Fort Collins has an extensive array of choice restaurants-all-American diners, late-night waffle joints, sophisticated cafes, robust Italian menus, Asian and Indian fare galore-just to name a few. And you know what? As a personal trainer, I encourage all of my personal training clients to eat at all of them-with some healthy guidelines of course. Just because you are counting calories, trying to get back into shape, or even maintaining the hard-earned results of your exercise efforts, it doesn’t mean that you have to give up one of life’s great self-indulgent pleasures-paying someone ELSE to do your cooking for the evening. Read on for several tips on how to eat out and eat healthy in Fort Collins without blowing your disciplined regimen of healthy eating and regular exercise.
* Water, water, everywhere! It’s simple, but choosing to drink water is an easy way to avoid unwanted sugar and unwanted calories. Enliven your H2O with a big squeeze of fresh lime or lemon for a burst of flavor and a shot of vitamin C. Low-fat milk and/or unsweetened tea are also stellar (and low-calorie) beverage choices.
* Skip the bread that is served at the beginning of your meal or discipline yourself to just one small piece. I have a dedicated personal training client who immediately removes a single roll/slice of bread the moment the server arrives with basket in hand. She chooses her one serving and then kindly returns the basket to the server who whisks it far, far away. She slowly savors each bite and she doesn’t fill up on bread before her meal has even arrived.
* When you order your salad, ask for the dressing on the side. You wouldn’t believe how many calories are in the typical restaurant salad dressing. Go for low-calorie and/or low-fat options. Or stick with vinegar and oil. One of my Fort Collins personal training clients dips the tines of her salad fork in the dressing first then forks some salad. Each bite is surprisingly flavored but no dressing is actually poured on her salad. She always has some dressing left over so she knows she isn’t using a full serving.
* Go for broiled or baked over fried or sautéed. This is a no-brainer. Think you use a lot of butter and oil at home? Double that amount and you might get close to what restaurants use while sautéing or frying. Baked and broiled food choices have more natural flavors and leave you feeling lighter than heavy greasy food choices.
* Split the entrée! When it comes right down to it, we Americans eat massive food portions. Our “serving” is really more like “servings.” Why not split an entrée right down the middle? Share a meal with a friend and cut the calories in half. Or have the server take half of your meal back to the kitchen and box it up (or bring your own to-go container) for a meal later in the week.
Remember, eating out is supposed to be fun. Enjoy all the restaurants that Fort Collins has to offer. Indulge now and then. But moderation is the key. Consider these tips for healthy restaurant eating and feel good about your diet choices while your taste buds stay excited.