In today's world of fast food and instant everything, it's fair to say that the majority of today's population eats out at least a few times per week. Gone are the days when going out to eat was a rare treat. Growing up, my family went out to dinner maybe only two or three times in a whole year. One summer though, I remember how excited my sister and I were when my dad decided that going to DQ for a dipped cone every Friday night would be a fun family thing to do and, of course, he got no complaints from either of us. Times have definitely changed.
Fast food, fine dining, take out, ordering in, today's fast-pace lives have people buying meals - sometimes more meals than they actually prepare themselves – on a regular basis. Although ready-made meals do the job in curbing the hunger, they often do little to foster good nutrition and even less when it comes to lowering the number of overweight and obese Canadians steadily rising each year. With little or no sign of society slowing the pace any time soon, and the extreme unlikelihood that restaurants will take it upon themselves to restructure menus, it's up to the consumer to learn how to lose and/or prevent the belly fat that is associated with eating out.
Working with clients daily on how to lose weight, there comes a time in each person's program when the question “How am I able to do this and still go out to eat?” In today's world that's a very important question for people and at first glance, they often see eating out as an impossibility or at least a very large obstacle that will get in the way and sabotage their progress. Believe it or not, you can stay on plan and continue to rock your progress even when eating restaurant food.
First of all, let me just clarify that if your restaurant habits are old school say, once a week, once every two weeks and consistently dive into nutritious, balanced home-cooked meals the rest of the time, my advice is to order how you wish, call it an “off-plan” meal and enjoy every bite. Then three hours later, get back on plan with a balanced PFC (protein, fat, carb) meal. For those restaurant supporters, these three tips will help you stay on plan, get the most nutritionally balanced meals possible and keep you moving towards your goals.
Be choosy. Any time you can put a higher quality food into your body, you are setting yourself up to get better results. Ask yourself just how much quality and nutritional value can there be in your meal when you paid $2.00 for two cheeseburgers? Thinking ahead and planning to pick up or order from a place where you can get fresh salad greens and/or a side of veggies with your protein increases the nutrient value, adds fibre, promotes slower digestion, increases energy and actually nourishes your cells rather than just filling the empty pit.
Ask for what you need. You are the customer. Restaurants are there to serve you and provide what you need. Whether you are sitting down or calling in an order to pick up on the way home, scan the menu to first see what PFCs they have available. This does not mean you have to settle for ordering a meal exactly as it's presented, “I'll have #11 please...”. What it means is that the restaurant has these items and therefore has the capability to prepare it according to your directions. For example, for a menu that lists items like beef burrito, grilled chicken fajita, tuna tacos you know that your protein choices are beef, chicken or tuna. Almost all restaurants have some sort of salad, or chopped veggie options to fill or go with the main dishes and we know that if there are burritos, there will also be rice and beans. Asking for a bed of lettuce mixed with whatever chopped veggies they have and then topped with grilled chicken and a small scoop of black beans and voila! A taco salad that tastes amazing, is balanced without all the processed carbs from any wraps or deep-fried bowls.
Keep it simple. Ask for all proteins to be prepared plain, without salt or sauces and all meals to be served with any and all sauces on the side. This small act alone can save you hundred of calories per meal while also controlling the amount of sodium and fat per meal.
We all live busy lives, and for those eating out on a regular basis, I challenge you to adopt and apply these three tips when ordering. You'll still get the convenience of take out, without taking on extra weight. And who doesn't want that?
Book your assessment and get started on your personal weight loss journey, or get group support and join Tania's workshop, End the Dieting Madness, April11, 2017 at Parkinson Rec Centre in Kelowna. Limited spots available, call 250.469.8800 to register
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