Do you ever feel like you simply can’t go out to eat because you will gorge yourself on the available food and kill your personal goals for health and fitness? If so you most certainly aren’t alone. One of the biggest issues people who follow restrictive diets face is dealing with eating out. Often times people just try and avoid it because as soon as you hit the restaurant those delicious smells become overpowering.
Really, it doesn’t have to be that way. One reason why “eating clean” is so popular is because it is a lifestyle choice and not any sort of fad diet. You eat food, some of it very delicious, and you try not to live a restrictive live. Of course the key is that you are selective on what goes in, when it goes in, and how much you take in.
Even with having some “clean rules” to follow you can still easily go out and enjoy yourself no matter what the venue.
8 Tips for Eating Out Clean
- Try and pick a good restaurant – If you are going out it might as well be for good food. Sure people like Applebee’s, but that is just asking for trouble with so few fresh ingredients. Smaller, non-chain options are more likely to have a better selection of fresh items plus they are often cooked with more taste and flavor.
- Check the menu online – Between sites like Yelp and Open Table there are links left and right for most eateries that feature menus. At a glance you can find if there things appealing to you and everyone else going. This really isn’t just a clean eating good idea, but smart planning in general to make sure everyone gets a good meal they want.
- Eat earlier – Unless you have a late night planned there is no reason to take down a large meal then go to bed. Brunch and lunch are great options for going out because you have all day to burn off the calories. If you are eating dinner aim closer to 6 than 7.
- Go simple – Look for the more natural meal options such as salads, chicken, and fish. A meal that bases itself around healthy protein options to begin with ends up straying the least distance off the path.
- Mix it up – Check out the entire menu and ask about swapping options and sides or cutting out things you don’t need. Honestly they are cooking food for you. If they have asparagus on another dish as an option that means it is in the kitchen already so why not ask for that instead of fries? With so many people having issues like being lactose intolerant or partial vegan, good restaurants understand that they might have to change things to fit a customer’s needs. It is like ordering a pizza with a thin crust, light sauce, and light cheese to reduce calories or putting the dressing on the side so you can chose how much.
- Portion control – There are a lot of things you can simply ask for a smaller portion of, especially things like salads and sandwiches. By having them bring you less, you cut back the desire to clean your plate.
- Skip the bread – This is hard because usually the smells in a restaurant make you hungrier and that bread is just begging to be devoured. Think about it for a minute. Are you going to go pay for a delicious and savory meal and then waste some of it because you just ate 200 to 300 calories of white bread and butter? Instead sip your water every time you have an urge to snack and wait for the good stuff or order a good appetizer to split with the table.
- Relax – For the most part if you are eating clean then it is okay to ease up on the throttle now and again. Eating clean is about following rules 80 to 90 percent of the time. If you end up going a little off the reservation with a really good burger, don’t beat yourself up over it. You are entitled to treat yourself every now and again (just don’t follow that up with fries and a huge dessert…we said ease up a little not slam the brakes).
The reason why eating clean works so well is because you make a point to not mentally torture yourself with an overly restrictive diet. Yes there are rules, but they are manageable rules and smart rules. You can go out and enjoy yourself. It might take a little bit of extra effort but that small amount of work pays off over a lifetime of looking good, feeling good, and having a healthy body.