Eat Out/Eat In = Same/Same
I have written quite a bit about how I eat like I’m on vacation ALL THE TIME. So when I actually go on vacation, I just eat like normal.
It totally works for me.
The same is true for me about eating out. Whether I’m eating out or eating in, it looks pretty much the same.
I have to totally “pooh pooh” anyone who says you cannot eat out and obtain or maintain the body/fitness level that you want.
You can and it doesn’t involve eating only appetizers/shared plates or salads.
In fact, I *developed* my personal nutrition guidelines while eating out about 90% of the time.
In a former life (okay, just a former career), I was a restaurant manager. There were pros and cons to such an occupation for sure, but the best perks were free food and stiff drinks.
I worked a lot. And I ate 2 meals per day in the restaurant where I worked and then typically ate out at other restaurants on my days off. Eating out a lot was a part of my lifestyle and I learned to do so in a way that allowed me to maintain the body weight/composition that I desired.
Here are my super-simple guidelines for eating out (or eating in):
Build your meal around protein and vegetables.
Add in the “treats” that are most important to you.
Here are some examples:
Example #1 Steakhouse
Base meal = 8 oz. Prime Rib and vegetables (typically this meal comes with baked/mashed potatoes and vegetables. I usually sub out the potato for extra non-starchy vegetables.)
Bonus options = 1 glass of red wine or the baked potato with butter & sour cream on the side or a small portion of quick-fried mushrooms as an appetizer
Example #2 Italian Restaurant
Base meal = Chicken Marsala and vegetables (if the meal comes with pasta, you can sub the pasta out for an extra serving of vegetables)
Bonus options = 2 smallish pieces of bread with olive oil and herbs or shared bruschetta appetizer or pasta with the meal or a couple of bites of a shared cannoli dessert
Example #3 Mexican Restaurant
Base meal = Chicken Fajitas (hold rice and tortillas)
Bonus options = Small portion of chips and salsa or 1 Margarita or 2 small tortillas or serving of rice
The options are pretty much limitless and that’s what makes this easy and fun once you get the hang of it. I’ve found this to be a satisfying and very flexible way of eating.
You can build a meal around protein and vegetables at almost every restaurant and choose your *extras* according to your mood.
It also helps A LOT that restaurants are much more accepting of substitutions and special dietary requests than they were even 10 years ago.
How closely you follow these guidelines totally depends on your goals and whether you are in the attainment or maintenance phase of your goals. RIGIDITY, though, is not a part of the plan—give yourself a little leeway and enjoy your food and your life!
What do you think? Can you imagine putting some variation of these suggestions into a real-life practice? Comment on my Facebook page—I absolutely love your feedback!