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Thread: Getting Sick from Restaurants

  1. #1
    Senior Member HappyHiker's Avatar
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    Getting Sick from Restaurants

    We just ate out last night after a hiatus from restaurant meals of several weeks. I seemed to have some kind of reaction to the meal--a bit of gastric upset, nervous insomnia, and aches, pains and muscular twinges where I didn't have them before.

    I'm wondering if this sense of malaise is a reaction to MSG or other additives in the meal I ate--could it be?

    I mostly prepare and eat "clean" whole foods--mostly scratch cooking--at home and this vague feeling of being off and achy made me wonder if commercial cooking is harmful to our health? I sure hope not, for I do like the social aspects of eating out on occasion.

    Any tips or thoughts on eating foods in restaurants that are less likely to have mega MSG or additives?
    Author of the green eco-thriller: Falling Through Time http://fallingthroughtime.com Editor of http://vibrantvillage.com

  2. #2
    Senior Member pony mom's Avatar
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    A few years ago I had a veggieburger at Friday's. At that time, if I ate something "out", it was usually pizza Whatever they added to the veggieburger made my stomach really upset later on. I believe MSG is added to food in places like this to make them tastier. I thought I'd be safe with a veggieburger. Same thing happened to me after eating grilled chicken from Outback Steakhouse.

    I enjoy eating at diners--something there for everyone! Never had a problem, but then I usually eat kinda simple food, like chicken, turkey, etc. I think the more exotic-flavored meals are a bit risky.

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    Senior Member boss mare's Avatar
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    After watching episodes of Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares, Hell's Kitchen and Restaurant Impossible I can tell you that DH and I have really cut down our eating out... Alot.....
    There is a "restaurant" that is/ was a very popular place for alot of the horse organizations in my area to hold their meetings, The place has been around since the 1970's the owners were horse people and there was a back area that the groups would reserve I know of at least 4 other horse clubs hold their monthly meetings there other than ours
    A few years ago it was starting to look a little rough around the edges Then there was a fire and we hoped that they would remodel the place . They just fixed that one area. This last year it has really gone down hill in terms of the appearence and the food . THe place was never a 5 star restuarant but it has gotten so bad that at our last meeting, there was a motion made, seconded and passed on to look into a new meeting place . We have meeting there since 1975. Most horse people that I know are a pretty tough lot but the place has gotten that scary I don't know if the others groups have moved on or not I actually went on line to see that it takes to have a restaurant be on one of those shows You have to either work at or own the place

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    More often than not, when we eat out, I too experience some side-effects. In particular, I sometimes have a nervous type of insomnia after eating out. Almost as if I have had ten cups of coffee. I can only concur that it is some additive that acts like a stimulant or at least that is how it affects me. It seems to occur most often if it is a spicy dish. A lot of restaurants use what we call Sysco ingredients, ie corporate factory food, so who knows what is in that stuff - things like flavor enhancers, etc.

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    I doubt it is a simple as "MSG is added". Oh yea a little bottle of MSG is just shaken on. I think it's more processed foods will generally have MSG and yea if a restaurant is buying processed food (sysco products or whatever) then yea that's probably the case. But honestly most people probably don't avoid MSG as is. It is in almost all processed food - hydrolized protein - that's MSG, "spices" on a food label that can indicate msg (unless they specifically say what the spices are), "natural flavors" could be msg, etc.. So you either need to be extremely diligent about reading labels or make *everything* from scratch (no canned goods etc.). So that's why I'm skeptical it's the MSG just because MSG is *SO* prevalent. Still noone needs it.

    Sometimes I think it's just sheer plain old SODIUM content that is to blame. Ok, I don't follow a low sodium diet, I don't have any reason to, salt is my friend, I shake it on most savory foods. But the crazy intense thirst after restaurant meals indicate a level of sodium far exceeding what you can sprinkle on.

    Coloring and artificial flavoring and so on are probably also more suspicious than MSG (and yes these things are in processed foods!)

    I do have reactions to restaurant foods. Nervousness, fearfulness (these trigger very old emotions of fear in me, I don't need this), sometimes it disturbs my sleep. It's not that intense though really, but to a mild degree all this happens.

    I do absolutely believe restaurant food is unhealthy HOWEVER I really subscribe to an "all things in moderation" view. Yes restaurant food is unhealthy. But you know what else is unhealthy? Turning down all social invitations, living in fear of ever leaving my house, lest some restaurant food passes my lips. In fact that is way more unhealthy. So sometimes I'll be celebrating with people at a restaurant for all it's worth, enjoying the food, not a care on my mind. Because if I was queen all food would be Micheal Pollan pure, but we live in a pretty unhealthy society (yes even compared to other countries), and I can avoid it for most meals, but don't even wish to avoid the society I live in entirely.
    I hope that someone saves a seat for me on the last plane out

  6. #6
    Senior Member Rosemary's Avatar
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    Excess sodium in restaurant food definitely affects me. If you look at restaurant "nutritional" info, you'll find that a meal easily has a day's worth of sodium. Since I don't add much salt to our home-cooked food, and since we cook everything from scratch, that's probably almost 2 days' worth for me. I still like to eat out, but I choose my foods carefully. I avoid restaurant soups, and if I get a salad, I only use a small amount of dressing (lots of sodium in dressings, gravies, etc). Also, I avoid the bread, both because I don't need the calories/carb load and because it's also another sodium-hiding place.

  7. #7
    Senior Member CathyA's Avatar
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    Ditto to what Rosemary said. Too much salt really affects me.........my GI tract, my joints, my muscles, etc. If you have to eat out, be sure to drink lots of water afterwards. I can't believe the amount of salt that restaurants think they have to use. I guess it makes customers think the food has flavor, when all it really has is salt.

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    Senior Member peggy's Avatar
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    happy hiker, what did you have at the restaurant?

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    Senior Member HappyHiker's Avatar
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    My meal was liver and onions served with garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables which were mostly yellow squash and carrots.
    Author of the green eco-thriller: Falling Through Time http://fallingthroughtime.com Editor of http://vibrantvillage.com

  10. #10
    Senior Member CathyA's Avatar
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    Maybe the liver was filled with toxins?? Unfortunately, unless its a totally organic cow, the liver is a catch-all for all the antibiotics, etc. that the cow has had to detoxify. (Plus the toxins of daily living, since the liver is one big filter). Maybe the garlic in the mashed potatoes had MSG?
    Also, time will tell, but maybe you're just coming down with a virus that you picked up before you even ate out?

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