly extracted.
Desserts: Fresh berries or fresh fruit salad will work, you can add unsweetened cream (malai) on top. Crème Brulee is also fine as it is mostly eggs, milk & sugar, but not every week. I make this at home and substitute the sugar with Sugar Free. Avoid cakes, cookies, custards, pies, pastries, cheesecakes, all Indian sweets & mithai like halwas, jalebis, Bengali sweets et al and ice cream / kulfi.
Butter: if possible always ask for extra Amul butter on the side and add a bit to your food. It will fill you up and keep you on the diet.
American Grill or Bistro like TGIF
- Grilled meat, fish, paneer or chicken, a large green salad with ranch, blue cheese, or olive oil vinaigrette dressing; steamed or sautéed vegetables in place of the usual potatoes, pizza, burgers, pasta, or rice. No bread.
- Chef’s salad or grilled chicken Caesar salad. Beware of the bread croutons, potatoes, corn and crackers!
- Quiche and green salad or small fresh fruit salad. Eat only the quiche filling, scooping it out of the crust.
- Tomato stuffed with chicken, tuna, or crab salad, or cottage cheese.
Barbecue Joint like Barbecue Nation
- Sliced & grilled or barbecued beef, pork, chicken, fish, paneer with coleslaw and tossed salad.
- Eggs are fine.
- Hold the sauces, beans, fries, or other potatoes and toast, bread, or biscuits.
Fast Foods/Burger Joints like McDonald’s, KFC & Subway:
- Grilled chicken/fish burger (with cheese) along with a side salad, ranch, blue cheese, or Italian dressing. No veggie burger – the tiki is full of potatoes! Remove both buns and eat with a knife and fork. Avoid the fries, baked potatoes, pasta, pies, shakes, coke and sundaes.
- Grilled chicken salad with ranch or Italian dressing.
- In KFC, eat the grilled chicken, but go slow on the sauce. Avoid the crusty / breaded ones.
- At Subway: Sub-sandwich-style (but don’t eat the bread), deli meats and cheeses on salad greens with ranch or Italian dressing.
Chinese Restaurant: eat rarely as most Chinese sauces used in cooking are quite high in sugar. It may not taste sweet because the flavors are balanced via salt & sour ones. But it does have hidden sugars.
- Soups: Egg drop or clear soups only. Avoid thick soups like Sweet Corn or Hot & Sour that have corn flour in them
- Appetizers: Grilled / Stir fried beef or chicken, paneer, fish. In Momo’s eat the stuffing inside, not the outer cover.
- Beef, chicken, pork, shrimp (or combinations) with broccoli or assorted mixed Chinese vegetables – Stir Fried.
- Avoid: Egg / Spring rolls, potato & baby corn starters, crispy vegetables (generally have a coating of maida for frying) noodles, rice, pancakes, Manchurian or American Chopseuy, anything that says it has a sweet sauce and rice. Read your fortune, give away the cookie!
- Clear soups and fresh green salads.
- Medallions of beef or pork finished with butter sauces or green peppercorn sauce.
- Roasted lamb, duck, quail, chicken.
- Grilled or poached fish.
- Sauté of vegetables (squashes, carrots, onion, cauliflower, asparagus).
- Avoid: bread, potatoes, rice, and heavy cream sauces, which may contain significant carbohydrate from flour.
Indian Restaurant – North Indian Food
- Tandoori / grilled chicken or lamb; chicken, beef, or lamb curry; chicken tikka or chicken masala.
- Tossed green salad, tomato and cucumber salad, pickled onion, saag paneer (creamy spinach), all sabzis – but no potatoes. Pickle is fine as is green chutney. No sweet imli chutney.
- All unsweetned curds, (except pineapple raita & the bhalla/vada itself) are fine, as is chaas. No sweet Lassi.
- In soups, stick to clear soups. No tomato soup – it generally has sugar added to balance out the acidity of the tomato.
- Avoid: The breads / rotis, breaded and fried vegetables, potato dishes, all dals/pulses, masala papads, desserts and rice dishes.
- Don’t go for all you can eat Thalis. You will get tempted by the theplas & khichdis.
Italian Restaurant: Not a good place generally because almost everything is carb laden.
- Sautéed (not breaded) calamari (squid), chicken or antipasto appetizers like tossed tomatoes.
- Chicken, grilled fish or pork cutlet, or rotisserie or grilled chicken with tossed salad and any sautéed or steamed vegetables available to substitute for pasta.
- Avoid: The pasta, pizza dishes and bread. Even a single piece of garlic bread can contain 14 or more grams of carbohydrate.
Japanese Sushi/Teriyaki Restaurant
- Sushi or sashimi. Beware of rice.
- Miso soup (seaweed, broth, and bean curd).
- Teriyaki chicken, beef, or fish with salad.
- Avoid tempura, which is breaded and fried.
- Chicken or beef fajitas, minus the tortilla wrappers. Eat the garnishes: lettuce, chopped tomato, guacamole, sour cream.
- Grilled chicken, fish, or shredded beef, pork, or chicken with tossed salad.
- Taco salad—but leave the shell uneaten.
- Avoid or strictly limit: rice and beans (no more than 1 tablespoon of either), tortilla wrappers (one half), shells (one half), or chips (3 or 4).
- Pizza and a tossed salad with ranch, blue cheese, or Italian dressing. Load up the toppings you like: the trick is to eat only the toppings and leave the crust uneaten.
- Avoid: breadsticks, garlic toast, spaghetti or other pasta dishes. Corn for toppings.
South Indian food: Turn around and go to another restaurant. Nothing is allowed here. Everything is heavily carb based.
Chaat / Snacks Stall
- Only curd flavored with spices & green chutney.
- Pakodas are fine once a month.
- Only non-veg frankies, the veg ones are full of potatoes. Eat the stuffing, discard outer roti wrap.
- No imli / sweet chutney.
- No puris, samosas, puffed rice bhel, kulfis.
- If very tempted – half a potato tikki.
- These can be very troublesome as they only have vegetarian food. The absence of protein means that one doesn't really quite feel full because how many veggies can you hog on? For such events I eat at home, before I leave. I eat eggs or chicken & then just eat the veggies I like at the event. No point going hungry & then giving in to temptation.
Reference: Protein Power Diet. I referred to the book - Protein Power for some of the tips in this post on eating out.