Eating out has always been a big part of Leah Lewis’ social life. But as she approached her 40th birthday weighing in at about 250 pounds, Lewis admits that it was taking its toll.
“I have struggled with weight my entire life,” says Lewis. “I love food and love going out to eat, but food has always been my worst enemy. After a reality check, I finally got serious and decided to take control.”
Lewis turned to Renew Your Strength nutrition and fitness for guidance on reaching her health and fitness goals. Within months, she lost 38 pounds, won a Transformation Challenge, and gained the confidence to keep going. In total, Lewis has lost 100+ pounds and is now helping others as a full-time group fitness instructor and personal trainer for Renew Your Strength.
“My struggle led me to a new life of health and fitness,” Lewis says. “I didn’t have to sacrifice going out to eat — I just had to learn how to make healthier choices. I still have a great social life, but now it’s a balance between working out and eating out.”
Lewis shares a few healthy tips for dining out that may help you too.
1. Plan Your Meal in Advance
Planning helps you make smarter choices. For example, before I go to a restaurant, I’ll check out the menu online and put together my meal in advance.
2. Track Your Food
Logging in my meals ahead of time with apps like My Fitness Pal helps me stay accountable. Tracking my food also lets me know if there’s any wiggle room for a splurge.
3. Make Eating Out Your “Cheat Meal”
If you’re not careful, it’s easy to blow a lot of calories. So, I’ll plan the entire day’s food around going out and allow the meal to be my cheat meal. I’ll eat clean and light throughout the day and maybe have a smoothie with protein powder.
4. Order (And Drink) Lots of Water
Not only is water important for overall health, but it’s also a good way to keep your appetite under control.
5. Cut the Alcohol, Not the Cocktail
Alcohol is loaded with calories. So, two years ago, I cut it out. Instead, I’ll opt for alcohol-free cocktails with healthy ingredients, like a virgin Bloody Mary with extra olives at Tupelo Honey downtown when I’m with my friends.
6. Add Something Green to Your Plate
I always make sure there’s something green on my plate. And that also goes for pizza. I’m a regular at Blaze Pizza on Main Street which has a great veggie pizza.
7. Order Dessert and Eat It, Too
I love dessert. If I have one, like banana pudding or Soby’s white chocolate banana cream pie, I’ll ask for extra spoons so I can share it with the table.
8. Keep It Balanced
Dining out is about balance and moderation, maybe trading one item for another.
For example, at one of my favorites, The Farehouse, I’ll order wings along with a green salad, but without bacon and cheese.
9. Find Creative Ways to Move Your Body
Park far enough away from the restaurant to get a good walk in before you eat or go for a walk after dinner. If I’m downtown, I’ll park on the top floor of the Richardson Street parking garage and take the stairs — now, that’s a great workout.
10. Order Salad Dressing on the Side
Always ask for the salad dressing on the side. Pass on cream-based dressings and choose one that’s vinegar-based.
11. Turn a Taco into a Lettuce Wrap
At a Mexican restaurant, like Tipsy Taco, I’ll order lettuce wraps instead of a taco, if it’s an option. I’ll also skip the cheese and sour cream so I can add a little salsa.
12. Make Small Adjustments
Making small adjustments keeps your calories under control.
For example, I’ll opt for an oat milk latte at Methodical Coffee and the cinnamon steamed into the milk for flavor.