One of the biggest issues in any diet is sustainability. No, you will not remain a hermit crab, always eat in and always prepare your own meals. Eating out is fun, and we need joy in our lives. So when you want to maintain your Real Food eating plan and still enjoy a restaurant meal with friends, here are some words of wisdom to bear in mind.
It may taste good momentarily, but then you will probably start to feel uncomfortable and a little bloated. You know your restaurant meal may break the caloric bank, so let’s avoid the unnecessary (and unhealthy) extras.
Water is cheaper than any of your fizzy drinks, beer, or cocktails. Did you make your daily 2-3 litres of water yet? This should not be seen as the boring choice, but the healthy one. Alternatively a good glass of dry red or white wine is perfectly allowable.
Not to annoy the waiter, but to know exactly what you will be getting in your meal. Find out whether there is sugar in anything (or everything). Heck, even fake a sugar allergy to make sure your meal comes out as real as possible. Ask for salad dressing on the side and for balsamic vinegar and olive oil to dress your own salad.
You are a paying customer and have the right to request substitutions. Granted no one wants to be THAT customer, but most restaurants have no problem if you want to substitute the toast out of your breakfast and add an extra egg. You can also sub out the potato chips and sub in some actual potato or even better, more greens.
Ignore the fried foods, pizzas and pastas. You will regret having them, especially if you truly have your eyes on the Real Food prize. The whole point of this is to show you that Real Food at a restaurant can be delicious. Look for a meal with a good protein portion, a starchy vegetable (think sweet potato, potato, butternut etc.) and a non-starchy vegetable serving (think greens), and healthy fat. Any salads will fit the bill, but also what about a grilled salmon with broccoli and rice? Steak and salad, anyone? Grilled lemon and garlic chicken with baked potato and spinach? There are plenty of options.
None of us eat enough fish at home, so why not take this opportunity to have the line fish of the day? Chicken, fish and lean cuts of beef are preferable when eating out. Most places do not serve pasture-raised, grass-fed options and you want to avoid the toxins that might be stored in the fat of conventionally raised animals.
It may not be possible to completely go Real Food on your restaurant meal, but this needs to be okay too. Remember the 90% theory. This is the percentage of your total food intake that should be Real Food. The other 10% is for times like these. You need to maintain your sanity with your waistline. You can have the cheat meal (meal, not day) and then jump right back onto the healthy eating plan ASAP.
The final tip I can give, is to plan ahead. Understand that you can still eat Real Food when you go out to a restaurant and commit yourself to choosing those options that will keep you healthy and happy. Eating well is not about depriving yourself, but rather choosing to nourish your body with only the best that nature has to offer us.