How to eat healthy when dining out

While eating at home makes it easier to control how and when you’re eating, a clean lifestyle should never feel like an annoyance to you or those around you! I know firsthand that it’s never ideal to be going out with friends or running errands and having only fast food places be on the go-to list, but it’s important to know that you can still make healthy (or at least healthier) choices wherever you go.

After I started eating less sugar, dialing down on carbs, and eliminating soda, I would sometimes try and dig into a greasy burger or pile of nachos when I was out with my friends. Not only did my body entirely reject this (I won’t haunt you with the details), but I would also feel irritable and sluggish afterwards. I didn’t want to never set foot in a Chick-fil-a or BJ’s again, but I knew I would have to have alternatives and a game plan.

My best advice, in no particular order, will tell you how you can still enjoy all your old favorites without sabotaging your health.

  1. Look for a “light” menu- Not all places will have this, especially fast food chains, but a light menu generally involves a plate with less calories, less sodium, and more fruits and vegetables! The Cheesecake Factory happens to have an awesome menu for this, with everything from lightened up burgers to lettuce wrapped tacos, both of which I totally recommend. These “light” menus are gaining popularity and are perfect if you have a dietary need, like low carb, gluten free, or vegetarian/vegan.
  2. Order a la carte- I find I do this most often at breakfast places, but ordering a la carte is probably the easiest way to make the perfect meal without making it yourself. I’ll do this by ordering eggs and fruit a la carte or by ordering a coffee and a breakfast meat. Sometimes you may even find this a cheaper option, which is a bonus.
  3. Share- Big portions are a blessing and a curse. Sure, if you’re ready to eat the table they’re awesome, but in on-the-go situations it can be a hassle (or impossible) to take and carry leftovers. If you’re like me, the leftovers never make it into the car or the fridge, because you forget them. Every. Single. Time. Anyways, sharing with someone splits the bill and the calories, so don’t be afraid to ask someone in your group if they’d rather split something.
  4. Make alterations- Sub out the fries for steamed broccoli and ask for your burger on a lettuce wrap- and don’t be afraid to ask for these things! This is probably the easiest way to eat well while eating out. Side salads, baked sweet potatoes, fresh veggies, and fruit are all great options that cut out bad fats, carbs, and sugars, but don’t sacrifice any flavor!
  5. Read carefullyJust because there’s a salad or “fat free” dressing, doesn’t mean it’s the best option, so read up on those nutrition facts! I find that fast food oatmeal and salads are the worst offenders of this. At Chick-fil-a, once you add avocado ranch dressing onto their cobb salad, it’s over 700 calories! You’d be better off (calorie and saturated fat wise) getting their chicken sandwich, with only 440 calories and half of the saturated fat. At McDonald’s, the fruit parfait has over 30 carbs, the same that’s in the average McGriddle, which has more protein and will keep you fuller longer.

 

I hope you enjoyed these tips! If you liked this article, check out my article on healthy snacks and my healthy salad dressing recipe. Subscribe below!

*Disclaimer: it is NEVER wrong to treat yourself! You are beautiful (or handsome of course) and should never feel like you “don’t deserve” or “can’t” have a sweet treat or a large fry. It’s awesome to fuel your body with healthy foods and exercise, but that should never be what defines your self worth. These are just my tips that work for me and that I use most often, but I still go for less than perfect favorites sometimes- and that’s OKAY! Thank you for reading and have a great Sunday, ya’ll!

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