“I want to lose weight but I don’t like to cook.”
“I just need to stop eating out so much, then I can make progress.”
“This week was hard for me, lots of dinners out and business meetings.”
These are all examples of statements excuses I hear from my online nutrition clients regularly.
Eating out every meal isn’t something I suggest you do regularly, mostly because of financial reasons. It gets dang expensive. However, eating out occasionally or even often AND staying on track is 100% possible.
How? I’ll share my top 5 secrets to eating out here.
5 Secrets to Successful Restaurant Eating on a (Calorie) Budget
1) Split meals.
I’m terrible at sharing. If I could have failed kindergarten, I probably would have. My sharing skills are those of a cranky 2 year old that hasn’t had a nap or her blankie in 12 hours. However, I’ve recently been challenging myself to share more plates with my loved ones when I eat out. I’ve found that this leaves me satisfied without feeling stuffed, and also helps me not feel guilty about what I’ve had to eat.
I used to operate under a high level of food FOMO (fear of missing out). Like, if I didn’t get to eat every single bite, I would feel like I missed out on the goodness. However, I’ve been trying to practice an abundance mindset. I’ve literally had to remind myself that there’s enough food for everyone.
I will be no less satisfied if I eat half of the meal rather than scarfing down the entire thing.
That statement alone has changed the entire outlook of how I eat while out with family and friends.
2) Order off the ‘light’ menu.
Most restaurants have a ‘light’ menu, SO USE IT!
The entrees are typically lower in calories and higher in protein. They typically cut out a lot of “extra” calories used in the cooking process, but the food tastes just as good.
If the restaurant doesn’t have a ‘light’ menu, make your own. Stick to protein and veggies, and you can ask for your entree to be made “dry.” This just means they won’t use an excess amount of butter or oil in cooking your meal.
3) Look up the menu before you go.
Listen, if you don’t plan ahead, it can be really challenging to resist the temptation of the foods on the menu. May of these restaurant meals can add up to 1500-2000+ calories not including appetizers, drinks, or desserts. Your best bet is to plan ahead.
Since most restaurants have their menus (along with nutritional information) on their websites, this makes it really easy. Look up the menu, pick what you’re going to have (something that looks delicious and will satisfy, but is also conducive to your goals) and then STICK TO YOUR GUNS!
Easy peasy, lemon squeezey.
4) Protein, Vegetable, Carb
Choose your dish based off this formula. First and foremost, protein. Then ensure you have a veggie. After that, choose ONE carb source.
Choose pasta OR dessert OR wine OR carb heavy appetizer like chips and salsa.
This allows you to still have the freedom to choose foods you love while staying on track and making restaurant eating a ton easier.
5) “Budget” Your calories
If you had $2000 and you knew at the end of the month you had to pay rent which cost $1200, what would you do at the beginning of the month?
You would budget your money. You would save the $1200 and watch your spending to ensure you would be able to pay your rent at the end of the month.
Likeewise, if you know you’re going to eat a large meal at a restaurant, you can plan ahead and budget your calories so that you have plenty left over for the night out.
That means lightening up on the amount of calories you spend during the other meals of the day. Again, protein and vegetables are a great option to keep calories low and stay on track.
Learning to implement these strategies and effectively learn how to eat on the go can be paramount to your success, whether your goal is to lose weight or just tone up a little.
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