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  • Writer's pictureKerry Carlyon

Tips on eating healthy when out.

Restaurant food is designed to provide a powerful taste bud experience and they accomplish this by loading their dishes with excess fat, sodium, complex (dense) carbohydrates, and tons of calories.

These things contribute to why you may feel sluggish (blood-sugar spike from excess carbs and calories) and bloated (water retention from carbs and sodium) after eating in a restaurant.

For some reason, we get shy or hesitant when dining out to ask for the food to be prepared a particular way. You’re paying for the food, and the restaurant wants your business, so make sure you tell them how you want your meal prepared. Following these five simple strategies.

Strategy 1: Make sure your blood sugar is stable when you get to the restaurant. Have you ever gone to a restaurant starving? The first thing you do is reach for the bread basket, and you keep on reaching until your hunger dissipates. This is your body craving sugar in an effort to stabilize itself. The simple way to prevent this, is to time your meals so that you go to the restaurant ready to eat, not starving.  This may mean you need to have a late afternoon snack, aiming for it to be 3 hours before you'll actually eat dinner.  Remember to consideration that the restaurant maybe busy or the kitchen slow, so prepared for at least a 30-minute cushion time frame. 

Strategy 2: Request all sauce and salad dressing on the side

Sauces and salad dressings are loaded with sodium and fat. Restaurants have the habit of using way too much. Think about a house salad and the amount of dressing that comes with it. Each tablespoon of dressing has about 12 grams of fat. That means you are getting 108 calories per tablespoon (12 grams × 9 calories/gram = 108 calories). A typical salad has an average of 3 tablespoons of dressing. That’s 36 grams of fat and 324 calories!

Strategy 3: Request that all food items be prepared without oil or butter

Fat enhances the taste of food, which is why most food items are almost always prepared with extra fat.

Strategy 4: Know each meal will have more fat than expected (even when you request no oil or butter)

Be cautious about consuming heavy carbohydrates such as brown rice, potatoes, pasta, and bread.

Cutting back on starchy carbohydrates will help maintain stable blood sugar. Eating a meal that is calorie-packed with complex carbohydrates and fat will spike your blood sugar, causing you to store body fat.

If you think the meal has too much fat, cut starchy carbohydrates servings in half, or replace them with vegetables. You can ask to have no chips and replace them with salad or other vegetables.

This is also the strategy you’ll use if you want to drink alcohol. Simply follow these guidelines:

  • Always eat when drinking alcohol. Substitute alcohol as your main carb. This isn’t an even exchange, but it minimizes the damage of drinking by removing calorie-dense carbs. A meal example:

    • Protein: Chicken breast

    • Fat: Balsamic vinaigrette (for salad)

    • Low-carb veggie (free food): Spinach salad

    • Carb substitute: Glass of wine, shot of hard liquor or a beer

  • Limit yourself to 1-2 drinks to avoid hindering your results.

Strategy 5: Enjoy your meal, and eat at a slow pace

The goal is to finish your meal satisfied and content, we all know what it’s like to be full after a meal. This is a clear sign of high blood sugar and fat storage. Eating food at a slower pace allows your body to feel satisfied, and prevents overeating.

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