When you start to make better food decisions, and begin the life long journey to being healthy, it's difficult when you are away from your refrigerator. I don't know about you, but I find it's easier to stay on the path if I'm home and making my own breakfast, lunch and dinner, because I know what I bought is healthy, and I know what I could potentially cook for those meals. When I go out to eat, that is, after I figure out where I even want to go (hey my indecisive people!), I find it difficult to find a healthier meal. I know what you're saying, well then just have a cheeseburger and enjoy yourself without the stress, and believe me, sometimes I do, fries and all! There's nothing wrong with enjoying yourself every now and then, but there are some ways I've figured out to stay the path, and enjoy your night out!
First of all, don't freak out over the restaurant. You can make healthy decisions and create your healthier version of a meal no matter where you go. Grab a drink, either going for the conventional choice of water with lemon, being careful to squeeze the lemon into your water, and ditching the rest of it... I'm sure you've heard of the germs on those restaurant lemons, or ordering an alcoholic beverage. It's not my favorite, but vodka with club, and lemon/lime is one of the lowest calorie drinks you can order, or you can take a look at their lighter menu for drinks. Most places now a days put the calories on the menu, which can sometimes be a good and bad thing.
Be mindful of the bread they place on the table. The restaurant wants to make you crave more food with those empty calories, while filling you up so you can't even finish what you order. I'd say stay away from the appetizers, or choose to not eat the bread. If you do want to order an appetizer split it with the table, or order yourself a starter salad before your meal arrives.
Wasn't that easy? So far so good. Now the hard part - ordering dinner. I've found it's better not to go directly to the salad section, thinking it's the healthiest, because it's not. I once ordered a salad at Applebees, thinking it was the healthier choice than anything else on the menu. I didn't check the calories until I got home because I was curious, mind you I also ended up having a milkshake or two from Steak and Shake. The salad contained over 1,000 calories!!! I should've just had a burger at that point. I then became more aware of what I was eating while I was out with friends and family. Instead of the boring, calorie filled salads, that just aren't worth it, try ordering a protein filled wrap, with a side salad, or veggies, a chicken, fish or steak, with a side of veggies, or even a side salad with chicken wings. Always try and pair whatever you eat with a side salad, so you're filling yourself up with protein, as well as nutritious greens! If you do end up ordering just a salad, ask for the dressing on the side, and see if they'll swap the dressing it comes with for oil and vinegar.
The portion sizes are usually out of control at restaurants. To help you here, split the meal in half and save the half you don't eat for lunch tomorrow. Not only are you getting your money's worth, but you'll end up feeling satisfied after you eat half! Don't eat leftovers? Split two meals between your dinner date, or a person in the group you're out with! Yesterday Sal and I went to California Pizza Kitchen, after about an hour of deciding where to go (whoops!). We hadn't gone there together, in what seems like years. We both eyed a delicious looking pizza - garlic chicken. I knew I wasn't going to finish the whole thing, and I was also eyeing this caramelized peach salad, so we decided to order both, and split it, after a tiny bit of convincing on my part! It ended up being the perfect lunch, and we left feeling satisfied!
There's no reason we need to go out to eat and ruin our hard work of eating healthy and working out. There are ways to still enjoy a meal at a restaurant and have a good night, without stressing about the food, and without feeling like a bowling ball afterwards.
How can you make healthier choices while you're out to eat? What are some of your tips?