Five Tips for Navigating Restaurants

If you’re like me you love to go out to eat, try new restaurants, and spend some time outside of the house with family and friends. However when it comes to staying on track with nutrition, this may seem like a sacrifice that has to be made. Friends, I’m here to tell you that is NOT true! Today I’d like to share my top tips that help me survive the restaurant scene - leaving me in a place where I can spend time with my friends and family, but also enjoy the food! 

#1 - Suggest the restaurant. When going out, ask your friends and family if you can go to a restaurant you know has an option that will fit your goals. This might be a tried and true choice, or it could be based upon what you know about the restaurant already. Your company may even appreciate that the decision isn’t on them! 

#2 - Look at the menu beforehand. With social media, it is so easy to do a quick search of the restaurant you are going to and preview the menu before arriving. When it comes to staying on track with nutrition, there are two approaches I typically take. First, I search the menu and choose something I know I will love. Then, I plan my day around it accordingly. If I know my dinner will be higher in fats and it is a regular macro day, I will simply plan to eat more carbs and protein in my other meals and get as close to my gram goals as I can. The other approach I take is to search the menu for something I know will fit my goals with what I have left for the day. This is where I lean to if it is a last minute decision to go out and I’ve already started eating for the day. Whichever approach is taken, you will be more on track because you have planned for it!

#3 - Ask for substitutions. This simple tip can make planning so much easier! Often restaurants don’t mind if you ask for simple swaps like fresh celery and carrots over french fries or a baked potato over their mashed. Sometimes they even list them as options! Other quick substitutions might be a lettuce wrap over a bun (or simply no bun), dressing and syrup on the side, no butter, or light on the cheese. Don’t be afraid to ask for things that will better serve your goals. You’re going out to eat for the experience and for tasty food - you should be able to enjoy it! 

#4 - Keep portion sizes in mind. Restaurants are known for their oversized portions. If you’re like me, you hate to waste food but also know you don’t need to eat the whole stack of pancakes in one sitting. A quick tip to avoid both of these issues is to ask someone at the table if they would like to share a plate with you. Doing so automatically makes the portion size smaller and will leave you both feeling great with something to talk about once the food arrives! If you don’t have a friend to share with, take a look at your plate and plan to take half of it home. Not only will you feel better after eating, but you’ll be able to enjoy it the next day!

#5 - Make mindful choices. When going out it is important to be mindful and not to treat the outing as an opportunity to overeat simply because you can. I would rather enjoy more food, so I often opt for water. If an appetizer is ordered and I know I ordered a hearty meal, I’ll try a few bites and wait for my plate. Sauces and dips can get the best of me in a quick minute, so I tend to stray away from those completely. I’m a dessert lover, so I eat about half of my portion and box the rest - leaving plenty of room for dessert! Being mindful of myself and my goals enables me to make choices that I know will benefit me in the long run and still enable me to enjoy the time out and about.

Remember friends, balance is key and deprivation leads to nowhere. Going out to eat and living a healthy lifestyle can exist together. It is simply a matter of planning ahead and being mindful!

If you’re looking for a way to stay on track with your nutrition, be held accountable, and join a community of women who are in the same boat as you, be sure to register for my next FASTer Way to Fat Loss Round that begins August 19th! I can’t wait to have you!