Healthy Options When Eating Out: Five Rules of the Road!
Healthy Options When Eating Out: Five Rules of the Road!
You may have a few basic rules that cover what you should eat when you’re cooking at home, but what about healthy options when eating out?
Yes, it’s a common problem even for dedicated, elite athletes: knowing how to order healthy options when eating out at a restaurant.
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Here’s the scene – you’re eating at a new fancy restaurant for the latest social event, the conversation starts flowing, and before you know it, you’re feeling guilty about consuming foods that make it difficult, if not impossible, to pursue your lean and fit goals.
Eating a lot of processed foods full of preservatives or overindulging in food or drink is an easy way to throw you off the horse for a while and into a spiral.
So what are some healthy options when eating out?
If you’re really committed to pursuing your fitness goals, whether that’s working towards a big contest or for your own satisfaction, you have to know how to order when you’re eating out.
At a minimum, you need to create the kinds of basic rules that help guide what you’re going to eat when you’re out on the town.
So we have put together Five Rules for Eating Out.
Rule #1: Try frequent restaurants that you know are committed to the best possible ingredients.
This helps you to avoid unnecessarily processed foods, and ensures that you’ll be eating the right kinds of nutrients for your training diet.
Sometimes restaurants announce this, using descriptions such as “farm-to-table” or “locally sourced ingredients.”
Fresh, local ingredients are often the best for staying lean and fit.
Of course, if you’re not the one picking the restaurant venue, this might not be an option.
One solution to this problem is to try to eat out with people who have similar diets and eating priorities.
This ensures that everyone is on the same page when heading out to a restaurant.
In today’s world, many restaurants will help guide you – they’ll advertise “free-range chicken” or “wild-caught fish” to let you know where they’re getting their ingredients. This can make it significantly easier to identify the healthy options when eating out.
And it can also help you identify the types of meals featuring healthy fats from foods such as avocados, oils, nuts and seeds.
Additionally, it also helps you to focus on dishes that use herbs, citrus and spices for taste rather than butter, salt or cream.
By understanding the ingredients within each dish, you’ll have a better idea of how to order.
But what happens if the menu is lacking any types of clues? If that’s the case, you’ll need to…
For example, if a meal comes with French fries, request that the restaurant include a baked potato, or vegetables instead.
If a sauce or salad dressing comes with a dish, request that it remain on the side so that you have the choice of whether you want to eat it.
If a dish comes fried, see if you can find a grilled, baked or steamed alternative on the menu (or off the menu, if the kitchen staff seem particularly helpful).
In a worst-case scenario, you can decide to order smaller appetizers or just a soup or salad instead of one big dish.
Even if you end up still having the same amount of food, you’ll be able to have much greater control over what you actually consume.
(credit: Runner’s World)
Rule #4: Always have a game plan and long-term strategy in mind before heading out to a restaurant.
It’s easy to get caught up in the moment, especially if you’re celebrating a big day in someone’s life.
But if you have made a conscious decision about what you’re going to eat and drink, everything becomes easier.
Even if it’s something simple like “only eat foods that are similar in nutrient makeup to what I eat at home,” that’s a good start!
Try to come up with some simple guidelines that you’re going to follow based on the healthy meals that you create at home.
Try to consume plenty of greens, healthy fats, protein, and good carbohydrates.
Doing so will help you craft a strategy when you go out to a restaurant.
At the very least, it’ll prompt you to head online and check out a menu before leaving for the restaurant.
That way, you’ll know the types of dishes that are best able to keep you in pursuit of your fitness goals.
If you’re eating dinner out, a good tactic is to focus on proteins and greens, with some healthy fats as well.
Try to keep your refined carbohydrate intake to a minimum, by avoiding items such as breads made from processed flour.
If you’re eating lunch out, focus on getting a mix of complex carbohydrates, greens, and proteins.
In terms of complex carbs, think of black beans, quinoa, brown rice, sweet potatoes or multi-grain bread.
Rule #5 is to develop a fallback option that you can always rely on any time you’re at a new restaurant for lunch or dinner.
It’s your Plan B, just in case you really can’t find anything on the menu that will keep you on track.
That way, you can do just fine even in a worst-case scenario: finding yourself at a restaurant that you’d never pick (often as the result of being invited out for a birthday party or a corporate event).
For most people, there’s one fail-safe option that always works: look for protein on the menu, order the leanest version of it possible, and then pair it with a generous helping of vegetables.
That’s all you need to know!
You’ll notice from the photos that we post of our runners at Athletes Insight that food can be a big part of how we celebrate – not just the pre-race meals, but also the post-race rewards!
Every now and then, it’s perfectly normal to treat yourself with dining out. Eating out can be a treat and a source of inspiration.
So, there you have it, a lot of great suggestions for healthy options when eating out!
As we know from both our elite runners and weekend warriors, it’s super rewarding to hang out with friends and family, and it’s still possible to take care of the greatest machine ever created: your body!