Commandment #7: ASK QUESTIONS
When we sit down at a restaurant we tend to not worry about where the food has come from or specifically how it’s prepared. There is somehow a tacit assumption that there is nothing to worry about. This is especially true if the restaurant claims to be “farm to table”, or offers only “sustainable” fair. We just don’t think to ask questions.
Most people would not feel comfortable asking a ton of questions. Maybe it will annoy the server or chef, for example. However, you will find that this is pretty much never the case. Ask questions! A lot of questions. Ask what’s organic, wild, grass-fed and the types of oils they use. As a matter of fact, you will be surprised at how often a server will something like “I don’t know, but I’d like to know that myself!”. You cannot make the right choices at a restaurant without some information. Maybe you will skip certain items if you know they are cooked in canola oil. In fact, if you know that you can then request your items be cooked with olive oil. Maybe after some quizzing, nothing seems a good choice. Then perhaps you can just ask for just a simply grilled protein and steamed veggies.
Some Tips to get Started:
At first, asking questions may take a little practice or a little nerve. But it’s worth it. The more you do it, the easier it gets. If you are just starting out, it is easier if you do some research ahead of time. For example, look at the menu online and read reviews. Then call and ask questions beforehand. They do not have to know who you are and you don’t have to be in an awkward position surrounded by friends and family as you ask ton of questions. By doing this you can even decide if you want to go there in the first place.
You can always start by asking the few easy questions we outline below. Once you’ve done this a few times you are likely to find restaurants that will be safe for you and provide meals that you can feel good about eating.
Some Sample Questions:
Here are a few key questions you might want to ask.
- Which seafood is wild? The menu may or may not indicate this, and most wait staff actually won’t know unless they ask the chef.
- Is the beef grass-fed, start to finish?
- Where does the beef/pork/poultry come from? Is it a local farm? Where is the fish from?
- Are all the vegetables organic? Are they grown locally?
- What oils are used when cooking?
You will also need to be informed about the foods you are buying in your local grocery store or farmers markets. Often you can ask the butcher where the meat came from, and someone in the produce department where the produce came from. Usually in supermarkets the produce will have a stamp indicating the country of origin. Once you find a store that sells primarily clean items then you can do most of your shopping in one place. At the present time, stores are carrying a larger selection of organic produce and meat. You can also get a farm delivery service (CSA).
Equally important, continue to educate yourself. By doing so you will develop more specific questions that are of a concern to you. Commandment number 6 was all about educating yourself and staying informed. You must do this so that you know what’s important to you. Furthermore, there is no need to compromise your health as you support an industry that doesn’t care about your well-being. There are plenty of restaurants, grocery stores, and local farms that are making it easier and easier for you to stay informed and make the best decisions for you and your family.
Rules to Live By:
The most important thing we need to know is “what’s on my plate and how did it get here?”. If we know that, then we know a whole lot!
- Do not be afraid to ask where things came from. After all, your health is far more important than the mood of your server or the attitude of a store clerk. More often then not, they are more than happy to help.
- Research restaurants ahead of time so you do not have to feel pressured to ask questions make a decision quickly on your meal.
- Once you find your safe places, frequent those restaurants and support those local businesses. Tell your friends about them and make sure you do your part to keep them in business. This way you won’t ever lose your fortress of good places to frequent.
- The more questions you ask, the more comfortable you will be at it. The healthier you feel, the more confidence you will have asking people for guidance, answers, and help.
In conclusion, do not be afraid to be the thorough detective that lives inside you!
At I am a Clean Eater, we do not want to tell you what lifestyle eating plan you should be on. We only want to help support you wherever you are on your journey. The message is about understanding what’s at the end of your fork and making the best and most informed decisions for yourself!
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For more information on this commandment, watch this video: