The idea that in order to eat well, you have to stay at home and cook everything is not only ridiculous but unrealistic. And while you can certainly have your favorite restaurants to frequent, we aren’t always in full control of what restaurants are picked.
So instead of another “fear the food” or “top 10 blah-blah-blah” list, let’s work through the process of how to THINK through a menu so you can make the BEST choices for yourself and your goals.
Thinking Through the Menu:
Step 1: Where’s the protein?
Totally cool paying $15 for a green salad, BUT ONLY if you pack it with 4-6 oz of meat.
When you look at a menu, I want you to scan it first for the dishes that come packed with tons of protein that is not fried.
Question, how much they are serving you if it’s not already on the menu.
Protein is a no-brainer in terms of filling you up, keeping you lean, and fueling your body.
Step 2: Balance SATISFACTION AND NUTRITION
Enjoying your food and being nourished are NOT mutually exclusive concepts.
You should be cheating, a little bit, EVERY SINGLE DAMN DAY! Remember: Expectations of perfection create binge behavior. Therefore, you are to purposefully and mindfully allow for fun cheats that bring SATISFACTION to your meals DAILY.
Once, you scan the menu and know which items come packed with that protein punch, narrow things down by their level of satisfaction. Don’t automatically order a salad simply because it’s a salad and some fitness magazine told you it has magical super powers.
Look for fats or carbs that will hit the spot. Look for your ability to customize and have things on the side or added or taken away depending on what your palette might be needing that day.
For example, I’m never wowed by dried fruit and croutons on a salad. I’d much rather a small slice of bread or half of a potato for my carbs. Therefore, my best choice may be a grilled chicken sandwich where I can eat as much or as little of the bread as I want or a small steak and a potato.
This is NOT a statement that MY CHOICE is YOUR BEST CHOICE. What satisfies you may NOT satisfy me and that’s totally cool. You eat those croutons and dried fruit proudly if that’s what’s going to keep you loving your salads!! #LOVEYOURFOOD
Step 3: Acknowledge what your body uses for fuel too!!
I do not metabolize fat well. I store it. Therefore, a strict “paleo” mindset is to my detriment. However, other’s work completely the opposite from me. While I burn carbs off with no problem, others will store them easily.
I have to worry more than some other people how lean a meat is or how much butter or oil the restaurant uses to cook their food. Gravies and heavy sauces are usually out of the questions for me, unless it’s a re-feed day and you can read about that in Step 4. Luckily, I don’t like those things anyway…satisfaction zero.
Other’s can bypass worrying about fats but need to decide if wine or a small potato will be their carb for the meal. Sugar in their dressings or sauces may be something that help further eliminate things off a menu.
Know, respect, and work with your metabolic formula!!! It makes a huge difference in results.
Step 4: Is it a re-feed meal?
If the answer is yes...forget everything...ENJOY whatever!
To understand that statement you have to know the difference between a binge, a cheat, and a re-feed.
Here’s are the definitions I gave my Sweat Unfiltered group earlier this year. (If you love this sort of help click the link and join to get more high quality education on mindset, food, and exercise.)
“A binge is an all out non-stop continuous meal of either healthy or unhealthy foods. It’s oftentimes provoked by stress or consuming too few calories prior to the binge. While one is on a binge, there is very little care as to what one is eating and how much but is then followed by tremendous amounts of guilt. Think cookie monster behavior.
Binges are bad.
Cheats are good!
Cheats are a FAT LOSS TOOL! They prevent binges by taking the edge off of cravings so that you don’t ever feel deprived and lose control….a glass of wine at night, 1-2 square of dark chocolate, some extra bacon on your salad etc. Cheats may veer you off slightly in terms of macros or calories but you are looking at the big picture here- not bingeing.
ReFeeds are amazing…
…mentally and physically! Once every 7-10 days, you need to step away from your macros, your calories, your goals and just enjoy whatever…. but to get the most muscle building gains from them you need to adhere to the following…
1. from first bite to end bite your refeed is no more than 2 hours long (and can be less, obviously!)
2. have one hell of a workout/lifting session planned the next day. Kill that workout and move ‘dem doughnuts and pizza slices to those biceps and glutes!!! LOL!!
Because of that you can see why ReFeeds work best when they are fairly well planned out. Your refeeds keep you mentally and physically “juiced” up!!”
So if you are wondering what you are going to do for special ocassions like Valentine’s Day or an anniversary… you already know the answer. You plan a damn re-feed and have an appetizer and a bottle of wine and whatever delicious thing you want out of the menu AND eat the most decadent dessert your feel like. Then get a killer workout the next morning!!
No brainer!!! No guilt!!!
Four simple concepts that make restaurant eating much less stressful for anyone trying to maintain or gain physique changes. It’s not about a “good or bad” list, it’s not about a super foods or processed foods, it’s about narrowing choices based on your goals, your personal tastes, and your metabolism.
Most of all guys I want you to start QUESTIONING all of those Best and Worst top 10 lists and FEAR THE FOOD posts out there!
If you read them, ask yourself… Is that true for everyone? Could this be different for me? Does this make sense for me today, right now? Can I tweak this a little bit to make it worthwhile?
BE A THINKER. NOT A MINDLESS FOLLOWER OF INFORMATION.
THINK. TRAIN. LIVE. DIFFERENTLY.