7 Tips for Eating Clean in a Restaurant
Today’s fitness challenge is to show what you’re eating for lunch. For many of us, that includes restaurant food.
Here are seven tips I give my own clients when they go to a restaurant so they can stick to their overall fitness goals and still have a life.
- Chose a good restaurant. Not all restaurants are created equal. If you have some say in the selection of the restaurant try for a place like Panera Bread with a wide variety of healthy options versus a pizza joint or fast food places like McDonalds. If you don’t have the option of choosing the locale, skip to item #2.
- Read the labels. Many restaurants today list the calories next to the food choices so you can make more informed decisions. Look at the low-calorie options on the menu, usually labelled “Lighter Fare”. Sometimes you will discover that a plain hamburger has fewer calories than a fancy salad. Why? Because a lot of salads have high-fat things like caramelized walnuts mixed with high sugar things like dried cranberries and the serving sizes for these foods are way out of proportion. Six walnuts are fine, but 36? And caramelized? Yikes! Many dressings also have a lot of sugar and fatty oil. So stick with the lowest calorie dish that tastes good to you, be that salad or salmon. If you are eating salad, usually the house salad is the healthiest. Ask for the dressing on the side and dip the tip of your fork into the cup so you get the flavor without dumping the entire cupful on your greens.
- Be specific when you order. For example: “May I please have the 4 oz. steak grilled without butter and a baked potato split in half with no salt on it, and a house salad with no cheese and the dressing on the side?” You aren’t the chef, but you can put some limits on the amount of sugar, salt and fat that goes into your food. Feel weird about ordering like this? Just thank the waiter/waitress up front for being patient with your order and tell him/her you’re eating healthier. With so many food allergies and people with medical situations they are used to hearing these types of orders.
- Portions! When you place your order ask them to bring you a take-home box with the meal. That way if it looks like the portions are huge you can put half of your meal inside the box right at the start so you won’t be tempted to overeat. Out of sight, out of mind.
- Skip the chips. Sometimes they will place chips and salsa on the table or a loaf of bread and honey butter. Ask them not to bring out either. Your tummy will thank you.
- Alcohol: If possible, skip the alcohol. If you must, go for vodka. If you like beer, ask for Michelob Ultra-Light. If you like wine, have one (1) glass of red. Avoid cocktails; they are full of extra sugar and/or salt. It helps to hold the same drink and sip it slowly throughout the meal. Make sure you order water too and trade off between the two.
- Cheat meal: If you are having a cheat meal, enjoy it! Limit it to an entrée, one drink and one dessert. Then go back to your meal plan as soon as possible. Also – a cheat meal is just that – one meal. Don’t eat high calorie foods three times a day for a week. Not only will you gain weight, your body may not be used to so much extra salt, fat and sugar used in restaurant cooking, so use your good judgement.
A healthy lifestyle isn’t a prison sentence! Use these tips to make your meal stress free knowing that you can eat out and still eat clean.
P.S. – Post a picture of your lunch with #ShesLosingIt and #SLIMethod for a chance to win a free copy of my book!
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Lisa Traugott is a Mom’s Choice Award winning writer, published author, fitness blogger, wife and mom of two….and Original Cast Member of AMERICAN GRIT, starring John Cena, on FOX!
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