We all talk a good game about how to eat, what to eat, and the importance of preparing our own food from quality ingredients. The truth is that everyone faces the same dilemmas from time to time. Whether it's travel, working late, business lunches, social outings, or simply not being interested in cooking, there are many reasons that eating that home cooked meal may not always be possible.
I've decided to pose a series of questions to our members on a weekly basis on what gets them through these situations. You might be surprised at some of the answers and others might be exactly what you expected — either way, I'm hopeful that this will help you navigate your way through the myriad of awkward, inconvenient, or simply lazy situations you find yourself in.
Aaron Blaisdell from Los Angeles, California
CA: Do you put much thought into where you eat out? Or do you simply go anywhere and try to make do with what's on the menu?
AB: When I eat out, I try to choose a restaurant that is known for having whole foods options, especially animals and vegetables prepared using as minimal and basic ingredients and preparation methods as possible. Having followed a primal/paleo/ancestral health eating pattern for the past 8 years, I think I've acquired the skill of being able to find something suitable to each just about anywhere I go. Worst case scenario, I'll choose a salad option and add some meat or fish, or pick a few acceptable appetizers or side dishes to create my own meal.
CA: Most memorable restaurant meal in (or near) Los Angeles?
AB: I absolutely love the food at Maple Block in Culver City, which is only a few blocks from my home. There are also some decent Brazilian churrascarias in Los Angeles. There used to be some excellent French restaurants which are almost universally among the best restaurants, but many of them have closed over the past 5-10 years. The trend seems to be to replace them with pizzerias, vegan/vegetarian joins, or trendy sandwich shops or gastropubs, which is a shame.
I am looking forward to Mark Sisson's new restaurant franchise called Primal Kitchen. One is opening up in my home town of Culver City next week!
CA: Most memorable restaurant meal outside of Los Angeles?
AB: I absolutely LOVED Blooming Beets in Boulder, Colorado where the 2016 Ancestral Health Symposium was held. In fact, we had our Ancestral Health Society board meeting there the last night of the symposium and it was a great way to celebrate friends, food, and Ancestral Health!
CA: For people with special diets, how do you suggest they talk with restaurant staff in order to get what they need?
AB: Always ask how the food is prepared. Key questions I ask include.
- Is flour, breading, or wheat added? (Ask about sauces and even whole meats and fish that may be dusted with flour before cooking.)
- If a food is sautéed or fried, what type of oil is used, and can the cook use butter instead?
- What ingredients are in the salad dressing, soup, sauce, especially four, oils, and added sugars?
- Never be afraid to ask to have food prepared a different way, such as no sauce (I always ask for no sauce for my BBQ), lettuce wrap instead of bread or a bun, extra salad instead of rice and beans, grilled vegetables instead of a starch (if I'm avoiding starch, or if it's prepared with shady ingredients), etc.
- I'm always polite and apologetic (but not defensive) about this so as not to appear confrontational or a primadonna. Nevertheless, I'm adamant about requiring alterations due to health issues!*
CA: Do you prepare an emergency meal when you travel? If so, what do you include?
AB: I will take a clean type of dried meat or jerky, macadamia nuts, Primal Kitchen grass-fed collagen bars, and dark chocolate where ever I travel. At work I often have a stack of canned sardines and oysters, and bring hard boiled eggs, charcuterie, and cheese for a quick meal on a busy day..
CA: Your favorite quick meal to prepare at home?
AB: My favorite go-to quick meals include, beef chili in my Instant Pot, grilled meat, sautéed sausage and onions, and baked chicken legs and thighs. Or just charcuterie and cheese! I also always keep liverwurst from US Wellness Meats on stock for the extra fat soluble vitamins. I try to eat it every day.
CA: Do you consume alcohol? Explain why you think it is or isn’t a good idea.
AB: I do, usually a couple of glasses of red wine or a spirit (whiskey, tequila, or mezcal being my favorites) every day. I'm not saying it's a good idea (I take any "health" news about red wine with a grain of salt), and don't kid myself that I'd probably feel better overall if I didn't imbibe. Nevertheless, I feel comfortable with my choices because I derive significant pleasure from a moderate level of drinking, and pleasure is a vital nutrient, too!
CA: In terms of food, what is your guilty pleasure?
AB: I never experience guilt when I eat something that I know is not optimal for me, such as the case with alcohol. Sometimes I will eat corn chips or potato chips because they are among my favorite snack foods. I also love nuts and can easily overindulge in them. My nut fixation is something I continually work on. When I eat a problem food, I say to myself "I know I will suffer later for this, but it's a choice I'm making for the short-term pleasure derived from eating this." I've prioritize short-term over long-term goals, and I just take care to not do that too often or let it get out of control. The best advice about this type of scenario is to treat it like a choice instead of a personal failure. This makes it much easer to keep a level head about it and to make better choices in the future.
Dr. Blaisdell is a UCLA Psychology Professor, and member of the Brain Research Institute, and Evolutionary Medicine program. He received an MS in Anthropology (Kent State University), PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience (SUNY Binghamton), and 2 years of postdoctoral training (Tufts University). He studies behavioral neuroscience and ancestral health. He founded the Ancestral Health Society and is Editor of the Journal of Evolution and Health.
Septmeber 7-9, 2017