“What about going out for dinner?” When working with people to help their nutrition better support their goals we frequently hear this question.
First, if it’s a special occasion, enjoy! If you’re routinely getting takeout, or going out to eat several times a week though, we’re going to suggest you try to prepare your own meals at home at least somewhat more frequently.
I get it, you’re busy. You’ve got a family, a job, and hobbies, not to mention taking care of yourself to be your best for the former three. Sometimes a restaurant may be your best option for a good, nutritious meal. So what do you do?
First, stick to your plan. Just because a meal out is the best option, it doesn’t give you license to pick the worst thing on the menu. If you’re working with a coach on your nutrition they’ll most likely have given you a game plan to think about when putting together a plate for a meal, and be ready to help with questions. I know I’ve checked out menus for folks at restaurants I never got to eat at. In general you’ll want to focus on meat and veggies. Skip fried things, ask for sauces and dressings on the side, skip dessert, and avoid sodas, juices, and other sugary mixers.
With your plan in mind, take the initiative and do some meal prep. When we think of meal prep we often visualize 21 tupperware containers lined up and ready to go for the week. This can be overwhelming. I think of meal prep as planning what you’re going to eat, and then eating it. Tupperware could be part of the plan, or it could mean reading a menu in advance to find the best options for YOU. This is exactly what I want you to do next time you’re going out to eat. If you’re using an app like MyFitnessPal to track your nutrition, enter your planned meal in advance. This can be really helpful in sticking to your strategy.
Putting your food into a nutrition tracker, or looking at the nutritional information in advance can also be helpful because it will make you more aware of the caloric and macronutrient content. We already know restaurant portions are typically way more than we need in a sitting. Seeing the numbers in black and white can really highlight this. Portions of starches like pasta, potato, and rice tend to be particularly over the top. Depending on your goals, it may be wise to eat a half, a third, or less of the starches you’re served, and leave the leftovers at the table. Better yet, ask for a substitution!
Be that guy or gal! Ask for substitutions. It’s your meal. You’re paying for it (or someone else is kindly treating you). Eat the things that are going to make you feel good, and support your goals. There’s no reason to settle, and servers generally don’t mind subbing in some veggies, especially if there’s an upcharge .
Just the bullets:
- Stick to your strategy: focus on meat and veggies, skip the stuff that you know isn’t part of your nutrition plan
- Advanced reconnaissance: check out the menu before your meal, choose what you’re going to eat
- Execute: control portion sizes by asking for substitutions
My goal is to help make your healthy nutrition habits so strong that you’re not worried about a fun night out, because you achieve your goals, and know you’re going right back to your routine the next day. If you can use a hand solidifying your nutrition routine CLICK HERE to book a nutrition consult.