Healthy tricks for eating out
First off, you are in no way obligated to eat healthy every single time you eat out! Often we can deprive ourselves from things we love because we are trying to be “good” when in the end we end up over compensating later to make up for those cravings.
When you are free to eat what you want when you want, your cravings reduce and you end up listening to what sounds good for your body, not what you’ve been restricting yourself from.
This may seem hard to believe, trust me, I’ve been there. But the reality is, it is possible to not be ruled by your cravings or obsessed with all the things you “can’t” eat. When you create balance in your life and accept the body that comes out of that you can truly find peace.
Our bodies are meant to be more than just fit or thin. They are vessels carrying us through this life that is meant to be lived. Live in your body well. Love your body well! That is the goal.
Okay…now circling back haha. When it comes to food, especially eating out, I know a lot of people struggle. For me, the way I have found the easiest balance is I tend to eat pretty healthy at home, planning recipes I am excited to make and keeping lots of nutrient dense foods in the house (minus my many tubs of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream :)). And when I eat out, I listen to what my body thinks sounds the best.
For a while, it was a lot of energy dense foods because I was reintroducing things back into my diet. But now it has become more neutral and sometimes I eat a salad when I’m out and sometimes I eat pasta. The key is listening to your body and its cravings, and paying close attention to your hunger and fullness signals.
To help make it a little more simple I have put together some of my go-to tricks for making decisions when I eat out!
Healthy Tricks for Eating Out:
Ask for things on the side! Sauces and dressings can add a lot of flavor but often times restaurants overdo it. Simply by asking for things on the side you can control just how much is added! Maybe you add all of it, maybe you don’t, but you are making that decision based on your flavor preferences not what the restaurant does.
Slow down, chew, pay attention to every bite! Often when we eat out we are with people, so we can become easily distracted by conversation and before we know it our plate is empty, we are stuffed and we don’t even remember ordering dessert. When you slow down, you are more in sync with the tempo of your body digesting your food and also able to notice when things are no as longer as flavorful. When are body is starting to signal that it’s getting full, foods will have less flavor than they did at the beginning! Next time you start a meal pay attention to how the first bite and the 15th bite tastes!
Start with veggies! This could be a salad, this could be veggies and a dip or a number of things but adding in veggies is always a great way to make a meal healthier. Your whole meal does not have to be a salad but adding a small side of one to start makes sure you are getting nutrients at each meal! It also fills you up a little so you aren’t digging in voraciously to your meal without thinking.
Drink 2-4 glasses of water throughout the meal! Most people are dehydrated in general and the perfect time to get more water in, is at a meal. As you sit down, even if you order another beverage, always get a water too and finish that before you take your first bite. Sometimes hunger signals are also thirst signals so make sure you are aware of which one is running the show.
Split with someone! Sometimes (not always) the portions are big enough for two! In the US at most restaurants the sizes are larger than we need but instead of using fullness signals to decide we are done, we use an empty plate. This tends to be more than we need if we payed attention to our body rather than visual clues. If you start with veggies and split with someone you tend to be satisfied rather than stuffed and created a balanced meal overall! Maybe evening leaving room for dessert!
Give in to your cravings! So often we resist dessert and end up eating double the next day, or we opt for a salad and can only think about pizza the rest of the night. When your relationship with food is based around restriction or guilt you make decisions for the wrong reasons. If you want pizza, have it. If you want dessert have it! But pay attention. Giving in to your cravings doesn’t mean finishing them every time but when you listen to what your body wants you are better at making decisions overall.
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want! Sometimes restaurant have a strict no substitutions or changes policy but most don’t. If you want to add in more of something or take out something just ask! If you are polite they tend to have no problem doing it! There have been many times I’ve asked for things to be added or put on the side to make a meal more something I am excited to eat. Don’t be afraid to just ask!
Give yourself a break! So often meals become more stressful than fun when we are letting diet culture run the show. We stress about the ingredients, the portions and all the extras, trying to figure out how to make the best choices. In reality, most of the time it balances out! AND your body processes food so much better when you aren’t stressed! Numerous studies have shown that when you eat food and feel happy and peaceful your body is better able to use all the nutrients available and easily discard the rest. But when you are stressed and eating (even something healthy) your body will not use these nutrients as productively. When you create a mindset around food that is compassionate, intuitive and nonjudgemental your body flourishes. So give yourself a break, stop stressing so much and start eating in a way that makes you feel good from the inside out!
I hope some of these ideas are helpful! I know eating out can cause a lot of stress for people as they want to create more balance in their lifestyle and sometimes all it takes is just a few small tweaks here in there that add up over time!
Is there anything that you do to make eating out more enjoyable?
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