Dining out can be a challenge, especially when you’re trying to lose weight or stick to a healthy diet. Today, we’re going to cover a set of principles that will help you keep a healthy diet while eating out and go over a list of our go to restaurants.
Learn Your Body’s Macronutrient Needs
Most people don’t need to carry a scale around and weigh out everything they eat, but understanding your body’s macronutrient needs is extremely helpful towards weight loss and living a healthy lifestyle.
The easiest way to figure out your macros is to jump online and search for a macro calculator. You can just plug in your info and they’ll give out a set macronutrients that’s recommended for your goals. Just remember, these are rough estimates and every calculator uses a different equation so don’t worry if you end up missing the mark by a little.
Minimize Processed Foods
Processed foods can taste great, but they often include a ton of extra sugars and fats that won’t help us out when we’re trying to lose weight and eat a healthy diet.
Instead, stick to whole foods as much as possible. This doesn’t mean you can never eat chips or ice cream again, but shifting your diet from a mostly processed to mostly whole will completely change your health.
Skip The Sugary Drinks
This is a huge area for improvement. If you’re consuming a few sugary drinks throughout the day, you can cut out a huge amount of calories just by applying this one rule.
These are a few sugar-free and low-sugar drinks that you can swap with
Mineral water or sparkling water
Unsweetened coffee or tea
Fruit and herb infused water
Load Up On Protein And Veggies
Protein and veggies are packed with important nutrients that your body needs. These two types of foods also do a really great job at keeping you full, so make sure to load up on them before moving on to carbs.
Minimize Your Alcohol Consumption
There’s not really a low-calorie alternative to alcohol. Beer and wine contain more calories than liquor, but a good chunk of the calories from alcoholic beverages comes from the alcohol itself. That means the most calorie-friendly option is just to minimize your consumption. Aside from that, try to skip out on sugary cocktails and contain a ton of extra sugar in addition to the alcohol.
Make A List And Stick To It
The easiest way to stick to a healthy diet is to choose in advance, so that when it comes time to decide, you won’t base your decision as much on how you’re feeling. We recommend making a list of no more than 5 restaurants that are easy for you to access and picking 1-2 menu items that you’ll stick to at each.
A few considerations while picking the restaurants:
Do you enjoy the food you’re eating?
Is it conveniently located to your home or workplace?
Does it have menu items that fit your dietary needs?
How to apply these rules at a regular restaurant
It’s pretty easy to order healthy meals, when you’re dining out, if you follow the rules we just went over. Most restaurants are super accommodating to individual dietary preferences, so don’t be afraid to ask for modifications to make sure you’re sticking to your plan.
Remember that restaurants typically under-serve protein and over-serve on carbs, so it’s important to make sure that you don’t end up undereating protein and overeating carbs. An easy way to get around this is to just order extra protein on the side and ask if they can switch out the carbohydrates (fries, rice, potatoes, etc.) for a salad or steamed veggies.
The best part is that once you get better at applying these principles, you’ll be able to make healthy eating choices almost anywhere you go! Next, we’ll go over some restaurants that we normally go to find healthy eats at.
Healthy Dining Out List
Chipotle got a great selection of healthy options. The bowl and burrito can be great options for those who have a little more room for carbs, and the salad is an awesome way to keep your carbs low and proteins high.
Chop Stop is a convenient place to pick up a salad that isn’t boring. I like the build-your-own option that really lets you pick something that you enjoy.
Panera has an awesome list of healthy options. The Warm Bowls, Salads, and Breakfast wraps can all be great options. I usually try to stay away from the breads and sandwiches, since it’s way too much carbs for my need. My favorite thing about Panera is that is widely accessible, your can order ahead through their app, and you can customize the ingredients to match your needs.
California Fish Grill
Many fish grills offer a great lineup of grilled seafood and whole food sides. They have a nice selection of different seafoods and lot of veggie sides to help keep you full without overeating.
Waba Grill & Flame Broiler
Waba Grill and Flame Broiler are both more conveniently located chains that can offer you a healthy meal on the go. I like the option they have to swap your rice for all veggies to help keep down your calories and still keep you full.
I know Trader Joe’s isn’t a restaurant, but they have a great lineup of grab and go items like wraps, salads, and a ton more if you’ve got a microwave around.