One of the things that can be a struggle when you're watching what you eat, or even just choosing to eat clean, is the dreaded restaurant visit. There are actually very few restaurants I will frequent now. I used to LOVE Chili's, but I can't even tell you the last time I went there. Somehow the idea of mass produced chain restaurant food isn't as appealing anymore.
Two chain restaurants I will visit are Starbucks, SweetFrog, Panera Bread and Chipotle. Especially Chipotle - I love me some of that!! (more on that later in this post)
Reasons I like these places...
- Starbucks: you have control over what goes into your drink! You can choose the type of milk (though their cow's milk is conventional), amount of sweetener, even the temperature! I like a tall, soy latte - no foam, kid temperature (not too hot!). It's 130 calories, so it's a great drink that doesn't blow my calorie budget. They also have easy to use nutritional info on their website.
- SweetFrog: again, this is about control for me. I can choose a smaller portion of their awesome frozen yogurt and top it with the fruit selections and a tablespoon of chocolate chips. It's still a ton of sugar and a good chunk of my calories, but it satisfies the ice cream craving in a much healthier manner than a DQ Blizzard!
- Panera Bread: Their salads are awesome. I don't stop here that often, but I do know it's a great "safe" place. I can get the "you pick two" with a salad and one of their lower calorie soups, and have a great lunch or dinner! They also have good nutritional info on their website.
- Chipotle: Oh, how I love Chipotle. I think I eat there about once a week. Again - I love the control Chipotle gives you over your order. Plus, their food is high quality, local and organic if possible.
How I Eat Chipotle for 315 Calories
I can eat Chipotle without blowing my calorie budget because I've gotten my order down to about 315 calories. Chipotle has an awesome nutrition calculator on their website! Now, obviously this information isn't entirely accurate and depends on the amount of food your restaurant slaps into the bowl.
Here's my order: black beans, fajita veggies (I always ask for double), mild salsa, lettuce, guacamole.
I started lowering my calorie consumption at Chipotle by really thinking about what I was actually tasting when I ate there. The first thing to go was the tortilla shell. The flour tortilla shell alone is 290 calories!! The second thing to go was the cheese. Do you REALLY taste that shredded cheese? Try it without next time and see. I found that I didn't. Goodbye 100-150 calories.
I do like the rice, and if I have the calories in my day's budget, I'll get brown rice. Otherwise, I skip it purely to save calories. Next thing I ditched was the meat. I traded the meat calories for guacamole. The guac has a lot of flavor, adds healthy fat, and I don't miss the sour cream because of how creamy their guac is. If you get a veggie bowl at Chipotle, guacamole is included in the price.
So that's something to think about when you're eating out. What things do you REALLY TASTE when you're eating? If you can't taste something in the food - ask for your order without it!