I talk a lot about good nutrition, clean eating, and healthy recipes, but let’s be real…
I also drink beer, eat pizza, and go out to restaurants where I almost NEVER order a salad!
Someone once gave me this piece of advice: What you do 80% of the time matters much more than what you do 20% of the time. So, if you eat healthy stuff most of the time, you can eat a burger and fries some of the time and still be on track with your goals.
HOWEVER, I know there are times in my life when it seems like there’s always an event happening. I go out to dinner with a friend one night, drinks with a coworker another night, dinner with my husband later that week… And times like can add up to significantly more calories for the week. As we move into holiday season, I want to share some of my tips for enjoying celebrations and dinners out without overindulging.
Ok, let’s talk drinks first.
Alcohol is a bunch of empty calories (delicious, but empty!). People like to talk about drinks that are “better” for you, but in reality if you’re drinking, you’re ingesting calories that don’t do anything for you. The only way to minimize your calories from alcohol is to drink less of it. Here’s a few ways to do that:
- Drink lots of water before you go out. You’ll drink less overall if you’re not really thirsty.
- Order a sparkling water first. Sip on that while you check out the drink menu and decide what you really want.
- Have one glass of water for every alcoholic drink. It’ll fill you up and make you drink less overall.
- Avoid replacing alcohol with soda. That’s just more empty calories and WAY more sugar than you need. If you want a fizzy drink, try flavored seltzer water. Lemon seltzer has zero calories and zero sugar!
Now, when it comes to ordering meals at restaurants, things get a little more complicated.
For example, my jaw dropped when I read the nutritional information for one of my favorite salads at a local chain…with the dressing, it had more fat than a burger!!! It’s hard to know what to eat and what to stay away from.
Rather than try to figure out what’s going to be healthy (news flash: NONE of it is really that healthy!), I try to follow these guidelines.
- Eat a snack before going to dinner (preferably a fruit or vegetable!). You’re less likely to overeat or make a really unhealthy decision if you’re not STARVING.
- Check out the appetizers. Often, the appetizer or shared plate section of the menu will have some more veggie-based dishes than the entrees. Plus, they come in smaller portions! Start by eating an appetizer, and then check in with yourself to see if you’re REALLY still hungry.
- Share! My husband and I will often get one entree to share. We’ll split the burger and fries in half, and I’m usually full by the time I’m done. I actually eat my entire portion, instead of having leftovers. Because really, are leftover fries and a reheated burger really that good?
- Let yourself have ONE of the things that you want. Are you craving a steak? Great, have one! But instead of opting for the mashed potatoes on the side, maybe go for the steamed veggies. You DON’T have to go overboard and order every single thing that’s unhealthy. If you want the cheese dip for an appetizer, then skip the cheese on the burger. Looking at it as a trade off also makes you think about what you REALLY want to eat, rather than just thinking about it as a total splurge night.
I know that it can be hard to watch everyone around you eating onion rings, followed by ribs, followed by dessert. But let’s be honest – are the people who are eating that way FEELING good? You know how it feels when you overeat – you’re bloated, tired, and uncomfortable. When that kind of eating becomes a habit, those feelings become constants in your life.
There’s a REASON that you’re choosing to eat veggies on the side rather than fries – you know you’ll feel better.
Follow these tips, and you can enjoy your delicious restaurant meal and leave feeling satisfied, not gross!