Eating to Live on the Outside: IHOP

Last week DiseaseProof looked at what "Eat to Livers" might order from the Friday's menu. This week we're serving up IHOP's menu.

Here's the question: You follow the Eat to Live plan, but your buddies are grabbing a bite to eat at the local IHOP. What do you do? This is a real trip to the dark side of nutrition. Without refined sugar, flour, and meat, it's not clear there'd be much to eat at IHOP at all!

There is hardly a meal on the menu at IHOP that's going help your jeans fit better, so your options are about the only thing that's likely to be slim at this place. (You might even consider smuggling in a head of romaine.) But we are intrepid souls, and will do our best to make a reasonably healthy meal...

If cheese and fried food were part of the Eat to Live plan, you'd be in nirvana. There's tons of oily gooey goodness here---skip these menu items entirely. If you really want an appetizer order a house salad with no croutons and get the dressing on the side. It's your safest bet.

Main Course
The menu is dominated by refined sugar and flour based breakfast food (pancakes, French toast, waffles, etc.), but there are non-breakfast foods as well. If you're hell-bent on breakfast try the Harvest Grain 'N Nut Pancakes ("hearty grains, wholesome oats, almonds and English walnuts") and beg for some fresh fruit to go on top instead of those sugary fruit toppings and whipped cream.

If you're not in a breakfast mood give the Grilled Chicken Cesar Salad a whirl (with or without the chicken). Ditch the croutons and you have a nice pile of greens, granted you have the Parmesan cheese to contend with, but since you've decided to stay and eat, be prepared to make concessions.

You might be tempted by the Spinach salad. What could be more healthy than that? But check out what comes with it: "hickory smoked bacon pieces, tomatoes, shredded Parmesan cheese, Bleu cheese crumbles and diced, crispy-fried chicken. Tossed in a delicious honey mustard dressing and served with toasted garlic bread." That leaves you with a bowl of spinach and tomatoes--or the the vast majority of your calories from those things up at the top of Dr. Fuhrman's pyramid that are best eaten only "rarely."

Another option is the Grilled Cod Hollandaise. Tell the waiter to hold off on the sauce and order it with salad, vegetable and potato. That's not too painful.

You've got problems here. Like Friday's menu, you can forget finding any Fuhrman-friendly selections. The three choices all include ice cream. Resist the urge and treat yourself to some fresh fruit later.

Yup, maintaining nutritional excellence can be tough and not every situation is conducive to the plan, but do your best to be smart about it. That's what I do.

We want to hear about how you handle eating away from home. Any tips? Check out the IHOP menu and Email us at or leave a comment. How do you Eat to Live on the outside?

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Comments (8) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Linda - May 19, 2006 9:48 PM

I call ahead to the restaurant and let them know I'm coming :). I've never had a problem; they've always been accomodating. I think with so many people who have allergies, it's really nothing new for a restaurant to get requests for special dishes. Sometimes, when I tell them I'm vegan, I find out what they already have there that I might order. If nothing, they usually end up offering to fix something. After all, they are in business.

I prefer to do this rather than just take my chances with just "finding something." Plus, it's all pretty much taken care of by the time we arrive and I don't have to make a big ta-do out of it.

When I've not been able to call ahead, I will order vegetable items "dry," or with all sauces and dressings on the side. Most anywhere, a potato or side of vegetables can be had; or at the very least, a simple salad. I've had some really yummy dishes prepared by chefs!
If the place is casual with a salad bar, then that's pretty easy. Hopefully, it's not all canned vegetables.

Leanne - May 20, 2006 1:55 AM

And what if you're vegan on Eat To Live?

Well, I guess you could always pack a sandwich!

Odette - May 21, 2006 1:17 PM

I admire folks that can eek out something to eat at these grunge pits. But in my book the only thing IHOP is good for: bathroom stops when the gas station restroom is out of order.
Going into IHOPS and other greasy spoons--I find it sickening just to look at abundance of unhealthy looking porkies in there.

Eli - May 27, 2006 9:58 PM

You pour souls who must eat at IHOP as a last resort, I feel for you and I may find myself finding this blog very helpful someday.

I just have to chime in and say something.

Ok, you know IHOP lets people smoke in the back area by the kitchen. We do work for them and I have been back there on more than one occasion where the back area meets the kitchen (basicaslly the kitchen)and there are people smoking right there. The place is very nasty and I am sure many more restaurants don't come short either but just beware, and another thing I just thought of is, ask any restaurant you ever go to to get a breif tour of the kitchen. They shouldn't have a problem right? I bet IHOP would never let you in their kicthen.

That whole place is a big cancer causer and I agree 100% with Odette, IHOP's and McDonalds are only good for restrooms. I actually get a kick out of just stopping at McDonalds to just take a wizz.

I also have to see alot of people at IHOP because of my job and they use our services frequently and again agree with Odette and find everyone in btheir in extremely poor health including all the managers and weight staff. The whole place sickens me. I did have a business meeting there a short while ago and just to not look weird I ordered a salad with no dressing. The iceberg lettuce was all yellow, the tomatoes were crap and the cucumbers tasted like a big slice of chemicals, the onions were not appealing all buy themselves.

Gerald, I know you do a great job at this blog and I admire your efforts for trying to eat healthfully at IHOP, please do not take my comments in a negative light, but I had to vent on IHOP's nasty nasty kitchen and cheap low quality foods they serve.

I am sure some people will definately be tempted by other items if they are easily persuaded. This may not be good for people who are having a hard time on ETL as it is.

Great Job Gerald Keep it up!

Rebecca - August 27, 2006 7:11 AM

Okay, I actually, once in a while, just have to go to IHOP for the Belgian waffles with the gunky fruit topping and whipped cream. Maybe once a year or so, I wake up with this craving and it just has to be satisfied. When I do, I make it my one and only meal for the day because I have no clue how many calories are in those things. But I am guessing it is close to my daily allowance for weight management. I am not a "porker". I am actually slender. And normally, I don't eat this stuff; we eat good, wholesome foods in our home. BUT, when I have to have an IHOP Belgian waffle, I have it. And I try not to look at the kitchen. :)

Michelle - September 20, 2006 10:39 AM

Just to let everyone know, my brother-n-law & sister-n-law own 2 IHOP's and I also work for them. The kitchens at these restaurants are not nasty and are kept very clean and the staff is not "porkies". Also you have to keep in mind that IHOP is a franchise that are owned by different people and some owners have more pride than others, so in my opinion I do not think it is very fair to put down all restaurants just because it is a chain. Futhermore I get really tired of everyone blaming restaurants for their weight problems. I think we are all responsible adults and no one forces the food in your mouth, that's each person's own fault for not having more self control.

tamaruni - March 27, 2007 2:59 AM

I just came from IHOP and was very pleased with my options. The article said we may be tempted to smuggle a head of romaine lettuce, but that, ironically, is precisely what I ate at IHOP: a big bowl of romaine lettuce! Specifically: caesar salad without the croutons. I ordered dressing on the side; and because they were out of parmesan, that left me with a big ol' bowl of extremely fresh, rinsed, sparkling shredded romaine lettuce. So...See? Including vegetarian black bean chili, there *are* options at IHOP! :)) p.s., Okay, so my salad was extremely fresh, but...the workers wer arguing amonst themselves and very stressed, even though it was the middle of the night and almost empty.

Amelia Fischer - May 15, 2008 1:14 PM

In most restaurants you can simply order substitute eggs in any egg recipe which will substantially reduce the fat content of the meal. Get an egg-beater omelette with no cheese and fruit on the side and you have a healthy breakfast at just about any restaurant.

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