Have a great day - eat something healthy.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dining Mindfully

Dining out is such a large part of most of our lives it's worth discussing at some length.

Chances are, some of you are curbing some of your social activities just to make things a little easier. But you can’t live your life in a controlled environment forever – the reality is you’re going to have to learn to eat mindfully in the real world.

At first you’ll probably spend most of your time and energy sidestepping all the landmines out there, but once you get your balance you can skip through it gracefully and have a good time doing it. And that means you’ll be able to do it whenever you choose – not only while you’re cleansing.

The first thing to remember about any event is – it’s not about the food. Let’s say that again – it’s not about the food. Instead, it’s about the people you’re with – your mate, your friends, your family, your colleagues. So concentrate on the people around you. Because you’ll be alcohol-free and less focused on food you’ll be able to concentrate on what your companions are saying - you’ll be more engaged. And you might even have a better, more productive time than you would have had otherwise.

When you’re headed to a restaurant it’s fairly easy to check the menu online and devise an eating strategy long before you arrive. That way you won’t have to agonize over the menu while everyone else is watching. If you can’t find the menu online, call ahead and ask about finding something that will accommodate your needs. Most restaurants are very amenable to working with you to provide you a delicious, cleanse-worthy alternative. Be sure to check into side dish options - many restaurants offer baked or sweet potatoes - if you can score a side of salsa you'll have a delicious, satisfying main course. Steamed and grilled veggies are a mainstay in most restaurants - pair them with the potato and you've got a tasty, nutritional meal.

If you're not sure of what you're in for and just want to cover your bases, fix yourself a hearty protein smoothie before you head out - that way you won’t feel hungry or deprived when you’re forced to order a dinner salad with no dressing.

I realize that most of you have sophisticated palates and take your dining seriously. However, this article from The Healthy Voyager calls out some national restaurant chains that have great healthy items or alternatives on their menus. And even if you don't patronize these particular restaurants, this article might spark your imagination about how to navigate a challenging menu.

For events that feature a pre-planned menu, you’ll have to be a little more creative. But you can usually expect a salad, and vegetables with the entrée. If you can, have a smoothie beforehand; if not, drink water to curb your hunger and then work with what you have. But chances are you can ask for extra vegetables or an additional salad so you won’t go hungry.

No matter what the case, when you’re cleansing it’s good to have some nuts or gluten-free crackers in your purse, pocket or desk drawer. Come to think of it, it’s good even when you’re not cleansing – keeping healthy snack alternatives on hand can keep you from making choices you might regret later on.

As long as you're prepared you can make it through any situation. And remember, it's not about the food! 

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