Lately I’ve been in a situation where I’m not working out as much, so my calorie burn is down, and I’ve been busy trying to write more blogs and film more YouTube videos, so I am eating out more.
Of course, the best way for me to eat, and most others I know, is at home because you can control what you cook, how its cooked, and the portion size. When you eat at an establishment, the menu is usually unchangeable , the portions are usually double sized to remain competitive by giving you more for your money, and you get an even better deal if you order a (usually high sugar) drink. So how do you eat healthier when this is your option for your upcoming meal?
1. Only Consider the Restaurants with the Healthier Meal Options
You probably already know which restaurants have the healthier choices but if you aren’t sure what’s in your area, I recommend doing a google search beforehand and checking out options and menus. (Some of my local favorites for healthy options are Jason's deli, Chipotle, Chik fil a, and Publix Deli)
Next, make a list of those restaurants somewhere handy (like on your phone) so you won’t forget which ones to consider. I recommend staying away from restaurants with majority fried foods if you want to stick with your healthy goal.
2. Split Your Portion Sizes
I know its fun and exciting to know that you are getting more than what you pay for but what you may be paying for is unwanted body fat and health issues. Instead of feeling like you have to eat all the food that came with your meal, I recommend splitting the meal and eating the rest at a later time…like at least two hours later. I had to add that part because my youngest daughter, Zoe, will try to convince me that "10 minutes is later, and you said later."
3. Choose Extra Vegetables
Don’t for get the goal here is to make healthier choices. When you have to choose sides, don’t forget to go with veggies. We typically don’t eat enough veggies as Americans anyways so you are helping to change a trend. Good for you!
4. Beware the Drink Calories
As part of your meal deal, a lot of restaurants will throw a drink in there. Most people I know will opt for getting a sweetened drink such as soda or sweet tea. The problem with these drinks is that you are adding at least a couple of hundred calories to your meal. Other options to substitute in place of sweetened drinks can include water, unsweetened tea, sparkling water, or coffee.
5. Rethink Your Dessert
You may find that your meal comes with a dessert or you just simply love desserts! If you must have a dessert, consider choosing fruits, like berries, with whipped cream. Other options may include frozen yogurt. If you find that none of these options are on the menu, consider sharing one dessert with a few other family members as a way to reduce the caloric and sugar intake.
There are many other underlying things to consider when eating out such as higher sodium intake, partially hydrogenated oils (aka: trans fats), artificial preservatives, and etc. Using the 5-tip strategy that I laid out above will help you make healthier choices when your only option is eating out.
For more personal health coaching or sports nutrition coaching, feel free to inquire about services on the LEANWellonline.com Services page.
Please leave a comment below. I’d like to hear if you have any other tips to add or any strategies you use to make healthier decisions when ordering out.
Certified Sports Nutrition Coach and Certified Personal Trainer