A big part of my ME time is spending my weekends with my cute little family and close friends. I know, doesn’t seem like ME time when you are surrounded by others, but connecting and community is a big part of my self-care.
What do we like to do? Eat out.
I LOVE to eat out! Wanna grab a bite? Cocktail? Tea? Why yes!
I’m a social butterfly (although 48 introvert/52 extrovert mix), and I try to see my close buds as much as I can. But weeks, even months (and God forbid, years!) go by and eating out is the most common thing to do when getting together.
We’ve been doing more active things like going for a hike, bike ride, even doing yoga classes together, but there’s nothing like sitting at a table over a meal where you can catch up and shoot the breeze for hours.
I get really puffy (I can feel it all over my body!) when I eat out, however. The extra sugar and salt keeps us coming back for more. So I try to keep the restaurant thing to a minimum of 2 times per week. That will be something for you to think about when you plan your week, too.
A big part of eating clean is managing your blood sugar levels. It’s easier to control when you cook at home but what do you do when you go out? How can you rock the clean life at restaurants since they add so much sugar and salt to their meals?
Let’s tackle the 3 typical mistakes most of us make when we eat out first:
Mistake #1: Get to the restaurant HANGRY, starving, ready to eat someone’s arm off!
Remedy #1: Eat a small snack before you head out. Make sure it’s got some substance so you aren’t inhaling the bread basket the minute you arrive at the table.
Snack ideas (all use the formula):
- Apples or celery with raw nut or seed butter (tahini, almond, sunflower, etc…)
- Crunchy veggie sticks (like cucumber, celery, pepper, etc) with dips and hummus
- Celery and peanut butter (use the non-hydrogenated kind, all-natural kinds)
- Leftover grains (i.e. brown rice, quinoa) drizzled with cinnamon; add coconut milk and bananas, heat and enjoy warm oatmeal-like porridge
Mistake #2: Don’t ask for what you want.
Remedy #2: Ask if they have a cleaner version of a certain meal or mix and match ingredients to build your own meal. Let go of thinking you will offend the server or deal with eye rolls from your friends. Most of the time, people want to make your happy so they will be willing to accommodate you with veg options. As for the eye rolls, you’ll see these diminish since your buds love and accept you, and know you are practicing self-care.
Mistake #3: Not familiar with the menu prior to arrival.
Remedy #3: Plan ahead and look up the restaurant menu online.
Of course, it’s not always possible to eat somewhere that’s veg-friendly. Whether it’s a friend’s birthday or a family gathering, I attend my fair share of non-plant-based restaurants. Before I go to a new restaurant I always scope out the menu online to see if there are any obvious cleaner options. Hopefully, I can find a couple menu items that can be cleaned up. Almost 98% of the time I do.
BONUS #1: Call restaurant for options
If there aren’t any obvious clean meal options on the menu, I will often call the restaurant and ask whether they can accommodate me. Don’t feel like you are being a pain in the a** . just be specific about what you want. Some chefs think that a small plate of steamed veggies cuts it as a satisfying meal so it helps to be specific about what you would like. If there is a dish you have in mind (for example, a gluten-free pizza or bean burritos) don’t be afraid to ask if they can make it happen.
Bonus #2: Happy Cow Website
Searching the Happy Cow website is probably my best tip when you are looking for a healthy restaurant. You simply type in your location and a list of healthy restaurants usually pop up. I especially use this website when I travel. Also asking your friends on Facebook is always helpful. There are also reviews and ratings listed so you can check out the scoop. Many times people will write what dish they modified or what the chef prepared for them on the spot.
Here’s a lunch menu from one of my favorite local spots, the Lighthouse Bistro. Lighthouse Bistro supports the homeless in our town with offering jobs, etc…
So what to get?! There’s not much besides meat and foods that don’t fit our clean life! As you can see, many of the meals are rich and pretty heavy.Here’s how I did some cleaning up:
*Arugula and roasted beets minus the goat cheese
*Spinach and roasted butternut squash,etc…
*Avocado, tomatoes, greens , quinoa,etc… no chicken
OR Bistro salad (add nuts and squash, beets)
You can ask for 2 servings of salad if you want but I always find salads are HUGE at most places and you will get your fill.
Always build your meal with the formula:
Good carb + Good fat + Good protein= yummy clean meal
I love how Lighthouse Bistro already had good carbs ( mixture of veggies), good protein (nuts and seeds, , and good fats (olive oil, avocado) in their meals. Sweeeeeet!
As always, do what feels good to you. Practice the 80/20 guideline and enjoy yourself!
What have your experiences been like eating out while rockin’ the clean life? I’d love to hear any tips you may have below.
PS. Wanna learn how to keep your blood sugar stable all day long, every day? Try the Eat Clean 21 Meal Plan Kit and get started today! Click for info>>> Eat Clean 21