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jwags

Low Carb Eating in Restaurants

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jwags

Found this on Laura Dolson's site today. I know for a lot of us eating out is difficult, but we have to do it. As a Low Carber I find if I tell the restaurant I can't eat wheat, it is easier to make changes in items. When I was ordering a Soup of the Day, I asked if it had noodles. When they said yes, but we could leave them out. So I think more restaurants are getting used to Gluten Free requests. My husband always get embarassed because I do ask a lot of questions about sauces and salad dressings. As a back up I carry some individually packaged Walden Farms dressings with me.

 

Eating Out in Restaurants on a Low-Carb Diet

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SB_Krista

I just tell them I'm diabetic and need to avoid carbs....most places are very accommodating, substituting more veggies in place of starchy sides, and putting sauces on the side. My husband used to get embarrassed but has gotten used to it by now and rather have me ask then deal with a high bs later.

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dccc

Haven't gone out to eat yet since dx, but shouldn't be too bad. Hubby won't think anything different as most resturants never got my order right to start with, so he learned a long time ago that hiding under the table in embarrassment was useless, HA! :)

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Moonpie

The hardest part for me, when eating out, is to leave the bread basket alone. I absolutely adore good sour, sourdough & have been unable to find a low carb sub to make at home. If it is just regular bread roll, I can ignore them, but if it's a good quality sour dough ( as is the case in many places in this area, it is hard to pass up. Or garlic bread. Last week, we had visiting relatives, so we went out to eat. I ordered extra veg in place of the mashed potatoes, but when they brought a basket ( 2 ) of garlic bread, my will power dissipated. Maybe if I ask for gluten free soup, I'll be too embarrassed to eat the sourdough LOL

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jwags

I have found if I bring a small baggie of my own flaxseed crackers or some GG crackers, it gives me something to munch on while I am waiting for my salad. If it is just me and my husband I will put the bread basket on the other end of the table. Mexican restaurants are my downfall with the baskets of chips that they keep refilling. I think next time I will bring my own flaxseed natcho chips, haven't made them in awhile but they help with the cravings.

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Moonpie

and of course, the waiter will always put the bowl of bread or chips right in front of me, not anyone else. I think I read ( maybe Shuttlebop) brings pork rinds to Mexican diners. Good idea with the salsa.

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MrsMia

I think I've retrained myself totally to do without. If there is a bread basket on the table it no longer calls my name. :) What I do at restaurants depends on what I am ordering. If I'm ordering a hamburger I will tell them that I have a wheat allergy. That way very little explanation is needed and I get the hamburger without a bun. If it is steak then I don't say anything except "well done". I do find that the more expensive the restaurant though,(such as Ruth's Chris) the better you are accomodated to having things exactly how you need them when ordering. At least that has been my experience. If I get a salad I ask for olive oil on the side. And usually something steamed like broccoli or asparagus with plenty of butter for it. Oh and one other thing I try to do before I go to a restaurant is check on line and see if they have a nutritional menu listing the carb counts of their items. If not then I will order something that I know has minimal carbs.

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jwags

In 5 years I've only had one waiter give me trouble about swapping out the pasta and replacing it with a veggie. He had to go in and talk to the chef, WTH. When he came back he told me there would be a $3 extra charge for changing it. I wasn't going to argue because we were on vacation in a different state and I knew I would never go back there. But I find most places very accomodating. I do find if you tell them you have a wheat allergy it works better. When I tell anyone I have Diabetes, they always say I know someone who eats anything she wants, so I try to avoid that. I just wish my husband would be more supportive when I ask questions. He is also diabetic but could care less about carbs, since he doesn't test after meals.

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A1C
In 5 years I've only had one waiter give me trouble about swapping out the pasta and replacing it with a veggie. He had to go in and talk to the chef, WTH. When he came back he told me there would be a $3 extra charge for changing it. I wasn't going to argue because we were on vacation in a different state and I knew I would never go back there. But I find most places very accomodating. I do find if you tell them you have a wheat allergy it works better. When I tell anyone I have Diabetes, they always say I know someone who eats anything she wants, so I try to avoid that. I just wish my husband would be more supportive when I ask questions. He is also diabetic but could care less about carbs, since he doesn't test after meals.
I would have asked to speak to the manager. If they would not replace the pasta with a veggie without charging an extra $3, I would have told them to go screw themselves in more colorful language and got up and left. I would not spend MY money in a restaurant like that.

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Kkirwan

Slightly unrelated because most gluten free breads and pastas that I've found are not low carb, but my dad found an iPhone app called Eating Out G-free. I haven't looked at it yet, but it might be free. Even if it's not, it may still be worth it.

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jwags

Since we were dining with 3 other couples I was not going to make a scene. I think as diabetics sometimes sometimes we do the best we can. We do a lot of travelling all over the world and I am learning little by little how to cope. Although it would be nice to get restaurants to adjust they may not always do it. Also another thing I learned is don't assume something is carb free. I have found some restaurants add pancake batter to scambled eggs to fluff them up or dust steaks or veggies in flour or sugar before cooking. I usually ask but sometimes the servers don't even know.

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IrinaHarr

Outback restaurant was very good to me - steak with extra steamed vegetables, dropped baked potato no problem. Their vegetables (broccoli, yellow zucchini, some carrots) are really good, hot and slightly crunchy. And the steak was excellent :)

 

If waitress starts saying something about someone she knows with diabetes eating everything a simple question like "are you a doctor???" usually works well.

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DeusXM
I would have asked to speak to the manager. If they would not replace the pasta with a veggie without charging an extra $3, I would have told them to go screw themselves in more colorful language and got up and left.

 

I wouldn't. Stuff like that just ends up reflecting badly on the rest of us. I don't want to sound churlish but it's a bit ridiculous to order a pasta dish and then say you don't want the pasta part. It's like ordering a pizza and then saying you just want the topping. It's also perfectly reasonable for a restaurant to charge extra for such a substitution - pasta is very, very cheap, veg is less so and swapping for the veg means more work required of the chef (who is probably earning minimum wage and won't really want to work any harder for it) and ups the cost of preparing the meal. It's reasonable enough to ask to swap things like potatoes for other veg that's likely to be there anyway as all those things are likely to be being cooked anyway, rather than requiring special attention.

 

I also don't really get why people need to make a big deal in restaurants to explain why they want to make a swap. Just ask for it and don't take the mick. I regularly swap fries or potatoes for salad (which is an extremely easy substitution to make). If you want to cut down on carbs, don't go to a restaurant where the cuisine is largely based on them. It's like going to a vegetarian restaurant, ordering a veggie dish and then asking them to chuck a bit of steak in it - the issue isn't with the restaurant, it's with your choice in the first place. People working in restaurants earn sod all, need the job more than anything else and are all someone else's son, daughter, mother or father just trying to make ends meet - there's no point giving them a hard time and potentially costing them their job because you feel they should act like some grateful servant.

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MrsMia
Since we were dining with 3 other couples I was not going to make a scene. I think as diabetics sometimes sometimes we do the best we can. We do a lot of travelling all over the world and I am learning little by little how to cope. Although it would be nice to get restaurants to adjust they may not always do it. Also another thing I learned is don't assume something is carb free. I have found some restaurants add pancake batter to scambled eggs to fluff them up or dust steaks or veggies in flour or sugar before cooking. I usually ask but sometimes the servers don't even know.

 

I once heard a doctor on tv say to never order scrambled eggs at a restaurant because they are probably powdered eggs and who really knows what they put in them to reconstitute them? He said to always make them crack your eggs such as over easy, poached, etc. I also know that in many restaurants they carmelize some veggies by adding sugar.

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MrsMia
I wouldn't. Stuff like that just ends up reflecting badly on the rest of us. I don't want to sound churlish but it's a bit ridiculous to order a pasta dish and then say you don't want the pasta part. It's like ordering a pizza and then saying you just want the topping. It's also perfectly reasonable for a restaurant to charge extra for such a substitution - pasta is very, very cheap, veg is less so and swapping for the veg means more work required of the chef (who is probably earning minimum wage and won't really want to work any harder for it) and ups the cost of preparing the meal. It's reasonable enough to ask to swap things like potatoes for other veg that's likely to be there anyway as all those things are likely to be being cooked anyway, rather than requiring special attention.

 

I also don't really get why people need to make a big deal in restaurants to explain why they want to make a swap. Just ask for it and don't take the mick. I regularly swap fries or potatoes for salad (which is an extremely easy substitution to make). If you want to cut down on carbs, don't go to a restaurant where the cuisine is largely based on them. It's like going to a vegetarian restaurant, ordering a veggie dish and then asking them to chuck a bit of steak in it - the issue isn't with the restaurant, it's with your choice in the first place. People working in restaurants earn sod all, need the job more than anything else and are all someone else's son, daughter, mother or father just trying to make ends meet - there's no point giving them a hard time and potentially costing them their job because you feel they should act like some grateful servant.

 

I can't speak to what restaurant jwags went to but in the states here some restaurants have their menus "fixed". You get an entree and a salad and a side. Sometimes that side is fixed as some kind of pasta dish (such as macaroni and cheese)or potato or fries. I've had that happen to me once and the waitress went back to the chef to ask if a substitution could be made. The answer was yes so I swapped out their potato and got asparagus. But I think if I couldn't swap out a fixed menu item in the entree I would probably just ask them not to bring it but bring everything else.

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MCS

I go into a restaurant order what I want, they say we can't make substitutions, OK fine, bring me what I ordered though. Steak house we go to is a prime example, salad, starch, meat is there dinner meal. I get the salad, meat and 2 orders of steamed veggies, do I pay extra, yes, but I know that going in. I do suck the salt off my wife's left over, very thin baked potato skin. We visit the waffle house more than I care to mention. My meal is the Rib-eye, 3 egg Fiesta Omlette, sliced tomatoes. They had to call the regional manager to figure out how to charge me, I am the only person that has ever ordered this combination. The funny thing is they keep a ticket by the cash register so all the waiters know how to bill this plate when we come in.

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jwags

Most of the time I don't have a problem. I do think starches like pasta, rice and potatoes are cheaper than veggies. I do find more and more restaurants are giving you a choice of a starch or a veggie, now. We like to go to Carrabras for that reason. I think as more people are going on restrictive diets for whatever reason, restaurants are finding ways to accomodate them. We don't go out to eat a lot when we are home, it is usually only when we are travelling. So it is restaurants I am not familiar with, so I just do my best.

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Peggy_TX
I wouldn't. Stuff like that just ends up reflecting badly on the rest of us. I don't want to sound churlish but it's a bit ridiculous to order a pasta dish and then say you don't want the pasta part. It's like ordering a pizza and then saying you just want the topping.

 

I TOTALLY agree that making a scene is NOT the right way to go. I'm in 100% agreement with the OP. I can't tell you how many times I'm stuck dining somewhere with poor dining choices -- but I'm with a group of friends of business colleagues. I do the best I can, and have insulin to supplement if something goes wrong (like MSG in the sauce!!)

But, to the OP's defense, I'm guessing it wasn't a pasta dish she was asking them to hold the pasta on. My mom regularly eats at a restaurant where the default side-dish for EVERYTHING is some sort of pasta (spaghetti, mac salad, etc etc) Their policy had been "no substitutions" also. Were it a 1-time thing, I'd do as the OP did and just let it slide. Since it's a local restaurant that she loves, I stopped by early one weekday evening (slow time, with few customers) and asked to speak to the manager. I told her my mom's situation - hoping just to make things easier for mom - AND THEY CHANGED THEIR POLICY FOR EVERYONE!!! They now allow a sub of a side-salad or veggie in place of the pasta. (Certainly not an outcome we'd have had if we were rude to the server and stormed out.... )

(YEAH for manners and YEAH for good customer service) :-)

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DeusXM
I told her my mom's situation - hoping just to make things easier for mom - AND THEY CHANGED THEIR POLICY FOR EVERYONE!!! They now allow a sub of a side-salad or veggie in place of the pasta.

 

That's brilliant - not only have you improved your own situation, I'd be willing to bet they do a lot more business. And like you said, no-one was made to feel bad in the process. Good news all round, I hope you tip the staff well!

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jwags

A lot of times the meals are set. For example I find I do pretty good with Chicken Marsala as long as I eat it with veggies. But most of the time it comes with garlic mashed or some type of pasta dish. I prefer to have extra veggies, but if they won't do it I just remove the pasta portion. If I am eating at a chain type restaurnat and order a burger, I don't go through the trouble of asking them to remove the bread. I just do it by myself, same things with sandwiches. But I do think more and more places will make the accomodations if you ask. Plus there are more and more salad dishes on most menus. I just bring my own Walden Farms dressing packets.

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Moonpie

I often order an extra side salad or a side of veg if available & they can't or won't sub out the starch. I understand they have to make money to stay open., However, most places are fairly accommodating.

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jojeti

A couple of good fast food options is:

Breakfast: You can order a side of scrambled eggs and a sausage patty at both McDonalds and BurgerKing. I even sometimes order a side of scrambled eggs and 1 or 2 $1 sausage burritos at McDonalds and open them up and scrape the insides onto my scrambled eggs, add a bit of their hot sauce and you have a great "breakfast bowl".

Lunch/Dinner: Taco salad without the shell at Taco Johns, A JimmyJohn's Unwich sandwich (they will wrap any of their subs in lettuce rather than the bun). And of course, most fast food places offer salads but you really still have to watch the carb count in those with the dressings they offer. Subway will make any of their subs into a salad.

 

In resturants, you can usually order a meat such as a steak or shrimp and they usually come with a salad and ask to swap the potato for some veggies. They usually do that with no problem. I often just prefer the salad bar option and fill up on salad topped with meats, cheese, eggs, sunflower seeds, etc and top it with Ranch which is usually very low carb.

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kingd

A lot of restaurants we go to have such large portions that the wife and I split a meal and order an extra side ,but we did end up at a restaurant that would absolutely

not substitute anything so the dogs and chickens got pasta, rice and bread for a treat.:)

 

We always ask nicely about substitutions because the last thing you want is an angry chef/cook making your food,if you know what I mean:eek:

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