We often feel when we go to a restaurant it is a special occasion and should therefore be a chance for us to splurge or eat something unhealthy to enjoy the experience. We do not want to feel restricted when doing something special. In reality, eating out is an excellent opportunity to enjoy ourselves and the special occasion while eating healthier than at home!
“We will not enjoy ourselves at a restaurant if we cannot eat whatever we want.” FALSE! Focus on why we are there. Most likely to spend time with someone or a group of people who are special to us. Shift our focus away from the food itself and toward the company. The food plays a minor role in the show. When we choose to eat something “less entertaining” to our palette, it gives us the chance to put more of our attention toward the people we are enjoying there.
Restaurants are an excellent place to enjoy eating healthy because chefs know what tastes good and what people like, so even when we choose the healthiest options on the menu, they will prepare it and season it in a way that does make it delicious. Going to a restaurant is an opportunity to experiment and get ideas for spicing up our healthy eating plan at home. Ask the server what seasoning is used if you want to add it to your cupboard.
Another restaurant benefit is our eyes are still visually dazzled by the way they plate and present the food. Choosing healthy food is never “wasting your money.” Making healthy choices leaves us full of empowerment when we when we walk out of the restaurant. If you end up being the minority or only person who made that choice, your level of empowerment will probably be even stronger. Another positive expectation of eating out is knowing we do not have to do food preparation or dishes. This gives us a break for the night to just enjoy the company and be in the moment. That is a “present!”
If we abstain from certain indulgences, like white bread, fried appetizers, or high fat desserts, we will feel better for it after the fact. It is also easier to completely abstain from it than to have just a bite or two. Once we have a bite or two, human nature and the chemical changes it causes in our brains leave us wanting more. It also then becomes a direct sensory comparison to the “healthy” entrée we ordered and leaves us by comparison very disappointed by the entrée. If we abstain though, when we receive our entrée and are truly hungry, we genuinely enjoy our meal.
If we stopped eating when we were 80% full, we would often never make it to the main course due to portion sizes today. Skipping the bread and appetizers really allows us to dedicate our hunger to the main entrée where there are more healthy choices. If you do feel like you really want to indulge though in the bread or appetizers, choose to make that your “treat” and just have a small salad instead of a big entrée or plan to eat only half or less of your entrée and take the rest home for another night. Getting two meals for the price of one?! That’s twice as nice!
What if the meal is family style and we do not get to choose and are instead stuck with choices that are not healthy for us? Remember that we always have a choice. Do not relinquish authority over what goes in your body. We can limit how much we put on our plate or eat of the unhealthy items and load up on vegetables. We can abstain from the grain item if that is what we are trying to avoid and just eat the protein and vegetables. The good news is a restaurant meal is always balanced which is one part of the healthy equation.
Eating out does not have to be a roadblock, detour, or source of stress for the health-conscious. We still have a lot of control. The more we focus on the flavor of the company, the less we are concerned about the flavor of the food. When we stay on track with our personal goals despite these interruptions to our routine, the more we empower ourselves and leave the restaurant feeling we gained something much greater than what we would gain if we give in to temptation. Go to a restaurant with the intention of enjoying the who instead of the what and you will leave satisfied and full of power!
With satisfaction and power,
DISCLAIMER: The nutrition and fitness recommendations on this website do not constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information provided is often opinion-based and factual in regard to consumer information where applicable. Nikola Rosa is not a doctor, nutritionist, dietician and holds no clinical certifications related to the advice presented here. The opinions, information and advice is grown solely from personal life experience. As a result, it is evolving and subject to change. If you have any medical concerns, dietary restrictions, allergies, or physical limitations, consult a medical professional before making any changes that could affect your health.