You guys, do you love eating out?  Er…..well, maybe what I’m asking is….do you love when someone else prepares your food for you?  LOL!  Mostly, I like preparing my own food because when I eat out, I love the atmosphere (and the fact that someone else does the work for me)….but I always find I sort of like my own cooking best.

HOWEVER, I do find myself eating out more frequently at times.  Usually, I find myself in fast food situations, because we are on the way somewhere and eating needs to fit in quickly, or because it’s time to catch up with a friend, or we are on the run between appointments or something.  Fast food, as we know….can be a bit of a challenge to navigate.  BUT….it’s majorly doable to find something decent to eat from a fast food type restaurant….at least in my opinion.  I’m going to give you a couple of my favorite examples today to get your wheels spinning on fast food dining with healthy options so YOU can be #confidentlyconsistent with your nutrition game.

Fast Food Choice #1)  Qdoba.  My FAVORITE choice.  My standard meal here is a burrito bowl with chicken, no beans (because they aren’t my favorite on a burrito bowl), add in the fajita veggies, corn AND tomato salsa (and mango salsa in the summer), and sometimes a sprinkle of cheese.  I also do white rice over brown, because I like it better.  I customize this a few ways….sometimes I do half the rice, based on my activity level for the day.  Sometimes I ask for double meat, if I’m running low on protein options that day.  Sometimes I skip cheese altogether, OR add the cotija cheese because it freaking rocks my taste buds.  And….if I need some more staying power, sometimes I’ll toss in guac.  This is sort of my standard meal at Qdoba, and…it never gets old.  If I know life is freaking nuts for the next few days, I sometimes order a second bowl to keep in our fridge at home, and have been known to split it into two, and use a part for breakfast, topped with scrambled eggs.  And that is YUM.

Fast Food Choice #2) Any sort of coffee shop nearby.  When I need to buckle down and get tons of computer work and/or writing done, I sometimes head to a coffee shop with my to-do list so I can plug through it without distractions of dishes that need to be done, or clothes that need to be folded.  Usually it’s breakfast time when I do this.  So, I order an egg and cheese english muffin, hopefully with spinach if they have it, OR fresh fruit.  Sometimes I add extra egg, or egg whites.  And I always order it with coffee (with room for cream!).  If I’m doing the coffee shop thing in the afternoon, I’ll often times order an iced coffee and shake in a serving of vanilla protein powder…because protein 🙂

Fast Food Choice #3)  Any sort of grocery store with a salad bar.  I LOVE SALAD BARS IN GROCERY STORES.  First off, someone else did all the labor of chopping and dicing for me.  All I have to do here is load up on greens, other veggie toppings, and mix in alllll the proteins that I like, and top with some fun things like nuts or beans, croutons, and a little dressing.  And I usually stock up on fruit here too.  Just like with Qdoba, if it’s a crazy week….I sometimes bring home an extra salad to munch on later or the next day.

Fast Food Choice #4) Jimmy John’s.  If it’s a high activity day, I go for bread, and maybe eat it all, or maybe eat half to three quarter.  If it’s a low activity day, I go for the unwich.  I try for tons of meat, get a decent pile of veggies on it, and I’m a dry sandwich girl…I don’t do dressings or oils on sandwiches because they gross me out and make me feel like I’m eating soggy stuff.  The pickle is a MUST though!

I would say though, that during those stretches that we don’t eat out much, I don’t worry so much about making alllll the best choices for a meal that only happens once in a while.  This means I’m probably ordering a beer, maybe french fries depending on where we are at….maybe a bacon cheeseburger AND fries.

During times that eating out is FREQUENT, well then….I do need to pay attention to my choices a bit more, right?

Here’s the thing.  Learning how to navigate eating out has to be based on YOUR preferences.  What good does me telling you to eat at Qdoba do if you don’t like the food there?  With that being said, here’s a few tips for navigating food choices while dining out:

  • Get a decent serving of protein on your plate, and a decent serving of produce.  A protein hit PLUS a fiber hit from the produce will do TONS at keeping your total intake in a healthy range.
  • Carbs aren’t the devil!  They also aren’t an endless option either for most individuals.  I like to navigate mine based on my activity level.  I’ll eat more carbs if my activity level is higher that day.  I’ll eat less if I’m not doing a whole heck of a lot of activity.
  • Beverages add up, so pay attention.  I am a Diet Coke girl, so eating out often means I’m drinking Diet Coke with my food, alongside my glass of water (I double fist).  However, I do tend to order a beer when eating out many times.  I don’t worry about this too much if it’s happening once in a while.  If it’s happening frequently, I need to be a little choosier.

So, sometimes moderation is my motto for eating out, when I’m on the “eat out frequently” train.  But when I’m not eating out frequently, and find myself at a meal out that I want to indulge a bit, I don’t really worry so much about it.  This is a practice, not definitive “rigid rules.”  I can’t do rules, they backfire for me.

Helpful?  Drop me a comment on my Facebook page and let me know!