A lot of us wonder how to navigate making healthy choices when we go out to eat. In fact, many of you have shared some variation of a similar scenario and question with me recently. “I have made healthy choices all week, prepping my food and avoiding that glass of wine every night… but this weekend is my friend’s birthday and I’d love to go! How do I do that without ruining my progress?!”
First of all, congratulations on crushing your week! Secondly, relax! I have some tips and ideas to share that will help you stay on track AND enjoy your time eating out. These are tips for you to take with you and apply before, during, and after your meal to help you stay on track with your nutrition, while also enjoying your time socializing with friends and family. #balance
Before your meal
Eat a healthy breakfast. This will start your metabolism and help you control your appetite for the day. It sets the foundation for how the rest of the day will pan out.
Check the menu beforehand. It is helpful to look at the menu ahead of time to plan out what items sound appealing to you and fit your nutrition goals. When you are pressured to make a decision on the spot, it is much easier to fall back on the cheeseburger and fries. Failing to plan is planning to fail, am I right?
Have a small healthy snack and water before your meal out. Eating something before you go will make you feel less hungry and ravenous for that bread basket or chips and salsa that they plant in front of you.
Ask how your food is prepped. Go for things that are listed as “steamed grilled, roasted, or poached” NOT items listed as “pan fried, fried, sautéed crispy, or crunchy.”
During your meal
Apply the ABCD rule- Appetizer, Bread, Cocktail, or Dessert- pick one of these to have with your meal.
Be your own best advocate. This can be hard at first, but over time gets easier! Most restaurants are more than willing to accommodate you. Ask to make a healthy swap. Instead of the French fries, ask for a side salad or fruit. Ask if the restaurant can cook your food with olive oil instead of canola oil. Ask for your dressing on the side, or go for olive oil instead of ranch.
Try the soup! Studies looking at the effects of eating soup before a meal have shown that it can reduce your total calorie intake by 20%.
Be careful on your drink of choice. For example, a large glass of red wine, which is about 1 cup and 13% alcohol by volume, can add around 280 calories to your meal. That's the same as a Snickers chocolate bar. Go for smaller measures or a mixed drink with vodka/gin and club soda.
Drink water. Drink lots of water following your meal and the following day.
Get back on track the next meal/day. One “bad” meal will not ruin your progress. Don’t let this meal get you down or fall into the mindset of saying “I’ve already screwed up so I may as well toss in the towel and start again Monday.” NOPE! Just make your next meal choices healthy ones and move forward.
Be flexible. Think about how the meal fits into your diet overall. If you typically eat a healthy and nutritious diet, an occasional indulgence is good for the soul.
Now you have some tips that you can apply and hopefully will help the next time you go out to eat. No one is going to be perfect every time, but overtime, you do your best and learn that it’s ok to be the, “I’ll have the salad, but hold the cheese and dressing” type of eater at many restaurants if it is what you know is going to make you feel best both physically and mentally after your meal!
Here are some great restaurants with healthy options around the Twin Cities!
Chipoltle- If you get the salad bowl! I suggest the steak or carnitas with lettuce, brown rice, guac., pico
All Hail the TreadMighty,