Should you avoid eating out?
Most trainers would take a stance on this and tell you whether or not eating out is detrimental or beneficial to you reaching your goal.
There is nothing wrong with eating out. There is no bad food. There are portion sizes that are too big you and foods with little micronutrient value.
This doesn't mean you need to avoid going to all restaurants, disown your family and miss celebrations just to meet your health and fitness goal.
There are a few great things you can implement to keep you headed down the right path though.
I call it the going out to eat checklist.
1. Don't skip meals just so you can binge when you go out to eat.
Poor decisions stem from the fact that you are starving and foods you typically would avoid become foods you give into. If you arrive hungry, most likely you will be tempted to fall off track. Not to mention, by the time you get to your destination, get seated, order and eat, it can take hours. That is a set up for failure.
Have some nutritiously dense food prior to you going out to eat. If you have dinner plans then don't skip lunch and that mid day snack so you can load up on chips and salsa because chances are you will over do it once you start.
2. Take a look at the menu prior to you getting to the restaurant.
You can find pretty much any menu of any restaurant online now. This serves you because now you can plan before hand. Check the menu online so you can plan your meal using healthier options. It is smart to show up at the restaurant well prepared and knowing what it is you are going to order. You can make a healthy choice almost anywhere. But the major key is you must know what to ask for and how to manipulate the menu options.
3. Don't be afraid to ask for food substitutions.
You need to be aware of your eating. There is a reason why the foods that you eat at a restaurant taste so good. They may tell you what comes with a meal but you aren't aware how it is prepared. For example, often an entree will not list “butter” or “cheese” in the description, but you can bet that most meals are doused with butter or dusted with cheese. Butter and cheese can easily add an additional few hundred calories to a meal! The oils that are another culprit. Peanut oil, soybean oil, vegetable oil and various others are used in your meals so they have a superb flavor and leave you begging for more.
Know what you are eating. Ask the server how the food is prepared and don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to ensure you are ordering your meal as you want it. Don’t assume the meal you order will be prepared exactly as the description states. Menus tend to give an overview of the meal but not offer the specifics that can easily prevent a meal from being healthy. It is okay for you to ask the server for your meal not to be dipped in butter prior to being prepared.
4. Make sure you get your veggies.
You can't go wrong with vegetables. Well unless they are drowned in butter. Vegetables at a restaurant tastes ten times better than those steamed vegetables you made at home last week. That is because restaurants drench their veggies in butter. So be careful when you are under the assumption that you are making a healthy choice. Salads are tricky as well. Some healthy salads can have more calories from fat than a cheeseburger! Ask for your cheese on the side, dressing on the side and be cautious of the amount of nuts that are on your salad. It is okay for you to modify your meals. Little things like dressing can defeat your purpose of making a good choice and double your calorie intake for that meal. Some great additions to salads that don't bring the unwanted fat calories include honey mustard, salsa, light italian, and various balsamic dressings.
5. When in doubt, choose grilled options.
Grilled options are a safer bet than fried. Anything that has the word “crunchy,” “fried” or “breaded” you want to cautious of. You would be surprised how many meals can be made “grilled with no butter or sauce.” But if you want the sauce then ask for it on the side for dipping. That way you can be in control of the consumption.
6. Order water.
It is fine if you want an adult beverage. That is your personal choice. But make sure to order a water as well. Water will help you stay hydrated and also help you keep full so you don't overeat. Restaurant meals typically have more sodium in them than a meal you will make at home because they want to boost that great flavor. If you stay hydrated you can combat the extra sodium in restaurant meals.
7. Get a to go box immediately..
The plates at restaurants are humongous. The food that comes out on them can feed a small village. You get full half way through and force yourself to eat the rest because you don't want to 'waste food'. That is a bad mindset to be in. Rather than setting yourself up for that, ask for a to go box and put half away as soon as the meal comes out. Out of sight, out of mind. You can eat the left overs for lunch the next day.
8. Share a dessert.
I know you want one and so does your partner. But that is cruising down weight gain island. I know it will taste so good going down but you will be kicking yourself tomorrow. Just air on the side of caution and choose one dessert that both of you can enjoy.
The more you are aware of how to navigate a menu, the easier eating out will be. Eating out doesn’t have to be so daunting. The more you eat out and learn to ask for what you want, you will see how accommodating most places can be. There is no reason why you can’t go out to eat with friends and family, while continuing to stay on track with your goals. I hope these tips help and prove how realistic it really can be.