Going to dinner with me for the first time is weird. Most people who know what I do, instantly strike up a conversation on what salads are good here, how its horrible how much chips they give you, and how they will definitely be drinking water for the evening. I can’t help but get a little laugh at what happens next. Waiter: What could I start you off with? Me: Vodka Press Waiter: And what are we having for dinner? Me: Sweet potato fries out first please. Your flank steak, grilled veggies, and could we see a dessert menu later? As I look up from my menu, the same expression always glances over people’s faces at the table: Wait? “Aren’t you a trainer? Trainer don’t eat fries, don’t drink, and did this crazy chick say dessert menu?” is what I know they’re thinking and guess what? I do all of the above. There is no secret to fitness, not one thing that changes everything. Fitness goals are about consistency in the gym and what’s on my plate. I eat out a couple of nights a week, drink a bubbly here and there, and indulge from time to time but it’s because I put in the work at the gym and I fill my days with calorie dense food; I can go out and enjoy, not feel guilty. So here are my top tips to eat out and not bust out of those pants.
Tips to Eating out and on the Go:
-Start your day with a plan. I’m an avid macro/flex dieter, meaning I know my daily macro nutrients (fats, carbohydrates, proteins in grams) and adjust them according to what my goals are. Every day, depending on my activity level for the week and my goals for that month, I log my food onto myfitness pal and make sure my daily food journal fits into my macro numbers. This is a great way to especially stay on track when I’m on vacation or eating out more often. If I know that I’ll be having a nice dinner with my boy or drinks with the girls, I log these food items first thing in my day so I know how to fit a majority of my food for the rest of the day.
-It’s a number game. Once again I can’t say enough about the macro lifestyle; it literally saved my mind after doing restrictive/competition style dieting for many years. By logging your food and staying on track, you not only reach your goals in a balanced manner, but you start gaining the knowledge of what you’re actually putting into your body vs. just trying to slam chicken and broccoli all day. There is a super simple macro calculator available on www.iifym.com where you can see your prescribed daily macro nutrients. If you have been on restrictive or low carb diets in the past, you may have to alter your numbers or cycle in your higher carb/fat days gradually as you build up your metabolism. Every metabolism is different, so make sure to do your research before jumping into IIFYM.
-Stalk on. The biggest mistake my clients make is not going in prepared for “temptation situations”. If you have a road trip coming up, make sure to pack healthy snacks. My favorite road trip snacks are almonds, dried fruit, Axis Labs Whey Protein shakes, turkey jerky, avocados, and fruit. If you have been planning brunch with your bestie or a great meal with your man, make sure to look up the menu online first and plan ahead. The myfitnesspal app does a great job of having most items and restaurants available to log, but looking at the menu before you arrive makes you less likely to order an impulse item.
-Sharing is caring; for your waistline. If you’ve ever had lunch with me you know I’m all about the sharing! I’ve personally had trouble staying in my portion size and not giving into temptation when a huge plate of awesomeness appears in front of me at the lunch table. A simple, but effective way to watch over eating is to order a healthy entrée, and split the item that you’re really craving with a friend.
-Bypass the binge with a full tummy. So I know this tip sounds ridiculous; why would I eat before I’m GOING TO EAT DINNER? Well, the answer is its not about eating your dinner before dinner; it’s about having a satisfied tummy before you walk into menu’s and make item decisions on an empty stomach. A small salad or veggies with some hummus is a great snack to grab before you set down to dinner. Believe me; you are far more likely to order that steak salad and bypass the guac and chips, if you’re not hangry. By the way, hangry: anger caused by lack of eating throughout the day. I’ve lost many good men due to “the hangry” moments in my life.
-Don’t be afraid to be that chick. I used to hate being that chick! The one that asked to take off the bun, how much chicken is in that, or do you add butter? I’ve now realized that most restaurants cater to clientage that leans towards healthier diets and most servers don’t mind the hassle, when it comes with a tip. So once again, stick to your plan, and know what’s going into your body. When I order a burger, I always ask if there’s a lettuce wrap option. When I order oatmeal at my favorite breakfast nook, I ask to have the child’s portion and plain. Most importantly, although salads are great healthy options when dining out, they can be packed with carbs, fats, and extra cals! I ask for my salads to be light on the add-ins and always with the healthiest dressing option on the side.
-See no evil; eat no evil. There’s going to be times that you can’t avoid “temptation situations”; work meetings, family dinners, road trips and those situations is where you can rely on your macro and food logging, but for the most part I keep it simple. If it’s not in front of you, you’re more likely to not eat it. When I’m really craving sweets and I can’t fit it into my diet for that day, you bet I’m not posting up in the local breakfast cupcake spot. I apply the same thing to when I meet a group of friends out for dinner. I’m not afraid to let them know I’ll join them 20 minutes later after they’ve ordered dinner. If they love you, they respect your goals; sometimes you just gotta do what it takes.
-Have your staples. Denver is an amazing culinary city to live in; there’s new restaurants everywhere! I not scared to try new places anymore, because my macros keep me on track, but one tip to make it a little easier is find a handful of restaurants that you enjoy and know there are healthy options on the menu. Go-to spots for me are chipotle (chicken bowl with grilled veggies), Tokyo Joes (Ahi Tuna salad), Mod Market (flank steak with mashed sweet potatoes), and even Taco Bell has healthy options (Power bowl or Frisco steak taco). At the end of the day I have one rule when I’m on the road and need to grab and go: if it has a bun; take it off. If it has protein, add veggies to it, and if you must go carbs, get the smaller portion.
-Pre-Portion. On the days that I’m on the go I always keep pre-portioned healthy snacks at work and in my car. When I have a fridge available I stock protein shakes, fruit, yogurt, or veggies and humus to snack on. In my car, you can always find baggies of almonds, fruit and nut mix, turkey jerky, and dried fruit already portioned out in ziplock baggies. That way I’m less likely to stop in the drive through or over eat by having a large bag in my lap.
-Get over it. The bottom line is we are all human and we can’t always be perfect; the difference between getting to your goals and just thinking about them is consistency and a good attitude. "One healthy meal won't get you to all of your goals and one bad meal won't destroy everything you've built. Be patient. Be positive. Be aware."