Eating healthy at restaurants? “Impossible!,” you say! Well, in ways, eating out frequently can be one of the biggest roadblocks to clean eating. Now I’ll start off saying this, sometimes we go to restaurants to enjoy, indulge, and try new things. In those situations, the once in a while splurge times, please do order whatever you feel like trying. Life is too short to not try something new and less than healthy every now and then! However, I often find myself in a restaurant because of life or social situations when I am trying to stick to clean eating habits. In those times, it is in my best interest to stick to my normal clean eating habits, as much as I can at a restaurant.
Of course, most restaurants will not cater to all of my demands, which are slightly abnormal compared with the standard american diet. However, there are ways to not completely go off the wall with your healthy eating when eating out! Here are five ways to make eating out a positive experience that doesn’t make you feel bad about what you ate! And can I please reiterate, this is for situations when you would prefer to eat clean and don’t feel like indulging. I don’t support mentally unhealthy obsessions with eating healthy and feeling terrible about yourself when you don’t–that’s not good!
Don’t Go In Starving
Now you don’t need to eat an entire meal before you go out, that would be crazy. However, don’t go into it after starving yourself all day. I know this from personal experience. When you are that hungry, those buns, chips, or whatever food they serve before the meal will be all too tempting. Even if you don’t really want to eat it, or it’s not even that good, it will be a lot harder to wait for your order with those glossy honey cinnamon buns staring at you when you haven’t eaten all day. Have a small healthy, snack before you go out, and drink plenty of water.
Make An A La Carte Meal
I’ve learned the beauty of ordering a la carte items since my daughter has had food sensitivities. Often times what I order isn’t even on the menu, but is a staple item at any restaurant. Most often it is a grilled chicken breast with a side of steamed vegetables. Sometimes I piece together items from different entrées, or have a salad with grilled chicken and soup. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want!
Opt for Simple Meals
Many restaurant meals contain high amounts of processed carbs and less than ideal fats. Look for items that are grilled or roasted over fried, and ask for your veggies steamed rather than swimming in butter and salt. See if you can sub out the fries or bread for a salad or vegetables, and stick with simpler menu items. A grilled steak with asparagus will have a far chance of being the healthier choice than a casserole with unknown ingredients. Another great trick is to order a salad with olive oil and cracked pepper as dressing in order to avoid the unhealthy salad dressing.
Find An Alternative You Enjoy
Everyone else ordering deep fried pickles and cheesy bread as an appetizer? See if the restaurant serves a fun soup or healthy salad you’d like to try. Love fried chicken? Try grilled instead. And, when everyone orders a dessert you don’t really want to eat, order a coffee, americano, or espresso. Clean eating and living is not about walling up in your house and never going out again; of course, it is easier to be in control of ingredients when you cook at home, but social lives dictate less than ideal eating situations and the best way to handle it is finding a better alternative, as opposed to not eating.
Accept That You Can’t Control Everything
When you go out to eat, you do have to sacrifice a certain level of clean eating, and that’s okay. Just don’t expect the restaurant to be using coconut oil and buckwheat flour. You will most likely be eating food that has been cooked in vegetable oil in some way, the produce won’t be organic, and the meat will be conventional. It’s important to not fret and have anxiety about any of this, and to just be okay with those less than ideal ingredients occasionally. Sometimes the benefits of enjoying times with friends and families are more important to overall health than the small details of a perfect diet.
Restaurants can be frustrating and downright depressing when you are trying to stick to a clean diet! However, this doesn’t mean you have to avoid them at all costs. Use these tips to help make better choices when eating out, without compromising your social life or making a big deal of it. Nobody likes the “healthy martyr” who is constantly saying “I can’t eat that”; it really brings the whole group down. Instead, find ways around it, enjoy yourself, and live your life!
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