Eat­ing healthy while din­ing out: it’s pos­si­ble

GA Voice - - Eating my Words -

So you’ve made the com­mon New Year’s res­o­lu­tion to start eat­ing health­ier. But what does that mean? Does it mean you want to eat gluten-free, vege­tar­ian, sugar-free, Pa­le­olithic, or heart-healthy? Maybe you just need to eat less.

The first thing to know is that you are most likely to stick to a healthy diet by cook­ing at home, where you have con­trol of in­gre­di­ents. In restau­rants, it’s nearly im­pos­si­ble to avoid ex­ces­sive salts and fats. Fur­ther, most restau­rants serve over­sized por­tions.

So where to eat and not break the bank? First, keep this name in mind: David Sweeney. He is by far the city’s best vege­tar­ian cook. Un­for­tu­nately, his ground­break­ing restau­rant, Dy­namic Dish, closed a few years ago. Now, he does pop-up din­ners—fre­quently at Oc­tane in Grant Park. You’ll have to visit his Face­book page or Twit­ter feed to keep up with him. Be­lieve me, meat eaters will not miss any­thing.

My fa­vorite cui­sine and one of the world’s health­i­est is Viet­namese. While their cook­ing in­cludes meat, it is al­most al­ways lean and served in small­ish quan­ti­ties. My fa­vorite is the clas­sic “bun” (rice noo­dles) typ­i­cally topped with herbs, bean sprouts, shaved pick­led car­rots, ground peanuts, let­tuce, and the meat of your choice.

Bu­ford High­way is lined with Viet­namese spots, in­clud­ing some that serve pho, a rich broth filled with your choice of in­gre­di­ents. My fave is

Com (4005 Bu­ford Hwy., 404320-0405). Le Fat (404439-9850), So Ba (560 Gre­sham Ave., 404-627-9911), Saigon Basil (1870 Pied­mont Ave., 404-892-8688),

In town, there is

and

which is fast-ca­sual-style and also serves Thai food.

Thai cui­sine is con­tro­ver­sial be­cause it makes fre­quent use of fatty co­conut milk, but one of its fatty acids is ex­tremely ben­e­fi­cial for its anti-bac­te­rial and anti-vi­ral prop­er­ties. We all know where to get the best Thai food in At­lanta:

Lit­tle Bangkok (2225 Cheshire Bridge Rd., 404-315-1530).

In If you want to re­main main­stream, one of the best healthy eater­ies is MetroFresh (931 Mon­roe Dr., 404-724-0151). The menu is mainly tra­di­tional, rang­ing from sal­ads and rich soups to fish and meat, but owner Mitchell An­der­son rarely lets sea­son­ing over­power in­gre­di­ents. I do have one com­plaint: sand­wiches are made ahead and wrapped in plas­tic. They can get soggy.

I know some peo­ple shun it, but I’m a reg­u­lar at

Pan­era Bread (1544 Pied­mont Ave., 404-853-3273).

I like to go there for a light lunch just be­fore hit­ting LA Fit­ness. I al­ways or­der the sur­pris­ingly so­phis­ti­cated arugula salad with “an­cient” grains and chicken. I get the 210-calo­rie half-size and it costs un­der $7. Ask for a sprouted-grain roll in­stead of the baguette or mealy ap­ple. The big an­noy­ance here is dress­ings that are ridicu­lously sug­ary. Or­der it on the side.

Healthy eat­ing has be­come quite easy in most ca­sual At­lanta restau­rants be­cause a menu with­out such op­tions is go­ing to lose sig­nif­i­cant busi­ness. Even the gay-pop­u­lar

Ra­dial Café (1530 DeKalb Ave., 404-6596594),

a clas­sic diner in many re­spects, of­fers nu­mer­ous ve­gan and gluten-free op­tions.

Fi­nally, a plea. I beg you picky healthy eaters to do us all one fa­vor. Call or check out the web­site menu of any restau­rant be­fore you visit. It’s a widely par­o­died cliché, but hear­ing a ve­gan or gluten-free zealot go nuts at the ta­ble really is a huge, em­bar­rass­ing spec­ta­cle. Re­mem­ber: you want whirled peas, so be peace­ful.

Cliff Bostock, PhD, is a long­time At­lanta food critic and for­mer psy­chother­a­pist who now spe­cial­izes in col­lab­o­ra­tive life coach­ing (404-518-4415), www.cliff­bo­stock.com.

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