Tips for Healthy Restaurant Eating from Someone Who Spent a Year on the Road

Healthy Restaurant Food
During the workweek, I treat food as fuel: a necessity to power my training and get me through my day. But I also have a life. I've got family dinners, friends who like to eat, and a healthy travel schedule. So, I often find myself sitting down at a restaurant, staring down a menu of deliciously unhealthy options. Making smart choices can be tough, but after spending 223 nights on the road last year, I picked up a few simple tips for making better restaurants decisions.
Restaurant Burger

Know When to Indulge:

Some people swear by cheat days or cheat meals. For me, cheat days tend to be more of a distraction and end up throwing me off my routine. So, I try to maintain my regularly scheduled eating habits as much as I can. But everyone needs a break sometimes. A few days off from the gym, or a break from a carefully controlled diet can be a great way to hit reset and keep your sanity in check. After all, a sustainable diet is much more effective than something you give up on after a few weeks. So, order the fries and get the dessert. A few hundred calories won't ruin your progress - heck, it might even be the thing you need to break through a plateau. Just don't make it a regular occurrence. And for the rest of the time, follow these tips for healthy ordering.

Do Your Research

The internet is a wild and wonderful place.
With a few clicks, you can have food (or Suppy protein powder) delivered to your door. With all of the world's information in your pocket, it's easy to scope out a few menus before picking a restaurant. You can apply filters with Google Maps to identify healthy spots. Google also has a feature called "Your Match", which works like Netflix to recommend places that you're likely to enjoy. This can be a great tool for finding a dinner destination that won't destroy your diet. But, you don't have to scour the internet for the perfect restaurant every time. Look for a place with one or two healthy options and pre-plan your order before arriving. This is a great way to avoid the temptation that hits when you sit down, hungry.

Skip the Salad

Restaurant salads can have more calories and saturated fat then regular entrees do. Well-intentioned diners are often duped into ordering a salad, only to have their plans spoiled by the cheese, candied nuts, and fatty dressings that accompany. Many times, you're actually better off selecting a regular dish and asking the server to go light on the butter and oil. In my experience, they're happy to accommodate. I find this to be more approachable and helps me feel more full after eating.

Ask for What You Want

One of the most helpful things I learned while working on the road, and eating out every night, was that you aren't restricted to items listed on the menu. "Secret Menus" are actually not all that secret, and are much more common than you might think. Don't be afraid to ask for modifications or substitutions for what's written on the page: You can request a special side dish, or ask for your chicken to be grilled instead of fried. I usually go completely off-menu and order grilled chicken with 2 servings of steamed veggies. These are ingredients are available in most restaurants and are easy to prepare. In most cases, the kitchen will happily accommodate, and oftentimes you'll walk away with a less expensive bill. It can't hurt to ask.

While these tips are helpful for making better restaurant choices, there's no substitution for something you prepare yourself. If you're the type that's always on the move, grab a bag of Suppy protein, and pack a shake to-go.