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.
Dr. Akil Palanisamy from San Francisco, 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?
AP: When it's just my wife, my daughter, and myself we are very mindful about where we eat, and we try to make sure the place offers gluten-free options. Luckily the San Francisco Bay Area is full of amazing options. When we go out with friends we are much more flexible and try to just eat wherever the group would like to eat, and find healthier options within what is available.
CA: Most memorable restaurant meal in San Francisco?
AP: In San Francisco, my most memorable meal was the tasting menu at Michael Mina's Aqua in the financial district. Featuring some of the most creative seafood dishes I have ever eaten, the food was incredibly fresh and flavorful — unfortunately this restaurant has since closed.
CA: Most memorable restaurant meal outside of San Francisco?
AP: My most memorable meal was in Erode, Tamil Nadu, India. There is a wonderful restaurant I believe the name is Junior Kuppanna and it has amazing biryani, an Indian dish with rice, meat and vegetables. It is made with their locally caught game-hen which has much more flavor than regular chicken.
CA: For people with special diets, how do you suggest they talk with restaurant staff in order to get what they need?
AP: I believe just being honest and upfront with the restaurant staff is the best way to ensure that your needs will be met. Often it can be helpful to call ahead before you decide to go to a restaurant to make sure that it will work for you. These days restaurant staff are so experienced in dealing with food sensitivities that they are usually accommodating.
CA: Do you prepare an emergency meal when you travel? If so, what do you include?
AP: When traveling I usually pack some fruit, bags of nuts, and protein bars. I like EPIC bars and Raw Rev Glo bars which are vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, and high in protein. Julian Bakery has some excellent Paleo protein bars — they just have to be softened in the microwave before eating. I also think of traveling as a great opportunity for fasting sometimes!
CA: Your favorite quick meal to prepare at home?
AP: A quick meal at home for breakfast is usually a protein shake with berries, protein powder, ground flaxseeds, and coconut oil. For main meals I enjoy cooking up quinoa with some vegetables and ground turkey or ground goat meat on the side.
CA: Do you consume alcohol? Explain why you think it is or isn’t a good idea.
AP: Yes, occasionally red wine. I believe that low levels of alcohol consumption do have significant health benefits, especially in terms of wine, so I don't think that it's necessary for most people to avoid alcohol completely.
CA: In terms of food, what is your guilty pleasure?
AP: My all-time favorite dessert is tiramisu, which I enjoy every year on my birthday (and sometimes on other occasions as well!) Because I am so careful with my diet for most of the year, when I indulge in a treat like this I let go and enjoy it completely without any guilt whatsoever. It's important to maintain a healthy relationship with food and not go to any extremes.
Dr. Akil Palanisamy is a Harvard-trained physician who practices integrative medicine, incorporating the best of conventional medicine and alternative therapies. Dr. Akil, a holistic doctor, completed his premedical training in biochemistry at Harvard University, received his medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco and completed his residency in family medicine at Stanford University. He also completed a Fellowship in Integrative Medicine with Dr. Andrew Weil at the University of Arizona, and is certified by the Center for Mind-Body Medicine at Georgetown University. Dr. Akil practices at The Institute for Health and Healing in San Francisco, one of the oldest centers for integrative medicine in the United States. He has worked with thousands of patients to help them heal and recover from chronic diseases using dietary changes and nutritional supplements. He blends his western medical training with holistic approaches including functional medicine and Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India.