How to Order a Healthy and Delicious Restaurant Meal

restaurant dining

I remember years ago when I first started caring about the quality of my food and what I put into my mouth.  Back then I dreaded going to restaurants.  Eating out used to signify to me “get ready for peer pressure and judgment from friends and family when you choose to order that chicken breast salad.”  And so instead of going for the salad, I would choose the pool-sized plate of pasta topped with fried, battered, chicken with a cup of cream sauce drowning out the pasta just to fit in with everybody else.  Oh and then I’d indulge in whatever fruit-based dessert was on the menu.  Apple crisp a la mode?  Yep, I’ll take it.

After eating that meal, I’d literally feel horrible.  Stomach full beyond capacity, bloated and mind racing a million miles an hour with self-deprecating thoughts of how I was a fat-ass who had no willpower to eat the damn salad.    Then I’d have negative thoughts about my friends as if it were their faults that I chose the fat and sugar rich heart attack on a plate.

After about 24 hours after the calorie bomb meal, the depressing thoughts left my head and I’d vow to make the healthy choice next time.  This cycle went on before, during and a few years post-college until I finally made the choice to own up to my decisions because:

  • No one has the right to put food into my mouth.
  • Whatever I eat is my choice.
  • If the food I eat makes me feel crappy, then don’t eat it.

.Of course, these things are so much easier said than done.  It took me years to figure this out and put these ideas into action effortlessly. But, after the struggle I have now arrived!  These days when I go out to eat, there is no anxiety.  I eat what I want to eat which is usually some type of protein paired with vegetables.  If I am in the mood for dessert then I have it – usually split with friends.  No guilt.  After the meal, I am pleased and satisfied.  The next day, I go on about my business happy that I got to enjoy a social outing with friends.

Because I struggled with eating and weight for much of my childhood (I was born weighing a whopping 14 pounds) and through college, I have the personal experience to help my nutrition clients overcome their own unhealthy eating habits and self-defeating thoughts.  Sometimes they succeed.  Sometimes, the pressure is too much and they succumb.  I understand it all because it used to be me.  Now I am in a position to use my past to positively shape the present and future of people who desire to live a healthy lifestyle.  And my clients have seen success in the form of healthier eating habits, reduced prescription medication needs, fat loss, better sleep, more energy, and a positive outlook on life.   If you can identify with any of the above and have had enough with the failure and are ready to do better, eat better, and feel better then contact me today.  Let’s do it!

If you struggled with restaurant meals like I once did, the next time you are out eating with friends and family, the following tips can help you choose a healthy meal successfully in which satisfies your tastebuds.  These tips are what helped me to get to the happy, anxiety-free place where I can now enjoy restaurant outings without fear.

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Tips on how to order a healthy and delicious restaurant meal that you’ll feel good about before, during and after your dining experience

1.       Find out what restaurant you will be dining at, then go to their website and look through the menu.  Choose 1 – 3 viable options so that you are confident on what to get when the waiter is staring at you to take your order.

2.      Make sure that meal is composed of a protein and green vegetable at the least.  Grilled, sautéed, baked, broiled, seared are all good choices to stick to when choosing your meal.  Stay away from fried, breaded, creamed options.

3.      Remove any guilt that you may be carrying with you from the last time you pigged out at a restaurant…even if it was just last week.  This is a new day, a new outing, a new chance for you to make the right decision.

4.      Focus on the conversation with your dining mates.  Do not allow the food to take the spotlight.  When I eat out with friends I am usually the slowest eater.  Not consciously but simply because I am chatting and enjoying the conversation more than the food on my plate.

5.      Say no to the free bread basket and keep on passing it on…away from you.  Save room for the main meal that you will (most likely) pay out of pocket for.  Notice how when at restaurants, cafes, office meetings, or Costco demo tables the free food is usually processed, sugar-filled carbohydrate-rich options you know you shouldn’t be having no way.  They do that on purpose: those foods are highly addictive and will leave you wanting more.  If it’s free and processed, just say no thank you.

6.      Drink water!  Add lemon to the water for a little flavor and to aid digestion.  Drink the water mostly before and after the meal.   Stay away from sugary drinks.  And if it’s an alcohol type of gathering, then stick to dry wines or vodka tonics or spirits on the rocks for minimal sugar intake. Limit your drinking to 1-2 servings.

7.      The next day, plan to workout at medium to high intensity to help sweat out the excess sodium restaurant meals have been known to contain. I love to sweat it out in yoga or bootcamp class.

8.      Be grateful.  Gratitude is everything.  Focus on the goodness of life and go forward empowered to be the best you today, tomorrow, and onward.

 Photo credit:  RF photos

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The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: My 30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge Recap (with before & after photos)

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Practicing yoga everyday for 90 minutes in a room heated to 105 degrees for 30 straight days is no easy feat.  It takes strong commitment and drive to make it into that yoga studio each day ready to sweat buckets.  There were days that I wanted to call it quits; days where I’d rather sleep another hour than to roll into a 6am class; days where I felt like my body had betrayed me and left me in pain in awkward places (when is the last time you worked out so hard you felt it in… your… upper spine?).

Now that I have wrapped up the challenge I want to recap some of the changes that have occurred on account of 30 days of Bikram yoga.  I am happy to answer any questions you may have.  Just write me in the comments below.

BODY IMAGE

Earlier during the challenge, I talked about how genetically, my abdominal area is where extra weight tends to hide out. Specifically, my lower abdomen and obliques. It’s the unwanted gift my father passed down to me; a gift that I have finally learned to accept.  However, I thought this Bikram yoga challenge would be a great experiment to see if all the sweating and stretching would help shrink my waistline.

Yes, Bikram Yoga shrinked my waistline.  I lost about an inch on my waist.  I gained muscle in my abs and thighs.  In the photos below, check out the definition in my abs on day 30 in comparison to day 1.

No, I did not lose any weight during the 30 day challenge.  To be perfectly honest, I did lose a whopping 0.2 pounds according to the scale.  But if we really want to talk about fat loss versus muscle gain, I think it is clear from the photos that I gained muscle (abdominals, thighs, arms) and shed a similar amount of fat.  If I could have done it differently I would have measured  body fat percentage on day 1 and again on day 30.  But even without BF%, the photos vividly illustrate the body transformation that took place in a mere 30 days.

Bikram Yoga day30 images

DAY 30 of 30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge

For those of you who are addicted to the scale and are more concerned with overall weight instead of how you look and how your clothes fit, I am telling you now, get your priorities straight.  You will save yourself much anxiety by ditching the scale and using the mirror, photos, tape measurements, and how clothes are fitting to dictate your progress.  If you must weigh-in, then wait at least 2 weeks between each weigh-in to avoid scale addiction. 

DAY 1 of  30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge

DAY 1 of 30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge

MENTAL SHIFT

Type A personalities listen up.  There is nothing wrong with being ambitious, rigidly organized, sensitive, too caring, truthful and honest, impatient, helpful, take on more than can handle, want others to get your point by any means necessary, workaholics, hate delays and always being unsure about things….

Shoot who am I kidding, being described as the description above can make life tough as we tend to worry about the future instead of enjoying the present.  As a Type A personality I can attest to the above.  Bikram yoga came to my rescue.

Looking at yourself in a mirror for 90 minutes in 105 degree room forces you to get outside of your head and just be still — let go of all the emotions and thoughts.  All you have is yourself, your body, and the difficult postures; the focus becomes the postures.  No longer are you thinking about personality or body image imperfections.  90 minutes of yoga allowed me freedom from my anti-productive, self-sabotaging thoughts and feelings.  And that freedom carried out into real life in such an amazing, deeply necessary way.

My mentality is a bit more relaxed as I now care more about enjoying each day and each moment instead of wondering about “what if” for something that hasn’t even occurred yet.  Too much focus on the unknown can be detrimental to a happy life.  Yoga has helped me to wash away the structured, robotic ways of the Type A personality that I once proudly identified as.

WHAT IS NEXT?

The physical and mental transformation I have experienced in just a short 30 days is enough to have gotten me hooked on Bikram yoga.  It is phenomenal how you can walk into the studio unsure about an important decision you must make then 90 minutes later have worked out a strategy in your head leaving you with a solid solution.  Yes,  Bikram teachers advocate letting go of all feelings and focusing on yourself in the mirror and engaging yourself in each pose, but shoot, there are times when all you can do is think about life decisions.  I have had many AHA! moments in yoga class that has helped me to move forward with tough life realizations in a positive and constructive manner.

So does that mean I will keep the consecutive streak going?

The Bikram Yoga Oakland Studio Director enticed me with an awesome deal:  complete 100 classes in a row and receive 1 month free.  As much as I like challenges and saving money, I had to kindly decline.

I am registered for a half marathon run that is only about 9 weeks away which I have barely started training for just yesterday.  I’m a little behind since I usually like to allow 12 weeks to train.  Therefore I will shift gears from yoga so that I can focus on running.  Don’t get me wrong, I will still attend yoga classes.  In fact, my training schedule makes it mandatory that I attend Bikram yoga 3 times per week minimum.  Yoga will help with flexibility, agility and will strengthen my lungs for enhanced breathing technique while running. 

“If you want to get better in Bikram yoga, practice Bikram yoga.  If you want to get better in everything else, practice Bikram yoga.”

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Chika Obih is a certified holistic nutrition consultant; blogger; and founder of Chika Obih Wellness based in Oakland, CA and offers services virtually, in-person or by phone.  Chika is passionate about empowering people to take charge of their own health utilizing the power of wholesome, clean foods and fun holistic lifestyle solutions.  Contact Chika today to set up your free consultation.

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