I know this topic has been covered time and time again on social media, but it’s still a pretty common question that I am asked by clients. Eating out and making healthy choices can be very difficult, especially living in a world where everything is super size and more is almost always better! BUT I promise you that it can be done, it really isn’t as hard as it may seem, AND you can even still enjoy yourself 😉 Here are my top 5 tips for staying on track while eating out!
- PLAN AHEAD! If you know where you’re going out to eat, or even a general idea of what types of food will be available, you can plan your meal out into your day. If you track macronutrients, plan your meal out first so that you can work your other meals around that one. If you know that dinner will include a lot of carbs and fats, choose meals made up of lean protein and vegetables earlier in the day. If you know there won’t be many options for you (based on allergies, dietary restrictions, etc.), pack yourself a snack so that you aren’t overly hungry when you get home.
- SAVE, BUT DON’T RESTRICT! Even though I talk about “saving” calories or macronutrients for a specific meal, this does NOT mean to restrict! If you plan to indulge a little at night, depriving yourself throughout the day in order to “make up for it” could back fire and cause you to binge. Choosing meals that are high in protein and fiber throughout the day will help keep you full and decrease the temptation to overindulge at night.
- ASK FOR IT ON THE SIDE! Ordering your dressings and sauces on the side can help save BIG TIME on calories! Often a salad may look healthy, but is covered in dressing that is loaded with fat. Asking for the dressing on the side allows you to add however much you want and keep your calories in check. Just remember that a “side” of dressing at a restaurant can range from ¾ ounces to 3 ¼ ounces, which is a pretty big difference! On average they are about 2-2.5 ounces, which is actually TWO servings of dressing, so even if you ask for it on the side, you may be getting more then you think.
- ASK HOW FOOD IS PREPARED! Even if you order a side of vegetables instead of mashed potatoes, you very well be eating just as much butter and fat, depending on how the chef prepares it. Don’t be afraid to ask how food is cooked or prepared AND to ask for it prepared differently. If you’re looking to save some calories, ask for your veggies to be steamed instead of sautéed in oil; or if you don’t eat dairy, ask for things to be prepared with oil instead of butter. The worst thing that happens is they say they can’t prepare it the way you ask, but I can tell you from experience that the majority of restaurants are very accommodating when it comes to your requests.
- DON’T SKIP DESSERT! This goes back to planning ahead and not restricting yourself. If you are going out for a special event, you want to be able to enjoy a drink or eat dessert, not have to sit back and watch everyone else. If you know dessert is on the menu, plan that into your day so you know that you don’t have to miss out; or if you know a champagne toast is in order, put it into MyFitnessPal and pop the bubbly! Allowing yourself to enjoy the celebration means you won’t feel like you are restricted or missing out on things.
BONUS! Don’t stress if you “mess up”. Even if you go over your macros one night or have one too many glasses of wine, it’s not the end of the world and it doesn’t mean you failed. Sometimes we choose memories over macros and that isn’t something we should feel guilty about! Living a healthy lifestyle is all about balance and moderation… most days are about eating all of our veggies and hitting the gym, but some days are about having a piece of cake and toasting to your friends 🙂