Food for Thought Friday: Eating Clean While Dining Out

Eating clean isn’t always easy. Sometimes life gets in the way, and we’re crunched for time, effort, and energy. Often we resort to dining out, because we’re low on time to cook or because we’re out with friends or family, and we’re faced with the seemingly daunting task of trying to find clean eats on the menu. If you’ve ever been stuck in this situation or if you’ve ever wondered if dining out is a no-go while eating clean, then watch this movie to find out my personal recommendations. Enjoy guys!

Muddy Melissa’s Ten Tips for Eating Clean while Dining Out

1. Don’t!

– Pre-plan or pre-make meals ahead of time so you’re not tempted to dine out due to a lack of preparation.
– Keep clean meals such as turkey chili or spaghetti sauce in the freezer to use quickly. Keep ingredients for your favorite clean meals on hand as well.
– Opt for something more active to do with friends and family, such as bowling, miniature golf, visiting a botanical garden, etc.
– Invite friends and family over for a clean dinner party instead!

2. Research your restaurant carefully

– If you do have to dine out for whatever reason, try to choose a healthier option. Japanese restaurants are great since sushi (with brown rice) and sashimi are both clean options. Seafood restaurants tend to be good as well, since they offer things like shrimp cocktail, fresh oysters, and grilled or steamed seafood. Of the chain restaurants, Outback Steakhouse and Red Lobster offer some relatively clean options.
– Do a quick search on menu offerings and nutrition information.

3. Enlist some help

– Ask someone that you’re going with that you can trust to help keep you on track! If they care about you, they’ll care about your health and your goals, and they’ll want to help you.

4. Be kind!

– You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar!
– Remember that your waiter or waitress is a person too, and they should be treated kindly!
– Nicely explain that you’re trying to eat clean, and ask for some help in choosing your meal.

5. … But it’s still okay to be “that customer!”

– Bottom line is: even though it’s important to be kind, it’s still okay to be a little persistent about getting a clean meal!

6. Remember: the simpler the dish, the less processed it is, and the cleaner it is

– Try to opt for grilled or steamed dishes
– Ask for sauces or condiments to be served on the side or not at all
– Don’t be fooled by salads! Just because it says the word “salad” after “fried chicken” and “fries,” doesn’t mean it’s clean!

7. Choose your sides carefully

– Ask for vegetables to be steamed if possible
– Request no butter, salt, cheese, or sauces on your vegetables
– If getting a baked potato or baked sweet potato, don’t order it “loaded” or with butter and/or sour cream. Ask for cottage cheese as a topping instead!

8. You can (usually) mix and match items

– If you see an entree you like but it’s served with fries, you can request they switch it out for steamed veggies instead.
– Or you can mix and match entrees. For example, if you see a salad that’s served with crispy chicken, but you see a grilled salmon dish on the menu too— you can ask if you could get grilled salmon in your salad instead!

9. Don’t be afraid to order off the menu

– If all else fails and you can’t find anything clean on the menu, restaurants are often more than willing to let you order off the menu.
– It can’t hurt to ask your server, nicely, if they’d be willing to accommodate your diet! The worst that can happen is that they’ll say no!

10. Tip well!

– Chances are, if you’ve found a restaurant that offers a clean meal, then you’re going to want to keep going back there— so tip well for their service and their help! This helps build up a good repertoire with that restaurant so that you can keep coming back to enjoy clean meals there. Not to mention… it’s just good old-fashioned common courtesy for good service!

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