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.
Mark Sisson from Malibu (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?
MS: I can eat anywhere, off pretty much any menu, provided I can get the waiter to listen to specifics. It’s getting easier, too. Seems like everyone is offering gluten-free items and reporting the provenance of their meat and produce.
That said, you probably won’t find me at a Taco Bell.
CA: Most memorable restaurant meal in (or near) Malibu?
MS: At Animal on Fairfax in Los Angeles. As the name implies, every dish at Animal is animal-based and excellent, from veal brains to marrow bones to braised rabbit to so-tender-you-could-eat-the-bone pork ribs.
CA: Most memorable restaurant meal outside of Malibu?
MS: That’d be the 12-course dinner I enjoyed in Beijing as a guest of the Chinese government when they were bidding on the Olympic Games. I was helping them design the triathlon course. The Chinese really go all out in fine dining. It was unlike anything I’d ever experienced.
CA: For people with special diets, how do you suggest they talk with restaurant staff in order to get what they need?
MS: Strike a balance between being apologetic (for the added trouble) and firm (because you know what you want).
Don’t get too specific. Ask for the minimum necessary to satisfy your requirements.
Don’t be afraid to ask them to cook your food in butter rather than “oil.” In most restaurants, “oil” means rancid vegetable oil. Every restaurant has butter on hand, which is much healthier to cook with.
Then, assuming everything went well, give a good tip.
CA: Do you prepare an emergency meal when you travel? If so, what do you include?
MS: I usually take travel time to fast rather than prepare any food for travel. Because I’ve been eating high-fat for so long, my mitochondria are exceptionally good at burning fat for energy. It’s no problem to skip 2 or 3 meals if airport fare is less than ideal, since I have plenty of body fat to consume.
CA: Your favorite quick meal to prepare at home?
MS: Grilled wagyu short ribs, steamed broccoli and lots of butter. Wagyu is the breed of cow made famous in Kobe, Japan, home of Kobe beef. The short ribs grill surprisingly well for being a piece of meat that traditionally requires lengthy braising.
CA: Do you consume alcohol? Explain why you think it is or isn’t a good idea.
MS: I used to drink a fair amount of wine. Two glasses a night was the norm. Then, it started disagreeing with me. I’d wake up every night around 3 AM and have trouble getting back to sleep. That ruined my mood and productivity the next day. I’d have gut issues, too.
I switched to natural wines, which are dry-farmed (rather than irrigated) and made with none of the pesticides and preservatives most other vintners use. They tend to be lower in alcohol and, as of now, one or two glasses is fine. Though I no longer make that a nightly habit.
There are some compelling links between alcohol consumption and better health and longevity, but those are often confounded by other factors like income, social connections, and having an overall healthy lifestyle. Are they healthy because they drink or because they’re wealthier, eat better, and have more friends? Tough to say.
At the end of the day, alcohol is a toxin. We can certainly consume toxins and get away with it, but there’s an upper limit. If you listen to your body, it’ll tell you what that limit is. Alcohol is such a mainstay of our culture (and civilization in general) that I think people tend to ignore the messages the body sends.
CA: In terms of food, what is your guilty pleasure?
MS: 85% dark chocolate and a spoonful of coconut butter. Best part is that this is actually nutritious, too.
Mark is recognized as one of the nation’s leading authorities on the low-carb movement and evolution-based health, fitness and nutrition. He is publisher of MarksDailyApple.com, one of the most popular health blogs on the Internet and the author of the best-selling Primal Blueprint book series. In addition to Primal Health Coach®, he is also founder and CEO of Primal Nutrition, Inc., a provider of lifestyle-enhancing nutrition supplements; and Primal Kitchen®, bringing uncompromisingly delicious, high quality, nutrient-dense sauces and dressings to kitchens everywhere.