Worried that eating out will wreck your healthy lifestyle? Here are 8 new tips to keep you on track to your health goals.

  1. Check the menu before you leave home. Most restaurants are proud to display the menu on their website. Take advantage of this and do some quick research before heading out! Having a plan is a helpful way to battle hunger temptations while surrounded by the smells and sounds of rich, calorie laden foods.
  2. Grilled protein for the win! Read the appetizer and meal descriptions on the menu carefully. Avoid selections with the following descriptions: creamy, breaded, crispy, stuffed, buttery, sauteed, pan fried. Instead, ask to have your food grilled with no added oil. Protein, even lean, does not need oil added, particularly the low quality oils used in restaurants.
  3. Double or triple the veggies. Sometimes restaurants provide a side of vegetables with an entree. Unfortunately, the portion size leaves much to be desired. Two slivers of carrot and a forkfull of zucchini is not a serving of vegetables. Instead be sure to request a double or triple order of veggies.
  4. Hold the sauces, dressing, butter or oil. Salads and fresh vegetables can quickly become high calorie, unhealthy options when drowned in sugary sauces and poor quality oils. This one is simple but it may leave your server wondering if you are sane. Just a simple ”no sauce or dressing please.” You might here a “are you sure?” Just follow it with a smile and a “yes, thank you.”
  5. Skip the bread basket. What is the best way to avoid the temptation of empty calorie bread? Just say “no thank you.” Bread sitting in front of you while you are hungry and bored waiting for your meal is a recipe for guaranteed diet disaster!
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask more questions. Find out exactly what “add ons” will be topped on your salad. Instead of cheese, wontons, or croutons, ask for extra tomato, lettuce or carrots.
  7. Have half your entree boxed before it arrives to your table or share with a friend. Some restaurants serve double the appropriate portion size. In this case, you may want to preemptively downsize your serving before you are tempted to be a part of the “Clean Plate Club” in an effort to make your parents proud. (They are likely proud of you for much different reasons now. 🙂 )
  8. Skip dessert. Do not read the dessert menu. Do not ask to see the displays. When the server asks you if you have room for dessert, just say “no thank you.” Ask for the check, thank your server for the meal, drink a glass of water and walk out the door. If your schedule permits, I recommend going for a walk to get your mind off your sweet tooth. Then drink another glass of water.

In my experience, most servers and chefs are willing to accommodate your needs with no hesitation. Furthermore, your friendly, patient requests will go a long way towards achieving your goal. Don’t let travel or eating out hold you back from your health goals. Instead, just learn how to navigate the menu!

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