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A white woman with blonde-brown hair and green eyes. She is wearing a v neck pink sweater and smiling with her front teeth showing.

Caitlin Kilgore

Updated: 11/17/2021

You don’t have to sacrifice your social life — just follow these tips.

THE WELL Cleanse was designed to be adaptable — nobody expects you to cook every single meal for 15 days (though you’re welcome to, if you want! Try some of these mix-and-match recipes.)

If you crave the freedom of dining out every now and then, these guidelines from Health Coaches Raj Barker and Katrine van Wyk will help you navigate with confidence:

1 Choose the Right Restaurant

Pick a restaurant that is focused on ingredients (think farm-to-table or all-day cafés). If you have the ability, choose places that “prioritize organic, seasonal produce, grass-fed meats, pasture-raised poultry and eggs and wild-caught fish,” advises Barker.

In general, finding a spot with a varied menu helps. For example, your standard pizza parlor might not have many (or any!) gluten-free choices. Mediterranean restaurants make it easier to find a cleanse-friendly plate — go for leafy green salads topped with meat, fish or chickpeas for a healthy and hearty meal. Add a side of olives for some extra heart-healthy fats.

Japanese restaurants are another great option — forgo the traditional rice-wrapped sushi and opt for sashimi and a seaweed salad, says Barker. Adds van Wyk: Burger joints work too — just make sure to pass on the bun and do a lettuce wrap instead.

For cleanse participants in New York City, THE WELL Kitchen & Table will have a menu with cleanse-friendly meals called out.

2 Spot Sneaky Additions

Avoid the obvious offenders— wheat, sugar, dairy, things that are breaded or fried, as well as pastas, dips and rich sauces. But also keep your eye out for ingredients such as bread crumbs, croutons, sugary dressings and sprinkled-on-top cheese that can sneak into salads, says van Wyk.

Pro tip: Check out the restaurant's menu online ahead of your visit and bring a cheat sheet with you for cleanse-friendly options, suggests van Wyk. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your server for details when ordering.

3 Avoid Oils and Unknown Ingredients

Restaurants rarely list every ingredient in a meal, especially when it comes to cooking oils. Since vegetable oils are known to increase inflammation, it’s important to “inquire about what oils the restaurant uses in cooking,” says Barker. “Avoid canola and vegetable oils and embrace olive, avocado and coconut oil.” Says van Wyk: “Even butter can be a better option than processed vegetable oils."

4 Start with a Salad

One way to get more veggies in? “Start your meal with a big leafy, green salad,” says van Wyk. That way, you’ll fill up on the good stuff and feel more satiated in the process. Barker suggests topping your salad with hard-boiled eggs or avocado for extra protein and healthy fat.

5 Scan the Sides

“Look at the ‘sides’ section of the menu— that’s often where the vegetables are listed. Adding on a side of asparagus, Brussels sprouts or broccolini to a main course of fish or meat is a great way to get your fiber and antioxidants,” says van Wyk.

6 Tailor Dishes to Your Needs

“Again, don’t be afraid to ask questions or make requests for small tweaks to a dish,” says van Wyk. With the many allergies and dietary restrictions today, restaurants are getting used to making adjustments. “Build meals that include a healthy fat, high-quality protein and unrefined carbs (fresh veg and fruit),” says Barker. For some easy, cleanse-friendly swaps try...

  • White potatoes for sweet potatoes
  • Fries for roasted vegetables
  • Mac-and-cheese for a side salad
  • Rice for sautéed greens
  • Buns for a lettuce wraps
  • Croutons for nuts or seeds
  • Bacon or sausage for avocado
  • Cow’s milk for nut milk
  • Cheese in salads for avocado
  • Sugary dressings for olive oil and a squeeze of lemon
  • Cheesy dressings for tahini dressing

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