Going Out and Eating Healthy – Understanding Your Food Choices

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Tips & Advice from the professional personal trainers at OneLife training gym in Kelowna.

What’s in the food you eat? It’s a good question, and not an easy one to answer. I think we all have a general idea of what’s good and bad for us, but what about the specifics? You’re only as strong as the nutrition you put into your body. You go to the grocery store and assess the foods you buy according to their contribution to your fitness goals and overall health. But what about when you go out? How do you enjoy being out with friends and family but still continue to eat and drink healthy? The focus of this article is understanding your food choices when you eat out, and what to do and what to ask for to choose the optimal nutrition for your fitness goals.

People on a workout diet will often limit eating out, because they’re worried about the extra calories in the food they consume. But it is possible to go to a restaurant and eat healthy; you just have to be mindful about it. Your chances of meeting your fitness and nutrition goals are much higher if you think about it as changing your lifestyle and not about placing unrealistic restrictions on yourself (see our article about “Creating an Effective Change Plan“. The next time you eat out follow these useful tips to ensure that you keep your diet on track.

GET INFORMED

Search the menu for the healthy options. Then ask a member of staff how the food is prepared. If you don’t see any healthy options, don’t be afraid to ask them to prepare you something. Most restaurants will be able to accommodate your requests providing they are relatively straightforward. For example, ask for sauce or dressing on the side and use it sparingly, or ask for less butter or oil in your dish. Avoid anything fried or stir-fried. Choose instead food that is grilled, broiled, steamed, or served raw. These foods are normally made with no or only a small amount of fat. Consume fewer calories by choosing lean proteins, or even skip the meat altogether and order more fresh vegetables.

MANAGE YOUR PORTIONS

Restaurant portions are often bigger, sometimes much bigger, than you need. Instead of a meal, you may consider sharing a few appetizers with friends. This way you can remain social and manage your portions more carefully. If you want to cut down on calories, avoid the bread basket. One slice of whole-grain bread with 1 tbsp. of butter contains 197 calories. If you do order bread, always order whole wheat or multigrain. If calories are the biggest concern for you, then it’s a good idea to skip alcoholic beverages and soft drinks altogether, and instead opt for water. If you order alcohol, choose red whine or light beer. If you get a mixed drink get minimal sugar or juice. Needless to say, drink sparingly to minimise calorie intake. A glass of red wine is about 90 calories, a beer 120 calories. For a person weighing 135lbs to about 165lbs the recommended calories per day is approximately 2000.

MAKE HEALTHIER CHOICES

It is recommend that half your plate should contain vegetables. Japanese, Thai, Greek, and Indian food is often better when it comes to calories than Mexican, Chinese or Italian. This is because the first series opts for lots of grilled meats, not fried options like the latter. Choose meat that is grilled, roasted, baked, or cooked without added fat. Choose seafood boiled, baked, steamed, or poached. Avoid sauce or use it sparingly. Opt for raw or steamed vegetables with a lemon slice, grilled vegetables, and of course, not fried in a sea of oil. Lettuce or spinach salads are another good choice, with little to no bacon, croutons or cheese. With potatoes, go for a baked potato with a small amount of butter or sour cream. For dessert, stick to fresh fruit or sorbet.

Ultimately, it is possible to enjoy a good meal and not regret it the next day. It may take some extra effort, but in the end it is worth it when you can enjoy a delicious meal without any subsequent guilt that you abandoned your workout diet. You can enjoy your regular social activities without major sacrifice, in fact your chances of adapting healthy choices into your life are higher if you take this approach. For more information about our nutrition programs, please click here.



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