Most of us enjoy dining out, especially with our peers. It’s the time when we get to learn more about each other, share laughs, and make lasting memories. But a good time usually involves lots of drinks and fatty foods.
This may be a problem when you are trying to stay on track with a weight loss or fitness regimen. Restaurant food is usually higher in sugar, calories, and trans-fats and lower in nutrients, compared with home-cooked food. Restaurants also serve larger portions, and so we often eat more than we do at home. Social eating often encourages poor decisions, or emotional judgments are made and the overeating is justified by saying that this is a “special occasion.”
Do you need to avoid restaurants entirely to stay on track? Of course not. With some planning and initiative, eating out can be both healthy and enjoyable. Here are some simple tips to help you eat out without sabotaging your fitness journey.
Communicate with your co-workers. Make them aware of your efforts. Amicably select restaurants where you can all enjoy yourselves. Choose places where food is cooked to order. The food is more likely fresh and real food, rather than a fast-food or buffet-style chain, where the food is more than likely microwavable junk.
Choose restaurants wisely.
Avoid places with alluring multi-course meal specials, supersize deals, and all-you-can-eat or buffet-only specials.
Read the menu well.
Don’t just skim through and look at pictures. Ask questions. Restaurant personnel are responsible for knowing the nutritional content of each item on the menu. Say no to unhealthy, high-calorie fats; choose steamed, poached, broiled, baked, grilled, or roasted foods over fried and breaded. Many restaurants will honor requests for low-salt, low-saturated-fat versions of certain dishes. According to bodybuilding.com, you should try to limit your consumption of dishes described with these terms (which usually indicate less-healthy preparation):
- Au gratin
- In gravy
- Pan-fried or pan-roasted
- I’ll add one of my favorites: cheesy.
Ask for smaller portions or save half for a later time.
Do not order juice or soda.
Instead, choose unsweetened tea and bring your own organic sweetener like stevia. Ask for wine spritzers or lemon water. You will easily save calories.
The goal is to enjoy yourself and eat guilt-free. This journey requires planning, preparation, and awareness. The fitness lifestyle isn’t about deprivation. It’s solely about making conscious decisions for self-preservation.
Coach P. (@coachpsays) is a comic book reading, lipstick wearing, fitness pushing, holistic health coaching expert inspired by Christ, people, and nature. To learn more about Coach P. visit www.coachpsays.com.