Whether or not you are on a meal plan, trying to shed a few pounds or just embracing a healthier way of eating, dining out can fit into the game plan.
Tapping back into my competition days circa 2010, I remember being so scared to eat anything outside of my printed out meal plan. Now don’t get me wrong, as competition prep gets closer to the date, I completely understand and empathize with the process. The part I struggle with though is the maintenance and sustainability; it’s not for everyone.
On another end of the spectrum, there is my experience as a server at a well-known restaurant called The Cheesecake Factory. As a side note, this still remains one of my favorite places I worked in my early twenties. One thing I struggled with there was the amount over overconsumption patrons would have. If you have ever been to the Cheesecake Factory you know their portions are huge. Enough for 2-3 meals. I remember waiting on tables where families with kids would order bottomless strawberry lemonade, bread, appetizers, meals, and dessert. It was almost heartbreaking.
It was apparent that some of these patrons ate like this frequently, and maybe they were really happy, but what about their health? I am all about having great food, but I also know moderation and portion control are two critical tools to implement when eating foods that might not be the most nutritious in value.
So we meet in the middle. In my perspective, there is a balance between eating clean and splurging. I strive to never feel deprived and never feel guilty when selecting items to eat off of a menu. I apply these four simple principles to promote a fat-loss lifestyle without feeling deprived. I also apply the 80/20 principle: meaning there are times I do not follow these principles but at least 80 percent of the time I do.
My 4 Guiding Principles
1. Non-negotiable: Protein and Vegetables
Ensure that I have protein and vegetables for my dish. Whether that’s a salad or an entrée.Typically I look for fish, chicken, lean meat to have with vegetables or a salad.
2. Vegetables for side dishes
Make this an automatic habit, by asking for the vegetable of the day or another vegetable selection instead of the French fries or whatever starch the menu is served with.
3. No Fried Foods
I learned recently that you could order calamari grilled! Who knew?! This is a simple one, and pretty straight forward.
4. Skip the Bread/ Split the Dessert.
There is for certain not a shortage on these items so we don't need to have them every time we are dining out. View them as a treat, once in a while, not every time.
I hope you find these tips a helpful the next time you are dining out! Don’t feel deprived, enjoy yourself. Alright I am out to get in a quick Friday night happy hour workout