Here are my tips on making eating out work while tracking your calories. The best part is that you CAN STILL EAT OUT but you need to make good choices and plan ahead. Ultimately the more you can food prep at home the better it will be for you (and your budget). That said, here are four ideas to work in when you find yourself eating out.
1. Find restaurants that are already entered into MyFitnessPal or have nutrition information online. There are more than you think! You can also use online calculators and add them as foods in MyFitnessPal. I have a “go-to” for a lot of places that I know fits my macros well no matter what (higher protein, lower fat etc.) My current favorites are (in no particular order): Panera, Noodles and Company, Protein Bar, Seasons 52, Chipotle, Egg Harbor, Jimmy Johns, Subway, Potbelly’s, and Roti
2. If you can’t find it online or in MFP then use the guesstimate tactic. You will start to learn what food actually ways or looks like as a portion amount from measuring at home. When you eat out you can apply that. I can usually look at a piece of grilled chicken and gage roughly how many ounces it is. It might not be perfect but it’s better than nothing. You need to set yourself up for success with this tactic though. Try to order so that you can control the ingredients. Examples include:
– asking for dressing on the side, eyeing it once you see it and then adding it
– asking if the meat is grilled in oil or not
– hold certain ingredients or sides that aren’t necessarily bad but you know would blow up your calories if you had all of it
3. Plan around the eat out. Maybe everything on the menu is more than you would normally eat for dinner. Enter what you think you might have at the BEGINNING of the day and then eat around it to fit your macros. This ensures there are no “surprises” because you’re already accounting for it.
4. Don’t get caught up in the perfection. If you are tracking your food and doing the best you every day. An eat out here and there that’s guessed isn’t going to hurt your long term goals. Just don’t make it a habit and do your best to track it no matter what!
The whole point of flexible dieting (IIFYM tracking) is to promote a healthy but SUSTAINABLE diet that doesn’t have your metabolism in a yo-yo and doesn’t create a negative relationship with food. You can still enjoy life just learning to do it in moderation and with better choices!