As much as I love cooking, there will be days that I eat out with friends and family and needless to say, my orthorexic tendency is to look at the restaurant menu prior to the event so I know what to order. I am disappointed that what should be a happy sociable event can turn out to be rather stressful because firstly, I need to know if there are healthy options on the menu and secondly, how do I budget my calorie intake to allow myself to eat foods that are not prepared under my control.
I do encourage those who are watching what they eat to not stress over these social events. By avoiding opportunities to socialize, you are missing a vital aspect to achieving a well-balanced life. Do not fear food. Relationships should be nurtured and one of your primary focuses while food is for nourishment for your mind and body– but it should come secondary.
For those dieting, there are ways to eat out and still stay on track towards achieving your fitness goals. Remember, there is a right and sensible way to do the following tips suggested. Yes, I believe in selecting more wholesome choices on the menu to achieve a healthier lifestyle, but please do not let your goals take you to an extreme, which can be detrimental to both your mental and physical health.
So here are some guidelines on how to eat out:
1) Do Your Studies
Do have a look at the menu before going to the restaurant. Highlight some of those healthier options that you are interested in so you don’t get flustered at the table. However, do not refuse to attend an event simply because there aren’t any options for you. There are always modifications you could ask the waiter to suit your needs, which brings me to my next tip…
2) Don’t be Afraid to Customize
I would say almost 95% of all my meals; I have some sort of special request to modify something. Here are some of my menu changes I have asked before. (Just a tip… remember to ask your waiter nicely because who knows what happens behind closed doors... haha)
a) Can I have the dressing on the side? (Or ask for a healthier dressing for your salad such as olive oil and lemon)
b) Instead of deep-fried, can I just get my (protein), grilled or steamed instead?
c) If it’s cooked with butter, can we change it to oil/less oil if possible?
d) Instead of the rice/pasta, can I just have steamed vegetables as a side please?
e) Would you be able to change the dark meat to white meat please?
3) Order a Salad to Start
Skip the bread! Studies have shown that dieters ate about 21 percent fewer calories when they started their meals with salad. Again, watch out for that dressing!
4) Pack Your Food
Again, it is about portion control. Have smaller more frequent meals is the key to keep your metabolism and sugar levels stable. Therefore, do not feel obligated to finish your whole plate of food when you eat out. When you get to about 80% of fullness, ask the waiter for a takeaway bag and bring your leftovers home!
5) Watch out for these High-Fat Descriptive Words
Careful when you see words such as: A la crème, aioli, alfredo, au gratin, creamed or creamy, golden, hollandaise, with gravy, smothered
because these are just “extras” that may make your dish tasty, but it won’t be good for your waistline.
6) Keep Your Carb Cravings at Bay
Whether you are in an Italian restaurant, Chinese, or Indian – there will always be the carb filled dishes such as pasta and rice. Instead, opt for a more balanced meal with a protein, complex carb, and vegetables!
7) Do not go to the Restaurant Ravenous
I try not to do this because when you starve yourself the entire day in anticipation for your night out, you will throw your metabolism out of whack. Not only that, you will be so hungry when you get to the restaurant that you are more likely to overeat and gorge down foods you may not have initially planned on choosing.
8) How to Deal with Buffets
This is one meal I do try to avoid because it is proven that when given more options, people will most likely eat more than they need to. However, buffets can be enjoyable when you know how to portion control. Avoid the sweet and sour chicken balls and go for the lean meats, vegetables, and salads. I typically allow myself two plates of food and then stop there because I know that that is enough to satisfy my hunger.
So don’t be afraid the next time you are invited out to eat. Go and enjoy yourself and just remember to eat sensibly!
Need more help, ALWAYS remember that we are here! You are never alone with your struggles in the BodyRock community and we'll do everything we can to keep you on the healthy and active path. That was the whole driving force behind our nutrition guide; you asked for help and we did our best to deliver. Click here to check out our 14-Day Nutrition Guide & get the most out of your workouts!