Eating Out and Choosing Healthy Food is a Mindset
I love date night when I can relax with Mike and have someone else cook. I also really enjoy some nights when we go out as a family and I don’t have to feed 3-4 teens. Most of the time, we have a plan so we rarely go out spontaneously. That’s because we do take cooking at home seriously and we are both working on our nutrition and working out. But...those nights when we do go out, we still try to eat the same way we would at home. That can be a challenge.
Some of us love to eat out because it’s a treat, but some have to eat out because they are traveling or entertain clients. It’s really tough to stay on track when you have too many choices and temptations. I look at the menu and get overwhelmed and sometimes make poor choices. It’s even harder if you have had a long, tiring day. That meal becomes the reward. It’s also difficult because you don’t always get to choose the restaurant when you are with customers or clients.
Whatever your reason for going out, there are some ways to help you stay on track. Restaurant food tastes great, but often it’s because of the ingredients they are adding to make it so flavorful and they are not always good for us. There are very healthy options that you can choose that taste great, but also keep you on track and guilt free.
I have noticed that restaurants are becoming more aware of customer needs and are putting more information on the menus, but also encouraging modifications. I used to be shy about asking for my food to be my way, but I realized that it’s my body and I have to be the one in
control of the food I choose. I feel like I look less high maintenance because so many people are working on their nutrition and really paying attention to allergies and asking more for dairy and gluten free options.
One trick is to look up the restaurant menu online and choose your meal before you even get to the restaurant. This is great because then you won’t open the menu and impulsively pick items that sound good at the time, but you may regret later. If you have this chance, it’s you be
prepared and have the mindset going in.
Wherever you go, choose to eat real food if that option is on the menu. Think REAL, WHOLE food. Meat (hopefully it is well sourced), fish, eggs, lots of vegetables, salad, nuts. Drinks LOTS of water while you are ordering and waiting for food to come. A cup of hot tea or coffee can also slow down the hunger process.
When your food comes, take a moment to pause and feel gratitude. Put your fork down in between each bite, enjoy the conversation and really chew your food. Focus on all the things you CAN eat, not the things you cannot eat. Think about how great you will feel after eating a nourishing, real food meal. You won’t be lethargic or craving dessert if you fill up on good food.Also eat slowly so your body can truly register when it is full. Breathe. It takes 20 minutes for us to have that full, satisfied feeling. Enjoy each bite. Don’t eat while you are on your phone or you will not even know what you are eating and not only miss out on enjoying it, but consume more. If your meal is too big, have the server bring a to go container right away and put half in the box for leftovers.
Watch the sauces and salad dressings. Always ask for these on the side. Olive oil and vinegar are very safe. Most salad dressings have sugar and unhealthy oils in them.
If you cannot resist bread or chips, ask them not to bring them to the table. If bread, chips or croutons come with the meal unexpectedly, put them on a separate plate. Sometimes covering them with a napkin helps. If you leave them on your plate, you may absentmindedly eat them. I know when I am talking and not paying attention, I will mindlessly eat because it is in front of me. a bunless burger or use lettuce for a bun. Having them bring without the bun is less tempting than you seeing the bun on the burger and having to be strong and take it off.
Most restaurants will do whatever you want. They are eager to please if they have the ingredients. If the menu doesn’t have exactly what you want, ask what modifications they can do to give you just a protein and vegetables.
Many servers are very used to requests for allergies and people trying to eat healthy. You can always ask about the dairy and gluten free options. Think raw, grilled, steamed and sauteed. If you are skipping the fries, ask for double veggies or a salad to replace it. Starting with a healthy salad will fill you with vegetables before the meal comes.
Things to ask about:
What oils are being used
Choices that will serve your body:
Well sourced meat (grassfed when possible)
Salad (watch the cheese, croutons, dressing)
If they have a side of avocado, you can add that for some healthy fat.
Nuts, olives and pickles
Stirfry without the rice (or with a small amount)
Potatoes are fine if they are not mashed (often mixed with milk or cream).
Roasted potatoes and baked potato with butter is fine.
Baked sweet potatoes are best. (Avoid the sugar cinnamon butter, but butter and plain
cinnamon is great)
Either of these as fries are not good because of the oils.
Foods that do not serve your body:
Pizza, flatbread, etc
Ketchup (has sugar)
BBQ sauce (has sugar)
Factory farmed chicken
Factory farmed pork
Soda, sweet tea
Let’s talk about alcohol. Alcohol alone is filled with sugar and can increase your sugar cravings. It adds calories to your meal, not just with the beverage, but with how much you eat. Studies have shown that people tend to consume, on average, 300 extra calories when consuming
alcohol before eating.
After your meal, take a walk. It’s helps digestion and blood sugar levels.If this is a special occasion, a date night or a night you just really want to enjoy, then just do it.
If you are going to choose unhealthy foods for just one evening or occasion, then savor each bite. The first couple of bites tastes amazing of any food. If it is not real food, it does become mindless after a while. Everyone’s goals are different and you can decide to enjoy, but just get
back on track the next day or the next meal.
Whatever you do, enjoy the moment and the company!