10 Ways to Stay Healthy When You Go Out To Eat!
There's two questions I get a lot from my challengers:
- What should I do when I go out to eat?
- What should I do when I travel?
Now, I'm going to tackle traveling in a future post. But I haven't ever tackled what you should do when you go out! And with summer coming, people are bound to do lots of travelling and vacationing...so now seems a very appropriate time to handle it!
So, here I'm going to give you some quick, straight forward things that you can do to enjoy going out without totally derailing yourself!
1. Plan ahead.
When I know I'm going to be going out to dinner or hitting up a happy hour with my friends after work, I plan accordingly! If I can I will first check out the menu to ensure that there's something there that fits what I want to eat! I will also plan ahead by adjusting my food for the day! I eat less carbs throughout the day so that I can allow myself to have that beer or glass of wine! So, in my opinion, that's one of the best things you can do. Switch up your meal plan so that you can enjoy yourself without feeling like you completely destroyed your progress for the day.
2. Have a snack healthy snack before.
This kind of goes with planning ahead, but if you're afraid that you're going to over-indulge at dinner, then have a little something healthy beforehand. Not only will this keep your blood sugar levels more stable (I'm a BIG fan of eating periodically throughout the day), but it will prevent you from showing up starving and gorging yourself! My go-to pre-dinner snacks are things like a little handful of almonds, an apple, or some veggies like baby carrots or snap peas!
3. Drink your water.
I say this all the time, but more often than not we mistake thirst for hunger! So, one of the best things you can do when you're out to dinner is to pound down that water! If you're uncomfortable with having the waiter/waitress constantly come over and give you a refill, then politely ask them to leave a pitcher at the table. No harm no foul! I cannot even begin to explain the health benefits of water in a condensed form here (there's so many)...but when you go out to eat, filling up on water will keep you full on your body's most precious resource and keeping you from over-eating the rest of the meal!
4. Make healthy substitutions.
This is my favorite thing to do at restaurants! It allows me to enjoy what I want to enjoy, but without feeling bloated and gross afterward. You might be wondering what kind of healthy substitutions I'm referring too! For example, aim for a vinaigrette instead of a creamy dressing! And better yet, ask for it on the side! Avoid "fried" whether it's your protein or your starches! Just stick to grilled or baked! Much less oils that way! Stick with mixed greens instead of iceberg - So many more nutrients in spring greens like spinach, arugula, kale, etc. than what's in iceberg! Opt for the more nutrient dense option! Avocado instead of condiments, because let's face it, condiments like mayo and mustard pretty much have no redeeming qualities! Just skip them!
5. Ask for a box.
This is by far one of my favorite things I picked up on Weight Watchers! When your waiter brings your food to the table, immediately ask for a box and box up half of it! We all know that portion sizes in the States are absurdly large. So, to avoid tempting yourself to eat ALL of that food on your plate, just proactively box up half of it for a later meal. That way you still get to enjoy your meal while your out with no guilt, AND you've already got some for later! Bonus!
6. Skip the starch.
Or better yet...ask your server not to bring it by! What am I referring to? Those bowls of bread before your meal at Italian places or chips at Mexican restaurants. Starches like those are perhaps the emptiness fuel you can fill your body with! So just skip it all together so that you can save room for the good stuff that will come with your meal.
7. Eat slowly.
Have you ever heard that it takes your stomach to relay the "I'm full" signal to your brain? True story! So, to navigate that and make sure you get the memo before you gorge yourself to the point of a food coma (we've all been there, it's okay!)...eat slowly! Savor your food and savor your company! I'm really guilty of this! Especially when I'm enjoying something, I'll just gobble it down! But your food isn't going anywhere, and neither is your appetite. So, just enjoy the moment and savor the flavor. :-) This will also enable you to eat until your satisfied and not until you're so stuffed you feel ill. So, make sure that your dining out experience is enjoyable and eat slowly to savor your food and avoid that uncomfortable over-full feeling.
8. Don't feel like you have to eat what you don't like!
I used to have this mentality when I was in college - "Well I paid for it, so I have to eat it!" Firstly, no. If you don't like something, don't eat it! That's perfectly okay. And especially don't feel like you have to eat it at that meal. Employ tip #5 and get yourself a box.
9. Dessert OR an appetizer.
I can't tell you how many times I've gone out to eat, gotten an appetizer AND dessert along with my meal, and then just felt like I had a brick in my stomach when I left the restaurant. So, decide in advance that you're going to choose one! This is when tip #1 comes in handy. If you've planned ahead and looked at the menu, then you'll have an idea coming in what your options are. Choose which one you're craving more instead of feeling like you have to get both. This will both save you money and save you from feeling gross and stuffed to the brim after your meal.
10. Remember that you're human, PLEASE!
This is probably my most important tip. You're human. You're going to have cheat meals. You're going to have occasions when you overindulge. And you know what - that's okay! One of my absolute favorites images to share with my challengers is the one on the right. Some people get so overly concerned about their macros and what food their eating, that they forget what a "cheat" meal or a glass of wine truly costs them in the grand scheme of things, which is not very much. You're not going to have a burger or some fries one day and then suddenly not fit into your jeans the next. Just like you can't workout once or eat a salad once and suddenly drop 10 pounds and 2 jean sizes. It doesn't work like that. Fitness and healthy living is a journey, and results come slowly over time. So, remember to accept the fact that you're human and off days are going to happen. It's when those off-days become habitual that you start to back track. But otherwise - one "bad" meal won't kill you and won't make you fat. So enjoy that cheat on occasion!
Enjoy your Sunday everyone! And I hope you have had an awesome weekend!