What’s your favorite out-to-eat spot? Have you been there recently?
Or has your current weight loss plan kept you at home eating chicken, rice, and broccoli again?
When life gets busy, you’re celebrating, or you’re just tired of cooking at home, eating out can be a great way to enjoy food and get out of your own kitchen.
But sometimes it can feel challenging to find the right meal that fits your diet when you’re out to eat with the family or on the go. We’ve all been there before—soccer practice runs late and instead of cooking at home, you decide to drop by your kid’s favorite fast food spot only to find yourself paralyzed by what to order.
Here’s the good news—eating out and losing weight can go hand-in-hand!
I’ve done it myself and coached countless clients through the process of eating out in a healthy way, and now, I’m going to teach you my 6 tricks of the trade.
Grab your notebook, you’re not going to want to miss this…
You are not bound by a restaurant’s set menu. While the sandwich you ordered might come with a plate of fries, exercise your freedom and switch that side for some fruit or a salad.
My family loves Chick-fil-A, and thankfully I can easily swap sides to make a healthy meal even at this fast-food restaurant. I swap their regular nuggets for grilled and their fries for fruit and have myself a great little traveling snack!
Most restaurants will be accommodating to your needs and work with you to find something on the menu that fits what you’re looking for.
One of the biggest things I notice with clients is their intake of sugar-heavy beverages. From sodas and juices, to tea and coffee, a lot of empty calories are consumed in our daily intake of liquids. Consider what you might normally get from your go-to spot and swap it for something a little better like unsweetened ice tea or diet lemonade.
Planning on ordering something a little boozier? According to my LEAN program philosophy, no food or drink is off the table!
But there’s still a smart way to drink that won’t wreck your health and fitness. Check out my Diet and Drinking for Dummies guide that will explain exactly how to drink responsibly when it comes to weight loss, or sample some of my favorite summer sippers.
You may walk into a restaurant with a strong determination to defend yourself from the food that can derail your fitness goals—but condiments and sauces can easily sneak past your line of defense.
Sugar, seed oils, preservatives, and artificial flavors pack into the ingredient list of most sauces and condiments you’ll find while eating out. Restaurants also tend to serve significantly more sauce than a single serving.
Block the sauce by asking for it on the side. Avoid the creamy dressings if you’re minimizing dairy. Lessen the calorie blow by making your own condiment cocktail. Go half and half on your salad dressing with mustard or salsa, which both pack a flavor punch without all the added baggage.
If you’re feeling stealthy, sneak in your own macro-friendly dressing and condiments with you and drizzle them on top of your meal.
Processed grains are not kind to our hormones—specifically, our insulin levels. While carb-cycling allows our body to burn more fat, eating processed carbs, like pasta, bread, cereals, and chips, will cause a spike in our insulin levels. This causes us to store fat and feel even hungrier! High levels of gluten found in processed grains can also cause inflammation and potential autoimmune responses.
Grains are usually where the majority of calories and carbs rack up when we eat out. To feel energized and fresh after your meal, replace your bun with a lettuce wrap. Swap out chips for a side salad. Enjoy your chicken grilled instead of breaded. Toss out the croutons and skip the breadsticks so you fill up on the nutritionally satiating food you ordered.
Fried food can taste good—too good to simply try to ignore and remember your weight loss goals while eating out. The defeating blow to fried foods for me was learning about how unhealthy they are for my body.
Fried foods aren’t only wasted excess calories. They’re also some of the most toxic foods we eat. The oils used for frying were once classified as “industrial seed oils.” The process of making these oils results in so much oxidation that the oils smell too bad to consume. They’re then stripped of their odor, bottled, and used for deep frying—gross, right?
Additionally, most restaurants keep reusing the same deep-fry oil over and over. Heating and cooling these frying oils repeatedly causes even more oxidation, resulting in a highly toxic and even cancerous product. Fried foods are not only bad news for your waistline, they’re harmful to your lifespan. So ask if your protein can be grilled instead of fried. Your future self will be grateful.
It’s easy to scarf down a meal when we go out to eat, but eating out is the best time to slow down and enjoy yourself. Rather than shoveling in that entre like someone’s going to take it from you, pace yourself.
When eating out, maximize your enjoyment of your meal by slowing down and savoring what you ordered. It takes a full 20 minutes after eating for our brains to send full signals to our bodies that we are full. Give yourself time to fully appreciate the outing and your meal, and give your brain time to catch up.
Diets should fit into our lifestyles. Our lives should not have to shrink to make room for strict dieting. Next time your friends invite you out, your spouse asks you on a date, or your kids beg for burgers, try out these 6-simple tips, you’ll see that you can enjoy eating out and take care of your body all at once.
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If your diet is keeping you from enjoying time with family, experiencing things you love, or making new memories, it’s time for you to join the LEAN Program. I’ll help you create a healthy lifestyle where you can live confidently and fully for years to come.