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.
Jason Wells from Portland, Oregon
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?
JW: I currently follow a cyclical ketogenic diet. This strategy provides me the metabolic and neurological benefits of ketosis, while allowing freedom to indulge in healthy higher carbohydrate meals 1-2 times per week. A few higher carbohydrate meals per week allows me to replenish glycogen storage in my liver and muscle, supporting my athletic performance.
I try to choose to eat out on the days when I purposely am going to diverge from ketosis, so I have more freedom to eat across the entire menu.
CA: Most memorable restaurant meal in (or near) Portland?
JW: One of my long-time favorites is Ned Ludd. The appeal goes beyond the farm-to-table, paleo friendly food choices. Menus change by the month as new fresh produce becomes available. Food is cooked traditionally, in small-batches, and the only heat source is a brick-faced wood-fired oven. The restaurant has a small barn-house feel, rustic and intimate.
Another favorite is Laurelhurst Market, a combination steak-house/butcher shop. This is my go-to for a high-quality steak (when I’m not outside grilling at home). I recommend stopping in for a dinner and picking up a few cuts of meat at the butcher on your way out.
On the more economical end of meals, I can’t go without mentioning Dick’s Kitchen, whose burger joints I frequent for everything from quick lunches to business dinners. No one I know in the Portland community puts more effort into sourcing the highest quality, most sustainable beef and other meats.
Nedd Ludd in Portland
CA: Most memorable restaurant meal outside of Portland?
JW: I was recently in Lahaina, Maui and had a memorable ocean-to-table meal at Mala: An Ocean Tavern. The fresh local seafood was good enough to convince us to buy Chef Ellman’s cookbook. The patio seating, which extends over the ocean makes for an intimate dinner. The waves splashed up and hit us a bit during dinner, but none of the patrons seemed to mind, instead most people got a laugh. It made it that more memorable. I’ll definitely be going back on my next trip.
Mala: An Ocean Tavern
CA: For people with special diets, how do you suggest they talk with restaurant staff in order to get what they need?
JW: It depends on the rationale for the dietary restriction. If there isn’t a need to be 100% strict with a dietary restriction, if the reactions to the food are minor and short-lived, or if foods are being restricted for the sake of being compliant without a known benefit, I recommend lightening up on restrictions. I don’t recommend eating out often and eat very healthy at home 95% of the time. When I do eat out, I allow myself more freedom with my choices (within reason).
For the remainder of people, whose reaction to ingredients sets them back in their health significantly or puts them at risk of major health crises, be very up front with your wait staff. Tell them of the emergency of your health issue and need to ensure no cross-contamination. Choose simple items from the menu instead of complicated dishes with sauces that are questionable.
And of course, tip well. If the restaurant did a good job, give them a good Yelp review, and be a return customer.
CA: Do you prepare an emergency meal when you travel? If so, what do you include?
JW: I like to utilize travel time to implement fasting, allowing myself only water and possibly a bulletproof coffee over a 24 hour period. I advocate semi-regular 24-72 hour water fasting to patients for cancer prevention and longevity. Fasting during airline travel is easy for me, as I do not find myself tempted at all by airline food.
If I’m not fasting, I usually pack Bulletproof protein bars, jerky, and sprouted salted nuts.
CA: Your favorite quick meal to prepare at home?
JW: The meal for me goes beyond the food. It is the whole experience of eating and nourishing yourself with your loved ones. My favorite quick meal would entail throwing meat and veggies on the grill and topping it off with a blend of fat and seasonings. I spend at least 6 days of the week in the clinic and cooking and eating outside is a great way for me to enjoy fresh air and nature.
CA: Do you consume alcohol? Explain why you think it is or isn’t a good idea.
JW: I drink alcohol in moderation with responsibility. I find periodic usage of alcohol to shift my attitude and relax in social settings, allowing for closer connection with my friends and loved ones.
An aspect of primal health that I address with all my patients is social health. I believe that many of the mental health issues we see clinically today are a direct result of the divergence from tribal living and the sense of loneliness that can arise with that loss of connection. Moderate alcohol consumption with loved ones supports me in strengthening important bonds.
Obviously alcohol can be abused and if a patient relies on its use for social engagement, deeper treatment is needed.
CA: In terms of food, what is your guilty pleasure?
JW: Good comfort Italian food from my childhood. I’m a sucker for gluten-free pasta and lasagna dishes (on my non-ketogenic days). I don’t feel guilty about it though.
Jason Wells completed 6 years of medical training at the National College of Natural Medicine, in Portland, Oregon (the oldest, most renown school of Naturopathic Medical in the United States). He graduated with a Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine (ND) and a Masters of Science in Oriental Medicine (MSOM), which entailed a detailed study of oriental medical theory, acupuncture, and classical dietary and herbal formulations.