I’ll admit  – I don’t always cook and prep my meals 100% of the time. Sometimes I’m traveling for work/pleasure and living out of a suitcase for the week (sure I bring my Sun Warrior vegan protein powder, but that only goes so far). Other times I’ve got family in town and they’re excited to try all the new restaurants that have opened up. When I’m in a relationship, I love my date nights, exploring menus and dancing the night away… can you say, Sashay Shante! So try as I might, every now and then I eat out; which is amazing! Who wants to be one of those weirdos that carries Tupperware full of asparagus spears around everywhere and refuses to eat with friends? Eating out is not the enemy. The key is to make wise choices that won’t sabotage your clean eating lifestyle and all that progress you’ve achieved.
Now truth is, it can all be so overwhelming if you’re not equiped with a game plan. The delicious descriptions on the menu, the well lit photos that tantalize your tastebuds… it is all designed to tempt you. However, that was before you had “restaurant guidelines.” That’s right, after years of doing this clean eating thing, I’ve created a ton of restaurant ordering tips (no pun intended!), and have listed a few below:
  • Check the “lite” options on the menu. Many times, regular entrees will be offered in smaller portions with less calories, or with steamed or baked options instead of fried. If there are no lite options, try ordering a few sides as your meal instead of a full entree, or ask the restaurant if they will let you order the lunch or kiddie portion.
  • If time allows, check to see if the restaurant posts its nutrition facts to their online menu before heading over. You may be able to get exact calorie and macro counts if they do, which will help you in choosing your meal.
  • Do not skip any other meals throughout the day! Doing this will leave you hungry and open to temptation. When you order your meal at the restaurant simply adjust your macros accordingly.
  • If a libation will be part of your meal, choose clear liquors like tequila, gin, or vodka and mix with low cal or calorie free options like soda water, water with a splash of cranberry, or even stevia and fresh lime juice.
Now, that you are armed with some great ordering tips, let’s talk about specifics. Depending on your cuisine of choice, here are some foods that I like to order:
Korean: I love Korean BBQ. It is such a great option when on a weight-loss or bulking program. Order protein like salmon, shrimp, chicken or scallops with a healthy serving of asparagus, sweet potato and kim-chi. Grilling really does make everything taste better!
Burgers: I know, I know… you want the biggest beef patty covered with truffle oil, garlic aioli, and smoked bacon! On the other hand, you really want to look amazing in your New Year’s Eve dress. Instead, choose a turkey burger with everything on the side or wrapped in lettuce, sans bun. If available, yummy zucchini sticks, jalapeno poppers, or sweet potato fries are a good swap for regular starchy potato fries. Lots of vitamin A in those bad boys!
American/Seafood: Pretty much any American or seafood joint can be converted into a clean eating cafateria. Simply order grilled chicken, or fish such as salmon, swordfish, halibit, or tuna with light or no oil/butter. Spring for a side salad or grilled veggies with rice. There’s no need to starve while sticking to a balanced diet.
Indian: An excellent choice for vegans and meat eaters alike. Idli is a steamed rice bun served with a light lentil soup, perfect for post workout. Enjoy a tandoori chicken dish, but pass on the naan bread and tikka masala. You’ve got to pick your battles here!
Thai: Chicken Satay and Papaya Salad are great choices and, while oh so good, avoid the temptation of a high-calorie, high-sugar Thai Iced Tea, just get an herbal chai and use that stevia to sweeten.
Italian: Stick to white fish with lemon and capers (almost a staple on any Italian menu). A side of zucchini carpaccio will balance out a great meal. No need to avoid your favorite pasta joint now!
Japanese: Lots of yummy, fresh options here! Get the robata chicken, beef, or seafood with a side of ginger salad and miso soup. You can also try salmon sashimi with ponzu and sauteed Japanese mushrooms on the side.
Persian: Roasted eggplant, dill and lima bean rice, meat and veggie kabobs?! Oh my! Try to keep the red meat to a minimum and use lemon wedges for your salads so you can save room for the walnut pomegranate dressing. Again, perfect for post workout recovery every now and then.
Who doesn’t like the chance to dine out with others and experience a great meal! What are some of your favorite, healthier dining out meals? Take a few pics and tag us on Facebook and Instagram at #fitsoma. We’d love to share your yummies with fellow Soma Superstars!