How to Eat Out at a Restaurant Without Derailing Your Nutrition Plan
So you’ve been crushing your nutrition lately, you’re seeing great results, but you know you’ve got a dinner party/wedding/event/work lunch coming up. Don’t fret! Just because you’re making all these positive health and lifestyle changes doesn’t mean that you have to let eating out once in a while stress you out or throw you completely off track.
Here are a few tips on how to order at a restaurant without derailing your nutrition goals:
- If I know where we are going or what we are having, I always check the menu in advance. Then I can form a plan ahead of time (and possibly can pre-track the meal so I can adjust my macros for the rest of the day accordingly!) What’s even better is when I can be the one to pick the restaurant so I can make sure I can order something in-line with my goals that I’ll still enjoy!
- Don’t add any extra liquid calories with sodas, alcohol, etc. Stick with water with lemon or unsweetened iced tea! (The water will especially help because restaurant food has notoriously high sodium levels to make it taste better, so you’ll want to be hydrating anyway!)
- Try to find/add as many veggies as possible. Ask about substituting a side salad, veggies (steamed would be best, otherwise they might load it up with butter or other sneaky fats), or fruit for other sides like fries or chips. Veggies will not only provide you with fiber and micronutrients, but they’ll fill you up more so you’ll be less likely to have you pining for dessert.
- Hold the extras that just add excess calories like cheese, sour cream, mayo, croutons, etc.
- Limit/eliminate starchy carbs (like buns and tortillas) and anything fried. By now, restaurants are used to serving burgers lettuce wrapped or on a bed of greens. Fajitas or burrito bowls are a great option at Mexican places (so you can create your plate how you want). And if you’re going out for sushi, you can limit your rice (they have protein rolls wrapped in cucumber or fish instead of rice), you can add a soup or seaweed salad, and avoid tempura rolls. Salads with protein on top are always solid choices as well, but order the dressing on the side so you can control the amount, and opt for a lemon-based dressing or vinaigrette.
- Pre-plan the rest of your day accordingly. Get a workout in before you go out to eat, drink plenty of water throughout the day, and fill the other parts of your day with lean proteins and veggies so you can allocate those calories and macros to your meal out.
Bottom line, having to eat out is NOT a reason to completely fall off the bandwagon. If you made a “bad” choice, move on and immediately resume your healthy eating. Don’t use that as an excuse to eat crappy for the rest of the day/week/whatever. If you lost $5, you wouldn’t just throw out your whole wallet! Nor should you feel so limited by having to eat out of your tupperware all the time; you should be able to enjoy going out and eating restaurant food with friends and family – it’s easy to enjoy still with a little strategy and planning!