5 Ways To Dine Out (without MOVING away from health goals) by Melissa Dlugolecki
Anyone who knows me will likely attach me to three things, my daughter Leyden, matcha green tea and.... nachos. Yup, there is something about nachos that just makes my heart smile. Maybe it’s the attachment to childhood memories of eating a hot tray of them while watching football with my family. Or maybe it’s because I can no longer eat gluten, so it’s a close substitute. But in all honesty, it’s most likely because nachos are really, really, good.
So how do I balance that with my health goals and commitment to fitness? It is not a hamster wheel of eating them and then guilty burning them off with hours at the gym. That is just a setup for mental exhaustion and physical shame. For one, I make sure to enjoy every bite. And secondly, I follow the general guidelines my coaching partner, Mooch (Christina in real life) and I created to help others strike a balance between healthy living and maintaining a social life. Let’s be honest, seemingly every social activity or event includes food or drink. The psychology behind that is an entire other article, but for now, here are 5 tips to help you when you are seeking to stay on task with your health goals while incorporating the business or personal meals that are almost a necessity this day in age, unless you want to live in a cave. And we don’t recommend doing that.
1) Scope the menu out in advance. Plan accordingly.
If there is something you really want to get that is on the heavier side, choose lighter foods during the day. Consider what alterations you might want to make in advance so you aren’t feeling rushed or anxious asking the wait staff in front of a group. If there is nothing that fits within your diet plan/program suggest another place. If you dinner is for work or a situation where you cannot change the location, eat something within your diet program before you go. Remember, if you CAN’T change the restaurant, this likely means your social situation isn’t about food. It’s about networking, business, or an event.So then don’t make it about food. Eat what you can before and focus on the purpose of the event.
2) Drink a lot of water beforeyou go out to eat.
Many times our bodies think we are hungry, but we are actually thirsty or craving NUTRITION NOT FOOD (Next week, we discuss the way quantity vs. quality of our food impacts our weight much more than calorie or fat counting... which is just annoying to do).
3) Drink no water with your meal.
We know, we know. You may have been taught that drinking a lot of water with dinner will help. Sorry to burst your bubble, but when you drink water with your meal, it actually INTERFERES with digestion. Digestion starts in your mouth. Water dilutes saliva so that your body has to work harder to digest. Digestion takes up a tremendous amount of our energy, so we do not want to complicate things. Reference the “don’t swim in the pool for 30 minutes after eating” rule (though we question if that’s a hoax for parents to get some quiet time). This isn’t.
3) Keep it Simple.
An easy, general, guideline to follow when seeking to choose healthy options while out to eat is;the more work that went into making it, the more work that is going to go into digesting it. As covered before, digestion is hard. Tacos over burritos, grilled chicken over baked and stuffed, raw vegetables over sauteed. Watch out for dressings & sauces. They are sneaky little sugary and caloric hoarders. Olive oil (or coconut oil!) is a great natural alternative.
4) Don’t Catastrophize.
It’s all about balance. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Spoiler alert: perfection doesn’t exist. So stop beating yourself up if you aren’t feeling perfect. The key to managing that is not catastrophizing. What do we mean by that? Having a bite of cake, doesn’t mean you have to eat the entire piece because you “cheated” with one bite. One off meal, doesn’t need to become and off day because you “ruined” it at breakfast. And if you have an entire day of nachos, burgers, pizza and ice-cream, it doesn’t mean your entire weekend or week has to follow suit because you fell off the wagon. It was one bite, one meal or one day. It’ll be ok. Grab some extra ginger shots and green juice andkeep MOVING forward.
Life is all about balance. Find the balance that works for you. Maybe it’s 95% healthy with 5% of eating for pleasure or entertainment. Maybe it is 70%-30%. The percentage isn’t nearly as important as being aware of what it is and ensuring it aligns with whatever YOUR goals will be. You got this!
Melissa Dlugolecki is a certified yoga instructor, life coach and 3 time Boston Marathon qualifier. You can get in touch with Melissa through her website https://www.thrivewithmelissad.com and on Instagram @mel__d_l