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.
Resolute Michaels from Seattle, Washington
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?
RM: My main reason to eat out is to have someone cook for me and do the dishes. Thus, I consider sit down restaurants, and will tend to visit higher end establishments. I have a few restaurants locally that are a go-to, where I know enough about the sourcing to feel good about my meal.
Of course, there are times when I'm not the one choosing, and then I do the best I can with the menu presented, and bring along digestive aids, such as DPP IV enzymes.
And I remember that a crust with gratitude can be more nourishing than a feast with strife.
CA: Most memorable restaurant meal in (or near) Seattle?
RM: I'd say Capital Grille in Seattle. Before retiring from my corporate career, I would end up in Seattle on business, and would have lunch with colleagues. One of these folks would take me to Capital Grille, where the service is impeccable, they remember their clientele, and cater to them. On one memorable occasion, my colleague called ahead to see if they had brussels sprouts, a mutual favorite. They did not. But they sent out to Pike Place Market for some, and had them ready when we arrived. We received many envious looks from other patrons, and we felt very special.
CA: Most memorable restaurant meal outside of Seattle?
RM: There's an old pecan grove near South Mountain in Phoenix that has been turned into a restaurant, working garden, and special occasion venue. When I visited it many years ago, there was only the cafe and garden, among the pecan trees. This was the first place I experienced fresh made mayonnaise and mozzarella cheese. Their fare was fresh from the garden and simple, but to die for, out under the trees. As you can see, it's not just the food, but the ambiance, that makes a meal for me.
CA: For people with special diets, how do you suggest they talk with restaurant staff in order to get what they need?
Ah! I relate how I tackle this issue, as I am gluten free, mostly grain and dairy free, nightshade free, and I have histamine and oxalate issues.
First, I review the menu online before heading out, so I have an idea of what is available, and consider how I might build a plate, with the wait staff assistance. Once at the restaurant, I allow my fellow diners to order first. Then, I smile engagingly at our server, nod my head slightly, and say, "I have some interesting food sensitivities, and I see lots of things on the menu I can have. Can you help me?" The server at that point usually becomes engaged, because they love to help their guests. I then can ask questions about ingredients, preparation, and combining things from several offerings on the menu. I let them know that any extra charges for making a special plate is fine. Then, once we've finalized the order, I say, "This is going to be an amazing meal!" When my plate comes, I look at it, then smile at the server, and say something along the lines of "This looks delicious!" or "oh, how beautiful!" When the server checks in to see if everything is ok, I say, "Oh, this is great! Please let the kitchen know how much I appreciate this!" When my plate is cleared, I'll often say, "That was such a satisfying meal!" And then, I leave a generous tip.
Alternatively, if there's a gluten free menu, even if I need to modify, I will generally state, "I'm going to order from the gluten free menu" as opposed to "I can't have gluten." I've found over the years that stating what you can have, or how you're going to order, rather than what you can't have, goes a long way in getting your needs met.
CA: Do you prepare an emergency meal when you travel? If so, what do you include?
RM: Oh, yes. I include snacks, such as apple slices, raw cheese, sliced meat, nuts, hard boiled egg, dark chocolate. I don't particularly care for raw veggies singularly, and you can't get salad dressing through airport security. So a great salad accompanies me only when I'm traveling on land.
CA: Your favorite quick meal to prepare at home?
RM: One pan cooking FTW! It's just me and hubby, and while we eat the same foods, we eat them in different proportions and at different times. Thus, we each cook for ourselves much of the time. I'll put a little fat in a pan, add my meat portion, and then check the fridge for colors. I sauté the veggies, adding seasonings to fit my tastebuds. My guilty secret is to eat straight from the pan, reducing the time needed to wash dishes!
CA: Do you consume alcohol? Explain why you think it is or isn’t a good idea.
RM: I'm a cheap date. Half a glass of wine and I'm under the table! On special occasions, I'll have a glass of wine, but always with fine food, knowing that someone else will drive home. It's a treat that enhances the food, and is a conscious decision on a case by case basis.
When working with clients, I understand that alcohol is an individual choice, and that there are the usual benefits and drawbacks to it. Most benefits can be had in other foods and beverages, as well as with meditation, so I don't see that as a reason to include alcohol on a regular basis, nutritionally. And yet, it sure can be enjoyable. If it's a deal breaker, I work in other areas with my clients, and come back around to the alcohol questions. Of course, that can be said for other indiscretions in the diet as well. It's not just alcohol. (Cookie, anyone?)
CA: In terms of food, what is your guilty pleasure?
RM: I don't go there anymore. If I truly want something, I have it, and I don't feel guilty. I simply consider the consequences, and decide if it's worth it. Sometimes, it's worth it, and sometimes not. And thus I make my decision. This was a long time coming, and it's a great place to be with food.
Resolute Michaels, NTP, BCHN® is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and is Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition®. She is also a Certified BioIndividual Nutrition Practitioner and has completed the Autism Mastery Course through the Integrative Medicine Institute.
Resolute is dedicating her retirement to helping the next generation prepare to take on their world with their best foot forward. She is doing this by nutritionally supporting families and kids dealing with ASD, neurological issues and autoimmune conditions. She understands that no two people are exactly alike, and customizes nutrition plans with this in mind.
Resolute has authored articles in trade papers, conducted seminars and workshops throughout the South Puget Sound area, and is a Study Group Leader for the BioIndividual Nutrition Institute program of study.
Resolute has a private practice with clinics in Burien and Federal Way, Washington and also accepts distance clients.