Since getting into a relationship recently, I’ve started eating out a lot more than I use to. There’s a time where that would have totally scared me and caused me to have major anxiety, but now, I’ve found peace with my body and I’m in a lot better place, physically and mentally, so it doesn’t scare me any longer. Plus, I’ve become a massive foodie and finding new brunch destinations is my favourite past time.
What use to scare me was the fear of the unknown. Not knowing the exact portions sizes. The exact macros or calories of every meal. Not knowing how much oil was used to prepare the meal. And ultimately, just not being in complete control use to really rattle me.
But now I’ve found a much better balance in all aspects of my life. I don’t let fitness or health goals keep me from enjoying life and going out with my man or going out for brunch with my girlfriends (cos brunch is life). I still have health and fitness goals, I’ve merely found a way to better balance these with the other aspects of my life.
So from my own experiences, here are my most useful tips I can give to stay healthy when eating out.
Read the menu carefully. Read the menu carefully and look for the most nutrient dense and clean option. More times than not, you’ll find this in the salad section of the menu. And don’t be afraid to do your research if your dining out at a new restaurant – most restaurants and cafes have their menus listed on their websites these days!
Choose a balanced meal. A balanced meal that is going to keep you full and satisfied will be made up of a portion of protein (e.g. chicken, fish, meat or tofu), some carbohydrates (sweet potato, wholegrain bread), healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds or cheese) and your greens (salad, roasted vegetables). My go to when eating out for breakfast is poached eggs (protein) and avocado (fat) on toast (carbs). And when eating out for lunch or dinner, I’ll opt for things like salad with a source of protein or a tofu & vegetable stir-fry.
Ask for salad dressings and sauces on the side. Don’t be afraid to ask the wait staff to hold the dressing/sauce or serve it on the side.
Skip the soft drink. Soft drinks literally have no nutritional benefits what so ever. Its just basically water and sugar and a whole lot of preservatives and unnecessary calories. Things your body truly does not need. When dining out, ask for table water and make sure you drink a glass or two before your meal. This will ensure your hydrated so you don’t mistake hunger for thirst and over eat as a result. But if I’m really craving something sweet or fizzy, I’ll have a Kombucha if they restaurant has one on offer or a house-made iced tea.
Have a satiating snack before going out. The biggest mistake you can make is going out to eat on an empty stomach. So often I use to go out for meals after totally restricting my eating the entire day and by the time it came to order, I couldn’t even think straight let alone think about ordering the ‘healthiest’ choice on the menu.
If you know your going out for dinner, just continue to eat as normal that day, you do not need to starve yourself to be able to eat out! This will only lead to overeating. Instead, make sure you enjoy a protein rich snack before the meal, such as a boiled egg, carrot sticks and hummus or a handful of nuts.
Listen to your body. The most important tip of them all. Listen to your body and what its craving (within reason). If your craving a burger, have the burger, don’t deprive yourself! This is why I love the 80:20 approach to eating – eat clean and healthy 80% of the time, and indulge and enjoy whatever else you please 20% of the time. Learn to accept that your body can handle these occasional indulgences or ‘imperfect’ eating! Just like one salad won’t make you loose weight, one burger won’t make you gain weight. So tune in and listen to your body and what it wants in that moment.
Don’t stress. Don’t stress if you can’t find anything 100% clean on the menu, just make the healthiest choice based on what is in front of you and than enjoy your meal without guilt. You don’t need to exercise to compensate for the extra calories. You don’t need to restrict over the coming days. Just enjoy the meal and go straight back to your usual healthy eating habits. Your body can handle this occasional imperfect eating ❤