How familiar does this situation sound: you’re getting ready to go on vacation. You’ve spent weeks, maybe months, killing it in the gym, and now, you’re paranoid about what to eat while on vacation.
While some have no issue cutting loose, those with anxiety like myself, have a tougher time.
I used to avoid eating at restaurants like it were the plague. If I wasn’t able to weigh, track and measure, I felt like I lost all control of my diet. That would eventually end in two poor scenarios. I would stay in, and miss out on the fun, or I would throw in the towel, order what I wanted, and binge.
Have no fear. There is a better, smarter and healthier way. It just takes a little practice.
Before you go out, scope out the options. No matter what diet you’re on, whether it be something strict like prepping for a bodybuilding contest or simply watching what you eat, you’re likely to find something. Look for hidden fats. Try to avoid anything that comes in a cream-based sauce. You can easily consume 50 grams of fat in a sauce alone. If you’re dying to try that hollandaise, ask for it on the side. If you’re in contest prep, it get’s a little tough to order on the menu. Depending on where you are in prep will determine how much wiggle room you have, if any. Stick with lean protein and fresh veggies. Any restaurant can whip up a grilled chicken breast and toss it on a bed of greens. That’s my go-to when I’m getting ready to hit the stage.
Don’t be afraid to ask your waiter how food is prepared. Most food, even if you don’t think so, is cooked in oil. Steak restaurants tend to put a pat of butter on cuts of meat to give it rich flavor. Asking for no oil will easily save you 15 – 30 grams of fat, leaving more room for something else later. Don’t take everything at face value. Restaurants are coming out with “healthy” options, when the salad you think is keeping you slim has just as much fat as the burger you wish you’d ordered.
Look, not every restaurant is going to have macronutrients listed. If you’re on vacation, you are probably picking spots the locals are going to. Get on whatever app you use for tracking your food. I recommend MyFitnessPal, because it is free and user friendly. Let’s say I want to eat something a little more difficult to track ingredient by ingredient. I will search for the dish in the app, and log whatever looks to be in the middle. Thai food is a good example. The average pad thai dish ranges between 400 – 800 calories. Find something in the middle that seems reasonable, and track it. If you’re eating a burger, track each ingredient. Just know that restaurants use 80/20 meat, so if you get cheese, bacon, a fried egg and sauce, make sure you account for all of the fat. You can cut fat by swapping fries for a side salad, or cut carbs by ordering a lettuce wrap instead of a bun. It’s all about how much wiggle room you have as far as customization goes.
If you order something that is a little more indulgent, don’t feel guilty. Make sure your other meals that day are high in protein, and low in carbs and fats. It’s all a balancing act, and after all, you are on vacation. Treat yourself. Remember, memories are more important than macros. You can get back on track as soon as you return home.
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