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Think you can’t eat out and still make progress toward your fitness goals? Think again! Now, do I think it is better to eat what you cook over what a restaurant serves? Yes, of course I do. However, it is important to know you can continue working towards your goals even if you must eat at restaurants occasionally. What is the trick? Knowing what and how to order. Here are 5 ways to make sure your progress isn’t derailed when eating at a restaurant.

  1. Pick a lean meat. Lean meats include: chicken, turkey, or a white fish. The reason I choose lean meats over fattier cuts of meat at restaurants is to allow room for additional fats. Some restaurants will cook your meat without any additional butter or oils, but some restaurants simply won’t or they have their meat marinating in butter/oils. If you choose fattier cut of meat and there is additional butter/oil added to the marinade or cooking process the grams of fat can easily surpass 20 or more.
  2. Ask for your food to be prepared with no butter or oil. I do this all the time. It isn’t something to be embarrassed about and frankly if they cringe at your request just tell them you are allergic to it. Terrible, I know. But, I usually have my food prepared how I want it when I make that request. One of my favorite places to eat clean is Japanese! Seriously! I ask for no butter or oil on my chicken or veggies and it tastes awesome!
  3. Salads aren’t always the answer. Do you feel like you always need to order a salad to be “healthy”? Well, think again. Most of the time the salads at restaurants are loaded with other calorie dense foods like candied nuts, cheeses, bacon, etc. Not to mention the dressings. And, yes, they taste great, but it probably isn’t the healthiest option on the menu. Pick a lean meat and a side of steamed or sautéed vegetables instead of a salad. If you do want a salad be sure to choose one without a ton of junk on top and opt for a vinaigrette dressing. I choose to lightly dip my salad in the dressing instead of pouring it on the salad. I find I use less dressing when I do it that way.
  4. Avoid places that serve bread or chips. Unless you have some superhero powers that help you avoid digging in to a basket of bread or chips and salsa I would suggest staying away from those restaurants. The bread and chips alone could derail your progress even if you do order wisely. After all, the only reason I go eat Mexican is because I want chips and cheese dip! Let’s be honest here!
  5. Be nice to your server. If you aren’t friendly and fail to treat your server with respect don’t expect to have your food prepared the way you request. It can be annoying to a server/chef when a guest has so many specific requests for their order at a restaurant. Many times, places don’t love cooking without specific ingredients because they are afraid it won’t taste as good, thus risking their reputation. I get that and you should to. So, be nice to your server and respectfully make your request. You may be surprised at their generosity!

I will say this again – I do think it is better to eat what you cook most of the time. However, if you are in a bind or you want to be social and enjoy fellowship with other people you can certainly eat out and continue making progress towards your goals!