tips for healthy eating out

Confession: I am a HUGE foodie. There is nothing I love more than trying out the newest restaurant in town, especially on the weekend. I used to use eating at a restaurant as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted (and since I tend to eat out a lot on the weekend, this equated to a lot of eating whatever I wanted ). More often than not though, I’d come home with and upset stomach and was left feeling gross and bloated come Sunday night 😳

Think about it, of our 21 meals per week (3 a day), 7 of those come from the weekend + Friday night. THAT’S 30%!!! When put that way, you can really see how those two days can have a huge impact on the success of our goals.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ever treat yourself, or that you should be strict all the time – that would just be unrealistic, and you know I’m all about balance.

Here are some simple things you can do if you are going to eat out:

  1. Check out the menu beforehand
    This is absolutely key if you have any dietary restrictions. I can’t eat gluten or dairy, so stalking a restaurant before I go is part of my regular routine. Most restaurants will post their menu on their website, so check it out beforehand to make sure that they have some healthier options, or options that are compliant with your restrictions.  If you’re unsure if they can make certain substitutions, give them a call before you go.
  2. Take the initiative
    You know when you make dinner plans with a friend, and they inevitably always ask you “where do you want to go?”? Instead of the usual, “I don’t know, where do you wanna go?”, take the initiative to suggest somewhere that you know has some healthier options. This puts you in the driver seat to make decisions that will best serve your body and health.
  3. Make the effort to make a healthier choice.
    Yes, it may not be the thing you want the most on the menu, but ultimately your body is going to feel a lot better for it, and you won’t be constantly sabotaging your progress. Choose meals with a lean protein (i.e. chicken breast, fish, tofu, etc), and lots of veggies. You will often be able to sub calorie-rich sides for something healthier like a salad or vegetables.
  4. Put away half
    Restaurants are notorious for oversized portions, which equates to a lot of extra calories that your body doesn’t actually need (unless you just ran a marathon or are a professional athlete). Physically divide your meal in half on the plate before you dig in. Once you finish the first half, wait 5 minutes before deciding whether or not you’re still hungry to eat anymore. Or better yet, ask for a takeout container when your meal arrives and put the other half away immediately. You can always eat more if you’re still truly hungry, but you can’t eat less once you’ve already finished (and are stuffed to the brim).
  5. Share a treat
    If you really want a treat – limit yourself to just a taste. Share a dessert with your table, or sneak a bite of your date’s decadent main. I’m all for small indulgences, just don’t let yourself go overboard.

Yes, I know it’s not always fun practicing these habits when eating out. But when you see how much better your body feels when you make healthy choices, it makes sticking to this habit a lot easier.