Yup, I’ve officially become one of those people. I always heard people say it. I knew “sauce on the side” was a thing. But, I never thought it was a thing for me. Afterall, I’m pretty thin. Even when I was at my worst physically, I looked pretty healthy. It wasn’t until listening to a lecture about how to eat healthily when eating out, that I realized that asking for the sauce on the side is an option for everyone.
So, what were my fears? What would people think about me if I asked for my sauce on the side? Would they think I had a distorted body image? Would they think I was too picky? Would they think I should just stay home and make my own food if I had so many concerns (like I thought I should)?
The truth is: who knows? And the second truth is: who cares? I’m owning it. No sauce on the side is a pretty amazing thing, once you get over being concerned with how other people view you. And, just to be clear, when I say sauce I mean dressings, too. This means peanut sauce, curry, miso soy glaze, citrus vinaigrette, BBQ sauce, low fat ranch, etc. It can sound healthy, but that doesn’t mean anything. Especially when you don’t know what’s actually in it.
Why Ask For Sauce on the Side?
Most restaurant sauces and dressings have tons of sugar in them (a major inflammatory). It may be a healthier substitute like maple syrup, agave, or honey. It could also be high fructose corn syrup or a zero calorie sweetener like splenda (sucralose). Whichever it is, there is no way to know which, or how much is in it. For someone with diabetes, candida, or any type of sugar intolerance, this can be a nightmare. You might think you’re doing something smart by ordering a salad, but that dressing can have just as much sugar in it as a coke.
Restaurants also use a lot of salt in their sauces. As someone with low blood sugar, that’s no big deal for me. But, if you have high blood pressure, asking for your sauce on the side is a great way to continue eating out (occasionally), without compromising your health. If you’re looking to lose weight, cutting down on sauces is also a great way to cut down on empty calories.
Sauces and dressings also tend to contain soy and other allergens, along with thickeners, MSG and other hidden ingredients. I, personally, would rather not deal with. For those with gluten sensitivity, thickeners are often made with flour (it’s called a roux). Just as an experiment, next time you’re in the grocery store, take a look at the ingredients in a bottle of salad dressing or premade sauce. Most of the time, you’re going to be surprised at how many ingredients manage to sneak their way into that little bottle.
When I ask for my sauce on the side, I don’t have to worry about all these things (not to mention that any bottled salad dressing makes me break out). Why take the risk? No sauce on the side keeps me in control. If I want to taste it, I can. If I want to pour the whole thing on, I can. It’s up to me.
Besides, when I go to a restaurant, I am paying good money in order to get what I want. It is a service. And yes, my heart goes out to the servers that have to deal with so many individualized requests. However, it never hurts to ask. If the answer is no, great, then the answer is no. It’s better to have an actual answer and move on so I can enjoy the food and company, instead of being stuck in my head and being too embarrassed to ask.
So, from now on, if you see me in a restaurant, I’ll be the one proudly asking for my sauce on the side.
And, for those of you who want to stay in and eat even more delicious and healthy food than you can get in a restaurant, stay tuned for a post on luscious sauces and dressings.