Just because you’re trying to eat healthy doesn’t mean you have to be a slave to your house.

For some reason, whenever most people think of living a healthy lifestyle, they think of being rigid. That they can only eat the same foods everyday. That their food can’t taste good. That you can’t eat carbs or fat.

Well I’m here to tell you that being healthy is about the freedoms you gain, not restriction. But that’s another topic in and of itself.

Today I’m going to tell you 7 steps to eating healthy at a restaurant. Whether it’s an Italian, Chinese, a bar, or even fast food restaurant, these steps below can be used to help you find a healthy meal wherever you go. Let’s get started!

1. Setup guidelines for yourself

No matter what restaurant you’re planning on eating at, if you have guidelines that you follow whenever you eat out then this will help you make a decision of what you order. What I mean by guidelines could be as follows:

  • Lean protein
  • Vegetables
  • Fibrous carbohydrate (if it comes with meal)
  • Dressing on side (if you order a salad)

By setting these guidelines you basically have “laws” that you’re going to follow when you order off of the menu. The meal that you order must contain all, or at least the first two, of those guidelines. Once you have those guidelines set, you can use them at any restaurant you go to.

2. Look at the menu before you go

9 times out of 10, you’re going to have an idea or some control over where you’re going to eat. We have a wonderful thing available to us called Google where you can search basically anything you want to find the answer. In your case, if you’re going out to eat at The Cheesecake Factory (yes, I used probably the hardest restaurant to stick to your guidelines at), you can easily search for that menu online so that you’re able to find a menu item that fits the guidelines you set for yourself.

By having an item in mind before you go to the restaurant, this will take away the temptation to order something else. You wont even have to look over the menu and be tempted by the delicious pictures and descriptions of the meals.

3. Order water or diet pop

Even though you’re focused on the meal that you’re going to order, liquid calories are a no-no when trying to eat healthy. They’re too easy of a way to consume calories that rarely, if ever, have any nutritional benefit. To really nail down your meal and make sure it’s in-line with your goals, just order a water (you can add a lemon for some flavor). If you’re looking for something with a little more flavor but without the calories, a diet pop (or soda, whatever you call it) is another option for you!

The great thing about water or diet pop is obviously that they don’t contain calories, but they can also help to prevent overeating. If you drink atleast a glass of water before your meal comes out, you will feel more full and be less inclined to overeat. The carbonation in the diet pop will also help to give you a full feeling so that you’re not starving before you start eating.

4. Find the protein

If, for some reason, you weren’t able to find the menu online, then you obviously have to wait until you can look at the menu in the restaurant to pick out what you’re going to order. Making sure that you’re following along with your guidelines, the first thing you want to look for on the menu is a lean protein source. Whether it’s chicken, turkey, fish, or lean beef, any protein source will do!

The reason that protein is the most important thing to look for is for three reasons. First, it helps you build muscle and by building muscle, that will speed up your metabolic rate helping you to burn more calories at rest. That’s a good thing! The second reason is that it digest slow, therefore keeping you feeling fuller for longer. The third reason is that protein has the highest thermic effect of food which means that you’re body burns the most amount of calories while digesting protein compared to carbohydrates or fat.

5. Find the veggies

After you find the protein, the next thing you should be looking for are vegetables. Broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, or mixed greens from a salad are all perfect options here. Sometimes you will find a meal that has a lean protein source and something like a baked potato or rice but you can easily ask them to swap this out for any vegetable.

The reason that you’re looking for vegetables after protein is that they’re full of micronutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Like I said before, the protein will help you feel full but the fiber from the vegetables with help magnify the fullness helping to prevent you from overeating.

6. Ask for it cooked dry

Even though you ordered a lean protein and vegetable, you’re still not out of the water yet! The last thing you need to look for is making sure that you’re food is cooked dry. What I mean by that is you’re food isn’t cooked in oil or butter which will add a lot of unnessecary calories.

Most food is going to be cooked in oil or butter so all you have to do is ask your waiter to have your meal cooked dry and they will know what you mean. I was always nervous to do this and you might be to but you have to realize that they’re there to cater to you and will make arrangements for most things you ask for.

7. Enjoy!

Now that you’ve ordered the perfect meal that fits into your guidelines, you can sit back and enjoy what you’re eating! The best part is that it fits in-line with the goals you have set for yourself!

You’re All Set

If you use these steps going forward I promise it will provide you with relief as now you have the peace of mind to know that you CAN go out to eat but still stick to eating healthy. It is a possiblity! All it takes is a little planning and willpower. The best part is that these steps can be used at any restaurant!

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