Staying Healthy While Eating Out

If you’ve been reading this site or following my Instagram for a few months, weeks, or even days, you’ve probably picked up on my MO when it comes to nutrition.

I believe in calorie tracking and recommend it to EVERYONE regardless of their of life, or goals. And while I acknowledge that tracking calories can be triggering*, I find it to be incredibly empowering and educational. The purpose of calorie tracking isn’t to do it forever; it’s to learn what different serving sizes, weights, volumes and portions of food look and feel like so you can eventually free yourself of your food scale or tracker app and LIVE YOUR LIFE with intuitive consumption.

Finding Peace with Going off Script

We’ve all been there – you have a PRODUCTIVE as fahk week of sticking to your caloric budget, preparing all of your meals, and eating according to plan.

Then the weekend hits. You’re out of your kitchen, surrounded by bites, apps, meals with unknown ingredients, and alcohol.

You have no idea what to do.

Most people will either restrict completely or binge, with little in between. Both come with a feeling of discomfort, but guess what?!

You can easily avoid both.

When I eat out, attend a party, or HOST a party, I don’t stress, and I don’t skimp on the food I order or serve my guests. Additionally, I will NEVER be one of those people who substitute fries for a side salad, or bake with apple sauce instead of oil or use whole wheat flour if a recipe calls for white.

The best part is – I don’t have to because I know TWO things.

  1. I can eyeball food and make an educated guess on what I’m about to consume. Will I be 100% accurate down to the gram or tablespoon? No. But that’s also not the point.
  2. I know what I do SOME of the time, doesn’t mean as much as what I do MOST of the time. One meal out (regardless of popular opinion) will NOT derail your goals. Shit, two meals out won’t either.

MOST OF THE TIME, I bake and cook with QUALITY ingredients, and I order food that isn’t fried or processed. Additionally, I base my consumption on quality, and what I know to be true to my caloric balance from my practice of counting calories. By doing so, I automatically find peace in indulgence. I don’t panic. And I don’t binge because I feel in control of what’s going down.

A Real Life Example – LUKE’S FIRST FIESTA!

Recently, I hosted my son’s first birthday, Luke Lemere’s First Fiesta, to be specific. Gah! Here is me – going entirely overboard on decorations, food, beverage, and party favors.

I love entertaining, and when I do, my guest’s overall experience far outweighs MY counting grams, tablespoons, or ounces of ingredients. NO PUN INTENDED, DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE. Ha!

Just because I’m counting calories, doesn’t mean my guests are.

For Luke’s birthday, we were expecting 40 guests, which is a TAD out of my culinary preparation wheelhouse. I knew I had to outsource the food but wanted to serve quality food that I know everyone will enjoy – myself included.

I reached out to Dos Toros to see if they would be willing to provide the food and help me put together this piece. They agreed, and I am HONORED to collaborate with them. If you’re having trouble reading between the lines, they gave me an entire catering bar free of charge, BUT I reached out to THEM because I thought this topic was so important…and it was a FIESTA FOR FAHK’S SAKE.

Side note – Dos Toros is a New York-based company that just recently made its way to Chicago. They have a handful of storefronts here, and they’re the SHIT. Like, the rice has got be laced with something because I could literally bathe in it. OMFG, it’s so good.

ANYWAY.

I was straight up salivating as the Dos team member set up our spread, and when it came time to eat, my guests thought I was a party planning MVP. Wasn’t I, though?!

Making Your Plate without a Scale or Knowledge of Ingredients

I made my plate and felt SO good about it. I loaded up on protein and vegetables. When you’re eating whole foods such as lean steak, chicken, pico, and lettuce you can consume more food volume, while still staying within range or your calories. I always start there. From my experience with tracking calories, I know what 4 to 6 ounces of protein looks like, and I pretty much nail it every time. I also know that 4-6 ounces of protein usually does the trick to signal my brain that I’m “full” and don’t need to keep eating – very key.

The tortillas didn’t phase me, and the cheese just needed to happen, I didn’t think twice. My 5-pinch grip of cheese (I didn’t grab from the community bowl, DON’T WORRY) is less than a typical serving (1/4 cup or 28g or 100-ish calories), so it didn’t feel necessary to avoid.

The best part? It tasted DELICIOUS. I wasn’t craving more, feeling deprived, or left unsatisfied. Even without knowing what went into preparing the food exactly, I still felt in control of MY behavior. I woke up the next morning feeling great, no guilt, no stress, no nothing.

OKAY FINE, I WAS A LITTLE HUNGOVER. HEY, THEY DON’T CALL IT A BIRTH DAY FOR NOTHIN. I WAS CELEBRATING.

In Conclusion

When we feel out of control, it’s natural to feel uncomfortable. If you’re dieting or working towards a health and fitness related goal, it can feel like you’re never going to leave Whole Foods or your kitchen ever again. But I truly hope that perception changes because I think it will help adherence, minimize frustration, and help us find patience and forgiveness within ourselves.

While it’s true – you’ve got to sacrifice to some degree – those sacrifices should not be at the expense of your quality of life. There is NO WAY I was going spend emotional bandwidth on food when I was relishing every SECOND of Luke’s first year. Hell no.

I mentality then is the same way it always is – accounts for the big things, and find peace in that. Enjoy. Indulge, and then move on.

Fin.

THE FINE PRINT

Note One: A heartfelt THANK YOU to Dos Toros for being my partner in Luke’s first birthday, and in this content. Both are very close to my heart, and I am forever grateful. 

Note Two: *If caloric tracking is triggering for you, I strongly encourage you to repair your relationship with food BEFORE starting a nutritional regimen or methodology. Emotional eating or binge eating is a VERY common issue that MANY people share – as taboo as it may be. You have the power to change your situation. Find the right professional resources for you, and begin what is sure to be an incredibly productive journey. 

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