5 Tips To Manage Your Diet Away From Home

There are a lot of ways to feed yourself/your family in 2020. There are options for convenience, options for preferences, options for celebrations or for your work week; food can even be delivered to your doorstep, for one meal or for a whole month’s worth of meals. Many people are routine eaters, or disciplined eaters, and feel that they have a healthy relationship with food.  Others have a more disordered relationship with food, and struggle with portion control, excess caloric intake leading to excess unwanted adipose (fat) tissue, and with incorporating whole, nutrient dense foods into their diets. Even the most disciplined eaters can find themselves faced with a new set of challenges when they eat outside the home; but there are ways to navigate a restaurant/fast food/dining-out setting mindfully, in order to get a meal that’s both delicious and nutritious, and we’re going to take you through some tips and examples of how to balance taste and nutrition. 

               Tip 1: Select your protein first, and have a serving size in mind.  The composition of different types of protein sources vary, from animal sources that have higher saturated fat content to plant sources that have high unsaturated/polyunsaturated fat levels to poultry/fish sources that contain high protein and unsaturated fat levels per calorie.  Animals, just like humans, adapt metabolically to their needs, thus their meat can be different from one animal to the next; one cow may have more fat marbled into their muscle than another, or vice-versa.  Determine which protein source best fits your needs for the meal in question, based on your calorie, fat and protein needs.  Once you’ve determined that, it can also be useful to use the flat palm of your hand as a guide for one personal serving of your protein, and typically hand size is proportional to a person’s body size, so a larger person would take in a slightly larger portion based on this method. 

Tip 2: Select your veggies, and be aware that even if they’re not prominently listed as a side dish, there are few restaurants that would not give the customer the option to have a side of vegetables if that’s what they preferred over the listed side dish.  Be aware that the way the vegetables are prepared can also add calories, sodium, fat or carbs to the dish, for example, using butter or oil to prepare the vegetables rather than boiling them in water, serving them oven baked, or eating them raw will add some fat content to your meal, whether it seems like there is a lot of butter on the outside of the veggies or not.  If you’re at a buffet style meal, a strategy to ensure you moderate calories but still feel satisfied might be putting your vegetables on your plate first, then adding the rest of the meal to your plate.  This has been proven to help people struggling with their portion control to provide themselves with the proper nutrients without overindulging on higher calorie foods. 

Tip 3: If you’re not on a specialized, low-carb diet, the next step is to choose your carbohydrate source, and if you’re not on a specific diet, most restaurants offer a few different types of carbs that may fit your needs.  Carbs are classified by how fast they’re broken down, and how much that digestion causes a person’s blood sugar to rise during that period.  A simple carbohydrate is one that is close to its most basic form; glucose, while a complex carbohydrate contains compounds and starches that the stomach and intestines break down using a few different enzymes.  These are pretty well known buzzwords, but putting it into practice comes down to learning which carbs are more simple (white potatoes, white rice, baked goods with white flour) vs which carbs provide you with more “bang for your buck” (sweet potato, wild/brown rice, quinoa, barley, steel cut oats) and are considered to be nutrient dense foods.

Tip 4: If you find that portion control is your biggest enemy, an easy way to set yourself up to succeed is to ask for a to-go container (or bring your own, it’s not as strange as you might think) and split it for what you think is appropriate for your meal, and put the other half in the container.  A lot of restaurants serve food on plates 1-3” larger in diameter than plates people typically use at home, and calories can stack up without much of the plate being clear.  The mindset in America is to finish your plate, so this causes people to overeat at restaurants.  If we divide the meal before digging in, the food is enjoyed at the meal at the restaurant, and at home in appropriate quantities so that you can maintain a diet balanced in calories and macronutrients. 

Tip 5: Many people don’t consider that both food and drink can contain calories and sugar or factor that into their daily calorie allowance.  This includes non-alcoholic beverages as well, however mixed alcoholic beverages contain a bevy of different ingredients that each have their own sugar content, not to mention alcohol itself contains 7 Calories per gram.  Stick to neat drinks or water if you don’t want to add a little extra math to your day.


This is just a brief synopsis of some common tactics to guide you through restaurants and food service establishments, if you’re interested in more specific nutrition planning or guidance, follow us on Instagram @powell.performance, on Facebook, or email k.powell.performance@gmail.com to set up a consultation or receive a questionnaire to get you started


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