If you’re following the ketogenic diet, the prospect of eating out at a restaurant might seem challenging or impossible. What menu items could restaurants possibly have that would be keto-friendly? Oftentimes, when people change their diets, they find it hard to go out, be social, or attend dinner parties because there isn’t much for them to eat. But, fear not, your social life won’t need to suffer simply because your dining habits have changed. Follow these ordering guidelines and tips for satisfying keto-friendly meals at almost any restaurant.
Know what you’re getting yourself into! This is probably the most important tip. Before heading out to a restaurant, check the menu online so you can choose which items work within the keto diet. This will help you be prepared so you’re not scrambling once you get to the restaurant. If you find the menu to be a little lean on low-carb options, eat a mini-meal or snack, like a quick guacamole with veggies, before you go so you won’t be starving if you can only order something small.
Skip the Grains & Potatoes
Many entrées include a protein, vegetables and a carb; for example, steak, steamed carrots and broccoli and potatoes. Ask your server to remove the potatoes or grains, like rice or quinoa, and add more veggies and/or protein to substitute.
Whether you’re at a fast food restaurant or a fine dining one, a hamburger will most likely be on the menu. Most patties are made with just beef, but if you’re concerned there may be breadcrumbs hiding, ask to be safe. Go bunless, and ask for extra lettuce instead, or simply eat the patty with a fork and knife. You can also ask for extra onions, tomato and pickles for more veggies. Skip the sugary ketchup and stick to mustard.
Most restaurants will allow you to add a protein like fish, chicken or beef to almost any dish. This increases the fat content of your meal, making it more keto-friendly. If the menu offers grilled salmon, roasted chicken, sautéed shrimp, beef kebabs or hard boiled eggs, ask to add them on top, especially if you’re ordering salad.
Build Your Own Dressing
Most dressings have sugar, honey or maple syrup to make them sweet and tasty. Since sweeteners are a big no-no on the ketogenic diet, it’s important to skip the dressing. If you’re eating something that needs a flavour boost, ask for extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and/or lemon. Or, find out if they have pesto to add to your dish for extra moisture, flavour and fat.
Fatten it Up
A large part of keto is eating lots of fat. When at a restaurant, ask to add fatty items like avocado, olives, nuts, seeds or cheese to your meal. You can also ask for extra-virgin olive oil on the side to drizzle on top.
This Green Salad With Avocado and Feta is the perfect at-home equivalent.
You may see a dish you want to order like chicken wings, breaded calamari, shrimp or a saucy chicken. Ask if you can get these items “naked” – meaning, without breading, coating, marinade or sauce. Often, the chef can cook these items with some olive oil, lemon, garlic, spices, and salt and pepper; it’s just a matter of asking!
Toss the Tortilla
Similar to going bunless with a burger, sub out the tortillas and wrap your tacos in lettuce, collards or kale. If too messy, make a taco salad and place the filling over greens or grilled veggies. Similarly, if you find a sandwich or wrap you like, see if it can be wrapped in greens instead or topped on a salad.
Craving tacos? See if a restaurant can recreate it in salad form, like this Chicken Taco Salad.