I use to fear eating out. I mean, I liked it and all, but I feared the lack of control around delicious food and large portions. For a long time I associated eating out with being unhealthy.
While typically, yes, cooking at home for yourself is a better way to know exactly what you put in your food and to control exactly what you want to eat, eating out does not have to be the enemy.
In fact, I know many fit and healthy people who eat out often. And depending on your schedule it could actually benefit you from time to time. Maybe you are a busy mom, a grad student, work 60 hours a week, or hate cooking.
You can still have a healthy fit body and eat out. You shouldn’t have to utilize every ounce of willpower but you do have to have some strategies in place to help you make better choices because the reality is you can not just simply eat what you want all the time.
Today I have you covered with my top 5 tips and tools.
And you guessed it, my first tip, has nothing to do with food itself, simply the mindset.
Do not let perfect be the enemy of good!
I first read this in a book encouraging love and self acceptance, Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown (a must read by the way). While this thought was intended more for self compassion, I couldn’t help but immediately apply it to eating and working out. Just because you do not have access to exactly what you want to eat does not mean you still cannot make good choices!
Just because you cannot eat in accordance to whatever way you choose to eat when eating out does not mean you have to throw it out the window altogether. You can still be “good” without having to be “perfect.”
OK now lets get to the food….
Be Aware of Nutrient Content.
Restaurants have nutritional information now (if it is not on the menu, you can ask) so you at least have a better idea of what you are really eating. At restaurants I try to make my choices as close to 600 calories or less as possible, seems like a lot but not when most meal have 1000 or over! If you are hungry and you knew that a grande, Starbucks Frappacino had more calories than an In N Out burger (bun and cheese included) wouldn’t you go get that burger?
I often hear people complain that they do not want to know the nutrient value of what they are eating, because they are eating out and it ruins the thought of what they are about to eat, it’s simply another tool for us to have at our fingertips. If you don’t care than ignore it, but I personally appreciate the added information.
(Check out my latest blog in case you missed it with my food choices during my weekend of eating out, here .)
Get use to the idea that you CAN have whatever you want but not in the quantities you want. It doesn’t mean you are depriving yourself, it is just reality. If you want to feel good, look good and have the proper energy for daily activities and workouts avoid overeating food that makes you feel crappy.
So rather than having a drink, the bread basket, dinner, and dessert, I choose strategically. I am going to have my protein, veggie based dinner and a drink or I am doing to have a small serving of pasta but no bread or no drink. I am going to eat that delicious burger but skip the fries completely. Is it the best choices to get fantastic results, no, but you could do so much worse!
Ask for what you want.
Most places will take specific recommendations. Sometimes, not always, I ask for no oil or butter on my veggies or for my chicken to be grilled not fried. Most places will do this, no question, no problem.
Also this is my favorite salad ordering tip: When I order a salad, I almost always ask to remove ONE thing, not everything (crispy onions, cheese or bacon). I take away that one thing, which is usually high in calories and fat, and still get to enjoy all the other goodies.
In the listed blog above, I also talk about how I sample bites of other people’s foods. This of course works only with people who you are close with, but can also work at buffets, family gathering, anyplace where there is an abundance of typically “off-limit” foods.
Food doesn’t have to be off limits and this allows you to taste everything without going overboard. I get the satisfaction and really do not feel deprived or the need to eat those more indulgent foods in their entirety.
After reading this, it may seem a bit overwhelming, or complicated but really once you start to practice these things it becomes effortless. I could end up at a Mexican, Italian, Chinese restaurant, a college sporting event, a friends birthday party and I will STILL make choices that support feeling good and supporting the energy my body needs.
Here’s to effortless eating!