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How To Eat Out and Stay On Track With Your Goals

Adopting a balanced approach to nutrition that can be sustained long-term

By Ruby McMullen, PT Trainer at Mona Vale

Dining out is something we all enjoy, whether it's for convenience, socialising, celebrations, or simply for enjoyment. Can you maintain progress toward your physique goals while eating out regularly? The answer is yes, but it requires some pre-planning, awareness of your choices, and educating yourself on how to balance meals out across your week.

It's important to recognise that eating out regularly without any consideration will impede your progress. Let's explore how to navigate this and adopt a balanced approach to nutrition that can be sustained long-term.

1. Get Rid of The All or Nothing Mindset

If you want to enjoy a pizza and a glass of wine or go out for a nice dinner with friends don’t consider it a 'cheat' meal. The word ‘cheat’ alone implies that you are doing something wrong and again attaches guilt to the meal. It can lead to binges and trying to eat as much as you possibly can before getting back into diet mode. Your diet should be balanced enough that you don’t feel deprived and as though you have to 'cheat' on your goals.

2. Plan Ahead

If you're committed to your goals and want to track your meal in your food diary, it's essential to plan in advance. Review the menu beforehand, decide what you'll order, and input it into your diary. Then, work backward and organise the rest of your day accordingly to meet your calorie and protein targets. Don't stress too much about hitting exact carbohydrate and fat goals; focusing on calories and protein simplifies the process while still facilitating progress toward your goals.

3. Prioritise Protein

When looking at a menu and selecting a dish always go for something that contains a good source of protein. This will help you hit your daily target as well as keep you full and reduce the chance of overeating.

4. Request Sauces and Dressings on the Side

Sauces and dressings often harbour hidden calories. Asking for them on the side allows you to control your intake, resulting in fewer overall calories consumed.

5. Limit Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol adds significant calories, and its consumption can impair decision-making. Establish a limit on the number of drinks you'll have before going out. Choose lower-calorie options such as spirits with soda or sugar-free mixers, low-carb beer, or wine, and steer clear of sugary cocktails or mixers.

6. Always Overestimate

Be mindful that restaurant meals typically contain more calories than homemade ones, often due to added oils and butter. Always factor in these extras when estimating your calorie intake.

It's crucial that the approach you adopt to achieve your goals is both realistic and sustainable. Dining out is a common part of many of our routines and lifestyles, and mastering how to navigate it while still prioritising your health is essential to your fitness journey. It shouldn't feel overwhelming or stressful; instead, it should be a manageable aspect of your lifestyle.

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