Peace, Love & Dining Out
Between the fall of 2009 until the summer of 2014 I dieted and trained for 19 fitness competitions and countless photo shoots. It was quite an experience- and I wouldn't trade it for anything- but one of the things I missed most during that time was dining out. When I stepped away from the stage for good I was thrilled to be able to order off restaurant menus again!
These days I typically dine out 3-5 times per week when I’m not traveling... and pretty much all of my meals when I am traveling.
Dining out can be a slippery slope- oversized portions and menu items with double the fat and sodium in one meal than we should consume in one day!
But here's my TWO CENTS, now that I'm older and wiser...
It's OKAY to order whatever the heck you want sometimes, and enjoy every bite!
Want that bacon cheeseburger? Get it, girl!
The tempura shrimp roll? Go for it.
Flourless chocolate cake? Treat yo-self, babe.
I 100% order whatever my heart (okay, my little inner fat kid's heart) desires at least once or twice, every single week. But let's be honest, that can't be ALL the time.
However I do still enjoying dining out, and for social events and work meetings, its just a must for most of us.
You CAN absolutely dine out and still keep it super tight. And it doesn’t have to be a daunting thing, or a reason for anxiety...
Here are 8 simple tips that can help you enjoy dining out while staying 100% on the "healthy train"...
1. DON’T starve yourself prior to dining out!
This may seem like a legitimate way to balance out a higher calorie intake when dining out... but it will actually backfire. Not eating through the day can throw your blood sugar out of whack and leave you famished and WAY more likely to overeat. When I'm going out for dinner I focus on eating lean protein (eggs, protein powder, chicken, Greek yogurt, etc) + FIBER!! (I am obsessed with GG Crackers as you most likely already know!) + lots of greens & veggies to fill up. This keeps me feeling balance & calms hunger hormones- so I'm not HANGRY when that menu hits my hands.
2. Scope out the menu ahead of time.
I am a total food-lover at heart, so as soon as I know what restaurant I’m going to I always scope out the menu. Anyone else??!! This practice actually works in your favor to stay on track with your fitness goals. Almost all restaurants now post their menus online, so before heading out, scan the menu for the healthiest options and choose ahead of time. This way you’ll be less tempted by the sight (and smells!) of other choices.
3. Beware of these telltale high-calorie words:
Buttery, crispy, crunchy, smothered, au gratin, breaded, fried, creamy, Alfredo or battered. Instead look for words like grilled, broiled, fresh, roasted or broiled to steer your towards healthier options. You’ll still get to enjoy a delicious meal but the price won’t be a whole week’s worth of time in the gym!
4. The bread basket... Just say NO.
If you're with friends or family who don’t mind, ask that the server does not bring a bread basket. Because let's be honest... once its there... you've GOTTA eat it, right?! Passing on it ahead of time means you won’t be tempted to fill up on bread before your meal arrives. If your company does want the bread basket you’ll just have to use good old-fashioned willpower. I believe in you!
5. Ask and you shall receive!
Don’t be afraid to specify how you want your meal prepared. With an abundance of food allergies these days, restaurants are very accommodating to special orders. (And if they’re not, I would pick another restaurant. NEXT!!!) When ordering off a menu this ONE magical line will save you hundreds of calories: “Can I please have that prepared with no butter, oil or salt?" (Batting eyelashes optional.)
6. Order all dressings and sauces on the side.
This is a BIG ONE. This way you can still enjoy the flavor, but in moderation. You do NOT want your entire salad or meal drenched in high-calorie dressings or sauces. Or, if dressing isn't really your jam, you can opt for ordering olive oil & vinegar on the side.
7. Choose wisely from the cocktail list.
If you are going to order a drink (or 2. or 5. Judgment-free zone.) choose wisely to avoid racking up a ton of “empty” calories. Your best be is vodka or tequila with a seltzer water/ club soda, a light beer, a dry or dirty martini, red or white wine or my personal fave... champagne. Steer clear of fruity or sweet mixed drinks and martinis. *Disclaimer: again, this is when you are trying to keep things in check! Trust me gals, I order my fair share of hoppy, craft brews, margaritas, Irish coffees or speciality cocktails when I'm letting loose... just not every day. Balance, ya know?!
8. Pass on dessert.
Don’t even look at the menu. And if you really MUST have something order a dessert to share, then just take a few small bites. If I’m craving something sweet after my meal I will sometimes order a decaf coffee or espresso to curb that craving. Or tea, if you're not into java. These work really well to crush a sweet craving.
Which of these tips is your favorite? Have some tips of your own?? Comment & share below!