I dont know about you lot, but it feels like it was Thursday, like, two seconds ago, and now, here we are again already?! Where does it go??
Let’s get into it..
I posted a poll on my instagram story this week in regards to how we all felt around trying to maintain a social life, while also trying to crush goals (if you don’t follow me @fika.nutrition what are you even doing?)
Any-who I digress, basically, a big ol 92% feared, felt anxious at the thought, stressed over, or worse, avoided social situations / meals out at cafes / restaurants all together because of the fear around “ruining” their progress.
Well, after years of experiencing ALL the feels around being social, fearing food, choosing not to eat out for the fear of de-railing progress, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks around staying on track and eating healthy while eating out that could definitely take the stress out of things for you!
What if I told you that you CAN eat out and eat well without going off track on your goals?!
Today I’m going to share with you my top 10 tips, hopefully, one, two, or all of these will help you stick to your health goals without having to give up your social life... enjoy & happy reading.
1. KNOW YOUR CALORIC GOAL FOR THE DAY (PLAN AHEAD)
Whenever I eat out – I plan ahead.
I typically tend to allow myself anywhere from 500-1000 calories (dependent on which meal) just incase I choose some desert or a drink or two, or three.
Meaning, if I know I can eat 2200 calories for the day, then I will purposely eat less throughout the first half of the day (or sometimes I will fast until midday) building up a bit of a buffer for my meal out.
2. ALWAYS OVER ESTIMATE.
If you think your meal is equivalent to 500 calories then account for 600! Over estimating will eliminate the chances of you blowing out on your calorie goal for that given day.
3. LOOK UP THE MENU AHEAD OF TIME
You’re more likely to make unhealthy choices when hungry or distracted. Most (if not all) restaurants have their menus online, either on their own website or a foodie website, some even have done the extra mile and offer a macro and or a calorie breakdown of all their menu items as well!
Looking up the menu of the cafe / restaurant beforehand, gives me a better idea of the items they offer, gives me time to plan what I am going to order, think of any modification to the menu ideas to make them healthier and pick the best item to fit my macros and meal plan. The less of this you have to do at the table, the less stress on you. Full stop.
4. THE SIDES / APPETISER MENU IS YOUR BEST FRIEND.
Studies show that people are more likely to overeat when they’re served bigger portions.
If you are going to a restaurant where you know the portions are huge, try ordering two appetizers instead of a main course. (This can help you fill up without going overboard with the calories)
OR – build your own meal using the sides menu. Most places have “sides” – these are easier to track and pick your portions, and therefore, you know exactly what’s on your plate.
5. EAT UNTIL YOU ARE SATISFIED, NOT FULL.
Eating out shouldn’t be seen as a reason to go crazy on as many calories as possible. Enjoy your meal and once you begin to feel full then stop there.
Mindful eating means making conscious choices about what you consume and giving your full attention to the eating process.
Take the time to savor the smells and flavors of your meal, as well as thoughts and feelings that arise while you eat.
Mindful eating has been linked with healthier food choices in restaurants and it can also help improve your self-control and prevent you from overeating.
6. SLOW DOWN.
Chew on your food for a little longer, which again will leave you feeling fuller a lot quicker, meaning it will be less likely that you will over-eat
Studies show that eating slowly allows your stomach to catch up with your mind so that you feel full and don’t succumb to overeating dues to the lag time it takes the stomach to tell your mind that you are full.
When you’re eating, try counting a minimum number of chews per mouthful to stop yourself from eating too quickly.
Putting your utensils down between mouthfuls and engaging in convo between bites is also a good way to slow down and give your satiety signals some time to kick in.
7. SALADS AREN’T ALWAYS THE HEALTHIEST OPTION
You may think salads might be the healthiest option on the menu but more time than not salads at restaurants can have more calories than a burger and fries!!! #SHOOK
Between the heavy dressing, the nuts, cheese, seeds, dried fruit and all the extra toppings, salads can have an insane amount of calories, usually ranging from 750-1300+ calories on most menus, like #WHHHAAAT!
If a salad really is your best bet on that particular menu, try and stay away from these 4 things things…
- Cream based dressings
- Anything fried
- Dried fruit and crazy amounts of nuts (hundreds of extra hidden cals in nuts)
- Cheeeeese (sadly yes, but there are tons of added cals in cheese)
8. GET THE SAUCES ON THE SIDE
Okay so let’s say you realllllllllllllly want the above but still want to be somewhat healthy and stay on track, just get them on the side!
Most restaurants use a heavy hand with toppings; they just can’t help themselves.. whenever possible, always opt for getting the sauces on the side, the majority of the calories in any given dish usually come from the sauces.
This way you can control how much, if any, of the sauce you want to put on the your dish or use it to dip your meal into. By controLling how much sauce you put on your dish you are ultimately controlling how many calories you are consuming, and the more control you have over your meal while eating out the better.
For example, two tablespoons of ranch salad dressing will add an extra 140 calories and 16 grams of fat to your meal.
9. USE A TRACKING APP
In a lot of cases most items at major restaurants chains (Eg Grill’d Burgers #lol) are actually already inputted into your macro tracking app! I use My Fitness Pal and an insane amount of items are already in their database.
That being said, if you are out and about and wonder what the macros are for certain items, try looking them up in the app!
Ideally before you go (refer to point #1) look up a couple different menu items so you have a rough idea of what you are in for.
10. MODIFY MODIFY MODIFY
Do not be afraid to ask to make changes, I know, sometimes our inner self gets a little embarrassed and feels like a pest asking for modifications, but look, this day and age, most places are used to it.
Nothing wrong with being a bit of a pest sometimes – at the end of the day, you have goals to kick!
Eating out sometimes still makes me a tad stressed but definitely not as much as it used to!
Planning ahead and looking menu items up beforehand has definitely helped the most and has alleviated the anxiety I would previously get from eating out. Yes, I have got to a point where I have “refeed / tracking free days” where I don’t track – but I enjoy eating healthy, my body performs at it’s best and thrives off wholesome foods and they’re usually the foods I prefer eating anyways.
And remember, just because you go out to eat / be social, does NOT mean you have to throw your meal plan and macros out the window, you can still go out to eat and eat healthy too.
Try these tips next time you go out to eat, guaranteed they’ll help take the stress away.
And, if this is still a little overwhelming – hit the links below, shoot me a message and lets chat!
In health, eat your veggies.