Healthy brunching + eating out in general
Being healthy doesn’t mean having to miss out on celebratory events or never going out to eat. But it DOES MEAN you have to be dedicated, consistent, mindful, and strong. (But being strong and consistent should be easy by now if you are hitting the gym lifting weights—wink wink.)
There are a few different ways you can approach eating out healthily. Some of these techniques may take prep work and others will require you to calmly make decisions. Either way the ability to slow down and choose how to fuel your body is the most successful way to be healthy (if you haven’t already read Your brain, cravings, binges, and eating mindfully before you continue reading this post.)
Below is a list of techniques to try next time you are eating out.
If you have prep time before an event:
1. Eat MINDFULLY before you leave.
If I know the place I am going to meet my friends does not have options I enjoy I will make sure to eat something I love before I go to the event. Make sure not to quickly stuff your face or eat this meal in front of a TV. You want your body to register that you ate a meal and understand you are going to an event to socialize and enjoy a coffee or tea. Mindfulness is key on this technique.
2. Bring your own meal.
Depending on the place (maybe it’s a picnic or outdoor gathering) I may bring my own meal. I have found that I enjoy the meals I make at home 100x more than anything I buy. 1. It’s cheaper and 2. It’s supports my goals. I will prepare the food and bring it in a to-go container. I will order a drink (usually water or hot tea) and ask for an extra plate to serve myself my meal when everyone else’s meals come to the table. There is no reason to feel embarrassed or nervous about doing this. You are dedicated to your goals and if anyone has anything negative to say about it let it float in one ear and out the other. I have dealt with major negativity to the way I choose to live my life. You would think your family would support the decisions you make, especially to save them money on a restaurant bill and keep your body healthy—but I have dealt with it all. At first some of my family members were very unsupportive of my ways of living—it is my life, so the fact that they think they have any say in what I should do with my body is already silly. But I have and still am made fun of for going to the gym daily and eating foods that make me feel good. So if I can come out of my experience still dedicated to my goals I know you can too. You also have me to support you ;)
3. Bring your own mix-ins/toppings for bland dishes.
I love oatmeal and salad, but the mix-ins they offer at restaurants are not so great—wilted fruit and candied nuts. And don’t get me started about adding avocado to a dish, it is so expensive. If I know there is a simple dish on the menu that I can spruce up I bring my own toppings. For oatmeal I order it plain with water and bring a bag of cinnamon sprinkled frozen blueberries, a scoop of protein powder (if I hot the gym before) and maybe a pack of almond butter if I’m feeling decadent. For salads I order the salad with a base lettuce I enjoy, so probably a simple spinach salad. I ask for no cheese (dairy-free) and no nuts (because they make my skin breakout). I always bring half an avocado and a cut lemon to mix together for a dressing. Then the other toppings are a toss up of whatever I have at home: already meal prepped baked veggies (sweet potato, broccoli, carrots, etc.), shredded cabbage, and celery. The goal is to EAT WHAT YOU LIKE and don’t be scared too.
If you are rushing to an event:
4. Scan the menu for healthy items you know will make you feel good and/or build your own meal from different items.
I love food, so I get excited to see what dishes restaurants craft up. I research the menu before hand or take a good long look at it while waiting to order. I deconstruct dishes in my mind taking out things I do not like, that upset my stomach, or that won’t help me reach my goals and add in items from other dishes that will. I try to find the meal that’s easiest to swap things in and out to make it easy on the kitchen. Looking at the side dishes can be a helpful tip as well. Even if you are rushing to an event once you get there take time to slow down and not react on impulse (everyone ordered the cinnamon rolls, so I need to order one too). Stop take a couple breaths, listen to the Logical Brain and respond with what will get you to where you want to be. I can tell you after 27 years…all cinnamon rolls taste the same after the first bite. If you have had 1 you have had them all. Splurging on food is not always a great idea. I am not saying don’t treat yourself because I definitely treat myself from time to time, but just because your eating at a restaurant doesn’t mean you need to go crazy. I did this for the longest time. I told myself I could eat whatever at restaurants because it was a celebration and I would eat healthy at home…I ended up farther away from my goal and feeling terrible after a few months of this. Listen to your Logical Brain, listen to what your body wants, needs, and can benefit from being fueled by. If that’s a cinnamon roll, so be it, but make sure to Autocorrect immediately without punishing yourself.
5. Skip the drink menu.
I know this can be a difficult step for a lot of people. I personally do not drink alcohol very much. I can enjoy a glass of wine from time to time or a celebratory drink, but it only happens once in a blue moon. Skipping alcohol at a brunch or any social event can seem like you’re missing out on the fun, but I promise you will feel 10x better the next day and the day after that knowing you’re closer to your goal. Not many people understand the effects alcohol has on the body and how destructive it can be. Not only does it bloat you and make your body puffy and swollen, but it wreaks havoc on your liver which is what cleans your entire body 6 times through per day. Ditching the drinks will save you money and time spent wishing you achieved your goals already. Personal story: I drank alcohol as much as any college student. A month after I decided to cut alcohol out of my diet my muffin top slid off my body and it has not come back since. You will thank me if you take alcohol out of your diet today.
So while all of these tips maximize your health and wellness goals they are all habit different in nature. You might have to use one for one event and another a different time. I personally use all of these techniques at different times for different events because sometimes I don’t have time to mindfully eat before I go out to a brunch, so I’ll have to use the scanning technique. But other times I know I have enough time before an event, so I prep my meal and/or bring some snacks to eat while I’m at the table with everyone else.
I know what I like to eat and I know what my body functions on optimally. Listen to your body and mind. I strive to feel the best I can, so I can go about my life as happy and healthy.
This post is in response to a request I received. If you have a question or area of concern you believe I can provide some knowledge or support please do not hesitate to reach out!