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by Lida Johnson

The restaurants have finally opened up‭, ‬and you are excited to dine out again‭. ‬But then you’re also a bit nervous because you have been making most of your meals at home and are not sure how to balance eating out and sticking to that healthy diet you’ve been following‭. ‬Don’t worry‭. ‬You can eat out and eat healthy‭; ‬so‭, ‬get out there and support your local restaurants‭.‬

Here are a few tips you can follow to help you ensure you are getting a healthy meal‭.‬

‭Plan ahead‭. ‬Don’t go hungry‭. ‬Saving all your daily calories for dinner out might work‭, ‬but the likelihood of overeating is much greater if you go hungry than if you had a light snack or a later‭, ‬liter lunch‭.‬

‬Create a plan ahead of time‭. ‬Review the menu online in advance if possible so that you really have the time to review the menu‭.‬‭ ‬It can take time to figure out what you want to eat‭, ‬and you may feel pressured to make a quick decision at the restaurant‭.‬

‭Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want‭. ‬Servers are used to getting asked for substitutions and are generally very familiar with how the food is cooked‭. ‬For example‭, ‬if you’re going out for breakfast and you want a spinach and feta cheese omelet‭, ‬ask for it even if they don’t have spinach listed‭. ‬They may have spinach salads for dinner‭, ‬and that spinach is available for breakfast‭, ‬too‭! ‬Or maybe you want some fresh fruit for dessert and don’t see it but noticed they had fresh fruit at breakfast‭. ‬Just ask‭.‬

‭Be the first one to order‭! ‬It’s tough to order‭ ‬“healthy”‭ ‬food when everyone orders before you and orders all the things you really want‭. ‬Ordering first avoids the temptation to switch‭ ‬from your plan‭.‬

‭Order steamed over broiled over fried‭. ‬And ask the waiter to skip the butter in the cooking process‭. ‬Did you know that butter is almost always added to it for flavor if you order a steak‭? ‬Asking for no butter can save you hundreds of extra calories‭.‬

‭Avoid meals that contain sauces or words like smothered‭, ‬creamy‭, ‬and alfredo‭. ‬I know‭, ‬super yummy‭, ‬but again‭, ‬this could add up‭ ‬to 500‭ ‬extra calories to your meal‭!‬

‭And lastly‭, ‬if you know the restaurant has‭ ‬“big”‭ ‬portions‭, ‬ask for the to-go container right away‭. ‬When the meal is served‭, ‬portion out what you will eat‭, ‬and put the rest in the to-go container for later‭.‬

I rarely order directly off the menu‭. ‬I’m always asking questions and then making modifications‭. ‬That’s just my‭ ‬“thing‭.‬”‭ ‬Don’t be timid‭. ‬Ask for what you want‭. ‬I’ve always been very satisfied with my meal and with myself that I’m making the healthy choice‭.‬

Lida Johnson is the owner of Head-to-Toe Coaching‭, ‬where she helps people be their Best Self‭. ‬She is a Certified Personal Trainer‭, ‬Certified Nutritionist‭, ‬Diabetes Prevention Lifestyle Coach‭, ‬Weight Loss Specialist‭, ‬Behavior Change Specialist‭, ‬Certified Group Fitness Instructor‭, ‬and Lifetime Learner‭. ‬Follow her at facebook.com/groups/headtotoecoaching‭ ‬or contact her at‭ ‬HeadToToeCoaching@gmail.com‭ ‬or 203.260.2880