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The Ultimate Guide to Eating Out Guilt-Free

The Ultimate Guide to Eating Out Guilt-Free

I get a lot, and I mean a lot, of questions about how to eat out healthfully.

If you would have asked me this question a few months ago, I would answer you with a detailed outline on macro counting, reducing fat and carb grams, and making the “good” choice while eating at a restaurant. I could have given you my Chipotle cheats to being “healthy” and describe precisely how many calories were in each ingredient.

The Ultimate Guide to Eating Out Guilt-Free

On my journey to eating intuitively, I realized that what I described above is absolutely crazy. Bonkers. A waste of time and energy (at least to me). I’ve spent more time worrying about how many calories are in my meals and how many pounds I could potentially gain from enjoying them rather than actually being in my experience, eating the damn food, and spending time with people I care about.

Now? I’m done trying to eat out “guilt-free.” It’s exhausting, it’s unsatisfying, and it takes away the joys in my life. I don’t want to have to omit the sour cream on my burrito bowl just to save a few grams of fat. I really don’t want to restrict myself from eating the bread before a meal or ordering dessert afterwards, and will never again order a salad when I really just want a burger.

The Ultimate Guide to Eating Out Guilt-Free

They say insanity is doing the same thing continually while expecting different results; for the longest time, I told myself I could substitute one food for another and still be satisfied with it. I would always order food at restaurants to reflect my reputation for being the “healthy one” and would be embarrassed if I was caught eating something I actually enjoyed. God forbid!

When we go out to eat, it’s typically for a reason. Whether it’s to catch up with a friend, celebrate a life event, or just to keep our bodies fed, there is an intention behind every outing. While we shouldn’t be eating out for every meal and basing our diets off of fast food, the hard truth is that eating out will not make you “fat.” Just like eating one apple doesn’t make you healthy, eating one fat-filled, carb-loaded meal you really freaking enjoy will not make you fat. We need to get over the idea that one episode can reverse everything, because our bodies are really great at processing whatever we put in them; much better than we give ourselves credit for.

The Ultimate Guide to Eating Out Guilt-Free
(Hi Angela!)

Think about the last time you went out to eat and restricted yourself. If you ordered the grilled chicken with a veggie when what you really wanted was the shrimp alfredo, how satisfying was that chicken? Did you end up going home and eating more in order to satisfy yourself only to find that you couldn’t? Did this turn into a binge episode?

For many people with disordered eating (AKA restriction, diet-mentality philosophies surrounding food and weight, etc.,) this happens all too often. What’s the way out, you may ask? Simply honoring your cravings and your hunger and fullness cues can make a world of difference; when you eat what you truly want and stop when you’re satisfied, you won’t leave feeling like you want to ravage the pantry.

Your body knows what it wants SO much clearer than your mind does. When you ignore those signals from your body, you are rejecting what it truly needs and the ramifications of this are worse than actually ordering what you want and enjoying it. Cravings happen for a reason and when we ignore them, our bodies will continue to search for that thing it needs. If it doesn’t get it, no amount of substitute foods will be enough to satisfy the craving you had in the first place and you’ll end up eating a heck of a lot more than you would had you just listened to your craving.

The Ultimate Guide to Eating Out Guilt-Free

So basically, there is no real way to be healthy while eating out and if there is, I want no part of it. Sure, sometimes I’ll go out and actually crave a salad, but by no means will I force myself to eat one if I don’t want to. Eating is supposed to be an enjoyable experience, not a stressful one; next time you go out, try focusing on what your body truly wants in that moment rather than what you think you should eat or worrying about how many calories are in your meal. I promise you’ll enjoy it more and your body will be able to process it better due to the lack of stress.

And I know what some of you are probably thinking: “She’s got to be kidding, right?”

Coming from someone who missed out on birthday dinners, celebrations, and gatherings due to dieting, I promise you I’m not kidding. Life is a whole lot better when you start loving yourself and stop worrying so much about your body. Go out, order your damn cake, and eat it too!