When schedules and life gets hectic, getting takeout or going to a restaurant may seem like a great timesaver. But one thing that many struggle with is learning how to eat healthy when eating out. But you don’t have to forsake your nutrition or your social life!
Listen to Your Body
Being mindful of what you put in your body, no matter the venue, is a key part of living a healthy lifestyle. Tracking the types of food you’re eating and how much of them you’re taking in can give you a fresh perspective on what you truly need to fuel your body. It’s incredibly easy to overeat when dining away from home. The portion sizes in restaurants have more than doubled over the past few decades and that means, as a country, we’re all eating more than we really realize.
Strategize Ahead of Time
Obviously, it’s paramount to make smart food choices like fresh vegetables and lean protein, but even then you may not realize the hidden ingredients. Foods at restaurants taste extra appealing for a reason! When you’re eating out, there are a few ways to reduce the number of calories you’re consuming without really trying:
- Check the menu before heading to the restaurant so you’re not tempted by a gut-busting meal when you’re hungry and it’s time to order.
- Look for foods that will pack a nutritional punch rather than empty calories.
- Consider sharing a main dish with your dining companion to cut down on the amount you’ll eat, or wrap up half to go before you even take a bite.
- Order one or two side dishes that may be less in volume to help reduce the number of calories you’ll eat.
- Don’t feel the need to clean your plate! Many of us were brought up with the idea that we had to eat everything on our plate to avoid waste. Unfortunately, with portion sizes being so big these days, we’re doing more harm to ourselves than good when we join the clean plate club.
Eat This, Not That
There are some simple substitutions to keep in mind when you’re looking through a restaurant’s menu. It can make a big difference when you skip that high-calorie, high-carb wrap! Try these choices the next time you want to eat healthier when eating out:
- Instead of a wrap choose a salad
- Instead of a burger with fries choose a burger, turkey burger, or veggie burger with a side salad and half or no bun
- Instead of battered wings with thick breading choose “naked” wings
- Instead of starchy sides like potatoes that have no or very little nutritional value choose veggies
And don’t forget… no bread for the table! That’s one of the easiest ways to skip empty calories.
Keep a Food Log
One of the only ways to get around consuming too many calories is to track what you’re eating for every meal, every day. Whether you’re eating out or having freshly prepared foods at home, it’s easy to eat too much if you don’t keep track of what you’re having. Jotting down what you eat in a notebook is effective, or there are several convenient (and free!) apps that you can download to help keep track of your food intake. My Fitness Pal allows you to input your own food’s nutritional information and serving sizes. You can even scan barcodes of foods sold in stores to automatically track their nutrients and information. This app also provides a breakdown on the macronutrients you consume each day, which allows you to easily balance your diet.
You don’t have to choose between eating healthy and the convenience and enjoyment of eating out. Tracking food in conjunction with a good exercise routine can help you feel great and improve your overall health. The trainers and nutrition coaches at Loyalty Fitness have a range of tools to help you stay on track with your diet and exercise. Contact us today to find out more!