I love to eat out. Also, I travel a lot and often find myself in places where I don’t have access to a kitchen or don't have time to cook. Here are some of my favorite tips for staying healthy even when eating out frequently.
First, I know it may sound counter intuitive but you should never wait until you are starving to eat. Being hungry is good but not ravenous-OMG-I’m going-to-eat-my-arm-hungry. This is because we actually lose the ability to make healthy judgments about what we’re going to eat when we get to a point of ravenous hunger. Our hormones take over and our brain signals us to eat the food that will get sugar into our bloodstream the fastest (think: empty carbs) because it’s in a state of emergency.
I always have healthy snacks with me so even if I know I’m going to dinner soon but am already feeling pretty hungry, I’ll eat something light. This way, I still have an appetite for dinner but am capable of making healthy choices.
Healthy pre-dinner snacks that I always keep around: the only rule for these are that they are light and have some fiber or some protein – either of these will stabilize your blood sugar without ruining your appetite.
- a piece of fruit that’s easy to eat (apple, orange, banana) NOT JUICE (note it has no fiber!)
- light string cheese and a handful of crackers
- raw nuts (about a handful)
- carrot sticks and celery
- lara or kind bars (I’ll often eat half and that’s enough to tide me over until I get to my meal)
When I’m at the restaurant, I make sure I am getting veggies, a lean protein and maybe a wholesome starch. Always get dressing on the side of the salad and avoid any heavy or creamy soups or sauces. If you want a sauce that is creamy just ask for it on the side – you can still get the flavor you want without your food being drenched in an overly unhealthy sauce.
Drinks can be a huge source of empty calories. I never ever drink anything besides water unless I’m at dinner and have a glass of wine. This habit alone will help cut out so many unnecessary calories! And yes, that does include juice. Eat the whole fruit instead.
Dessert – my weakness! I love sweets. So what I do is I choose – if I’m having wine or a drink I skip the dessert. If I really want dessert, I don’t drink. Both of these drinks / foods are sources of ‘empty’ calories so it’s better to just choose one or the other – your body will thank you for it.