Surviving Weekends: Eating and Drinking Out
I can 100% relate to this photo. Weekends have always been a struggle for me. I truly enjoy going out for food and drinks with friends, and I don’t like having to give up those activities to be successful. The good news is that I’ve found some ways to lessen the impact of a less-than-ideal meal out, so I can still enjoy the experience of going out for dinner and drinks with my husband and friends without getting too far off track.
My biggest recommendation is to not feel annoying or embarrassed if you want to ask questions about menu items or order something specific that is not listed on the menu. Restaurants are almost always used to this and willing to accommodate!
Below are my go-to meals for my favorite types of restaurants.
Pubs/American style restaurants:
1. Burger without a bun. Ask if the restaurant can do a lettuce wrap. If they can’t or only have shredded lettuce, ask for the burger on a bed of a lettuce and cut up the burger like a salad. I’ll never give up ketchup, so I still get that but also ask for mustard if you like it. Mustard is a much lower sugar/carb option. Sub a salad or a side of vegetables for the fries. If possible, order salsa as a “dressing” for the salad. Since the burger is higher in fat, it’s better to pick something to dress the salad that isn’t oil based.
2. Grilled chicken salad OR grilled chicken with veggies. See above recommendation about salsa as salad dressing, or choose oil and vinegar instead of a pre-made dressing that likely has a lot of added ingredients/sugar.
3. Steak, with above recommendations for sides or choose double veggies if you get to pick two sides. Ask the restaurant not to add any extra butter or sauce to the steak.
1. Curry! Most (you can ask) Thai restaurants don’t add sugar to their curry sauce. Curry is coconut milk with spices, a protein, and veggies. Choose a leaner protein (shrimp or chicken), and if you get rice on the side use portion control. I typically use about 1/3 of the rice that comes with the curry. Sometimes I ask that they hold the rice altogether.
2. Stir fried entrees. These are good options because typically they are made with protein, veggies, and spices. The spicier options are less likely to have added sugar. My favorites are Pad Phed or Pad Prik King with chicken. These will be served with noodles or rice. Choose rice (or neither) and follow my recommendation above.
My go-to at Mexican restaurants is almost always tacos. I order soft corn tortillas and mix up the filling (chicken or beef). Since most restaurants serve tacos in threes, I usually eat one taco as is (because tacos), and then eat the filling out of the other two. I load them up with salsa and a little guac. That’s pretty much it. I try not to eat much of the rice and re-fried beans that typically come with the tacos, but I don’t have a hard time stopping myself with those since I fill up on the tacos. If you feel like you’ll be too tempted by the rice and beans, ask that they don’t include them.
First let me start by saying, if you are trying to be really serious with weight loss or performing your best at the gym, drinking is not going to help. It can be a slippery slope to engage in drinking because if you’re anything like me, alcohol often leads to less Fs given when it comes to your food choices and there are obviously many negative side effects on the body from drinking. That said, many of us like to consume the occasional drink while out with friends or coworkers.
I personally love, love, love good beer. Like, beer tasting and chasing good beer releases are actual hobbies of mine. That said, the heavy IPAs and stouts are SUPER high in calories and empty carbs. So while I do indulge on occasion, I also try to choose options with less calories and carbs when I can, especially when the beer menu isn’t “worth it” (because I am a beer snob). Better options include a vodka soda (seltzer water) with lots of lime for flavor or a glass of red wine. As with anything, if you want to stay on track toward your goals, don’t get too crazy and limit yourself to one or two drinks occasionally.
Most importantly, enjoy the time with your friends and family. Food is great, but time spent with important people and good conversation is better.