EATING HEALTHY WHILE DINING OUT
You have a routine; breakfast, lunch and dinner have all been planned. Meals have been prepped and you’re hitting your daily food goals like a pro…. then PANIC sets in…. you have to go out for dinner. Friends have asked you out, you have work colleagues to entertain, family gathering, birthday party… any one of these occasions could mean a break in your well programmed food routine.
Put those worries aside. There is no need to panic. It is possible to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and be consistent with hitting your macro goals, while enjoying your favorite restaurant. Here are a few tips to help you navigate your way through, and help you stay on the path to your goals.
1. Stick with water. Pop, beer and juices are just full of empty sugar and calories. One glass of regular pop has on average 40 grams of sugar. Aside from the excess caloric intake, that amount of sugar will send your insulin levels sky-high, taking all that excess sugar to your liver where it is stored as glycogen and ultimately body fat. Best Options: Water, tea with lemon and no added sugar, sparkling water with lemon or lime.
2. As inviting as that freshly delivered bread basket and in-house whipped butter might be, stay away!! Usually this bread is white bread with refined white flour that will shoot your insulin levels to the roof and provide us with little to no nutritional value. If necessary, let your server know when you arrive that a bread basket for the table is not necessary and can be skipped.
3. Starters/Apps: Usually these options are loaded with a lot of fat and carbs (which is why they are so appealing) with creamy dips and and fried food. If you are with clients and want to provide them with a starter, then order two! You can order a popular option that will satisfy the majority but then also order a smaller one for yourself that is a healthier option and contains protein. Best Options: Small salads, fresh greens, grilled meats, grilled fish ... etc.
4. Choosing your sides: This is another way to sabotage your healthy eating. For most meals fries are the default side dish if you don’t ask your server about other options. Avoid anything fried (potatoes or sweet potatoes). Furthermore, though a baked potato can be a good option, at restaurants they normally are covered in butter, bacon, cheese and sour cream. Best Option: Stick with sides such as salads with dressing on the side (go for the non-creamy dressing option, oil and vinegar is a great choice), steamed or grilled veggies (making sure you ask them to avoid adding butter on top of the veggies if they do so).
5. Main Course: When ordering your main, a great place to start is by avoiding the section of the menu with burgers and sandwiches (again trying to steer away from those refined sugars and flour). If you want a burger, ask for a lettuce bun or go bun-less. Skip past the pastas, deep fried foods and anything very heavy on the carbs and fat. If you have a craving for a meal salad be aware that the toppings on a salad can be worse than ordering a burger. Ask them to go light on the cheese, avoid anything with fried protein, skip the nuts as usually they come "candied" and skip the added dried fruits. Best Options: Baked and grilled fish, baked or grilled chicken and lean steak with vegetables. Make sure that you skip any sauces that might come with, as they usually are full of sugar and other unhealthy ingredients.
Eating out is definitely an option while trying to live a healthy lifestyle. Moderation is key to everything in life, and know that eating out won’t completely derail you on the path towards your goals.