It's Sunday, you fired up the grill, broke out the crock pot, turned on your meal prep playlist and spent the afternoon churning out a week of healthy meals. By the end of the day your tupperware drawer was empty and your fridge full; all prepped and ready to stay on track.
Now, all week you have killed the nutrition game - but now it’s Friday and your friends want to go out to eat.
"I’m out, throw in the towel. I only want mac and cheese, pizza, or ice cream if I go out to eat…"
I’ve been there...wondering what my options are...and I’ve done a few different things.
- I have eaten before I went out, sipping on water and drooling over the food my friends ate.
- I have brought prepped meals to restaurants (much to the dismay of the waiters).
- I have also run through the whole list of excuses why I couldn’t go eat out.
I wanted to stay on track with nutrition, and all of these allowed me to do so...but didn’t allow me to live and enjoy my time out with my friends.
So, when will power is pushed to the limits...how have I found balance in eating out but also staying on track with my nutrition?
I know that if I stick to these rules, I can have a great time out with friends while also continuing to slaughter my nutritional goals.
It is always a great idea to get a dish that’s main ingredient is protein. Stay away from pasta dishes, casseroles, etc.
Instead, choose chicken breasts, steaks, and even pork chops. Look for options without sauces or creams on top, and instead get something grilled or baked….fried is a big no go! Sandwiches are okay, but you will be eating a lot of bread. If you have to get a sandwich, eat it without the bun/bread or ask for it “open faced”. This means that you only get the bottom half of the bread, which saves you carbs and the restaurant money.
Most people are super conscious about their carbs, but forget that restaurants LOVE to sneak in fat anywhere they can. Many of the healthier meal options are drenched in oils and butters, which skyrockets the amount of fat in your meal and ends up making it not-so-healthy afterall.
Watch out for descriptions on the menu that include the words, oil and butter. Also, don’t be afraid to ask the waiter to have the cooks “go light on the oil” or even omit the butter all together. Also, most restaurants will cook your meal with Olive oil if you ask, saving you from who knows that they may be using. You might feel like a bother, but you’re paying for the meal so you can get what you want.
Most restaurants have a variety of sides, and more often than not you can get a side salad or seasonal vegetables. These are much better options than potatoes, mac & cheeses, and even soups, which can have a lot of oil in them. Fruit is the best option if you are going to get a side that is carb heavy. This can also help satisfy a sweet tooth if your friends are getting unhealthier sides or even dessert later.
While salads are generally deemed healthy, many of them are actually just as bad for you as a bacon cheese burger. Caesar salads are generally not a good choice. Anything with a lot of wonton strips or croutons is also a no go. Choose salads with plenty of different veggies in them and maybe even some nuts. Be careful, however, that the nuts are not “honey roasted” as that is a ton of sugar.
Also ALWAYS ask for the dressing on the side, and don’t be afraid to pick your own dressing. Vinaigrettes and fat free options are always the best way to go. Remember that a portion of dressing is commonly 2 tablespoons. This is NOT a lot. Use it sparingly, because with enough dressing your salad soon becomes not so good for you.
Tip: I love to put red wine vinegar on my salads as it gives it a little kick without all of the fat and carbs.
In the end, whatever meal you end up eating, make sure you don’t eat too much of it. As Americans, our portion sizes tend to be way bigger than what we actually need. Eat slowly and stop when you feel full. It is as simple as that. If you do this not only will you avoid overeating, but you will get to take home leftovers that will be super tasty later!
Too many people are generally dehydrated. Take the advantage of having unlimited water at your beck and call and drink up! You will find yourself adequately hydrated and will also find that you don’t need to eat as much to feel full. Drinking a large glass of water before any meal is a good idea.
Finally,Trying to eat clean can seem like a chore sometimes, but it doesn’t have to. If you start following these simple rules when eating out, you will find yourself never having to turn down a fun trip out with friends, making better choices, and stressing less over staying on track!
See you all soon!