David G. Olarsch, N.D.

by Dr. David Olarsch
Practice of Naturopathic Medicine

Q: How do you feel about eating out?

A: Americans are eating out more frequently. For the most part, this is contributing to the obesity epidemic. Most people tend to finish the huge servings at a restaurant—more than you would eat at home. There are more temptations when dining out, and the atmosphere often lends itself to eating quickly and nervously. We must try to remember to retrain our minds, that eating is not for fun or pleasure, it is to nourish our temple, our body. Too many restaurants use “fun” or other tactics to give us an excuse to choose the wrong foods.

As if that wasn’t enough of a problem, food establishments are not required to tell us the ingredients or ways the food is prepared. This inherently dishonest profession employs many tricks and unhealthy methods in preparing food. Ways to mask old or rancid food, ways to make poor quality food taste good, and other methods to increase profits and fool us. Here are some examples: over-salting food. This masks many defects in the raw food. Ditto for adding lots of sugar. I hope you know by now how I feel about sugar! By reading this, I want you to discover just how hard the industry works at keeping its dietary secrets. Indeed, the law is on its side: The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 actually absolves restaurants of all nutritional liability to the American public!

Another problem is aluminum cookware. I have repeatedly seen very high levels of this toxic heavy metal in the hair mineral analysis of patients that eat out often. Take out containers (see link to article here: Concerns About Recycling & Plastic) are another problem. They are coated with chemicals similar to non-stick coating used on cookware. For more information on restaurant tricks and eating out hazards, read Even Five-Star Restaurants Can’t Be Trusted for Healthy Food, 16 Secrets the Restaurant Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know, and The Truth Behind Fast-Food Restaurant’s Soft and Fluffy Claims!

What to do? Not all dining establishments are evil, of course. I stick to places that are owner-operated, not a nation-wide chain, places where I know the owner and/or their family. I ask about cookware, ingredients, cooking methods, try to ascertain their savviness to organic, free-range and other health issues. It’s not about perfection, it’s about making the best choice. It’s all about choices.

There is no place like home when it comes to nourishing our body with healthy and economical food. When dining out, select food that is baked, steamed or broiled. Avoid dessert, alcohol, soda, bread and fried foods. Choose vegetables and protein, have them hold the starches and instead give you extra veggies. I ask for steamed or “stir fried” veggies instead of pasta under my protein (fish, turkey, chicken, etc.). Many ethnic restaurants offer healthy choices. Some patients eat before going out socially so they are not as hungry, often just ordering a big salad.

Again, try to avoid the “treat” mentality and remember your long-term goals. We trick ourselves by telling ourself that this is a “treat, just this one time” and that happens again and again until we are grossly overweight and sickly. Remember that soon almost everyone in that restaurant will be saying or thinking “I wish I hadn’t eaten all that, I wish I hadn’t eaten that dessert.” Ask that the bread not be brought to your table, same for dessert menus. It’s your life and your body.

Q: Is red wine good for me? What about all those studies saying moderate red wine intake has health benefits?

A: No, red wine is not good for you. Alcohol is poison to the human cell, and nothing has changed that! Alcohol is a drug, a mind-altering substance, one that use of causes a great deal of pain on our planet. Now, as for these “studies” and the startling conclusions that are drawn from them, remember that studies are not the final word. They are studying what is in the product, not the whole product. Yes, there are good compounds in red wine, but grapes have more. It looks like our society is trying hard to find a way to justify our addiction to alcohol and ways to escape our feelings. Not to mention the huge financial impact the alcohol industry has on our culture. Sorry to be so harsh, but someone has to tell the truth. Yes, the French are healthier than us. But how scientific is it to assume that is from red wine? They also eat four times the fruits and vegetables we do, and get twice the amount of exercise of the average American. I look at the people I know who are big drinkers, and they are not healthy! Alcohol is bad for the liver and kidneys. It is hard for these organs to break it down and that can cause serious harm. Wine is full of sugar, some naturally occurring and some added during manufacturing process. This manufacturing process is a proprietary process, a secret that each winery cherishes as a kind of secret formula, then spins it all into public relations romance mystery. How romantic not to tell us about the nitrites, pesticides, sugars, and a host of chemicals that are in alcoholic drinks. And the real treat here is that the law exempts them from telling us what poisons they have added to this mind-altering concoction. I won’t go much into how bad sugar is except to mention that we already get enough, it ages us, can raise triglycerides and other bad fats, and put your heart at risk. I will remind you that the extra calories and carbs are something we can live well without. And, red wine, like any other alcholic drink, can make us dizzy, dehydrated and cause headaches. So much for the miracle of red wine! I will drink my fresh vegetable juices or well water while reading those studies and continue to shake my head in amazement at the conclusions that are drawn.

David G. Olarsch, N.D.