Eating out can be a diet danger zone. Even the strongest in the bunch can't resist the bread basket from time to time. So how do you conquer this and gain some self control? Here are Kelly's tips for eating out...the healthy way: The best way to survive eating out is to know what you are walking into. How many times do you check for quality ingredients when you shop for your groceries? Eating out is the same! Do you check menus before a work lunch? Being similarly prepared for you’re a girls night out allows you to make decisions ahead of time and stick to your guns. A great way to pick a menu item is to check yelp, users photos can give you a real idea of portion size and composition.
Be A Detective:
Will there be protein, fat, and fiber-rich options or appetizers you like? Will there be beer and wine or a full bar? If it’s a party…is it a potluck? If so, you’re in luck! Bring a guilt-free plate.
Devising your plan allows you to relax and enjoy the company of friends. If you have a hard time committing, put your allowance into a food tracker before you go or let your bestie know your plan. Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University in California, did a study on goal-setting with 267 participants. She found that you are 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down.
Earn Your Alcohol:
Make a pact with yourself that you will work out the day of the event and the day after. A little hangover can throw you off your game and get you out of your healthy routine. The perfect time to work out would be two to three hours before the event, followed by a protein-based snack, then hair and makeup. If you don’t have time to work out right before the event, no sweat; try before work or midday. It is all about staying active and making room in your muscles to suck up the extra glucose.
Arrive feeling balanced by ingesting 15-20 grams of protein before the party. Protein and fat help to balance blood sugar and make us feel satiated. This strategy helps you to not feel ravenous and grab the first appetizer without thinking. If you feel bloated when you eat or want to balance your blood sugar quickly without a full tummy, consider a packet of clean protein powder and a blender bottle ($14). BeWELL clients affectionately coined this technique the “roadie” and enjoy a light protein shake on the way to their event. Arriving with balanced blood sugar allows you to feel calm and avoid eating out pitfalls like calorie-laden desserts and appetizers.
The easiest way to hydrate and take a deep breath is to make your first drink alcohol-free. Grab a soda water with lemon or flat water, this technique allows you to work through the first few party jitters or work day stress without sucking down a cocktail too quickly. It is also nice to survey the situation and recommit to your game plan; you might even decide that you don’t want to waste a boozy night at this dinner or party. Starting with water is also sometimes easier than trying to put the wine down. Find what works for you; a water intermission or double-fisting (water and cocktail) are both great strategies as well.
Appetizers can quickly add up to a full meal and some fried options can be a real calorie bomb. If you know you’ll enjoy the main course, politely decline the small morsels. However, if you are in need of a little sustenance, go for a protein-based appetizer or the simplest mixed green salads. The best options include anything that belongs on a seafood tower, a mini lamb chop, or a chicken skewer. The veggie tray and hummus can be a great option unless you’re the girl who eats the whole bowl. Avoid fried food, quiche, and flatbread options, which spike blood sugar and contribute to insulin resistance, inflammation, and weight gain.
Eat the simple stuff! Sometimes this means that you should order off the main menu instead of a salad. Salads can hide a lot of sugar in dried fruit, dressings and sugar coated nuts. Instead, opt for Mary’s roasted chicken and veggies or the cedar plank salmon and mixed greens. You will always be more satisfied with a larger protein serving and not find yourself snacking when you get home.
At beWELL, we encourage our clients to make a choice between alcohol and dessert. Many clients are also surprised when we suggest that they wait until they get home and just have a small piece of dark chocolate instead. Partygoers who choose fruit allow themselves a pretty large portion when one bite of chocolate would hit the spot without the added fructose. Unfortunately, 100 percent of fructose is metabolized in the liver, and with alcohol and fructose both filtering primarily to the liver, we are taxing the body with a heavy post-dinner detox.
Many times we eat out of anxiety, habit, or polite response. We end up swallowing foods that don’t agree with us, give us food guilt, or worse, we eat foods we don’t even like! At beWELL, we teach our clients to remember what they love and politely decline what doesn’t agree with them. This takes practice, but it always helps to be the first to respond. Make eye contact with the server and politely decline so you don’t jump on the bandwagon with everyone else. Avoid making excuses about why you aren’t eating the crab cake or cupcake; simply smile and engage back in the conversation.
Stay tuned for more tips from Kelly on both my blog and Kelly’s, Be Well By Kelly. For the next 6 weeks, we’ll be sharing recipes and tips to help you get ready for bikini season…post-baby or not!
Actress, model, active humanitarian, & Mom! Author of 'Everyday Chic'.