One of the things I have found over the last 5 years of becoming a healthier person, is that restaurants happen.
It’s honestly hard to avoid them, especially when being social and food kinda go hand in hand. Invited to a party? There is food. You want to catch up with an old friend? You meet for lunch or a coffee shop…again, we have food. Date night? Food. Girls night out? Food and drinks. It’s one of the hardest things to avoid, so instead of trying to avoid it and risk becoming a social outcast, learn to navigate it!
Before I get into my 21 Day Fix restaurant tips, I’d like to touch upon one of my favorite topics in my accountability groups… THE “CHEAT” MEAL or as I prefer to call it, A SPLURGE MEAL. Some are all for it, some are totally against and others just don’t fully understand what it means.I figured this would be a perfect topic today, since so many people choose to dine out over the weekend. I’ve said before that this healthy eating lifestyle is not meant to be overwhelmingly restrictive or perfect and the same goes for life while doing the 21 Day Fix.
One amazing way I’ve found to ensure I stay on track with my goals is a splurge from time to time.
When you eat clean, your body needs fuel more frequently throughout the day because it becomes more efficient at burning fat and metabolizing food. Your body loves this clean style of eating but mentally, we sometimes get bored and think we really need that fried, greasy or sweet treat …and that’s okay!
The key to this is not allow that craving to control you. You must control the craving and you can do that by giving in to it, but on your own terms. We don’t want to undo all of the hard work we’ve put forth through nutrition and exercise throughout the week. So you should PLAN on when, what and where.
Many restaurants have their full menus on-line now. When selecting a restaurant, take a few minutes to look up their menu and see what your options are. This will give you an opportunity to plan ahead and make a smart choice. If the restaurant your friends are discussing will completely derail your nutrition, don’t be afraid to suggest a different one! This simple step can ensure you avoid the possible landmine of not making any healthy choices during you meal out.
What to look for: When looking at the on-line menu, be sure to have your Eating Plan book with you, or a list of your favorite foods for each colored container. This will help you to make smart choices and build a plan for your day around your restaurant meal.
Just because I said a cheat/splurge meal, doesn’t mean we are going to order everything fried and covered in cheese! We still want to make smart choices by keeping these rules in mind:
Although I am helping you plan to have a splurge, you still need to keep your container requirements in mind as you plan. Here are some quick ideas:
Red Container (Lean. Grilled or Baked):
Green Container (You get a lot of these with the plan so use more than one):
- Side Salad Appetizer (dressing on the side – it’s an orange)
- Steamed Veggies (no sauce)
Yellow Container (This is where you could factor in your splurge for your favorite pre-dinner bread):
- Potato, mashed or 1/2 a medium
- Sweet Potato
- Pasta, 1/2 cup (restaurant servings ARE way more)
- Bread, 1 slice
- Tortillas, flour (6″)
- Tortillas, corn (two 6″)
Blue Container (This is where you meals can become exciting)
- Cheese (Mozzarella, Provolone, Cheddar, Jack)
- Goat Cheese
- Feta Cheese
This nutrition plan is really flexible and you can easily stay 100% on point if you don’t want to splurge. Just be sure to stick to the do’s and don’t’s and remember to count those teaspoons for the oil or butter that the chefs may be using (you don’t have any control over it when dining out, so just make the best choices you can and go with it.)
I’m all for saving my yellow containers so I can use them for dinner. As a matter of fact I did that last weekend. Mike and I went out for a date night and I knew we were going to Longhorn Steakhouse. Well, I’m a complete and total sucker for their Honey Wheat bread, so I saved a yellow container especially for it! I also knew I planned on having some of their House-made Kettle Chips, so I wasn’t disappointed in myself when we ordered them and I ate them. We don’t go there often so I’m not tempted by them often, therefore I allowed myself to give in to the craving and satisfy my want for them.
Once you make your food choice stick with it! After looking on-line at the menu and forming your plan, stick with it. Many times when we go out with other people who have not taken the steps to improve their health, they’ll try to pressure you into having your favorite high calorie meal, having unneeded appetizers or dessert and another round of drinks. This has more to do with them than you…remember your goals and that a good time doesn’t depend on how many calories or how much alcohol you consume.
Speaking of drinks: When dining out always opt for water as your main drink. You can ask your waiter to add lemon or lime to it, to give it some flavor. Sparkling water is also an approved option and you could add lemon or lime to it as well. Coffee is also on the approved list so you won’t have to sit there sipping water while your friend have dessert. Just make sure to skip the cream, sugar and any weird syrup flavoring options. Not alcohol shots in it either!
As stated in the Eating Plan book, you are entitled to swap out one yellow container for 4 ounces of wine. Beer is not on the list but I’m not gonna lie, I’ve swap a yellow for one in the past and survived to blog about it. If you don’t think you can stop at just 4 ounces of wine, my advice would be to skip it completely. I know it can be hard while out with friends, but they should support you in your goals and those goals are more important than making them happy.
Become familiar with page 70-71 in your Eating Plan book. These two pages cover the topic of eating at restaurants as well as eating at mom’s. Pay special attention to the purple boxes on page 70, and the example box on the top of page 71. They tell you how to measure and count certain items from the list using a green container OR by following the portion size listed.
Meat lasagna – Use your green container to determine the size of your piece, then check off 2 yellows and a red on your Tally sheet.
Cheese Pizza – You’re allowed 1/4 of a 12″ pizza (mind you most pizzeria pizzas are NOT 12″) and it counts as 2 yellow and a blue on your Tally sheet.
Do NOT make this meal the equivalent of calories to a full day of meals. This is why some people don’t to use a cheat/splurge meal. It can be a slippery slope. Many people end up making their cheat meals fried, cheesy and greasy, which means TONS of unnecessary calories. We want to limit that as much as possible. We are allowing a little room for breathing without going off the deep end. Many times you just need a taste to be satisfied.
You’ll also find that the longer you eat clean, the less you’ll want to have that cheat meal, because you’ll feel a difference in your body and mood when you eat processed foods. Most times you’ll decide it’s just not even worth it.
So enjoy a splurge meal from time to time, but don’t sabotage yourself or let other people influence you in a negative way. This is your journey and you set goals for yourself!
Have good restaurant tip for eating out while doing the 21 Day Fix?! I’d love to hear about it in the comment below!