How to Eat Healthy...Anywhere! Another way of phrasing that is "What to eat when your family/friends make you eat somewhere that has unhealthy choices" or "How to be polite and still be healthy" or "How to not look like a snob when everyone you know eats like crap." Have you ever felt like that? First off - there is nothing wrong with eating healthily! And in fact, if you stick to your guns, you will CHANGE your friends and family! However, there are times when you have to bite the bullet and not be an Orthorexic (look it up). This is a problem because food is both FUEL for our body and also key to SOCIALIZATION. We eat over business, family occasions, dates, and celebrations. You should never feel like you are punishing yourself by withholding food, but at the same time you can't use social occasions as an excuse to eat poorly all the time.
So, I am going to give you all some quick hits on "What Dan Does" when I'm in certain types of situations. I'm sure many of you have your own solutions, maybe even some better than mine. If you do, hit reply and let me know, and I'll post them in the Facebook group!! (Which by the way...are you a part of the FB group???). Friend me at http://bit.ly/HVaIiP.
0. First of all, make sure "please hold the mayo/sauce," "I'll take the dressing on the side," "grilled, not fried," "honey, do you mind if we split that entree," and "can I substitute that potato salad/fries/onion rings/etc. for a side salad?" are in your lexicon.
I. Business Lunch at Panera
Panera has a reputation for being healthy when it actually isn't. In fact, the Roasted Turkey Panini has over 700 calories (sandwich alone), 12g of Saturated fat, and almost 100% daily value of sodium. Not that Subway is really all that healthy, but in comparison, a 6" Turkey toasted with cheese is about 300 calories, 5g of Saturated fat, and...well still a lot of sodium.
The meal I almost always order at Panera is...well I'll just order it like you have to order at Panera for ease. "I'll take a You-Pick-Two; a half Smoked Turkey Sandwich, on whole grain bread, with everything, but please hold the salt and pepper. And doesn't come with mayonnaise, right? Good. The other half is a Garden Vegetable Pesto soup. Apple for my side." The whole meal is exactly 400 calories, and believe it or not you get 16g of fiber between the apple, whole grain bread, and vegetable soup! It's still a good 1,500 mg of sodium, but you have to expect that when eating out. Only 6g of fat. If you buy a bottle of water that will help with all the sodium you just ate, but otherwise, really not so bad!
II. Traveling Day with the Family...We have to Eat Breakfast at the local Bagel Shop
So you have the car packed, and you need to hit the road early and there is no time for breakfast. Well - there is always time for breakfast, but let's say you just have to go to the local bagel shop and pick up something because it's the only thing open at 6 a.m., and there is no milk or eggs in your house because you are leaving town, so you can't fix anything at home. Probably, the healthiest thing that is on most menus is a Ham and Egg Sandwich (no cheese) on a whole wheat bagel. Now, a couple caveats - first of all, the sodium is probably through the roof again, especially in the kind of ham they use. But with ham and egg, you get your lean proteins. The whole wheat bagel is also probably only partially whole grain, not 100% whole grain. That means it's mixed whole wheat flour and white flour. Better than nothing though! They make sure there is just enough whole wheat to get it to be a little darker brown! Bagels in general are pretty bad, because it is like eating two servings of carbs, and all simple, white carbs. White bread is basically the same thing as eating sugar, so you might as well eat a donut, it's fewer calories than a bagel! This is why, even though you might want to get a bagel with low fat cream cheese, or bagel with butter/spread, it's better to get ham and egg with your bagel because the bagel is already trash, you might as well get some protein to lower the glycemic index of your meal! This sandwich alone will be about 400-500 calories, so I suggest eating half and saving it, and then eating the other half later. Don't get orange juice or any juice for that matter, way too much sugar and no fiber.
III. Your Buddy is in Town and You Have to Hang Out at the Local Bar/Grill
You've been to those places...there is absolutely nothing good on the menu, but you used to hang out there on Thanksgiving break when you were in college, so it's still the hangout. Let's say you don't even want to eat: here's how to avoid the awkward moment. If your bud is ready to order a full meal you say "Oh...whoops I thought we were just getting a beer, I already ate at home!" Then, no hard feelings. But, if you have to eat and don't want to order just a salad (the salads probably have tons of junk on them anyway) or a wrap (also, probably has a lot of trash on it) get the leanest burger they have (from fattest to leanest: Beef > Bison > Turkey > Grilled Chicken > Tuna or Veggie), and ask for a side salad instead of fries. Then when you get the burger, cut it in half immediately and only eat half, and have the salad - balsamic vinaigrette on the side. Not so guilty! As for beers, either get one glass of red wine (ooh, you're so sophisticated) or go for a single beer of your choice, and ask for a bottle (12 oz. vs. 16 oz. draught). Nurse that baby for the whole catching up conversation, and it won't look like you're trying to save calories. Plus if your friend drinks several beers, he won't notice and probably won't realize you aren't interested in hearing about how he can't believe he has a wife and kids now and where did the old times go?; so a win-win. As for beer choices, obviously the light beers have fewer carbs and calories, but they are also made with garbage, kind of like the "white bread" of beers. Try a local brew! I always order a beer that I like, because in the end, the ingredients are higher quality in a better tasting beer and the caloric difference isn't much different. Well...I guess Sam Smith's Oatmeal Stout vs. Michelob Ultra, that is a big difference, but in general if I'm going to go down that road, I'm going to enjoy it, so I have a good beer!!
IV. You Are on a Bus Trip Somewhere...and they Pull Up to the Golden Arches
McDonalds...yuck. Makes me sick every time I eat there. But, come on, don't pretend like the fries aren't delicious, no matter how bad they are for you!! That being said, you have to punt when you get to McDonalds, there really isn't any way to eat healthy. My suggestion is to just get a grilled chicken salad with light Italian dressing, or if you know ahead of time that the group is stopping there, plan ahead and pack healthy snacks and just don't eat. The thing about McDonalds though is that it tends to get the blanket "this is terrible, never eat here" label among health nuts, who will then go to Local Bar/Grill (see above) and eat a local, grass-fed beef burger and sweet potato fries and think that is healthy. Yes, the ingredients are WAY healthier and you can at least have an idea of where the food came, but it's still a ton of animal fat, carbs, and fries are still fries. So before you charge on Mickey D's with pitch forks and torches, remember that your grass-fed burger is probably more calories since it's a bigger beef patty anyway, and while you may boycott fast food, often choices at "legit" restaurants can be just as bad, at least on the macronutrient level.
V. A Friend's Holiday/Superbowl/Summer Party
Tip number 1: avoid the dip! Not filling and so many calories. Tip number 2: Avoid the cheese and crackers! See #1. Tip number 3: Eat before getting there (and then actually realize you are full...) Tip number 4: Bring veggies and hummus, and eat that! Tip number 5: Pretzels are ok, but remember it's like eating salted white bread sticks. Chips are not as good because they are like eating FRIED white bread (well...potato) slices. Tostitoes? It says whole grain, why? Because corn is ALWAYS whole grain, there is no way to separate the parts of the grain like wheat. It is still like eating fried carbs though.
VI. Quiz time. What is Dan's least healthy place to eat on the planet?
Wait for it...
Olive Garden!! Yes I said it. Two points: 1) Fried Lasagna. 2) Garden Salad: 1 serving: 350 calories, 26g fat, 4.5g saturated fat, 1930g sodium, and it's all iceberg lettuce anyway, so no vitamins and minerals. But if you have to eat there, you have to order something off the menu. Say "Are you still doing that soup, salad, and breadsticks combo?" The answer is probably yes, even though it's not advertised anymore! Get the salad with dressing on the side, in fact, get it so far on the side that it is in the dumpster out back. Ask for minestrone soup. And keep the breadsticks farther away than the salad dressing. If the table next to you orders calamari, smile, because you now know it is a 900 calorie appetizer.
So - now you know, and there should be no excuses!! :)