I rarely eat out, so for October #Unprocessed I decided it wouldn't be very difficult for me to give up that occasional treat. I thought I had nothing to worry about, until last weekend when my husband decided he wanted to have lunch out while we ran errands. My initial reaction was to tell him no. I couldn't think of a single place I could eat and stay true to my goals for October #Unprocessed, but he was determined to come up with one place I could eat out.
After discussing what I wanted to accomplish during the challenge he had the bright idea to go out for sushi. It was a major doh! moment, because I quickly realized that I could eat a relatively unprocessed meal at our favorite sushi restaurant, if I was careful with what I selected. I’m allergic to soy and shellfish, so I already avoid a few of the processed ingredients you'll typically find at a sushi restaurant such as imitation crab meat, miso, and soy sauce. As long as I avoided anything with the chef’s secret sauce, cream cheese, or batter dipped and fried, then I was relatively safe.
I settled on the smoked salmon roll and a yellowtail scallion roll and skipped my favorite—tamago. Tamago can be tricky when it comes to this challenge. Some restaurants include sugar in their recipe, while others use a type of sweet rice wine called Mirin. After a little research I discovered that lower quality versions of Mirin actually contain corn syrup. I'm trying to reduce my sugar intake this month, so I decided to avoid it all together. My meal was safe, until my husband pointed out the special roll for the month that had crab meat, jalapeño, cream cheese, and the chef’s secret sauce (a spicy sweet and sour sauce.) It was, of course, then dipped in tempura batter and deep fried.
I want to say up front that I have no will-power at all, it's one of the things I struggle with the most during the challenge. When my husband suggested that we should split the special roll three ways (our little man loves sushi) then pointed out that it was our anniversary—and I do have a special occasions exemption in my rules for the challenge—I completely caved in. I had three pieces of the special roll and it was delicious.
Did I feel guilty about it? No, and let me tell you why.
My goal this month is to find a sustainable way to feed my family in a more healthy manner. Not eating out isn't possible with our lifestyle because we both travel frequently. Instead we try to make better decisions when we do eat out. We focused on making healthy choices as a whole, learned more about what was in the food we were eating, and avoided processed ingredients where we could. I feel like this keeps with the very bones of the challenge and what we want to accomplish this month.
I think it's important to remember that for our family eating out is a treat. My once a week coffee at Starbucks (where I write many of my posts for the blog) is a treat. If you're wanting to start with clean eating or living an unprocessed lifestyle it's important to find room for the occasional treat and not feel guilty about it. I can't imagine never being able to enjoy a meal at a restaurant with family or have a cup of coffee with my best friend.
Instead of feeling guilty about eating out I try to be proactive. I suggest restaurants where I know I can make healthier choices (and avoid menus full of food I'm allergic to.) If I have ample notice that we will be eating at a new place I call the management and discuss my issues with them ahead of time. Many of them are willing to work with me so I can enjoy a meal at their restaurant, although I occasionally run in to a few who are not. It takes a lot of pre-planning for me to find a healthy meal away from home, but with a little work it is possible to enjoy a meal I don't have to cook myself, without compromising my healthy lifestyle.