Let’s face it, eating clean can make us feel AWESOME but it definitely comes with its challenges and what to eat while we are dining out is a biggie. Most of us love going out to eat with friends, but being social usually involves an adult beverage (or 3) and indulgent food. When most of the table is ordering the decadent stuff it can be so hard to commit to that salad! So before you say …just give me the BURGER & FRIES! Here are a few tips to make your choices easier and healthier while still having a social life.
1. Scan the menu online beforehand and plan ahead.
I always look at the menu before I go out to a restaurant I am not familiar with. I honestly plan what I am going to have in advance. If I know the menu will be difficult to eat clean, I pop some digestive enzymes beforehand and will eat a simple green salad at home first. Then whatever I eat at the restaurant will go down a little easier with all those enzyme warriors helping with digestion.
2. Order a simple salad to start…
…with lots of leafy greens and ask for dressing on the side. Opt for a balsamic dressing or lemon and olive oil instead of a heavy creamy dressing. Avoid caesar, cobb and wedge salads as they are full of unwanted ingredients, sugar and lots of empty calories. Beet and goat cheese, tomato and mozzarella are all better choices. The key to good digestion is eating the “raw” before the “cooked” ie simple green salad as an appetizer because it acts as digestive enzymes, helping to break down the heavier main course to follow, plus it will help fill you up on the clean stuff so you don’t over do it and overeat the other indulgent options.
3. Avoid eating meat with starches… food combining 101.
Counter intuitive it seems since we all basically grew up eating carbs and protein, BUT this is a great way to SLOW down your digestion and increase unwanted bloat. No one wants to feel bloated… no one. Pick a main that opts for clean animal protein source alongside a salad or veggies. Skip the pasta, potatoes and rice. If you choose to do a carb skip the animal protein and opt for veggies instead, ie pasta primavera. This will help skip the food coma plus your digestion will thank you.
4. Avoid nutrition death traps!
These include thick creamy or oily sauces, heavy red meats, white or fried food and NO bread basket at the table! These are nutrition death traps, everything in moderation BUT if you tend to eat out a lot then try to avoid these items most of the time. Many restaurants are happy to accommodate any changes and provide modified meals according to dietary restrictions. Don’t be afraid to be picky, restaurants are used to it by now! Trust me!
5. When limited, make a meal out of sides.
Go to town on veggie sides! As a vegetarian I can mention numerous times I have gone out to eat and ordered a simple salad and a few sides to make a meal. I have been completely satisfied and walked away full and feeling better than everyone at the table.
BONUS: If I am having an appetizer and a main course I skip the dessert…that is often where you run into trouble. It is too much food in one meal and overwhelms our already taxed digestive systems. What I do instead is treat myself to more wine! It’s called compromise.