When I first began my fitness journey, in 2015, I went 12 weeks without missing a workout, without eating out, or eating a single food I deemed “unhealthy”. When I made plans to go out for dinner with friends, I’d just order tea and eat when I got home. At the time, I saw myself as being disciplined and dedicated to “fitness”. Living like that gave me anxiety about social situations (which I never had before,) and sticking to such an unsustainable regimen didn’t ease the negative feelings I had towards my body either. It just redirected them. I thought if I slipped up and ate “bad” food, I’d undo all of my progress. Over the years I’ve learned that true success lies somewhere between both of my extremes.
Finding your balance takes time, and a lot of trial and error. At this point in my life I don’t stress about eating out with friends or family. I look forward to creating new memories with people I love! I know a meal out doesn’t mean I’ve “fallen off the wagon” or that I’ll lose all my progress.
If you’re having a hard time balancing your health with eating out, these tips are for you:
- Look at the menu before going out
- See if there are healthier options or indulgences that you’re really excited about. It’s totally okay to eat what you love! But knowing ahead of time will help you plan your day accordingly! This goes in hand with the next point.
- Balance my eating
- Eat a lighter and colorful lunch when you know you’ll enjoy a larger dinner.
- Be mindful of liquid calories
- This includes alcohol, soda, and smoothies. All of these can add up quickly!
- Eat slowly
- Aim to be the last one eating! This will ensure you really are full.
- Stop eating when you’re full
- This might sound like a “duh!” thing, but honestly it’s something I struggled with. It’s so easy to continue to graze after we are full. Box up that extra food and get it out of the way.
- Try to limit eating out to ⅔ times a week
- Restaurants often cook food with a lot more oil than you would normally use. Preparing your own food is the best way to know what you’re eating and get an accurate count of calories and nutrients.
- Keep portion sizes in mind
- Restaurants often give you 3x the suggested portion size. Ask for a box with your meal, so you can immediately box up excess food and not overeat.
- Skip the table bread (or take it into account when ordering)
- Don’t even let them bring it to the table if ya can. Save those calories for something delicious!
- Drink a protein shake before
- This will ensure you get enough protein and curb your appetite just in case you have to wait a while to eat.
- Try to get your veggies
- Even though you’re eating out, focus on getting a colorful plate. Order a side salad or roasted veggies with your delicious entree.
While good nutrition is key to progress, your mental well being is essential! That’s why having strategies in play to help you find balance and sustainability in your fitness life are super important! Fitness doesn’t have to be all or nothing!