Eating Healthfully When Eating Out

Source: Flickr/Sameer Vasta

Source: Flickr/Sameer Vasta

Eating out without blowing your diet

My family and I are going out to dinner tonight. Over the last two years I have made a great deal of changes in my nutrition. Many of the changes have become a permanent part of my lifestyle and aren’t even a struggle to maintain anymore. One of those changes is eliminating fast food. At this point I have no desire to eat at a fast food restaurant. It’s really a relief for that craving to be gone. I do still enjoy eating out though. Here are some tips that have helped me navigate the challenges of eating out.

Choose your restaurant wisely

Tonight we are eating at a Mongolian BBQ. I love this type of restaurant because there are plenty of healthful choices. You can get plenty of delicious food with full of great nutrients. I load my bowl with chicken and a nice variety of veggies. I go for lower calorie sauces so I don’t add a sugar punch to my dinner. The portions are too much food for just one meal so I save half for lunch.

I also enjoy going out to our favorite steak restaurant. It’s an easy place to pick my protein and choose my own side. I usually choose steamed veggies and I have a green salad to start. I find that the steak is so amazing that most of the time I don’t miss the potatoes that I used to add to my meal.

For lunches on work days I like a local burrito joint. They make your burrito to order and I choose to order it in a bowl instead of in a tortilla. I choose my protein and then add black beans, cabbage and other veggies. Top it off with pico de gallo and avocado and you have some great food with great nutrients. The bowl is enough for two lunches to me so it’s easy on my wallet as well.

Think about what restaurants near you make it easier to make more healthful choices.

Splurge on occasion

Sometimes it’s fine to just have a treat meal and not feel guilty. I try to eat clean 90% of the time so that I have room for a splurge every once in awhile. It has taken me awhile to learn that a treat meal doesn’t have to turn into a whole treat day. Every once in awhile I feel poorly after eating foods. This is a good lesson for me about where I can splurge and where my body tells me, “That’s not really right for you.”

Ask about substitutions

Many times restaurants are willing to accommodate substitutions for healthier choices. You can also have them hold back things you don’t want to be tempted with. For example, one of our favorite restaurants automatically brings bread and butter to the table. We ask them to not to bring it for us. We also ask for our dressing on the side and not on the salad. As above, I will generally ask for vegetables rather than a starch side dish. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you really want. The worst that can happen is that they may say no. They are usually happy to please the customer.

Beware the salad 

Read the nutritional information on the menu when it comes to salads. Many times it is surprising how many calories can be in some of the salads. I used to order a very delicious southwest salad until I noticed that it was almost 12oo calories. In fact, it was more calories than a burger and fries. I thought I was making a healthier choice but it was loaded with empty calories.

If you like this post you may like more of my posts in the #write31days challenge titled 31 Days to Better Nutrition.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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