It seems like yesterday that we were setting this year’s New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier and be more active. Is it possible that summer is practically here and we’re still “preparing” to act on our 2019 resolutions?
Fear not. You don’t have to hang up the idea of wearing a bikini or plan to give up everything that makes your palate smile. Read on to discover tips and tricks to start right away to make healthier choices that support social outings and your wellness goals.
1. Don’t be that person.
That person is the guy or gal who says nay to every place that’s offered as a dining option because it doesn’t meet a healthy eating plan. That person soon receives fewer social invitations. Instead, get excited to try that new restaurant because you’re going to discover how to balance the art of social dining with healthy choices.
Some easy tricks include looking ahead at the menu for healthy options, knowing you can request preparation accommodations (most places are willing to do so without issue) and planning what you’re going to order before you get there.
If a restaurant offers a hearty chicken pasta with a heavy cream sauce, consider asking for a grilled chicken breast with the pasta and sauce on the side. Also, check with the restaurant on a healthy option menu. You may be surprised to learn that some restaurants offer specific healthy menus or highlight a section in their regular menu for healthier options.
2. Focus on portion control, menu.
You don’t have to whip out a food scale (though many do it and it’s not as weird as you may think). Instead, utilize the art of visual portions.
One tool is using your hand. Your hand can help portion foods and set you up for success as you box the remainder for a later snack or meal. Let’s start with your palm. The thickness and size of one’s palm serves as a protein portion. Now, look at your open hand. An open hand (looking at the amount that fits in your palm and extended fingers) accounts for the vegetable portion. Finally, a tightly closed fist represents the grain, bread or fruit portion. While these aren’t perfect, they are extremely helpful in managing portions.
Another tool is to re-portion your meal on a salad plate. Protein and carbohydrates should each occupy one-fourth of the salad-sized plate. The vegetables can take the remaining half. Extras beyond the plate should immediately be boxed to go before you eat to eliminate the temptation of eating beyond an individual portion.
3. Yes, you can have adult drinks.
Choose the alcoholic beverage that will least sabotage your healthy nutritional journey while offering you the chance to still be social in an alcoholic setting.
If you’re watching sugar, skip the wine and sweet mixed drinks; instead, carry a sugar-free drink enhancer (things like Mio or Crystal Light mixes) and infuse it in a glass of ice water with a shot of hard liquor. Voila! Can you say guilt-free alcoholic drink? My two favorites are lemon-lime mix, ice water and a shot of tequila, or fruit punch mix, ice water and a shot of vodka!
4. Step out of the comfort zone and explore.
We choose to eat at the places we always go (or the select few we always choose from). We eat the things we always eat. Get adventurous and seek new restaurants that really focus on niche, healthy eats. A few local areas that jump to mind are Freshii, Modern Love, First Watch and Kitchen Table.
5. Get some fresh air.
There’s nothing better than eating quality foods — unless they are quality foods from our local farmers! Yes, visit our local farmer’s markets and get the juiciest fruits, vibrantly colored vegetables and friendliest local fare from our friends and neighbors. There’s something incredibly heart-warming about sipping ice-cold lemonade squeezed fresh before your eyes.
6. Self-control happens at the store, not in the kitchen
It’s easier to make the decision to bring only healthy foods into your home while you’re at the grocery store or farmer’s market. Once your favorite treat is in the home, you’re one weak moment away from sabotage.
7. And don’t forget to move.
Pack a picnic and hit the trail for a perfect pairing of food and activity. Not up for walking? Take a blanket to a park and be a kid again. When’s the last time you worked out some energy on a swing before sitting down to eat lunch?
Whatever you do, it’s great to know you don’t have to go far to get the very best for your happiness, heart, and health.
These are tips I use as a fitness studio owner and personal trainer, a mom trying to instill healthy habits in her three boys, and a bodybuilding competitor. Below are some restaurants I frequent while working toward my fitness goals. The bottom line is you can truly find healthy options or ways to be healthy anywhere.
First Watch – Try an egg-white omelet with a lean protein, like turkey, loaded with vegetable.
Umami – Steamed shrimp or grilled chicken and broccoli with steamed rice will hit the spot without hitting your caloric budget too hard. Sushi is a surprisingly healthy option. Try to avoid fried rolls and leave out anything containing mayo or cream cheese.
Freshii – With nutrition clearly listed for each menu item, there’s no need to second guess yourself.
Saigon Bowl – Light and delicious bowls mean that your meal plan is anything but monotonous.
Spin! Pizza – Opt for a cauliflower crust for an added dose of veggies and to significantly cut the carb load of your slice.
Ollie and Hobbes – The grilled proteins on the menu offer the flavor without the butters, oils, and fats of other preparations. Add them to a salad with a side of light balsamic for a meal that satisfies your mouth and your macros.
Modern Love and Kitchen Table go above and beyond to offer locally sourced, healthful menu items that feed your soul as much as they feed your body.
Naviere Walkewicz is a writer, certified nutritionist and fitness professional, owner of Fitssentials Fitness Studio, veteran, and Ms. Veteran America contestant. Walkewicz hopes to highlight opportunities to feed your healthy social life while maintaining fitness and nutrition goals.
Follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Naviere4MVA2019/ and on Instagram at @MsBossL8ee.