Staying healthy and eating out are not mutually exclusive. (Pixabay photo)

Staying healthy and eating out are not mutually exclusive. (Pixabay photo)

Fitness: Eating out and staying healthy

It’s not necessarily one of the other – Dining out part one

Do you love going out for meals (and really don’t want to give that up), and want to take great care of your health?

So often we think that we can have either one or the other: I can either be fun and enjoy myself, or I can be ‘good’ and healthy. I can either be boring or ‘live a little’ and eat with abandon. That’s simply not true. It’s a limiting belief and it no longer serves us. Eating well and enjoying yourself are opposite sides of the same coin.

You can most certainly enjoy meals out and take great care of your health. In fact, most people, when they are being 100 per cent honest will agree that they enjoy life more when they take great care of their health. In my next article I will share some strategies on how to do this, but first let’s start with a few mindset shifts.

• Choose food wisely but focus on friends. One of the struggles with making healthier choices is that we put too much focus on food. Instead of only looking forward to the food you’re going to eat when you go out, get excited about connecting with the people you’re with. Engage in meaningful conversation. Be present.

• Mind your language. If you want to feel deprived when you ditch the bread basket, say/think “I can’t have that” or “I’m not allowed that.” If you want to feel empowered, in control, and proud of your choices, say “I don’t eat that,” “I don’t want that” or “I choose _____.”

• You have permission to order what you want. I used to feel self-conscious asking for what I wanted at a restaurant, for asking for what would make me feel good. I felt that others would judge me, or I would make a fuss and annoy the server. I’ve ditched that BS mindset, and so should you. If you make other people uncomfortable, it’s on them, not you. Order what you want. Make food a non-issue (because it is). Be kind. Tip extra. You deserve to feel good and the restaurant deserves to have happy customers. Your friends deserve to have you at your best.

• Ask “what can I do?” Ditch black or white thinking (if I can’t be perfect, I’m going to go ‘totally off plan,’ if I ordered the loaded burger, I may as well get the side of fries, extra beer and dessert’) and look for better choices in the parameters you’re in. There is always an opportunity to make a better choice when you look for it. Sometimes that better choice is simply eating less. In my next article I’ll share ways to make better choices when you’re out.

• Like anything else, this will get easier with practice. The first few times you try this (especially if your dining partners are used to ordering nachos and beer), it’s going to feel hard and that’s ok. Start with where you’re at and make an improvement. Maybe you start by only eating half your order of French fries. Easy is earned. Keep practicing.

Now that you’re in the right mindset to make healthier choices and love it, you’re ready for some in-the-moment strategies. Stay tuned for my next article when I’ll share simple ways to make healthy choices when you’re out. But even without my tips on what to order, you probably already know a few things you could do to improve your choices. Don’t wait for my article. Take action and make the next choice a good one.

Tanja Shaw is a Certified High Performance Coach, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, host of the Fit and Vibrant You podcast and founder of Ascend Fitness + Lifestyle. She helps men and women transform their bodies and life, and to love the way they feel again with fitness, nutrition, mindset and lifestyle coaching. Learn more at