G4G Blog

Published on February 16th, 2014 | by Grinds4Gamers

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Eating Out?

Eating Clean When You’re Dining Out

 

Any individual on-the-go throughout the week (isn’t that pretty much all of us?) has run into this issue before.  How do I eat healthy when I’m not at home?  It’s a tough question and it can be difficult to do, however, it’s not impossible to stay on target when you’re out and about.

The sad reality is that the fast-food age showed up many years ago and despite some very pointed battles from the health food industry, it isn’t leaving any time soon.  So the folks trying to fight the good fight with their health are left to dodge grenades in the trenches as the fast food noobs try to frag us.  Well, here’s how to fight back.

PLAN AHEAD:

Without delving into the obvious, the best method for avoiding fast food is to just be prepared in the first place.  But when you can’t plan ahead, the least you can do is to allow yourself a little extra time.  Finding a restaurant with more healthy choices might take a few extra minutes.  For example, I’d much rather visit a burger joint that serves chicken burgers than a taco joint that serves bean burritos or scraps of chicken in their burritos.  What’s the difference?  A chicken burger is usually made with a breast of chicken, while a chicken burrito is often made with bits of the worst meat of the chicken.  So when you order a chicken burger, toss the bread and eat the chicken, tomato, lettuce and onions.  You can’t really do the same with a burrito.

AVOID PROCESSED MEATS:

When ordering out, stay away from fake meats like chicken nuggets, breaded chicken breasts, breakfast sausage, hot dogs, bangers, etc.  These meats are highly processed and usually contain less-than-desirable parts of the animal.  If you’ve never seen how a hot dog is made, YouTube it.  You might never want another dog again.

 

AVOID DRESSINGS:

Even when you’re trying to eat clean and get a salad, the guy behind the counter wants to hand you a little container of fatty guilt.  You should feel guilty, because that little packet of dressing can completely ruin the health benefits in that salad.  Something that starts off so promising turns into a big plate of unhealthy fats, sugars and preservatives.   Yes, even the low fat dressings are a farce.  They are loaded with chemicals that trick your brain and leave you wanting more.  Artificial sweeteners do the same.  Yes, it’s all part of the food industry’s master plan:  Keep you coming back for more.  So fight back!  Instead of the dressing packet, ask for olive oil and vinegar, lime juice or salsa to top your salad.  If none of those are available, choose the vinaigrette.

While we’re on the subject of salads, remember to make the most colorful choices.  Dark green and leafy, bright reds and orange colors are all good.  Bland colors are often not that great for you.  For example, canned corn is full of sugars and iceberg lettuce has little to no nutritional value!

 

CONSIDER THE COOKING METHOD:

A simple good and bad list will apply here.  When it comes to fast food:

BAD:  Deep fried.  Most of it takes place in cheap vegetable oil, or even worse yet, lard.  Stay the heck away.  Most deep-fried foods are breaded as well, so it’s a double whammy of crappy food!

GOOD:  Grilled, baked, lightly sautéed, roasted, seared, boiled.

BEST:  Fresh, raw foods will always be the best.  Of course I don’t mean the meats, you have my permission to get them cooked.  But choose methods from the GOOD list and don’t be afraid to ask!  I often request that my fish be baked or BBQ’d rather than battered and deep-fried.  The worst they can say is “no”, then I just move on and choose something else!

TOSS THE BAD, DOUBLE THE GOOD:

Usually when you order meals while dining away from home, they’ll give you a portion of the good stuff and fill the rest of the plate with inexpensive, unhealthy fillers like bread, rice or pasta.  As you know by now, these staples are the enemy!  That’s why when order out, I ask for double meat.  I also ask them to fill the plate with vegetables and hold the beans, rice, pasta and bread.  Yes, I usually have to pay more for the extra meat, but they often don’t charge me for the vegetables because they’re saving on the filler.  Or maybe they’re so dumbfounded at the pain in the rear standing in front if them that they forget.  Either way, I’m a happy dude.

DON’T FORGET THE GROCERY STORE:

One establishment many people don’t even consider when they’re on-the-go is the grocery store!  Why eat crappy food food from a fast-food joint if you can go to the grocery store and have have tons of options!  Many times, I’ll go into the store and get some lean deli meats, pre-washed, bagged fresh vegetables, an apple, some nuts and a big bottle of water.  I’ll also pick up a protein bar for later.  The cost?  About $12 on average.  Not too bad for store-bought, right?  And it beats the tar out of fast food.

 

Some other tips:

  • Don’t be lazy!  LOOK at the ingredients!  You know what you should and shouldn’t be eating.  If you don’t, read through the G4G base articles, go there now!
  • Choose restaurants where you can watch your food being prepared.  If you don’t like something you see, call B.S. on them!  Remember, it’s YOUR health, not the cook’s.
  • Don’t trust restaurants that don’t provide nutrition information.
  • When in doubt, go with vegetables and fruits.  You may not have the option for well-prepared meats, so fill up with veggies, fruits and good fats.
  • Be very careful with toppings and dressings!  As I mentioned above, they can be loaded with preservatives and bad fats!  When in doubt, ask for avocado, olive or coconut oils to top your dry foods.  A pinch of garlic, salt and pepper will make it all better.
  • Keep some healthy snacks such as nuts with you wherever you go.  When you’re throwing away the fillers like bread and rice at meals, you will probably get hungry again faster, especially when you’re new to eating clean.  So keep a container of dry roasted or raw nuts with you.  The fats from them are good for you and they tend to satiate your hunger quickly.
  • If you just have to have that pizza, choose the gluten-free crust.  You won’t feel so stuffed and you’ll spare your digestive tract the inflammatory response that wheat and grains will cause.  Try holding the cheese and getting a side of olive oil to drizzle on top.  Save the full-fat pizza for your cheat day.

PRO-TIP:  Have a throw down!  Bring your own dressing!  1/2 Cup First Cold Pressed Olive Oil, 2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar, 1 clove garlic, pinch of sea salt and pepper.  Place in a small blender and blend it up.  Pour into a small Tupperware container and take it with you!  It doesn’t need to be refrigerated and can last a few days.  You can have your own healthy dressing without relying on a restaurant.

Let’s put these tricks to use!  Here’s an example.  As I write this, I’m sitting in Los Angeles International Airport waiting for a delayed flight.  I got hungry.  I made my way to a sandwich shop and ordered a turkey sandwich, double meat, no cheese, hot mustard, extra leafy greens on the sandwich, side salad of arugula, extra tomatoes, extra cucumber, avocado, olive oil on the side and an apple for dessert.  What kind of bread you ask?  Didn’t matter, I tossed the bread.  So I was left with a hearty turkey salad with tons of protein, veggies, good fats and some fruit.  The perfectly rounded plate.  To top it off, without the bread, I avoided the insulin spike/carbohydrate crash that allowed me to power through the rest of my day in the airport.  What’s the downside?  I spent an extra $1.50 for double meat.  Is your health worth the extra $1.50?

So what do these rules leave you with?  Unfortunately, they don’t leave you super excited for eating out all the time.  I freely admit that your eating away from home experience might not taste as good as it used to without all these rules in place, but it sure will be a metric crap-ton healthier and it will minimize the extra calories and crappy carbs you’d pick up otherwise.  Eating out is rarely as optimal as eating at home, because when you dine out, you simply do not have control of how your food is prepared!  I have a serious problem with trusting what I put in my mouth to someone who DOES NOT CARE about my health.  After all, why should they? Unfortunately, sometimes we don’t have a choice.  So just apply these rules and I can promise you a much more sensible take-out meal when you just don’t have any other options.

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About the Author

Kash is the creator of Grinds 4 Gamers and the Founder of MOG Nation Gaming & a Co-Host on the Wildcast Podcast. I'm a busy & humble public servant, daddy, hubby, game geek, Crossfit Coach and self-proclaimed Paleo chef. Need help with min-maxing your life? Hit me up at kash@grinds4gamers.com.



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