A few Saturdays ago, my wife and I were entertaining friends from out of town. Considering our party, 4 adults and 3 children aged 4, 2 ½ and 1, we decided that IHOP (International House of Pancakes) would be a good option that everyone would like. As a low carb junkie, I was foreseeing a problem but I am happy to report that I did not have to vary from my low carb ketogenic diet.
Restaurants and Carbs
Restaurants are awash in carbohydrate laden fair and while there are many examples of eateries that have carbohydrate heavy menus, it would seem that IHOP can be considered to be a kind of Mecca for refined carbohydrates. Now in fairness, starchy, sweet food is demanded by the paying customers and restaurants are driven to this type of food by the combination of high customer demand for taste and affordability. It should also be noted that our country’s policies that accentuate low fat food have pushed restaurants further to offer, high carbohydrate meals (see my comments at the end of this post). This however makes for a conundrum when this Obesity Medicine Specialist is trying counsel his patients on how to eat healthy and maintain my own diet especially when entertaining friends who don’t share the same dietary beliefs.
You Can Find Low Carb Options Anywhere
Typically, I am of the opinion that wherever you go to eat, you can find food that will keep you on your low carb diet. My favorite example of this is a gas station convenience store. Where else could you expect such high carb fare like doughnuts, hot dogs, and soda? However, if a convenience store is your only choice for food then you still have options if you want to maintain your low carb diet. Most convenience stores have many low carb options. Various types of jerky, nuts, whole milk, and Greek yogurt all come to mind. The other example of a challenging food location that I recently discovered is at the airport. Last week, I was late for a flight and I did not have time for a meal. I stopped off at the newsstand of all places and managed to find low carb protein bars that held me very well. I would love to hear other people’s suggestions for what they eat in difficult locations.
Eating Low Carb at IHOP
So back to IHOP. I ordered the Colorado Omelette. Looking at the nutrition information, this comes with 77 gm of protein, 19 gm of carbs, and 86 gm of fat. This omelette could easily be shared. I ate the whole thing and I was not hungry again until dinner. I had this with coffee and half and half. Considering that this was essentially 2 meals for me, it was actually a very reasonable number of calories for my build and activity level. I felt great when I left. The other members of my party got to eat what they wanted and we were all happy.
Interestingly, when I was looking up the nutritional information for this post, I saw that at the top of the IHOP nutritional information menu, it mentioned that you should limit your fat intake but it did not discuss the new guidelines for limiting sugar intake. There are so many ways at this restaurant to blow right through those new low sugar guidelines. Those earlier comments about government policies for limiting fat intake came to mind. One look at the menu at IHOP and it becomes plain to see what low fat guidelines have driven us to in this country. Check out the menu again and look at the serious amounts of carbohydrates on this menu. Hmmm, I guess that will be a discussion for another day.
If anyone out there wants to offer other suggestions of their experience in finding low carb food in challenging locations, I would love to hear them.
Here’s to your health,
Carl Knopke, M.D.