Although we try hard to avoid eating out too frequently while trying to reach goals, sometimes, it’s just impossible!! So, here are some tips to keep you on track while out to eat!
1. Make smart choices Almost every menu contains chicken or fish cooked in a healthy way. Look for words like “grilled,” “broiled,” or “steamed,” and avoid “sautéed” and “fried.”
2. Skip the appetizer By definition, an appetizer is intended to get your appetite going. But when some appetizers contain more than 1,000 calories, that’s not an appetizer—that’s a full meal and more! If you do want an appetizer, ask your table if they’d be willing to split one of the healthier options like a salad, bruschetta, ceviche, or anything that’s light on sauce and heavy on fruits, veggies, or lean protein.
3. Eat a salad Greens are also a great option, but not all salads are created equal. Stick with salads that don’t contain mayo (in other words, avoid the tuna and chicken salad), and ask for the dressing on the side. This way you can add your tablespoon or two, instead of having your salad drenched in it.
4. Side dishes in your mouth mean sidecars on your thighs. At many restaurants, the “side” is a baked potato, fries, or coleslaw. What does that equal? Unnecessary calories. If you’d like a side, request the salad (dressing on the side), fruit, or steamed veggies, even if you don’t see them as an option.
5. No bread Don’t eat the bread. Does it taste good? Sure! But instead of eating something because it’s in front of you, swap those empty calories for something you’d actually enjoy.
6. Eat half Over time, American portion sizes have enlarged to gargantuan sizes. Restaurants often provide you not with one serving of pasta, but with as many as 4 or more. But if you have a hard time not cleaning your plate—after all, the food does taste good—request that the waiter split your order in half before they bring it to the table. That way you can enjoy your dinner as lunch later in the week.
7. No soda If bread is bad, soda might be worse. That’s because it’s easy to consume massive amounts of calories fast. And don’t even think about going the “diet” route. Those artificial sweeteners aren’t healthy, and they can lead you to crave more sugary substances. Talk about a lose-lose! If you want something other than water, ask for unsweetened iced tea. It’s calorie free, so you can drink as much as you want!
8. Dessert Really? Really? Granted, some restaurants use restraint, and focus more on unique flavors than on quantity, but if you’re out with friends at the type of place where the dessert has more calories than your meal, and they insist upon ordering it, suggest the table split it. Then take a single bite and put your spoon down. It’s not about denying yourself, but about making smart choices. If you’re still craving something sweet when you get home, enjoy some yogurt and berries or a piece of fruit.
Plan Ahead of Time
- Scope out local restraunts and see which ones offer more grass-fed, wild-caught, and organic etc options. They are also usually easier to work with. Louisville has a wide array of awesome little eateries like this! I will post my favs later on.
- If you know you will be eating out, try to have a small snack or Shakeology about 1 hour before you leave for dinner. This will keep your belly full of something so you don’t overeat or reach for the bread at the dinner table.
- Avoid NOT eating or starving yourself up to dinner time. This is one way to set yourself up for failure! I don’t know how many times I used to do this, only to pig out on appetizers because I was famished.
- When planning with a group of friends, take it upon yourself to search out restaurant that will fit your goals. Check out menus or choose a place you know is accommodating to your needs.
- RESEARCH the menu of a new place. Plan ahead of what you might order so you won’t be tempted by the pretty pictures of mouth-watering dishes in the menus!
At the Restaurant
- Upon sitting, if you feel comfortable, ask the server to not bring bread to the table. If you’re eating with others this might be difficult. Try to restrain for grabbing for the bread…even if it is the “healthy” looking kind!! It rarely is ever “healthy”.
- Order a water and drink an entire glass before touching any food!
- Don’t hesitate to ask about how a food is prepared. There are a lot of hidden ingredients they throw in foods to make them taste good…even salads!
- Ask for dressing on the side. Remember to DRIZZLE, don’t DRENCH. Dip your fork and then eat the salad!
- If you think something might be in a recipe, don’t hesitate to drop the “A” word. If their salads contain cheese, say you are lactose intolerant…servers and waiters listen to the “A” word more frequently than your “wants”.
- Always be polite to the server when making special requests. Ask in a way like…”would you mind if…” or “would it be possible…”
- Get creative and order sandwiches with no bun, pasta toppings on a fresh bed of lettuce and spinach, or double of the veggies as your sides.
- If you’ve got grass-fed or wild-caught options, choose those over any other meat.
- Omelets are usually always infused with milk or pancake batter. Ever wonder why an omelet at a restaurant tastes so much better than the one you make at home? Sugar.
Don’t forget to let the restaurant know if you’ve had a good experience! Tip well 😉
Wendy’s: Order a plain baked potato with chives and broccoli, plus a side salad (no dressing). To spice up the salad, fork on some mandarin orange segments, which are sold as a dessert. Although nutritionists often recommend the chili as a more healthful alternative, it actually has about 40 different ingredients!
McDonald’s: About the only things that is clean here is the side salad (no dressing dressing) and Apple Dippers (without the dip). Notice I didn’t recommend the grilled chicken breast club, that seems really healthy. That bad boy has about 26 different ingredients, and the liquid margarine in which it’s prepared has about a dozen more.
Jimmy John’s: GO for the Unwhich without any added dressings. This is a sub sandwich without the bread! They wrap it in lettuce for you. The Beach Club has a nice mix of healthy fats, veggies and lean proteins minus the mayo and cheese!
Chinese: The mainstay here is brown rice and steamed veggies sprinkled with some light soy sauce. Try to avoid the heavy sauce covered meats. They will sometimes have met options without the sauce. ASK!
Sushi: Order the sashimi or nigiri. In general, the fancier the roll’s name or the higher its price the more sauces and stuff it’ll have in it. Get a side of veggies and be light with the soy sauce!
Mexican: Instead of beef, which is usually lower quality and heavily seasoned, order chicken, fish or bean tacos. The shell should always be soft, not fried, and ideally homemade from corn or flour. Ask them to be light on the seasonings.