We all have those moments when we simply don’t want to cook. For me, it always meant ordering pizza, other takeout or going out to a Mexican restaurant. Those favorite foods helped bring comfort to a long day, but I found myself not really enjoying it because I was tired. Plus, I felt guilty afterwards because I intended to make a good choice at the start of the day.
Here are two options to start practicing when the time comes when you don’t want to cook.
1. Find your “go-to” healthy restaurant.
When you’re searching for that right restaurant for you, here are three things to consider:
- Where can I find a lean protein and vegetable source?
- What restaurants don’t have free temptations? (Free bread, chips & salsa, etc.)
- Is my meal satisfying?
My favorite Mexican restaurant might have a great taco salad for a healthy choice, but I always found I had to mentally fight not eating the free chips. I learned this wasn’t the best choice. Some may suggest saying “No, thank you” to the chips, but when you’re tired, it doesn’t always work out.
Action Step: Find a go-to restaurant without temptations.
My go-to places
- Whole Foods buffet
- A build your own salad OR an entrée with grilled vegetables + roasted sweet potato
- Salad with diced chicken, brown rice, fajita vegetables + salsa
- Panera Bread
- Classic salad with chicken + apple for the side
Find three restaurants that will work for you. Another thing to keep in mind is the satisfaction level of the meal. On a scale of 1-10, your meal should be at least an 8. If it’s not, there is a good chance you’ll crave something unhealthy later
2. Transform the menu at any restaurant.
You can do this with any menu! Start by scanning the menu for the best option of a protein and vegetable source. For lean sources of protein look for fish, chicken, or turkey. If you notice you would enjoy the grilled fish, but dislike the broccoli that comes with it, ask yourself what other vegetables on the menu will work for you. Most likely you will be able to easily substitute.
Other things to consider:
- Ask for salad dressing on the side to save on calories. Use your fork to stab your dressing and then your salad.
- Substitute a green salad instead of French fries.
- Ask the server if it’s possible to prepare your meal differently. Switch to grilled chicken instead of crispy (fried). Or, steamed vegetables.
- Don’t see anything on the menu? Think of your favorite healthy meal and ask the server if it’s possible to make. It never hurts to ask!
Everybody has off days and cravings so finding a “go-to” healthy restaurant is crucial to staying on track with your nutrition. Practicing and learning alternatives when this strikes will make it much easier.