December 02, 2012

Whether it’s a lunch date, celebratory dinner, or grabbing a quick bite of fast food - eating out is always one of the most enjoyable ways to eat. However the calorie intake can be catastrophic if you’re not careful. There’s not one person out there I don’t know that doesn’t care about calorie intake. I empathize with all calorie watchers, being someone who is trying to maintain their recent 30 pound weight loss.

With all of the new fast-casual chains promising “healthier” options, it’s growing easier to have to wool pulled over your eyes. Also, most healthier options are more expensive. However, I’ve concocted some sure fire tips to keep in mind while you’re out to eat that will keep you focused and enjoy the food without worrying about feeling guilty afterwards!

  1. Avoid, Avoid, Avoid.

I’m not saying that eating out is the worst thing in the world, but whenever I’m eyeing a menu, nervously fingering the laminated options, It’s like I’m trying to pick the lesser of many evils. I find myself thinking, “that’d be too fatty, that’s definitely way too many carbs, I’d be able to eat THAT in my DREAMS.” The thing that gets me about eating out is that no matter how vividly every ingredient is described in the menu, you really never know what’s going in your food.

Really though, don’t get me wrong; I love eating out. However, perhaps the best way to avoid this Sophie’s Choice situation is just to avoid it in general.

There’s nothing wrong with brown bagging it! I do this in school every day. You can be as creative as you want - you’re not constricted to what’s on the menu that day. Some days I indulge in an organic peanut butter and nutella sandwich on wheat and greek yogurt, some days I have a salad with my favorite vinaigrette and chicken and veggies. The key to eating well and sticking with it is to actually ENJOY your food. You still want to look forward to it - so find your favorite healthy options and stick to them.

2.“Trigger” Foods

When you’re looking at a menu, I always look for key ingredients that I KNOW will be extra good for me. As an avid reader of Cosmopolitan as of recent (I’m not just in it for the love tips.... I promise) I’ve read many articles about “foods that make you look good” and “foods that make you look sexy.” Here’s some of my favorites  along with their perks.


Strawberries are an excellent source of one of our favorite vitamins, vitamin C. The best ways to sneak these in are in delicious salads with walnuts and goat cheese and of course on deserts. They’re my favorite fruit!
(2) Walnuts

 I’ve heard rumors for years that walnuts are the healthiest nuts out there for you. Nuts are perfect toppers for any sweet or savory dish. Or they’re just perfect for a snack. if you see these nuts on a menu item, it should pop out at you and definitely be in the running for your dish of the night. Don’t be afraid of the nutcracker - his treat is full of thiamin, vitamin b6, and are ultimately delicious!

(3) ACAI.
 I capitalized this one because it’s the most healthy. It’s very important to get your daily dose of acai (pronounced ah-sai) because it has an outrageous amount of antioxidants in it. This is mostly found in smoothies and drinks of the blueberry variety. This goes to show - don’t be afraid to eat it if you can’t pronounce it!

3. Don’t be afraid to indulge in salads!

Most people must think I’m crazy by putting “indulge” and “salad” in the same sentence, but I feel bad for salads for getting that bad enigma. A salad doesn’t just have to be some raw veggies and frigid iceberg lettuce with light italian on the side. Think of how many different types of delicious nuts, fruits, meats, veggies, cheese, really whatever you want! It’s a blank canvas to throw all of your favorites together. The dressing really pulls all of the flavors together. Have you ever tried raspberry walnut vinaigrette? It’s to die for! Not to mention - a wrap in a whole grain, sun dried tomato or spinach wrap is a great way to have a sandwich, or all of your favorite salad fixings if you’re in the mood for a little bread.

4. It’s compromise that moves us along.

Eating healthy doesn’t mean that you’re signing up for a life of unfulfilling meals. Like any great relationship (admit it, we’re all in a relationship with food...) it takes compromise. When you’re out and you feel like you want some desert, go for it! Just don’t have bread with your meal. Or, the other way around. You could get that prime rib if you have grilled veggies or a salad on the side. You CAN have that delicious chicken parm.. grilled not fried! The options are endless. It’s not rationalizing, it’s just changing your mindset.

5. The plague of dining out: food jealousy

The worst feeling when eating out or even ordering in line is food jealousy. After you say your order that you could be very proud of, the next person in line’s order leaves your mouth watering. “I wish I ordered that..” When the food finally arrives at the table, we end up giving ourselves more calories by asking, “hey... can I try a bite of that?” 

I believe I have mastered the ultimate solution. Everyone in your party collectively decides on a few, not too many, dishes or appetizers that they all like. The price will come up the same as one appetizer for the group and one meal for everyone. You can sample everything, feel just full enough, and not get jealous!

So, when someone asks you to go out to eat, don’t worry about your waistline. There will ALWAYS be great ways to enjoy yourself and feel great about it! Unless, of course, you’re going to a McDonalds.. I’d avoid that as much as possible. 

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