I love preparing my own food. 99% of the time I do not enjoy waiting in line or sitting down and waiting for someone else to make my meal. Since Karel and I only eat out when we travel (although whenever I can, I like to bring along some of our favorite foods) I enjoy new places and trying new things, especially if it is a vegetarian-friendly place.
If you eat out 1-2 times a month, it's likely that your meals will not affect your performance and/or weight loss/maintenance so long as you are still being conscious of what you are eating, how much you are eating and making wise choices based on your current training/exercise routine. However, if eating out is a daily/weekly occurrence, it is likely that the fat, sodium and/or calories in your on-the-go meal is a limiter in your quest to live a healthy and balanced life....even if you are choosing the "healthy" options.
The problem with restaurants and fast-food is that food-items can be deceiving. Because so many places offer "healthy" items it would be natural that you would gravitate to that part of the menu in an effort to make a "healthy" option.
The other day I saw a commercial for Chili's and I went to the nutrition guide to check out the selections. I can't remember the last time I went to Chili's so I was also interested in what would be available for a vegetarian, like myself.
If I sat down and ordered from the menu I would first have to ask for "no meat/fish" for one of the salad selections. But, let's say that I did eat meat/fish and ordered a yummy salad, I'd probably order the CARIBBEAN SALAD which includes fresh pineapple, mandarin oranges, dried cherries, green onions, cilantro and honey-lime dressing. With your choice of grilled chicken or grilled shrimp. That sounds SUPER healthy AND yummy. Well, let's take a look at the nutrition facts, shall we???
Large Chili's CARIBBEAN SALAD w/ grilled shrimp
Fat: 44 grams
Sat fat: 9 grams
Carbs: 112 grams
Protein: 20 grams
Sodium: 1330 mg
Well, since you were so good ordering from the "healthy" part of the menu "AKA Salads" (um, is a 920 calorie salad, with 1330 mg sodium and 44g fat considered "healthy"??) AND you worked out A LOT that day, you probably deserve a desert.
You once again want to choose "healthy" so you go with a mini shot. But I'm sure you will want to choose 3 because why choose 1 shot when Chili's offers you 3 to create your own sampler?
Sweet Shot Warm Double Chocolate Fudge Brownie
Fat: 24 grams
Sat fat: 14 grams
Well, there you have it. Your semi-healthy restaurant two-course meal comes in at 1340 calories and 68 grams fat. Talk about "healthy"....Yeah RIGHT!?!?
When I go out to eat at a nice restaurant, I typically order a salad IF the salad is filled with deliciousness. I would def. go with the Caribbean salad (without the meat/fish) at Chili's because I like spending my money on a salad that includes more than lettuce, tomatoes and croutons. However, because I always try to look at on-line menu's ahead of time, I would be sure to specifically ask for the Guiltless Grill Caribbean salad which comes in at 450 calories (which is calculated with the meat).
For many of us (vegetarian athletes) who desire more than just a salad and the bread basket (YUM BREAD!) perhaps you want more than just a salad. So, you order pasta, pizza or some type of vegetarian-friendly dish when eating out.
I think Eggplant Parmigiana is a great meal for vegetarians (or any person). However, look what your "healthy" vegetarian meal looks like when you order it at a restaurant....
Macaroni Grill Eggplant Parmigiana
Saturated fat: 14 grams
Since you are probably use to arriving to a restaurant hungry because you "saved" your calories (never go into a meal starving, always have a 50-100 calorie protein or fiber snack around 20-30 min before arriving to the restaurant) it is natural that you would want a salad before your entree is served.
How about a Fresh Green salad at
5 grams saturated fat
300 mg sodium
Once again, your "healthy" meal at Macaroni Grill comes in at 1120 calories, 19g saturated fat and 1750 mg sodium. I'm assuming after this meal you don't want desert but just in case you do...
Saturated fat: 48 grams
Carbohydrates: 135 grams
Sodium: 88 mg
I will give you time to digest this blog before posting my super healthy Eggplant Parmigiana & overflowing healthy blueberry muffins.
What is your favorite place to eat at and what is your favorite thing to order?
Do you eat out on a weekly/monthly basis?