Typically, we find ourselves in one of two situations:
Hungry and driving or walking past stores and drive-thrus.
Looking down at a restaurant menu.
For many, this is a major downfall in their health, but it doesn’t have to be. Even those who travel frequently can, through learning and with a little discipline, maintain 80% or more of their ongoing progress, and this doesn’t mean ordering a salad every time you are out.
The single most significant downfall in restaurant meals is that they tend to combine large portions of both carbs and fats at the same time. The good news is that even if you are having a big meal at the restaurant, you can Eat Smart and enjoy the food! There are two methods you can use to eat out without the drawbacks of gaining weight and scaling your risk for chronic disease, the first one being the safest and easiest way to go.
Method 1 – Cut the carbs. Here’s how:
- Carbs are your starches like rice, potatoes, bread, buns, quinoa, corn chips, pasta, beans, and include sugars like fruit and dessert.
- Maximize your veggies and fats – so a salad with seeds on it, and vinaigrette dressings are okay (house-made dressings being best so we avoid preservatives).
- With the carbs out of the meal, you can liberally enjoy steak, ribs, burgers (lettuce wrapped), bacon, salmon and other high-fat meats with no drawbacks – enjoy!
- Sushi Tip: Avoid white rice by ordering brown or purple rice, but keep the rice to a minimum. Enjoy the meats and amazing fish, seaweed, ginger, and wasabi. Because of gluten and salt, keep the soy sauce in moderation, or ask for low sodium or gluten free soy sauce or tamari.
Method 2 –
Cut the fat. In this method, you are minimizing fats and eating carbs instead. This is a bit tougher to do because restaurants like to use oils in the dressing, glaze, and in the cooking… but it can be done! This is typically the option vegetarians take, but it works with lean meats as well. Here’s the scoop:
- Pick a lean meat. Think white fish, chicken breast or lean cuts of beef (or if vegetarian, legumes like lentils and beans). It’s important that no oil, butter or high-fat glaze is added to this!
- As always, maximize your veggies! Make sure they are not stir-fried in oil – ask for steamed veggies or ask for minimal oil and get any dressings on the side. Use salt, pepper, and lemon for flavor.
- You can now enjoy carbs like rice, potatoes, quinoa, beans, and rice pasta/noodles etc. as long as they are not cooked in (too much) oil!
- Pasta tip: ask for gluten-free/rice pasta, and keep it very low fat with lean meat. Marinara sauce tends to be a low fat sauce.
The key point in all of this is to have either a high fat + zero carb OR a moderate carb + less fat with lean proteins. Always maximize your veggies, and if you’re eating late and outside of your usual eating window, follow up your late meal with a 12-hour fast that extends into the next day. This 12+ hours of fasting will shift your metabolism into a fat burning mode instead of fat storing. Read more about the benefits of Time Restricted Eating here.