I have been asked by several participants of my "Your Best Life" online group, as well as some of the viewers of my Facebook Live videos for tips on how to eat healthy when eating away from home, so I'm going to share with you the top tips that I find make it easier for me to stay on track when travelling with my family.
- Make the best choice that you can – with kids, I don't always get to eat at my top choices, so we inevitably end up sometimes at Boston Pizza, Tim Horton's or even occasionally MacDonald's (yes, even there occasionally when we are on the road). Here's what I often choose:
- Salad – all of these places have good salad options. Add some protein to them (unbreaded chicken or shrimp are often options) to make them more filling, and ask for your dressing on the side so that you can control how much goes on (this is often where a lot of extra fat and calories are added).
- Get some meat (chicken breast, steak, fish) with some steamed vegetables on the side…okay, maybe not at MacDonald's, but the other restaurants have these on their menus
- Chili or a non-cream based soup is also a good option too that will be higher in protein (although it will probably have more fat than home cooked)
- Try to stay away from fried foods and too much bread – the same rules of eating more protein and healthy fats and less grain based carbs I've discussed before apply to eating out. If you really want a burger or a sandwich, try eating it without the bread (or only half of it) with a side salad.
- Bring your snacks – it's not too difficult to pack some healthy snacks for the road. We often bring apples, pears, little oranges, mixed nuts, a baked good (homemade cookies or muffins). Special treats for our kids are granola bars (I try to pick ones with less added sugar) and popcorn – we save those for when things get grumpy. For the adults, protein shakes (just mix with water in a shaker cup) or a protein bar can be good "on the go" options. When we make our bathroom breaks, it's much less tempting to buy food, and to just pick up a tea or coffee instead.
- Watch your portion sizes – even at healthier restaurants, the portion size is often much larger than what we need. Share the dish with someone (you can always order something else if it isn't enough), or ask for a take home container.
- If you really want something, then allow yourself to have it sometimes, and ENJOY it! – A few weekends ago, we were at Blue Mountain for our son's birthday, and we ended up at Wild Wing. They had salad and unbreaded chicken on the menu, but I really wanted some saucy wings (with poutine no less!). I decided to just order it – I did eat the wings and thoroughly enjoyed them. I had a few bites of the poutine, and decided that was enough. My stomach felt a bit heavy afterwards, but now I won't be having a craving for either of these for a while. If I didn't order it, I would have kept thinking about it. Obviously it doesn't help to have this thinking all of the time, but in order to have a healthy relationship with food, I do think it's a good idea to give in to the cravings sometimes.
A general guideline that I use is to try and mimic what I typically eat at home as closely as I can given the choices that I have when eating away from home. I hope that this has given you some food for thought:)
Until next time,
Dr. Jennifer, ND