Dining Out? Navigating A Temptation-Filled Menu

Dining Out?

Navigating A Temptation-Filled Menu

Your health influences your work, and to be successful you need to be healthy. After all, you are the face, image and brand of your company. You need energy, vibrancy and clarity to run your business and life. There are also major social aspects to being an entrepreneur: networking, mastermind lunches and client interactions to name a few.

"Eating out doesn’t have to be stressful or about indulgence" - Caryn O’Sullivan

Many people believe that implementing healthier habits leaves dining out and socializing in the past; or when you do eat out, that a plain salad with lemon juice is the only option. This is simply not true, and as said, your business depends on you getting out and being noticed. Eating out is so much a part of our culture, it is hard to avoid – and who would want to anyway? It is fun and effortless – no mess, no clean up, no planning or preparation required. However, with the ease of dining comes unknown ingredients, and for someone managing a food allergy, intolerance or sensitivity eating out can be dangerous at worst, and stressful for most. Even without these precautions, eating out is full of temptations that can steer us far from healthy: the bread basket, cocktails, desserts, fried foods and lots of butter. While those items are alluring and excite the taste buds, they are not waistline or heart friendly.

“Eating out is full of temptations that can steer us far from healthy: the bread basket, cocktails, desserts, fried foods and lots of butter. While those items are alluring and excite the taste buds, they are not waistline or heart friendly.” – Caryn O’Sullivan

However, with a little bit of thought and preparation, you can have the best of both worlds: enjoying a social time out and making choices that are high quality and health conscious.

Here are some tips to stay on track, avoid temptations and still have a satisfying and fun experience.

1. Choose a place that has healthy options and not too many temptations. By doing preliminary research online (looking at the menus and reviews of a restaurant) it is easy to find an option that works with your plan. Farm to table, seasonal, and ethnic restaurants like Mediterranean offer plenty of vegetable-based dishes, salads, soups and healthier preparations. Many of these lighter options are found in the appetizer or side sections of the menu, so look beyond the entrees. There is no rule against ordering two appetizers or several sides to compose your meal.

2. Next, ask yourself what you want to eat before you get to the restaurant. Food descriptions on the menu can be tantalizing (on purpose), so deciding before you go will help you avoid the temptations. You can simply look online or call ahead. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions. For instance, if there is a meal that fits your diet like roasted chicken, but is served with French fries don’t be afraid to ask for a substitution like salad or steamed vegetables. If you have food sensitivities or allergies, it is best to call the restaurant in advance to inform them. Reiterate this information when you get there so the server and kitchen are aware of your requirements.

3. Once you have decided on the main meal, develop a strategy to avoid the temptations.c First, refuse the bread basket. Saying “no” to the basket before it is set on the table is much easier than staring at it and trying to resist taking a piece. Next, be aware of fancy cocktails, wine and sodas which come with a lot of sugar and extra calories. Your best option when eating out is to choose plain or sparkling water, especially if you are trying to lose weight. If you do choose alcohol, then make sure you are drinking water in between each glass to stay hydrated and on your game.

4. Dessert is another obstacle, often too tempting to resist. Avoid dessert completely by refusing to look at the menu. Once we see the options, the pleasure centers in our brains light up and it becomes much more difficult to refuse.

If you cannot pass it by or your peers want dessert, then choose sorbet, a light fruit dish or close the meal with an herbal tea like peppermint or chamomile. Herbal teas help you slow down and aid digestion as well.  

"With a little bit of thought and preparation, you can have the best of both worlds: enjoying a social time out and making choices that are high quality and health conscious" - Caryn O’Sullivan

Eating out doesn’t have to be stressful or about indulgence. Nowadays there are so many different styles of eating; gluten free, dairy free, paleo, etc., that restaurants (and other people) are fairly accepting of changes or requests. Food is nourishment, and food cooked for you can be even more nourishing even if it is not the healthiest because it is a break from the cooking and clean up routine. For entrepreneurs who work from home, the cooking and cleaning cuts into productivity and as a result, mealtimes are not prioritized. Snacking and munching throughout the day then takes place.

To feel your best, avoid the processed foods, salty snacks, fried food and sweets. Focus on whole grains, vegetables, fruit and high quality proteins to get you through the day. 

When you are out or at home, make choices that will energize you and stabilize your blood sugar. You don’t want to be fighting fatigue or ups and downs while trying to focus or work with clients. To feel your best, avoid the processed foods, salty snacks, fried food and sweets. Focus on whole grains, vegetables, fruit and high quality proteins to get you through the day. If you do steer off course (i.e. only sandwiches and cookies at a meeting), it is okay. Move on from there, with a restart plan ready for the next day to get back on track.

Caryn O'Sullivan

Caryn O’Sullivan is a mom, and an entrepreneur in the health coaching field. As a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Food Therapist and founder of Appetites for Life, she supports women who struggle with low energy, weight management, cravings and body image with a 5–step program that teaches how to tune-into your body, tune-up your health, and tap into the power of food.

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