I’ve always loved going out to eat, but smart choices make all the difference.
Going out to eat while trying to eat clean can be SO hard, especially depending on which restaurants you are going to. Many people look at going out to eat as a treat, which it totally is. However, if you’re like me and go out to eat often, the treat yo’ self mentality might not be as sustainable long-term. My mentality when dining out is to get something I know I’ll like, but still making sure I’m getting my greens, protein, fat, and fiber as much as possible. This is so easy to do when you make slight alterations to dishes on any restaurant menu.
Here’s a few tips I have on how to do it:
SKIP THE BREAD
I know it’s tempting, but skipping out on eating a few pieces of bread at the start of your meal will save you a ton of calories & carbs that you may not even be considering part of your meal. I personally am a huge bread lover so I started eating a quick snack like some almonds or berries before going out to eat so I wasn’t so hungry I felt forced to eat the starter bread.
I always order water as soon as I sit down, even if I’m getting something else like a glass of wine with it. Having a glass of water in front of you at all times before, during, and after a meal will give you something to do with your mouth instead of just eat everything in front of you. Plus, water helps make you feel more full and the extra hydration definitely doesn’t hurt.
CHOOSE GREENS OVER GRAINS
This one is huge. Making the decision to swap out grains for greens on all kinds of different dishes will make a significiant difference in the nutrition of your meal. Some common ways to do this are replacing bread for a sandwhich or burger with wrapped lettuce, replacing rice or pasta with a garden salad or veggies, and asking for double side veggies instead of half veggies/ half potatoes or rice.
SHARE WITH SOMEONE
If you want to get an appetizer or dessert, think about spliting it with another table member. Not only will you be more mindful about how much you’re eating, but you’ll save money too. Going out to eat with a friend or family member who is also trying to live a healthy lifestyle helps keep you on track as well.
DON’T FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TO FINISH YOUR PLATE
I used to make this mistake (and still do sometimes) all the time. Restaurants tend to serve us meals that are much bigger than the typical plate we’d make for ourselves. Some restaurants really take that to a new level (I’m talking to you, Cheesecake Factory), and with a big plate in front of us we tend to overeat. To combat this, separate out which portion of your food you plan to eat before you begin eating. This will make you more mindful of portions and oftentimes result in some yummy leftovers.
GET MOVING AFTERWARDS
After you leave the restaurant, ask your friends or family if they want to go on a short walk or do another kind of light exercise. We often feel tired after big meals, so moving around helps wake you back up and burn a few of those calories. Being active after a meal is a great habit to get into and is a great alternative to hanging out on the couch.
These are just a few of the changes I’ve been working on making to my eating habits, but that doesn’t mean I always follow them strictly. It’s important to let yourself eat the foods you want every now and then, but being mindful about it will make the biggest difference.