One of the most difficult parts of starting a healthy eating lifestyle (that’s right, not just a diet, but a lifestyle) is managing social eating. Whether it be at a restaurant for brunch, or at a friend’s home for a dinner party; making healthy choices can be difficult in scenarios where you aren’t in total control. So, now that you are committed, here’s a few tips to get you through the days and months ahead.
Most nutritionists will recommend that if you are at a breakfast, you should select a protein rich meal. Think egg dishes, simple meats, and less carbohydrates, such as breads and bakery items. Fruit juice and fresh fruits will always be a good and simple choice as a carbohydrate instead. You will actually have an array of healthy options that will keep you satisfied all morning, without getting hungry too soon.
For Lunch, go with a simple sandwich, soup, or salad. Not too much, so that you become tired from food “overload” later in the afternoon, but rather just enough to get by. Why? The oxygen you have can either go for the processing of thoughts in your brain, or it can go for the digestion of food. Hence, less food for more energy throughout the afternoon. Many restaurants will have a small cup of soup for you to put together with a half sandwich or small salad. Much better choices for a leaner afternoon! That is, a little protein for maintenance, a little carbohydrate for energy.
For Dinner, we truly do not need much. Many of us grew up in homes that had a large dinner and even longer dinner hour, to socialize and catch up on the day. But, today it is less likely that families are doing this on a nightly basis. Rather, we are doing quicker meals of, again, some lean protein as maintenance, and more of our fiber selections, such as a salad and vegetable selection. The biggest thing to remember about dinner is the fact that most of us are tired at night, and we should try to limit our foods in total because we are closer to sleep than we think. Food will be processed much slower and often, poorly, if we are tired. So, it is best to go simple here!
By Rita Larsen, RDN; Elite Sports Clubs Nutrition Educator & Diet Counselor