I went out to eat at Outback Steakhouse recently with my sisters, one of my brothers and my parents. We had a lovely time – good conversation, lots of laughing and enjoyment of each other’s company.
Unfortunately, the next day I felt pretty rotten for the experience. While I had made every effort to order food that wouldn’t make me feel lousy or fatigued later, my attempts to dodge the chain restaurant food land mines had failed.
I knew exactly what had gone wrong, and I silently chided myself for wimping out and not saying something to the waiter at the time when the steak I ordered did not arrive as I had carefully instructed.
You know how it goes, though – sending back your food because it is not served as specified is such an annoyance. At the time, I was having such a good time with my family that I decided to just suck it up and eat the food even though I knew it was going to do a number on me the next day.
This is truly one of the biggest downsides of eating clean, whole foods the vast majority of the time. When you do eat something that is overly processed or laden with additives, it tends to sucker punch the life out of you for about 24-48 hours afterward.
The optimal digestion and improved health and vitality experienced by eating a traditional diet on a daily basis makes the occasional negative event of eating factory foods very, very noticeable. Those who eat processed foods most of the time don’t seem to suffer from this reality possibly because their bodies are so “used to” getting beaten up by chemicals, additives and GMOs all the time that their nervous system has stopped even registering the experience.
Does this mean that eating processed foods and apparently not suffering from it is not dangerous?
I liken the experience to that of an alcoholic who can drink a bottle of whiskey and still appear sober. For those who don’t drink much or at all, a few shots of the same whiskey would have them passed out on the floor. Just because the alcoholic can “handle” the whiskey doesn’t mean it isn’t doing tremendous biological damage.
On the positive side, my dinner at Outback Steakhouse provided some good material for this article, so here are the pointers I would suggest next time you go to a restaurant and are trying to order steak in such a way that won’t give you a headache or worse in the coming hours and days.
How to Order Steak Safely at a Restaurant
Skip the Chain Restaurants. The first suggestion I would make if you are going to go out for steak is to avoid the chain restaurants if at all possible. Chain restaurants are cheap and that is why they are popular with the masses. That budget friendly menu comes with a price, however, and that is lower quality food.
Chain restaurants have significant buying power within the industrialized food distribution system because they buy in huge quantities which allows for big price breaks. This is then passed along to the consumer.
However, food that comes in huge quantities is typically of cheaper quality and processed in a highly industrialized setting.
It would be better to choose a restaurant that only has one or two locations where the owner lives within the same community and is also eating there! A small restaurant tends to more carefully source its ingredients for quality rather than on price alone. For example, at least one steak restaurant in Tampa sources its beef locally from grassfed farms. Not only would steak from this restaurant taste better than one from Outback Steakhouse, it would contain a lot more nutrition too.
Tell the Waiter “No Seasonings” on the Steak. Another problem with ordering steak out is that when the meat sourced is of low quality, it correspondingly has little to no flavor. Restaurants, particularly chains or franchises, typically compensate for flavorless meat by brushing steaks with seasonings before grilling. This makes them taste more like the inherent, natural, mouthwatering flavor of grassfed steaks.
The problem is that these “seasonings” are loaded with neurotoxic MSG, guaranteed to give you a headache, nausea or worse for up to 48 hours afterward.
This is what happened to me at Outback Steakhouse. I ordered my steak sans the seasonings (grill only) and yet when the steak arrived and I took a bite, I realized the mistake. If this happens to you, don’t wimp out like I did. Send it back and get the steak you ordered. You will be happy you did in the morning.
Opt to Have Any Sauces Served on the Side. Sometimes steaks are served with some sort of sauce brushed on top. Again, this is typically to enhance the taste of low quality, flavorless beef. And, these sauces are loaded with corn syrup, chemicals, additives and MSG. Best to have the sauce served on the side so you can take a small taste first to see if it is made from scratch and might be ok to eat. Most likely, it will be from a bottle or jug and not worth consuming. In that case, just get some butter on the side to melt over your steak when it arrives, use some salt and pepper and you will be good to go.
Rare or Well Done? While it is true that a rare steak is easier to digest and more nutritious than a steak with the life cooked out of it, if you are eating steak at a restaurant where the quality of the steak may be questionable, I would suggest ordering it well done to avoid any prospect of pathogens or parasites in the meat. If you are ordering steak at a quality restaurant in your community that sources from local, grassfed farms, however, ordering the steak seared or rare to medium would be fine and certainly a more enjoyable and digestive friendly experience.
Do you have other tips to order steak safely at a restaurant? Please share you experience or knowledge with us in the comments section.
If you’d rather just prepare steak at home instead of order steak out, here is an MSG free, homemade steak sauce recipe to try!
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Sarah Pope has been a Health and Nutrition Educator since 2002. Her work is dedicated to helping families effectively incorporate the principles of ancestral diets within the modern household. She is a sought after lecturer around the world for conferences, summits, and podcasts.
Her work has been covered by major media including USA Today, ABC, NBC, and many others.