Eating Out While Dieting 101

We all want to look our best when summer hits! Maybe it’s to be able to flaunt that sexy dress that’s been in your closet for several months or to be shirtless at the pool. No matter what your goal is, social outings can set you back if you don’t create a plan for yourself. If you start dieting early, you will most likely reach your goal weight. But if you’re like the majority of the population, you most likely can get there but with very little room for error. Life is life meaning that simply going to work, going to the gym and eating your home cooked meals can be boring at times. Chances are you’ll most likely fall into the temptation of going out to eat instead of eating those delicious meals you’ve prepped over the weekend. Simply eating out isn’t going to hurt your progress as long as you choose the right options.

First things first, if you plan of going out to eat, educate yourself on the menu of the restaurant. The worst thing you can do when going out to eat with friends is waiting to be seated to only find out that nothing on the menu will fit into your diet. That’s poor planning on your part therefore looking at the menu prior to arrival can save you some time and allow you to choose a few options that will work for you. Obviously the internet exist so if there’s a menu out there for a restaurant, chances are you will be able to find it after one single google search. In the event that they don’t have any information online, the phone still exist. Calling up the restaurant and asking “what are three healthy food options you guys serve?” will give you an idea of what you can possibly have then you can make the final decision upon arrival.

I know what everyone’s thinking, “how do I know what to choose from the menu?” To keep things simple I’ll say this, if you can’t eyeball a dish to estimate how much food is actually on your plate, it’s most likely not a good option. For example let’s say you order a pasta dish that has penne pasta, chicken, olives, bacon & cheese all mixed together, that will be close to impossible to track just by looking at it. Way back when I first started tracking macros in 2014, I’ve learned to know how much food is actually on my plate without a food scale. This comes with time and experience of weighing out meals for so many years. For those of you who don’t have the experience, you’ll have to choose an option that you can find via MyFitnessPal or any other calorie tracking app. This way you have a semi accurate way of tracking what you will or have consumed versus just saying “the hell with the diet” and risking the progress you worked so hard for. But what if I can’t find the option I want in MyFitnessPal? Simply just search the dish you would like to order and always overestimate. For example if I go to a local italian restaurant where I can’t find the entree I want, search the name of the entree and choose an option from another more popular restaurant such as Olive Garden, Friday’s, Applebees, etc. By default what you search for is going to be calculated for 1 serving, adjust the serving to 1.5 in order to overestimate the calories to ensure that you don’t over your calories/macros for the day.

Now let’s say you’ve been tracking for quite some time and you posses the gift of being able to calculate a rough estimate of how much food is on your plate just by looking at it, you have more way more options to choose from. If you want a grilled chicken breast, mash potatoes, baked broccoli and maybe a side of rice, you can track that. Please make sure to always ask your waiter/waitress what oils & sauce are use to cook your meal. I personally prefer my food to be cooked in extra virgin olive oil due to it being less processed compared to other oils and the antioxidants it contains. Any sauces that’s added, I ask for it to be on the side so that I can control how much of the sauce I actually consume. Next time you go out grocery shopping just grab a random sauce that sounds delicious and take a look at the nutrition facts. Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce is 70 calories for 2 tablespoons all coming from carbohydrates. If you’re someone who doesn’t have many carbs to spare, these are somethings you need to aware of. Let’s be honest if restaurants were only using 2 tablespoons of a particular sauce, it probably won’t be a big deal. But restaurants are in the business of making their dishes taste as flavorful as possible therefore keep an eye out for those minor details to ensure you are sticking to your diet the next time you eat out!