Eating Out and Staying on Track
Eating out can be a major cause for anxiety when on a fitness or nutrition regimen, especially when you’re just starting out. You feel like you’re in control of what you put in your body when you can buy and prepare the food yourself, but the moment someone wants to go out to eat you become a little nervous because you just don’t know how you’re going to be able to stay on track and eat out at the same time. You feel like you can’t indulge or enjoy a night out or you’ll ruin your progress, right? Wrong! What if I told you that you can make eating out work for your goals? What if I told you that you could still enjoy some pizza every week (like this lovely pizza from my date with my handsome man last week)? So let’s chat about it. Food shouldn’t make you nervous. A night out shouldn’t cause you to worry about ruining your hard work. You can eat out and still stay on track.
"Kenz, how do I even do that? I feel like I can’t order anything but a salad if I want to order something healthy!” First of all, salad DOES NOT equal healthy. Did you know that most salads at restaurants with all of their toppings can average around 700 calories? That’s a ton! It may be a good source for some extra greens, but that ranch dressing packs on extra calories and fat, the dried cranberries add extra calories, carbs, and sugar, the tortilla strips/wonton strips/croutons bring extra calories and carbs and everything starts adding up to an overwhelming amount of calories that are just as much, if not more, than that pizza or that burger and fries. Check out the nutritional info for Outback Steakhouse’s Coolamon Chopped Salad that doesn’t even have protein added on! It has 830 calories, 56g fat, 70g carbs, 18g protein. Or the nutritional info for McDonald’s Premium Southwest Salad with Buttermilk Crispy Chicken that doesn’t have any dressing on top. It has 520 calories, 25g fat, 46g carbs, 28g protein. A BigMac has 540 calories. So with that being said, you’re not restricted to salads. Besides, there’s much better things on the menu.
Here’s my top tips for eating out and staying on track:
Stick with grilled, baked, or roasted meats. If it’s fried, it’s going to be covered in grease and breading which will pack on extra fat and carbs, which mean extra calories.
Ask for your sandwiches or burgers without the bun if you want to cut some carbs. Most places offer lettuce wraps in place of the bread! I’m gluten sensitive, so I have to do this no matter my carb intake.
Hold the butter! If you’re ordering a side of veggies, they often come topped with butter.
Opt for your salad dressings or sauces on the side. Most sauces are made with a mayo and/or cream base. These pack on tons of calories. When I want some of the flavor but not all the calories, I ask for it on the side so I can control how much I eat!
Get the lighter salad dressings. Viniagrettes are typically lower in fat and calories than ranch or other creamy dressings, but check the nutritional info on the menu or ask the waiter!
Drink water. Most people don’t count their liquid calories, but a coke at a restaurant with a couple free refills can send you home with an extra 500 calories, 150g sugar, and 100g of carbs! Sugary alcoholic drinks can do the same. Yikes!
Enjoy what you eat. If you’re going out, have some fun. If forcing yourself to order a salad is going to make you miserable the whole night because you want what everyone else is having, it’s not worth it. I have a cheat meal at least once a week, and it’s always on date night because we’re out and going to have a good time. Don’t go overboard and order the nachos, pizza, ice cream, and a couple drinks, but a burger with fries is okay.
Don’t punish yourself afterwards. Most people make the mistake of not eating much the next day or working out extra hard to compensate for the extra calories. The key to a sustainable healthy lifestyle is consistency, not extreme measures. Continue with your same workout and food routine the day after like nothing happened.
A healthy lifestyle shouldn’t be about depriving yourself of what you love. Of course it’s going to take some sacrifice and hard work, but it should never be at the expense of your sanity or enjoyment of a night out with your pals. Go out this week and post a proud selfie with your meal and tag me in it @kenziemfitness. I can’t wait to see what you order!