I have no problem indulging myself on spectacular treats. Nevertheless, I also have to keep my health a priority. Fortunately, I have a couple of tricks that allow me to eat whatever I want and not compromise my health.
The hardest part of being healthy is finding balance. The truth is, once my stomach gets going, it’s hard to stop it. That’s why I never let myself get hungry. Ever been to the grocery store on an empty stomach? I end up walking out with a lot more food then planned and usually start by scarfing down a candy bar right out of the door. That’s why I constantly pack my purse with treats to satisfy hunger while nourishing my body. Having a snack may not fully satisfy you, but it will keep you from getting ravenous and overeating something that isn’t beneficial to your body. Granola bars are easy to pack and they give your body fiber and protein. I personally like to keep oranges with me because they take weeks to spoil with their thick skin and they’re so much more satisfying (especially if I’m craving something sweet), juicy, and flavorful then anything pre-packaged.
Eating out is a danger zone for many reasons. Restaurants want their food to taste good, even if it means that the food is harmful to your body and mind. Let’s begin with alcohol because one beverage can pack over 600 calories and hold literally no nutritional value at all. Experts recommend following each alcoholic beverage with a glass of water to keep yourself hydrated. If you’re anything like me, you’ll follow that drink with some buffalo wings and tater tots (with ranch!). Now I’ve turned one meal into an artery-clogging, trans-fat infused, wave of weight-gaining calories and sodium. I don’t believe in guilt after eating, so if we have a night like this, it’s fine. Keep moving forward, but let’s try to not make this a regular thing. Instead of a sugary drink, try something citrus based or spicy. A bloody Mary packs only 140 calories and takes longer to drink.
When picking food at a restaurant, try to get something grilled, baked, or steamed. These items are prepared much more healthily. If you are craving something fried in butter, try to pair it with at least two sides of vegetables (mashed potatoes are not a vegetable). Veggies are mostly fat-free, full of good nutrients, and almost calorie-free. Sometimes we have to have things even if they aren’t healthy, but it’s important that we don’t forget to give our bodies the best minerals so that we can still perform at our best. You know that hour after a serious face-stuffing where you lie on the bed and feel like you’re going to vomit? We’re trying to avoid that.
Remember how Mom would never let you snack before dinner? Well, ditch that mentality and learn how to “spoil your dinner”. Everyone likes to get extremely hungry before a big meal and that is not a good idea. Being hungry makes me a mean person! It also makes me over-order and over-eat. My Mother would say, “Your eyes were bigger than your stomach”. The truth is, it isn’t good for our bodies to starve for hours and then over-stuff our stomachs. The best plan is to have something light before eating. I usually have a cup of Greek yogurt with honey or a fruit parfait with granola. You aren’t trying to fill up, but you don’t want to let your body get on empty. You want to be able to really savor your food. I think that eating can be such a fantastic experience, feeling the textures and flavors roll over your tongue. A good meal is wasted on a ravenous stomach.
Call me a frugal fashionista, but I have actually started sharing meals when I go out. Restaurants typically serve double our recommended portions (they had better for the price), but that doesn’t mean that we’re supposed to eat everything in front of us. Sharing meals keeps me from eating more than I actually want. It also costs half the price! Another tip is to embrace the doggie bag. I have several friends who “don’t eat leftovers” and I feel bad for them. Filet mignon with mushrooms and asparagus for dinner becomes an amazing omelet the following morning. We have this mentality that it’s all or nothing, but food doesn’t work that way. Several recipes are actually better the following day because the flavors have more time to sink in. Eat as much as you want to eat when you’re out, but know that you don’t HAVE to finish everything on your plate. Once you are full, pack it up and dream up another dish to use it in later that week.
Overall, I believe that people think way to much about food. Try to listen to your body. If your body wants a steak then eat it, don't fight with yourself about the "consequences" and make yourself feel guilty. Life is too short to ever feel guilty about eating what you want. Just be sure that you have healthy options around too because your body will crave those as well. Bon appetite!