Thursday, May 23, 2013

Where to eat out during a 30-day paleo challenge (you are going to hate the answer)

You hear the question at the beginning of every paleo challenge: so... where can I eat out during the challenge? What restaurants have paleo options?

And the typical answer is: anywhere you can order meat, veggies and good fats.

I think that answer is mostly wrong.

But before you try to pin my contrarian ass to the ground and start beating me senseless, let's remember, really specifically, what the question was.

It wasn't: "Where can I best eat out and still eat paleo?" It was: "Where can I eat out and eat paleo during a 30-day challenge?"

I think those are two very different questions, because, as I have tried to explain to you pretty recently, I don't think 30-day paleo challenges are the same as everyday (mostly) paleo life.

As I told you in that prior post, the primary purpose of a 30-day paleo challenge is to detox you for a month from all the bad stuff in your diet that might be bothering you. You are recovering. Simultaneously, you are going to eat really well (paleo, no bad stuff) and then, when the challenge is over, you can start to have fun and do some delicious figuring out how to eat from there on.

If you eat out, unless you are headed to Sauvage, or some other strictly paleo restaurant that probably doesn't exist in your town, you probably are eating something that isn't paleo. Shitty industrial seed oils, gluten, etc. And if you do that during a challenge, you run the risk of reigniting the inflammation and irritation that you are trying to detox from.

In other words, you are probably helping to defeat yourself before you barely get started.

A simple analogy might help: think of your pre-challenge, non-paleo gut as an open wound. If you pour something irritating on an open wound, it won't heal well; it'll hurt, and likely get inflamed again. Your healing gut is just like that. During a paleo challenge, if you eat at a restaurant that just cooked your food in soybean oil, or canola oil, or peanut oil, or cross-contaminated your food with gluten, you may very well reignite inflammation that never fully went away. You may *think* you are just eating meat, veggies and good fat, and, because you aren't controlling the cooking process, you are actually getting a whole bunch of non-paleo/processed items that aren't on the list of ten things that you an eat during a 30-day challenge.

Again, let me emphasize that my anti-restaurant stance is only focused on the 30 days of a challenge. After that, except in the rarest cases, your gut has undergone a huge healing process, and it can take the hit of poorly-prepared restaurant food a lot better. In fact, learning where to eat and what to order is one of the truly fun parts about the post-challenge time... You know, the rest of your life.

The challenge only lasts a month. Toughen up. Prepare your own food for that month, and you will really do this challenge/detox right and learn more than you ever will by just trying to "do your best" in a restaurant where their sole goal is to feed you food that tastes good, not food that is going to allow your damaged gut to heal.

Heal that gut first. Then move on to letting other people cook for you in ways that you can't control (but can really enjoy).

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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