An essential part of being healthy is making smart food and drink choices when you’re home or on the road. Whether you’re grabbing a quick lunch, dining out for fun, or traveling for an extended period of time, it’s important to know how to eat healthy when you’re eating out. Here are 4 tips from Yoko Kawashima, AAPRI’s Center for Functional Medicine certified health coach, to help you stick to your functional medicine program.
1. Get clear about your priorities before you eat out
If the thought of eating out is causing you to feel stressed, take a moment to understand why you’re feeling this way and clarify your priorities.
“Changing your mindset before, during, and after you embark on social and/or travel eating engagements is a thoughtful, deliberate exercise,” says Yoko. “Getting a handle on your fears, whether it’s fear of being judged or fear of the unknown, is an important first step. Then you can understand what’s within your control and what your choices are in any given situation, while shifting your mindset from one focused on what you can’t have to one focused on what you can have–all the foods you haven’t tried that are on the good-to-eat list.”
2. Know before you go
Planning ahead is a simple step that can save you a lot of worry and help you make healthier decisions.
- Check the restaurant’s website for the menu and make a short list of your best options.
- Have a light, fiber-rich snack 30-60 minutes before you head out to the restaurant so you’re not too famished when you get there.
- Keep a water bottle handy when you’re out or on the road to stay hydrated and help curb your appetite.
- Bring digestive enzymes, probiotics, and other supplements you take.
3. Choose healthier food and beverages
When it’s time to order, take time to ask questions about ingredients and how food is prepared, so you can choose the healthiest options. “Opt for water, seltzer, or unsweetened tea to drink and meals that include salads, vegetables sides, lean protein, and healthy fats such as avocado and olive oil,” says Yoko. “It’s OK to not eat something if you don’t feel it’s good for you.”
Whenever you are faced with choices of type of bread, sides, or how proteins are cooked, go with grain-free, salads and other veggie-based sides, and grilled, steamed, or broiled proteins when you can. Ask for salad dressings to be served on the side so you can control the amount you eat. Avoid things that are fried and foods slathered in creamy sauces and gravies.
“Overall, the clinic encourages patients to follow an eating framework that includes foods that are free of gluten, dairy, sugar (or very minimal sugar), and fillers—as well as foods that are rich in protein, phytonutrients, minerals, and healthy fats,” explains Yoko. “It’s also important to eat foods that are anti-inflammatory.”
4. Control your portions
Restaurants often put a lot of food on the plate, often twice as much as what’s considered a reasonable, healthy portion.
- Eat slowly and only until you don’t feel hungry.
- Ask for a box to take the leftovers home if you can. If you’re on the road, save it for later if you have a place to refrigerate it safely.
- Share a main dish with a friend to save on calories and money.
Whenever you’re going to be away from home for a while, packing some healthy snacks can save the day. Here are some smart snacking options that can help you avoid over-eating or making unhealthy choices at mealtimes:
- Whole fruit – bananas, apples, pears, oranges – be sure to eat after you have protein or fat; or pair with it!
- Raw, cut-up veggies such as carrot, bell pepper, jicama, cucumber, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes
- Unsalted nuts and travel packs of nut/sun butter
- Canned fish (wild salmon, sardines, tuna, oysters, clams)
- Hummus, olives, to-go guacamole cups
- Fermented foods – sauerkraut, pickles
- Coconut, sweet potato, plantain chips
- Nitrite-free turkey, beef, venison, chicken jerky from a reputable brand
- Organic, herbal tea bags
Wherever you are, take care of yourself
It’s important to remember that your health is your priority. “Showing love to your body by taking extra care is setting a positive example to those around you,” says Yoko. “The goal is to find balance by mitigating risk of symptoms by generally avoiding foods you know you can’t tolerate. And remember, setbacks are learning opportunities, not failures.”
Find out how functional medicine can help you be healthier.
The AAPRI Center for Functional Medicine program is designed to build awareness to help you strive for continual, incremental progress throughout the program. Our dedicated team works with you to address your symptoms and improve your overall health and quality of life.
Contact us today to schedule your free 15-minute Discovery Call and learn more!