How to Stay Healthy at Restaurants

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Eating out at a restaurant can sabotage your health and fitness goals, mainly because most restaurants serve HUGE portions and typically use tons of oils, processed ingredients and tons of salt.  While I do believe that you should cook most of your meals, I also do know that we are all human and there are many of amazing restaurants out there.

I tend to take the 80/20 Rule with my eating, where I cook 80% of my meals and go out 20% of the time.  I may not have time to cook or get invited out to eat with friends or family, or sometimes I am just craving a burger from my favorite Pub down the street. However, your progress doesn’t have to ruined, especially if you follow some of these tips that I share with my clients and practice myself:

  1. Preview the Menu before you Arrive: When you are aware of what to expect before you go, you can manage your expectations and set boundaries on what you will order.
  2. Decide on your Indulgence: If you preview the menu and see that they are famous for their Salted Caramel Cake with Cardamom Ice Cream, and you cannot pass that up, then don’t! Just make sure that you stay focused on skipping the appetizers and eating a healthier option for dinner. Think lean protein and veggies, since you’re going to indulge in the sweets/carbs.
  3. Skip the Bread: Seriously, it’s simply a waste! You will fill yourself with bread, rather than enjoying a nice meal out with friends or family.
  4. Eat Veggies Before You Go: Typically, most people don’t get adequate amounts of vegetables when they go out. Each week, I make Veggie Snack Bags, and I like to eat one before I head out to eat. This way, I’m ensuring that I”m eating the veggies I need and it also helps to make sure that I don’t overeat while I’m out.
  5. Drink a Glass of Water Ordering: This just makes sure that you don’t mistake hunger for thirst, plus it helps to prep the body for digestion.
  6. Cut your portions in half: When you order, ask the waiter to serve half of the meal on the plate and to box up the rest immediately.  It’s a great way for you to manage portions and not overeat, plus you have another meal that you can enjoy later.  Or you can share a meal with someone, trust me, restaurants serve huge portions that are meant for two people, not one.
  7. Slow Down: Going out to eat is a social and fun thing, and you should be present with your company and your food (that you didn’t have to cook!)So take your time to enjoy each bite, put the phone away, enjoy the conversations, and chew slowly.  The brain takes 20 minutes realize that you are full. So take your time to avoid overeating.
  8. Listen To Your Body: This piggy backs off of #7, but it’s important to listen to your body. Once you are full, put the fork down.  I repeat, put the fork down. Another thing to keep alert on, if you are full, don’t let anyone guilt you into “sharing” anything or “just one bite”. Also, this is not the time to hear mom or dad’s voice in your head from childhood admonishing you to finish your plate before you can leave the table. Put the fork down. 🙂
  9. Practice Grace: Now, if you ended up ignoring all of the aforementioned tips, then this one is KEY! Remember, tomorrow is brand new day and you can get back on track tomorrow and start over.  Don’t let one meal determine your success on this journey.

I hope this tips help you and give you a bit more of comfort in knowing that you can do this and be successful. 🙂

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