111. How To Dine Out AND Stay On Track With Your Macros

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Learn how to navigate you plate by following these 5 steps to properly plan, eat the fun foods, and stay on track at any restaurant!!


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Thank you so much for joining us for another episode of the Funsized Podcast. If you’re new here, my name is Kierstin and I am a nutrition and fitness coach for women under 5’3”. This podcast and my content on all my other platforms is all about empowering petite women to be the highest version of themselves via nutrition, fitness, fashion, and so much more. If you’re under 5’3” make sure you hit the subscribe button on your favorite podcast platform so that you don’t miss another Funsized episode!

On last week’s episode I interviewed my most recent graduate of my 1:1 coaching program and we had ever-so-slightly touched upon how she was able to go out to eat 1-2x per week and STILL make incredible progress week by week so I thought it would be super fun to go further in depth about how she accomplished this! Most people, including both KO and I, have this all or nothing mindset when it comes to going out. We think well if I’m gonna go out and get something I can’t make myself, then I’m going to go ALL OUT and get the most ridiculous epic thing. And there’s nothing wrong with doing that from time to time, but if you’re the type of person who eats out often, let’s say, more than 1x a week, AND you’re petite, AND you’ve got body composition goals, then you’re going to have to learn how to navigate your plate so that you’re not starting over every damn Monday. 

So first off, just like I said in episode 107 about eating healthy while traveling, I want to seriously emphasize IT is physically, mentally, and emotionally good to take a break and live in the moment and enjoy a celebratory meal for your birthday, your best friend’s wedding, or even just a random date night and not worry about your macros from time to time. YOU are a human being who deserves to eat what ever the fuck you want and YOU get to determine those moments. I’m guessing the reason you’re listening to this episode is because you want to learn how to navigate all the OTHER times you have the opportunity to go out to eat. Maybe you’re not celebrating anything at all but you’re significant other suggested going out to eat since there’s not a whole lot going on in the fridge, or maybe you’ve got a work lunch thing that you have to go to, I could go on and on about the possible scenarios where you don’t want to go off the rails but the jist of it is, you want to learn How to Properly Plan, Eat Fun Foods, and Stay On Track and I’m going to teach you exactly that in just 5 simple steps.

  1. Look at the menu in advance – Luckily, we can find most menus online nowadays and if not, I promise you someone has taken a picture of it and put it on Yelp. It’s out there somewhere, which means you can look at it before you even get to the restaurant. I highly suggest looking at it as much in advance as possible because you never know what kind of distractions are going to be going on as soon as you do sit down. We’ve all had that situation where someone you’re with is talking you ear off and when the waitress comes around you’re like UHHH we need more time. And if you’re feeling anxious or rushed, you’re likely not going to make the best of decisions. So do yourself a favor and look at it beforehand.   When you’re looking for the menu in advance, you might find that Some of the even bigger chains will have a nutrition facts menu where the total breakdown per each entre is listed in a spreadsheet. OR even better, some places like Chipotle have a nutrition calculator where you can build your own burrito or bowl online and it tells you the macro profile! These are super helpful to gain more awareness for different food options. Like if I’m curious about how sugary a certain sauce might be, I’ll take a gander at those nutritional facts – if they are available of course. Just another resource if you wanted a further look but not totally necessary to stay on track.  
  1. Find a yummy option WITH PROTEIN – Usually, the first thing I do is scan the menu where the main ingredient is a protein source. This is because it’s super easy to get carbs and fats at most restaurants, the tricky part is always getting enough protein. So find your top 3 or so protein entre options and then narrow it down from there. Some things to consider is how the protein is cooked. If it’s grilled, broiled, or baked it might not have as much added fats as something that is sauteed or covered in a sauce or dressing because they almost always use oil. And it’s not that fats from oils are bad and to be avoided entirely but they can really add up especially if the rest of the meal contains things like avocado, nuts, seeds, or more oil. So what I’m getting at is look for a lean source of protein. That way you still have room for the fun stuff in the rest of the meal. 
  2. Plug it into your macro tracking app – I highly suggest logging each individual item rather than the whole meal because it will make the next step much easier. For example, don’t log it as a “subway 6” turkey club” but instead log it was “subway 6” italian bread” “subway deli turkey” “subway banana peppers” etc. There are exceptions to this rule of course, like if you’re having soup or sushi, it’s harder to break it down into individual items so for things like this it’s okay I’d just get as specific as possible. If you’re dining at a chain restaurant, you’re likely to find the exact listing in MFP so make sure you type the name into the search bar first. For example, if you’re eating at olive garden, you can search for “olive garden bread stick” and “olive garden chicken marsala”. Continue to do this for each individual item that you want to get then move on to step 4. If you aren’t eating at a chain, look through a couple different generic options and decide which one’s macros best reflect. Since anyone can enter anything in MFP, sometimes you’ll find entries that have the calories but the macros are all 0, which could royally screw you over if you don’t catch it so be sure the numbers accurately reflect each item you log. Obviously we’re not human macro calculators but you should know enough by now that deli turkey should be predominately protein and not high in fats & carbs. Just an example. Even if you’re feeling totally unsure, this educated guessing process is still really good practice. Even logging a random entry is better than just pretending this meal just doesn’t count. Finding the correct entries in MFP can easily be the hardest part of the whole process because uncertainty is a yucky feeling but avoiding the hard part won’t help you in the long run. Log what you think is the best option and move on – 9 times out of 10 you’ll learn from the experience and that’s what helps you become better.
  1. Adjust your portion sizes to make it fit – Okay so we all know restaurant portion sizes are usually too big for most people, which means we likely will have to make a few modifications. So look back at what you plugged in and look to see if it fits with your macros and if not, go back and adjust some of the serving sizes. Like if you’re over on carbs, reduce the carb source until it fits. See, this is why it helps to log each item individually  OR  Let’s say you’re ordering an 8oz steak because that’s the smallest size they have on the menu but when you plug it into your macro tracking app you find it’s just WAY too much protein than you need. Instead, adjust your portion size within your app to meet your protein goal. Let’s say that’s 5oz on that particular day. What I recommend is Logging it as 5oz and when your meal comes cut off what looks to be like 3oz and push it off to the side. (I’ll get to this more in step 5). Continue to adjust the rest of the items in the same manner as needed. Even if you’re not sure how much rice they’re going to give you, log and adjust the quantity that would best meet your macros and when you get your meal, observe it, push away any excess, and only eat what you have logged. 
  1. Order it according to what you planned OR modify it once you receive it – More and more, it’s becoming more and more acceptable to order things in a modified manner. You can ask that your vegetables be steamed instead of sauteed (again, think of the way the food is being prepared and how that will affect the macros). You can ask that your baked potato is plain instead of loaded with butter, cheese, and bacon bits. You can ask for a side salad instead of fries. When in doubt, you can always ask for the sauce or dressing on the side. That way you can control how much or how little you add to the meal. You can always ask – if they say they can’t do that, then you ask for the next best thing OR  more time to pick something else.
    As for modifying your meal once it arrives, I’m gonna go back to the steak example. You likely can’t order it as 5oz because that will cause some problems in the kitchen and also when the bill comes so this one you’ll have to order it as it comes. But to make things even tricker, you know steak often cooks down and it doesn’t look as big as it was when it raw. So this another instance where you’re going to have to guess – again, the more you practice this, the better you’ll get. So cut your steak at what looks to be the amount you logged  and push the excess off to the side.  I highly suggest doing this when you first get your meal rather than half-way through because it’s easy to forget how much you’ve already eaten especially when the conversation is good and there’s mood lighting.
    Side note:  Never have I ever whipped out a scale at a restaurant and neither would I ever suggest it to anyone.  If you’ve been tracking macros for quite some time, you should know what a few ounces looks like by now and will likely be super close. Remember, it’s not about perfection and nailing it on the first try, it’s about practice with each and every time you head out to eat. Even when I’m at home and weighing my food, I play a game with myself where I try to guess the weight before I place it on the scale because the better I get at it, the easier it will be to practice portion control when I don’t have my scale – like at a restaurant. 
  1. ENJOY!

Okay, okay, I get that these steps can seem like a lot of work upfront. But I promise you, like anything, this gets much easier with practice. The more you practice these steps, the more you’ll be able to make healthier choices WITHOUT even tracking – which is the point of this whole thing after all. The goal is not to have to track every meal you eat out for the rest of your life.The goal is to do this for a while to gain the awareness, the knowledge, the experience and the confidence to do this all on your own – without having to spend much time thinking about it.   

#funsized tip: The easiest places to track your macros are places where you can build your own bowl, wrap, salad, etc. Places like Chipotle, Moe’s, Subway, of the many poke bowl and modern mediterranean establishments. I wouldn’t suggest that for a date night or big celebration but if you’re having one of those, I would recommend enjoying it and not tracking macros anyway. 

One of my favorite things to do for my clients during my 16-week 1:1 coaching program is help determine what to get at restaurants. I encourage them to send me the link to the menu as soon as they know where they’re going and I try to give them 2-3 options that I would choose and which would meet their macros and basically it just takes all the guesswork out of it. And like we briefly mentioned in the last episode, I rarely suggest a boring salad. If I do, it’s like a last resort. I know what it feels like to have people judge what you’re eating and I want you to know, it’s possible to pick healthier options and modify them in such a way that align with your petite portion sizes but at the same time look like you’re having just as much fun as everyone else. So if this sounds like something you need in your life to get the hang of how to navigate your plate wherever you are, apply for my 1:1 program. The link will be in the show notes!

I hope you enjoyed this episode! I know you have a LOT of choices when it comes to choosing a podcast episode to keep you occupied whether you’re walking, driving, cooking, or whatever else so I just want to say THANK YOU for listening all the way through and Thank you for your support. IF you enjoy this podcast, please make sure you are subscribed so you never miss an episode! While you’re at it, leave me a 5 star rating and review on Spotify or Apple podcasts to be entered to win the drawing each month for a free Funsized Tank top. I’ll be announcing the next winner at the end of episode 115! Thanks again, and as always, I’ll catch ya in the next episode!

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