For a lot of people,enjoying a meal with friends and family at a favorite restaurant is one of life’s greatest pleasures. I’d have to agree with those people! Eating out usually means good times and happy memories, but when you’re being conscious about eating healthy, it can also cause feelings of guilt over food choices.
But what if I told you that with just a little planning, you could eat out at restaurants and enjoy yourself . . . with no guilt (or extra pounds) attached?
You don’t have to decide between enjoying an evening out or staying on-plan. I promise, there is a healthy balance between the two.
Here are my best tips for minding your healthy eating plan and having fun, too. Keep these in your pocket next time someone invites you out to dinner! They’ll save you from the guilt and help you make better choices without giving up your social life.
A lot of my clients reach out to me for help navigating their food choices at restaurants. Perhaps you feel the same way they often do—as if you can’t enjoy going out to eat while trying to meet your goals.
If you’ve been caught in the yo-yo diet loop before, it’s understandable that you’d think about restaurants from that perspective. Most traditional diets recommend that you only eat foods on your meal plan with no exceptions. But remember—this isn’t a diet. You’ve got flexibility and a strategy for moments like these.
When I’m working with those clients on a plan for making successful choices at restaurants, the first rule we implement is to NEVER go to a restaurant hungry. You may be thinking, Well, why would I go to a restaurant if I’m not even hungry?
I know this seems counterintuitive, but let me explain. If you go to a restaurant with your stomach growling, you’re not putting yourself in a position to pick the healthiest menu option. Your cravings will feel overwhelming, and there’s a pretty good chance those cravings will take over and decide what you order.
On the other hand, if you have a healthy pre-dinner snack before heading out to the restaurant, you’ll be in much better shape to make a healthy choice when ordering.
Want to avoid overeating? Show up at the restaurant having already decided to take half your meal home with you. Most of the time, meals at restaurants have more than enough food to be considered two servings (or even more). If you follow the tip above and have a snack before dinner, you won’t have a problem splitting your meal into two servings.
What I especially love about this tip is that it doesn’t just save you from overeating; it saves you money (two meals for the price of one!) and provides you with a super easy, cooking-free meal tomorrow. All you have to do is reheat the leftovers, and voila! You have a delicious lunch ready to go. If you find that your leftovers are not enough for a whole meal, try adding some veggies or a side salad to make it more filling. If you need more protein and fat, adding a boiled egg should do the trick.
Having fun, living your life to the fullest, and being healthy aren’t mutually exclusive. I have been successfully using these two tips to strike a balance between loving food, keeping an active social life, and trying to make healthy choices as often as possible for years, and they haven’t failed me yet! I think you’ll be surprised just how easy eating out without the guilt can be when you follow these guidelines. Bon appetit!
Interested in learning more easy health tips like these? Join my Facebook group, Never Diet Again, for FREE and simple tips, recipes, nutrition and fitness check-ins, and support from other food lovers like you and me. We can’t wait to get to know you better!