Most of us eat out at least once a week, making it part of our normal routines. It’s great to have a night off from cooking, trying new foods and socializing. However, many people treat each meal out as a special occasion and an excuse to go wild with food and alcohol.
While it’s fine to treat a restaurant meal as a special occasion every so often, doing it each time, especially if it’s several times per week, can wreak havoc on your nutrition goals. All the alcohol, heavy carbs, fried food and dessert can add thousands of calories to your day, but it doesn’t have to.
There’s a “formula” you can follow that will allow you to enjoy your meals out without getting you off track:
- Order a plant-rich dish. (Shoot for half your plate to be vegetables.)
- Choose a lean protein. (Read: chicken breast or fish.)
- Avoid breaded and fried foods.
- Ask for dressings and sauces on the side. (And use responsibly.)
- If eating at a chain, they have nutrition facts on their website. Check them out prior to going out and stick to what you planned on ordering.
- If you’re going to a non-chain restaurant, check out the menu before and have a plan for what you will order.
- Ask questions and don’t be afraid to request substitutions.
- Eat slowly.
- Stop when you’re 80 percent full.
- Drink a full glass of water between alcoholic beverages.
- If you want to enjoy alcohol, a decadent appetizer or dessert, choose one and not all of them. Sharing is caring.
- Keep your other meals that day on the lighter side, focusing on vegetables and lean protein.
And always remember your “why” – improved health, better body composition, etc.