Meet Mark! Mark is the owner and CEO of Nutrabio Labs, which is a supplement manufacturer of everything from protein powder to vitamins and minerals, and a plethora of other products for people who lead a healthy and active lifestyle. Being a good friend of The Body Shop Studio, Mark and I have shared plenty of meals dining out together. A few months ago, Mark told me that he has eaten every single meal out at a restaurant for the last 365 days. No meals prepared at home. Moral of the story is that he still manages to look like this...
You can’t always meal prep. However, when at a restaurant YOU decide what you order and what you eat. Stop making excuses for poor choices.
Here are some of Mark’s strategies and what it takes to stay the course while dining out.
Commit to Your Goals
The first step happens even before you sit down to eat --it is the conscious decision that your health and fitness goals are stronger than your urge to order junk or “comfort” food. It is the ability to forgo the instant gratification of eating your favorite fatty foods for the delayed gratification of how your going to look and feel during your next weigh-in or in your bathing suit in a few months. The more you practice having willpower and discipline, the better you get at it. Not easy to do but clearly the discipline pays off.
Send it Back
A lot of places will send over bread as soon as you sit down. Don’t tempt yourself. Either let them know beforehand you don’t want any or send it back if it comes. This is a trick I actually learned from Mark, I would usually let the server drop the bread on the table and stare at it for for half the meal until they got the hint and removed it. Don’t even let it touch the table, especially if carbs are your weakness. If your sitting down at a restaurant it is likely your hungry and bread sitting on the table is a temptation you don’t need. Besides the carbs from the bread, its often coupled with an extra large serving of butter. “No thank you.”
Get Comfortable Personalizing
Very few restaurants will offer a completely healthy meal -- after all, they are after making sure everything tastes good, which usually entails an abundance of starches, butter and salt. Be prepared to modify your order to ditch the unhealthy aspects. Most restaurants are used to customization due to food allergies so don’t feel like your the only one, I guarantee it is more common than you think.
The fastest way to gain weight is to drink sugary sweetened beverages with your meal. A few of these will quickly pack on extra calories and these calories will not contribute to making you feel full. Avoid them. Stick to calorie free drinks like coffee, tea and water. If you’re going to drink alcohol, pick low calorie options like a liquor on the rocks or mixed with club soda but regardless, keep it to minimum.
Picking a Protein
When picking an entree, avoid any fried or breaded meats and fish. Opt for options that are boiled, baked, grilled or broiled. It might not always be clear on the menu how items are cooked, so make sure to ask if there is any ambiguity. You’d be surprised by the amount of butter that can be used on things like steak, chicken or vegetables (way more than the amount you use at home). Restaurants can cook items without butter or with less butter.
Always Include Vegetables
Vegetables are one of the major cornerstones of a healthy diet. An added benefit of eating vegetables is they help contribute to the feeling of fullness, or satiety. No other food group is as nutrient rich, while yielding so little calories. Increasing your vegetable intake is a great way to “crowd out” other unhealthy items on your dish. Many restaurants will allow you to replace a starch (like mashed potatoes) with an extra vegetable. Another great strategy is to order a salad/vegetable based appetizer to hold you over until your meal comes.
Hold the Sauce and Dressing
In most cases, sauces and dressings are loaded with calories. Although you may feel like you have chosen a healthy option, it could have a lot of hidden calories. The last thing you want is to be eating a salad that has the calorie and fat content of a cheeseburger because of the dressing. It’s not always easy to see or wipe off, so indicate “no sauce” or “sauce on the side” when ordering. This allows you to monitor just how much of it you use.
You probably didn’t expect to see a section about ordering dessert. Obviously we would recommend skipping dessert all together but if your in an environment where its socially awkward to NOT order something, opt for a fruit bowl if they have one.
So next time you are out a restaurant, do what I do. Think to yourself… “HOW would Mark order!?”