Trying new restaurants is one of my favorite hobbies. Can I call that a hobby? Sometimes eating out is celebratory & you decide you’re going to get the most indulgent, delicious thing(s) on the menu and savor every bite.
But sometimes dining out is more routine or out of necessity (like when you’re traveling) and you hope to stick to your healthy habits.
We have a tendency to overcomplicate things that needn’t be so complicated. Case in point: finding healthy meals at restaurants. Here are _____ tips:
Check out menus ahead of time
Maybe back in the Dark Ages (aka 1999), the first time you saw the menu was when you sat down at the restaurant. But not no mo’. Fortunately for us, the Internet (I feel like that should be capitalized but I dunno why it would be) was invented solely to give us the ability to look at menus before we go out.
83% of restaurants have their menus available online. I made that up. I have no idea what the percentage is but it’s high. If you’ve never been on Yelp, do yourself a favor and download that bad boy. I almost never go anywhere without checking reviews/menus online first. In fact, that is my primary road trip responsibility: find food.
The menu will tell you pretty much exactly what you’re getting yourself into and whether you can order straight from the menu or if you’ll need to make some substitutions (but not too many, don’t be a total PITA. Love, A Former Waitress). If you have veto power, check a place out and give it a thumbs down; just have another suggestion in mind – people are hungry, ya know?
Pick one (if any) indulgence
Rather than saying F&*% it to healthy eating for every meal you have at a restaurant, decide between an app, a cocktail, and dessert. None of the above is a fine choice, too. Just not all of the above.
Stick to lean protein & veggies
You can get this combo pretty much anywhere you go. When in doubt, grilled chicken & a side of veggies is pretty standard. There are plenty of other lean protein options if you can’t stand the thought of another grilled chicken breast. Refer to the list in your Body Transformation Guide for a whole host of ideas.
Eat slowly & stop when you’re satisfied
No matter what happens (see below for nightmare scenarios), you can always control these two things. Put your fork down between bites. Take a sip of water. Chew a shit ton of times. Match the slowest eater at the table. BYOChopsticks if you really DGAF. Restaurant portions are notoriously huge so go into the meal reminding yourself that you don’t need to clean your plate.
Do the best with what you’ve got
Remember you’re not striving for perfection with every single meal (well, ever, but you know what I mean). You’re doing the best you can given the circumstances in which you find yourself. So don’t have a meltdown if your asparagus has olive oil on it EVEN IF YOU SPECIFICALLY SAID NO OIL or if some of the butter melted onto the baked potato before you had a chance to wipe it off. Relax.
Download the Restaurant Cheat Sheet
I’m feeling extra nice so I’m giving you a really useful resource to help you pick meals when you’re out at a coffee shop, fast food restaurant, or sit-down chain. It offers a handful of better options at each place to help make it easier for you to stay on track while you’re out to eat. It even has macronutrient breakdowns for most of the meals (if you have no idea what that means, don’t stress over it. When in doubt, use the hand guide).