The idea of eating out at a restaurant can cause unneeded stress. What if you order something higher in calories? What if you eat too much? What if you want a drink? All of these questions lead up to the idea of living a less restricted lifestyle. Where you can reach your goals & still enjoy going out to eat at a restaurant. Here are the best tips to plan for a meal at a restaurant & still stay on track with your health goals.
Whether you are going out to breakfast, lunch or dinner- plan your meals throughout the day around it. Most meals at a restaurant are higher in calories due to fats like cooking oils & cheese, and carbs like bread, chips & fries. When it comes to planning your day around your meals, it’s about eating smaller portions of fats and carbs and higher portions of protein. For example, if I know I am going to an Italian restaurant for dinner I know that I will want pasta. To plan for this, throughout the day I will eat meals with lower fats, lower carbs & higher protein. Starving yourself throughout the day is not what you, or anyone, should do to plan for a large meal out. Be smart and strategic about how you eat and adjust your meals based on what you want. For me, this means ordering a lettuce wrapped burger to enjoy french fries.
Choose the Sources of Higher Fats & Carbs
The waiter brings out the basket of freshly baked bread & you immediately eat two slices. Instead of planning out your meal after the bread, you go think “I already messed up, it doesn’t matter”. You then order a mixed drink and lasagna.
It’s important to know that these things happen. But having two slices of bread doesn’t mean you messed up your entire days worth of calories. Loading up with high-calorie drinks and pasta after the bread does.
Let’s replay the scenario. The waiter brings out the basket of freshly baked bread & you decide to eat two slices. Now that you know you ate higher carbs because of the bread, you decide to order a salad to fill up on first before the lasagna. At the end of the night, you end of having more than half of your lasagna leftover to have for tomorrow. Compared to the first scenario, you feel good about your decision and leave the night not feeling sick.
Ordering Meals to Stay on Track
As stated earlier, most restaurant meals are loaded with carbs and fats. With this in mind, pay attention to the meal itself to figure out where all of the calories are coming from. Is there sauce already on it? Loaded with cheese? Nuts? Butter? Dressing/oils? When you start to really look at your meals, you can easily adjust them to still be delicious but not overboard in calories.
Easy meals you can do this to: salads (dressing on the side, light cheese, no nuts), pizza (light cheese & light sauce), steak with stuffed sweet potato (plain sweet potato), and a ham & cheese omelet (light cheese, egg whites). It’s important to focus on a meal that is is balanced. When choosing your meal, it should be moderate in fats and carbs and moderately high in protein. Of course, this can change depending on your goals and what you’ve eaten throughout the day.
The point is
There are simple swaps you can do to still enjoy your favorite meals and stay on track with your health & fitness goals. The couple extra minutes of planning is worth it compared to the hours or even days worth of regret. The next time you go out, enjoy it. Take the time to eat the foods you love and don’t be afraid to make a request when you order out.