Confession: I used to avoid social events for fear of messing up my macros. I never admitted it — not even to myself really — but I did. The problem is, the entire point of tracking your food intake is actually to give you the freedom to enjoy social events with friends and family so I knew my mindset was broken and that way of living was unsustainable.
Here’s the thing: if you’re brand-spanking new to tracking your macros, eating out can feel overwhelming. There’s no doubt about that. So, I’m here to shorten the learning curve for you a bit but first things first: let’s talk about mindset.
So often people adopt this mentality of “Well, I can’t track this perfectly so screw it, I’m just not going to track at all.” Then, sometimes that leads to a day of straight overindulgence, which can offset all the hard work you put in that week before. Trust me, when I tell you that you’re much better off throwing in rough estimations of what you’re eating — especially because the goal is to learn to eat intuitively anyway. So this is a great opportunity to start practicing those skills.
Here’s are some strategies:
🍕 LOOK UP THE MENU BEFOREHAND
If you know where you’re eating, look up the menu beforehand and decide what you want. Sometimes restaurants have nutritional information on their website or in MyFitnessPal. If not, then find a similar entry from another restaurant and log it into MyFitnessPal first thing in the morning. Then, plan the rest of your day around that.
For example, if I’m going out for pizza, I search “NY Style Cheese Pizza”, throw that into the app, and have a veggie-heavy, higher protein lunch to make it fit.
🍕 CHOOSE EASY TO TRACK MEALS
If you’re going out for ramen, tracking can get a little tricky so your best bet is to just search for a similar entry in the app like “Spicy Miso Ramen” and log that. Otherwise, if you order something like Wood-Roasted Half Chicken, then you can easily track “half chicken” and then whatever comes on the side, like a “medium sweet potato” and “2 cups of mixed greens”.
🍕 USE YOUR HANDS TO ESTIMATE PORTION SIZES
When it comes to tracking food, some information is better than none and it’s fine to eyeball things when you’re out. The best way to estimate food when you’re out is by using your hands as a guideline (using this guide from WeightWatchers):
🍕 ORDER SAUCES/DRESSINGS ON THE SIDE
To make estimating your portions easier, ask for all dressings and sauces on the side. That way, you can use your thumb tip to estimate how many tablespoons of said dressing/sauce that you’re eating. Don’t forget to take into account fats used to prepare your meals (butter in mashed potatoes, olive oil that the grilled chicken was brushed with, etc.).
🍕 MAKE YOUR OWN MEAL
It is totally not weird to mix and match items on the menu. I often go out and ask for one of the grilled proteins with a side of steamed veggies and a starchy carb. First, it’s delicious and includes all the things I love. Second, it’s super easy to estimate something like that.
🍕 DON’T TRACK
First and foremost, don’t let feelings of food guilt ruin a special night with people you love. If you’re celebrating something special, then just ENJOY yourself. You’re not going to get your goal body in a day, and you aren’t going to ruin it in one either. Even if there is no special occasion but you feel the need to take a day off of weighing/tracking/logging everything, do it! It’ll improve your adherence in the long run. Mental rest days are a thing. Keep in mind, this is not permission to go on a food bender. You still want to make choices you’ll feel good about. If it’s going to hurt your stomach, put you in a food coma, or make you feel like absolute crap the next day, stay away.
Have questions or need more specific tips? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!