You may be wondering, can you go out to eat and stay on track for your fitness goals? Of course! Being healthy is a lifestyle, and what fun would life be if you stayed in every time your friends wanted to go out to eat or get a drink?! If you think about it, our social lives center around the intake of food and drink. Meeting a friend who’s visiting? You’ll probably go get coffee or lunch. Going on a date? You’ll be going to dinner. Thirsty Thursday? Drinks followed by late-night snacking. Going out to eat is inevitable, so the question changes from “Can I go out?” to “How can I go out and make healthier decisions?”
Here are a few tips to help keep you on track without keeping you from having fun:
- Look up the menu beforehand: Almost all restaurants include calories counts on their menus nowadays, but if you are going somewhere fancy or new, it is a great idea to look up the menu before you go out. Read through the options and try and find something that sounds both healthy and tasty. Choosing your meal beforehand will keep you from choosing something extremely caloric when it comes time to order. (This app is great for finding calorie counts for fast food restaurants).
- Get a to-go box: If you’re at a restaurant like the Cheesecake Factory where the portions are absolutely gigantic, get a to-go box at the beginning of your meal and put about half of the meal in box to save for later. Not only does this keep you from eating the entire meal at once (you probably don’t need that 2,000 calorie pasta dish), but you will also have some food for later!
- Drink water: Drinking water is great no matter if you’re eating out or at home, but if you’re going to eat something extravagant for dinner, try not to add high-calorie soda and alcoholic drinks on top of it. Drinking water between bites will also fill you up quicker.
- Pay attention to how things are cooked: I found the following picture online and I think it’s a great guide to making healthy food choices. There is a huge difference health-wise between fried and baked chicken, but both will taste great!
- Plan ahead: This tip may be a little harder to do, but by planning ahead, I mean eating less at the meals before going out. If you know that you are going to go out and eat a lot at night, then eat less than you normally would during the day. This way, you will be more hungry at night and you’re eating around the same amount of food.
As I said before, going out to eat is inevitable, and allowing yourself to splurge every once in a will is more than okay! Just try to make sure that eating out does not become your “norm.” If you eat healthy 80-90 percent of the time, then a cheat meal every once in a will is not going to hurt you. Actually, it will probably be helpful because you will be less likely to cheat yourself during the week if you plan to go out on the weekend. I actually love to watch 10,000-calorie challenges on YouTube because they are examples of extremely large cheat meals, but they also show that if you have a healthy lifestyle, it is okay to treat yourself every once in a while. A few of my favorites are here and here.
Check out my post about the importance of eating right if you haven’t already!