I went out to breakfast this morning with my wife. I ordered a meal of breakfast potatoes and eggs and sausage and bacon and loads of veg, and asked them to leave off the cheese. It was great!
The dish I ordered also comes with a side of toast or biscuits and gravy. So I asked the waitress, “What side options do you have that aren’t bread?” And she offered me pancakes, waffles, oat meal, or a cinnamon roll. I just smiled and told her I’d have it without a side and my wife did the same and then our food showed up and it was delicious and we devoured it and we were both totally full at the end of the meal.
It’s important to remember that the Paleo lifestyle isn’t really a part of the social consciousness yet. At least not to the degree that vegetarianism is for instance. If I had asked her for a “no meat” option she would have understood and not recommended bacon or sausage. But when I asked for a “no bread” option she offered me four bread options. Not because she was being a bitch. Not because she was stupid. She was a perfectly pleasant waitress and she got a good tip. The simple reality is she doesn’t think of pancakes and waffles and oat meal and cinnamon rolls as bread. This is part of what makes bread such a sneaky bastard. It’s like a silent ninja that’s stalking and killing you. Until it’s pointed out to them, most people don’t realize that pizza is bread, and tacos are bread, and soda is bread, and cupcakes are bread, and corn salsa is bread, and cereal is bread, and flour gravy is bread, and fried fish is bread, and linguine is bread, and a pretzel is bread, and rice is bread, and beer is bread, and on and on and on. When I said “no bread,” she just thought I meant “no toast.” And that’s not her fault. That’s our culture.
This is a learning process for all of us. Our species has been surviving on grain products for a long long time. And coming to understand that they might not be good for us, or that we shouldn’t be eating them, or just how ubiquitous they are in our society takes time. I’m still finding out sneaky new ways grain products are used in foods you’d never imagine, like in ice cream or ketchup or even processed meats! If I’m studying this almost every day and still learning new things all the time, how can I expect a waitress who’s never heard of this before to be an expert on what I mean when I say “no bread?”
So be patient with your servers. Be patient with yourself. If you have what you thought was a perfectly Paleo meal and then later realize that there was a grain product in the sauce you thought was safe, let it go. A tablespoon of sauce with a milligram of gluten isn’t going to kill you. If your server misunderstands your dietary preferences and suggests the wrong foods, just smile and nod and get on with your life. The longer we live this lifestyle and the more gracious we are about it with others, the more it will become a part of mainstream culture. I’m already seeing “Paleo” sections on menus and “Paleo” food trucks. As you grow in your understanding of the Paleo journey, the world around you will too. So take it easy. Lean back in your chair, smile at the waitress, tip generously, and maybe later have a small, good-natured chuckle at the one time a waitress recommended waffles as a good “no bread” option.