Being committed to the fit lifestyle and healthy eating means eating nothing but meal-prepped chicken breast and broccoli while your friends all enjoy pizza and beer, right? Nope. You can still enjoy takeaway food and dining out without feeling like crap the next day in the gym.

Don’t believe us? Check out our best tips to staying on track while dining out.

Before you dine

Have a plan before you go out so you can make a food decision that aligns with your fitness goals. Choose somewhere that offers healthy choices, even if that means having just a couple of suitable options on the menu. Japanese and Mexican are usually safe choices.

Don’t trust yourself to order something suitable in the moment? Browse the menu online and decide what you’re going to eat beforehand. That way you won’t have to panic when the waiter asks if you’d like to see the dessert menu.

If you’re going to a chain restaurant, you can usually find the nutritional information on their website. You might be surprised how easily you can fit the occasional burger and fries into your diet (even if that does mean ordering the small fries and foregoing the extra dipping sauce).

At the very least, make a plan and decide what’s going to be “worth it” for you. Are you happy to let loose and have a few drinks, or will that make your workout the next morning a non-event? Will you enjoy dessert but skip the wine? The important thing is to have a plan (or plan to fail!).

Choosing your meal

The secret to making a food choice that won’t leave you grabbing a kebab on the way home is making sure it’s delicious and filling. Don’t make yourself eat food you won’t enjoy!

Focus on ordering a meal that includes healthy fat, protein, and vegetables. For example, instead of a burrito, order a fish burrito bowl with a sensible serving of guacamole. The protein and fat will help you to feel full, and you’re saving on the calories and carbs by not including the tortilla. 

A plate of nachos, on the other hand, is pretty easy to over-consume— especially if you know you struggle with portion sizes. 

See if you can swap out the heavier items for something healthier or less calorie-dense. Some ideas include:

  • Choosing a lettuce wrap instead of that sweet brioche bun
  • Opting for greens or vegetables instead of rice
  • Ordering half-portions of ingredients like rice, cheese, or sauces
  • Asking for dressing on the side
  • Choosing a small serving of sides like fries (bonus points if you share them!)
  • Creating your own meal from sides, such as poached eggs on greens with smoked salmon

While you eat

Make sure to eat slowly and most importantly, enjoy it! Savour every bite and don’t stress about hidden oils or other ingredients you can’t account for.

Try to put a good 20 minutes between eating and drinking. This will make sure you’re able to digest your food properly (that means less bloat). If you do order drinks, choose something that isn’t loaded with sugar. We promise one day you’ll actually prefer soda water with lime to lemonade.

Be mindful of portion sizes, even if you can’t control how much is served up to you. You can always share a large portion with someone else, or take the leftovers home to eat later. 

Want more nutrition tips? Check out the blog for more advice on diets and eating to meet your goals, no matter what they might be.