Happy Friday everyone! It's almost the weekend, and for most people, that means dining out. While it's completely possible to stick to your wellness goals while going out to eat, the average restaurant meal has over 1,200 CALORIES (which can completely sabotage your efforts)! A lot of menu choices can have even more, meaning you could be consuming an entire days worth of calories in a single sitting.
Something I often hear clients say is, "well I ate really well this week, so I decided to treat myself". While there is absolutely nothing wrong with an occasional "treat", some of these menu options are full out splurges. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that 92% of restaurant meals have more calories than the average American should consume in a single sitting. If you think these numbers are referring to fast food meals- think again. The study found that sit-down restaurants can have even more calories on average per meal, around 1,495 to be exact. The good news is you don't have to stop going out to eat in fear of sabotaging your health goals. Review the steps below and discover easy ways to stay on track.
Check the restaurant's menu online before you dine. Most chain restaurants have their nutrition facts listed, which will help you make an educated decision on what to order. Some of the numbers may surprise you!
Ask to substitute steamed veggies for high-calorie sides like mashed potatoes. This allows you to enjoy the protein in your main dish even more and prevents you from leaving overly stuffed.
Avoid pre-dinner 'freebies' like bread or chip baskets. These can be the biggest culprits of mindless eating and lead to overindulging before your meal even arrives.
Split your meal with another person to avoid overeating. It's automatic portion control AND saves you money!
Request a to-go container and set aside half of your main course before eating. This way, if you tend to mindlessly eat while chatting with friends, that container acts as a barrier preventing you from doing so.
Eat slowly, putting your fork down between bites. Doing this encourages mindful eating, improves digestion, and helps you properly identify when you're full.
Select smart menu options with key words like 'steamed' or 'broiled', which indicate low fat content. Descriptors like 'smothered', 'crusted', 'breaded', and even 'sauteed' can indicate high fat content.
Avoid consuming alcohol during your meal. Not only does it add unnecessary calories, but it can also interfere with your metabolism, fullness signals, and digestion during and after your meal.
Enjoy conversation among the people you're dining with. The more you think of dining out as a social experience, the less likely you are to put those unhealthy options on such a high pedestal.
Now, you don't need to incorporate ALL of those suggestions each time you eat out, but choose one or two to try at a time. You may be surprised how much they can help you feel satisfied and energized after your meal, instead of stuffed and sluggish. Some of these may seem obvious now, but it can be a lot more difficult to harness willpower and make a healthy decision while faced with all of the temptation at a restaurant or drive-through.
To make these decisions even easier, I've broken down common restaurant types with healthy choices at each. As you'll see, there are ZERO salads on this list! That is because salads can actually be HUGE calorie-bombs in disguise. They can also mislead you into thinking you're making a healthy decision, then "treating" yourself to more calories later. While ordering at a restaurant without nutrition facts listed on the menu or online, making a smart choice can feel overwhelming. Look for options similar to the ones listed below to ensure you receive a healthy meal:
American or Fast Food: Grilled chicken or burger with a lettuce "bun"
Breakfast/Brunch: Omelette with lots of veggies and fruit on the side
Asian: Steamed meat and veggie combo with sauce on the side
Italian: Grilled steak, chicken, or fish with steamed veggies
Mexican: Fajitas without tortillas or rice on the side (they're plenty filling as-is!)
Are you ready to achieve the body you've always dreamed of? All-Inspired Wellness will provide you with the tools and support you need to make healthy decisions every day and transform yourself inside and out.
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