In this post, I’m teaching you how to eat out healthy when going out. We’ll talk about healthier options, and how to spot ‘healthy frauds’ Some of the most frequent questions I get are about eating out and sticking to your ‘diet’. Well, you should already know how I feel about diets… but here are my top tips to eat out healthy when going out.
How to Eat Healthy When Going Out
Is Salad Really the Healthiest Option? What you should really order when eating out!
Salad bars and gourmet menus are popping up everywhere these days, from supermarkets to lunch hour hotspots, airports, and most restaurant menus!
But… Are they really the “healthiest” option?
I sat down at one of my favorite restaurants last week, The Cheesecake Factory, to talk about the logistics of a new project with one of my girls. I wanted something small to munch on for lunch as I had plans for a hearty date night with my husband that evening. As I perused the salad menu, I couldn’t find what I was hoping for… something basic, simple, low calorie yet satisfying. I was dreaming of a mixed green salad with grilled chicken, various veggies, and a vinaigrette on the side.
All my options were loaded with “calorie bombs” as I like to call them (i.e. multiple types of cheese, avocado, olives, creamy dressing, croutons, chips, fried meat, etc.). As my frustration built, I started to analyze the options…
Some of these salads I was eyeing I had estimated at over 1,000 calories and 40g of fat. YOWZA, totally not a light snack! I realized then and there that this is exactly where some of my girls may be confusing “healthy” when eating out… so today, I’m helping you understand how to eat healthy when you’re eating out!
“Nathalia, I eat a salad every day for lunch and I can’t lose weight!”
For those of you wondering, I settled for a lunch portion of salmon, a house salad with vinaigrette, and a small piece of bread while waiting for my food to come out. I know what you’re thinking… Do you eat bread? Yeah, girl! I personally always have a bit of bread at Cheesecake Factory. It’s my favorite! I don’t deprive myself of any food group, but I also don’t eat like an A$$hole. I practice moderation and balance! You see, one small piece of bread (the equivalent of 3 bites) is not going to hurt me (or you)!
Stick with me and I will show you how to have the body you want and still enjoy life.
Nathalia’s DO’s & DON’Ts of eating out:
1. Be prepared! Do your homework (when possible).
Many restaurants are becoming more and more forward with their nutrition information and most have their menus posted online. If you’re headed out to a steakhouse for dinner tomorrow night then hop online and take a look at the menu so you know if you need to lighten up for lunch that day.
2. Portion control. Visualize your plate as if you’re at home!
The meal comes out and it’s enough to feed 4 people but that doesn’t mean you need to eat for 4 people. Ask for an extra plate on the side and “make your plate” as if you were eating at home!
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for lower-calorie substitutes.
If you encounter an incident as I did at Cheesecake Factory, then be ready to ask for substitutions to make your meal fit your goals. If you see a menu option that looks good but is lacking vegetables or is prepared fried rather than grilled then request for something prepared differently. Swap fries for a side salad, fried for grilled, for a little less oil when the food is prepared, and for dressings on the side. I have found many restaurants are very accommodating!
4. Don’t go out overly hungry.
If you go out to eat ravenously then you will likely make impulsive choices that don’t align with your goals. Have a nutritious snack before you leave the house such as a piece of fruit or veggies. If you arrive very hungry then order a side salad to start or broth-based soup to hold off hunger and once your food arrives remember to eat slowly. It takes approximately 20 minutes for the brain to tell the stomach that it’s full. Enjoy your food, don’t scarf it down!
5. Watch the wording on the menu.
Try to stay away from dishes with these adjectives: “Creamy”, “Loaded”, “Fried”, “Topped”, “Garnished”, “Smothered”, “Rich”, and “Cheesy”. Instead, look for options with these in the description: “Smoked”, “Steamed”, “Baked”, “Fresh”, and “Grilled”.
Before you run out to your favorite Italian spot be sure to check out my favorite “better than a restaurant” Chicken Alfredo Fettuccine & Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein bites:
Healthy Alfredo Sauce (4 serving recipe)
Nutrition facts per serving: 130 calories, 7g fat, 7g carbs, 8g protein
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 cup skim milk
- 1 cup broth vegetable or chicken
- 1/2 cup nonfat plain greek yogurt room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1-2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
- ½ pound low carb pasta or pasta alternative (my favorite is the Impastable pasta)
- Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
- Sprinkle with cornstarch and cook for one minute, stirring constantly.
- While whisking, slowly add in broth and milk.
- Continue whisking to combine until smooth.
- Raise heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Once simmering, simmer for about 2 minutes, until it starts to thicken, again, whisking constantly.
- Remove from heat and little by little, whisk in greek yogurt.
- Once combined, place back on the heat (medium) and stir in Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- Bring to a simmer and simmer for an additional 2 minutes, whisking constantly.
- Serve over pasta
Don’t forget dessert!!
Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein Bites
Nutrition facts per ball: 66 calories, 3g fat, 9g carbs, 4g protein, 4g sugar
- Oats (quick and old fashioned)
- Cocoa powder
- Chocolate protein powder
- Peanut butter
- Chocolate chips
- Recommended: 1 scoop of Dymatize ISO 100 protein for added protein ????????
- Optional: Chia seeds + flaxseed
- Stir together the oats, cocoa powder, and protein powder in a large bowl.
- Next stir in the peanut butter, honey, chocolate chips, and vanilla.
- Add chia seeds and flaxseed with the wet ingredients if desired.
- Stir until smooth.
- Line a small baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.
- Using a small cookie scoop (2 teaspoons), scoop out 40 balls.
- Place in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes, or until ready to eat. If you’d like to store it in the freezer, place the pan in the freezer for 10-20 minutes and then transfer it to a zip-top bag or freezer container. (they taste best when slightly thawed from the freezer or from the refrigerator.)
ENJOY & remember eating healthy does not have to be boring and flavorless!!! And eating out doesn’t mean you can only have salad!!
Looking for some delicious recipes that the whole family will love? I got you! Check out my newest recipe ebook: 50 Delicious Recipes for The Whole Family
Don’t forget to tell your friends! Share this post on Pinterest. Help others better understand how to eat healthy when going out. And follow me @nathaliamelofit for more!