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.
Ivor Cummins from Dublin, Ireland
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?
IC: Not too much. I have big family, 5 children — so economy is important. In terms of family meals out they are relatively rare, and we generally use local restaurants. The Italian is convenient but is of course dominated by pasta and pizza. However, they also do items like a generous serving of Irish grass-fed rack of lamb, which myself and wife Eilís almost always get. We allow the kids to have whatever they want - as mentioned we are not out very often, and no point in being a food nazi...!
Takeaway is occasional and we generally stick with the excellent Indian not too far away (Bombay Pantry) - all home-cooked freshly, with Paleo and Gluten-free stickers covering the menu. Great guys.
When out with friends we hit traditional Irish of French food places — I order reasonable low carb, usually steak & veg, lamb, or occasionally fish dishes.
CA: Most memorable restaurant meal in (or near) Dublin?
IC: Gorgeous steak in Shanahan's on the Green Restaurant, Stephen's Green Dublin.
CA: Most memorable restaurant meal outside of Dublin?
IC: Unbelievably good steak and lobster with Antonio Martinez, Aseem Malhotra, Donal O'Neill, Steve Horvitz, Kenneth Brookler, Richard Feinman, Eugene Fine and friends in New York last year. It was The Palm Restaurant, we had the captain's room — and the table was humming !
CA: For people with special diets, how do you suggest they talk with restaurant staff in order to get what they need?
I think it's simple for most people who have weight or blood sugar issues. Meat and veg, hold the rice/potato etc., explain that you are allergic to vegetable oils so only butter/olive etc. please.
If people have specific intolerance to certain foods just tell 'em. Try to keep it light-hearted - if wheat intolerant but not celiac, explain briefly that they don't need to be super-careful - just dodge the wheat, don't worry about uber-gluten-free or anything.
If straight up and just mentioning you have issues with some foods, they shouldn't think you're a weirdo. You're a paying customer. Try and do it in a good-humored and casual way though.
No-one likes a raving fusspot :-)
CA: Do you prepare an emergency meal when you travel? If so, what do you include?
IC: I often bring nuts, cheese or dark chocolate onto planes and keep in my laptop bag. Travelling is a great opportunity to do a stint of fasting though, with backup of snack as mentioned.
CA: Your favorite quick meal to prepare at home?
IC: Super-quick when skipping a lunch — just grab hunks of cheese in the afternoon and cover in fresh Jalapeno pepper slices.
Bigger meal on the fly I'll often do several eggs and lardons thrown in the pan, or an omelet with whatever's lying around thrown in.
I regularly skip breakfast or lunch - when skipping breakfast a double espresso, boiling water and a couple tablespoons of Irish heavy cream fills the gap.
CA: Do you consume alcohol? Explain why you think it is or isn’t a good idea.
IC: I am very fond of red wine, mainly smoky Riojas. It's good for relaxation and has some health benefits I believe (nothing amazing though). Bad side is that gluttony can impact productivity the next day, and I have been known to be a major glutton :-). Also metabolizing significant alcohol leaves byproducts which damage you just like excess sugar.
If on a low-carb, low-sugar and crucially low-vegetable-oil diet, you can raise the threshold of damage significantly.
Leaving room for a little more gluttony....(!)
CA: In terms of food, what is your guilty pleasure?
IC: Rioja !
I completed a Chemical Engineering degree originally and have subsequently spent 25 years primarily in Engineering Lead and Engineering Manager positions. I have worked in the Medical Device, Special Purpose Equipment and Electronic Component industries, always gravitating towards the most complex interactions where the Physics comes alive. My specialty throughout has been leadership in Complex Problem Solving Methodology (Comparative Analysis, Mechanistic Analysis and Experimental/Statistical Inference) - the ultimate destination was always Root Cause Resolution in the minimum timeframe.
Following less-than-ideal blood test results mid last year, I went back to my Biochemical Engineering roots and intensively studied the mechanistic physics and primary drivers of Dyslipidemia, elevated GGT and Serum Ferritin; as the journey became a fixation I also analysed several hundred related papers and studies carried out over the past 5 decades, and a few prior to this period. I found the value of the technical expertise gained during my career to be of paramount, indeed crucial importance in this odyssey. I thus realized that to be successful in determining root cause and solution in this complex arena, required far more than a general medical background.