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How to Avoid Vegetable Oils When Eating Out

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If you are new to eating real food, one of the best and first changes you can make is to eliminate vegetable oils, spreads and margarine. These highly processed oils can only be made in a factory. It is not possible to make them in your kitchen.

I have not purchased vegetable oils since I changed my way of eating. I know how harmful they can be to your health. I also noticed how sensitive I am to consuming these oils. If I consume them by accident at a restaurant, I will experience some form of gastric distress, bloating, develop a headache and will start to smell it coming out of my skin.

I have to eat out a lot since I travel for my job and I do not have access to a kitchen. I have learned a lot of tricks to eating healthy while dining out. Every time I order my food, I ask the waiter if the food is cooked in vegetable oil.

If it is a nicer restaurant, they either cook the dish in olive oil or it is baked or grilled. Sometimes the dish may already be cooked in butter. The olive oil may not be 100% olive oil because sometimes it is a blend of canola or vegetable oil. Do not assume when you see the word butter on a menu that the restaurant is using real butter. They could very well be using fake butter or margarine.

I came across this situation today at lunch. My colleagues and I decided to eat at Jason’s Deli. One of the options I determined was safe for me to eat was the “Pollo Mexicano” potato. Luckily, I decided to read the description carefully. Here is the description from their online menu (Source):

“Natural, grilled chicken breast, cheddar, sour cream, natural buttery blend, southwest spices and pico de gallo.”

The phrase “natural buttery blend” stuck out to me and my first thought was, they probably mean margarine. I asked the person taking my order at the counter if they use real butter. She said that they did, but I was not yet convinced. She asked the cook and he seemed to think that it was butter. She told me she would ask the manager and it turns out I was right. It was margarine.

I asked her if they had real butter in the kitchen and she said no. I told her to please leave off the “natural buttery blend,” and I did not need to make any more changes to my order. What I find funny about this particular potato dish is that it is full of cheese and sour cream. What is the point of using margarine when you have a bunch of full fat dairy on the potato anyway??

This situation happens a lot when I go out to eat. It is very frustrating to me. It is obviously not the cashier or waiter’s fault. It is frustrating to me that almost everywhere I go, it is hard to find good fats and extremely difficult to avoid the bad oils and fats.

Have we as Americans become so fat phobic that in many restaurants they don’t even have butter in the kitchen? Consumption of vegetable oils are the true cause of heart disease and many other health conditions in the US. When are we going to realize that removing animal fats from our diets and replacing them with fake oils and spreads only made us fatter and more unhealthy?

We can vote with our wallets. Make a pledge that you will never buy margarine, vegetable oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil, or any other industrial oil again that can only be made in a factory. When you eat at a restaurant, always ask the waiter to use a healthy fat instead of a spray or oil.

Watch out for sauces and dressings you order because they most likely contain soybean or canola oils in them. If we as consumers start demanding for change, companies and restaurants will hear us and we will be able to bring back good fats!

UPDATE – BONUS tip: sometimes I bring my own cooking fat to a restaurant. I usually bring homemade lard or coconut oil with me. There is a local Asian restaurant near me that allows me to bring in my own fat. I usually bring lard and they happily oblige me by cooking with it. My belly feels happy after eating and I get to enjoy a delicious meal :).


  1. Lindsey says:

    Love this! I know in my head which restaurants have olive oil I can use as a salad dressing. The next thing I’m trying to find is a little glass container to travel with olive oil easily so that I can eat a salad pretty much anywhere…

    • Sarah says:

      Yes, that is a great idea! I actually bring a small pint size jar to a couple restaurants in our area and ask them to cook our food in it. Our bellies are happier for it! Unfortunately most restaurants have “fake” olive oil, which is a blend of olive oil and cheaper oils like canola or soybean.

  2. Mallory says:

    I agree! I hate that I always feel crummy after I eat out. It should have been quality from the beginning just stick to real food PLEASE people! We need to change this!

  3. Cara Everett says:

    I was so excited while reading this. I am allergic or sensitive to vegetable oil and margarine. I have never found anyone else who has had a bad reaction to vegetable oil or margarine. I have come to the point that my fiancee or myself contact the restaurant and ask about what kind of oil they use. Almost no servers know what oil their restaurant uses and I always have to ask but is it real butter. I am sorry you have a sensitivity to vegetable oil and margarine, but glad I am not alone.

    • Sarah says:

      I really wish restaurants would change their cooking oils. Unfortunately, the answer is to just eat at home, unless you can find a restaurant who does cook with good cooking fats (very rare). More awareness needs to be brought to how unhealthy these oils are.

  4. Fawaz says:

    Thank you!! Eating out – or even grocery shopping – these days is so challenging 🙁 nearly everything pre-made contains vegetable oils

  5. Jason says:

    Thanks Sarah,
    Exactly what I experience also!
    I really wish restaurants would understand this and say stuff the vege oils and go back to real oils.
    Our bodys need real fat and oils for energy, eating vege and seed oils is toxic, gets stored in our bodys and causes inflammation.

    • Sarah says:

      Me too. I think it really comes down to money for most restaurants. It is a lot cheaper to use soybean and other oils than to use lard or other animal fats.

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