Thank you so much for your support about my thyroid health dilemma that I mentioned yesterday! I really appreciate all of the positive comments, vibes and stories from readers who have dealt with similar healthy issues. You guys are the best!
Today I am starting a new little feature for my blog! One of my brilliant little bunnies Lidia commented on a post with a fabulous question which turned into an awesome idea: RFFBT Restaurant Hop!
“I was wondering, is there anyway you could do a post about some healthy but tasty foods to eat when necessity dictates eating out?” –Lidia
I love hopping around to different restaurants and trying different foods, but I can say that one year ago, it was a very different story. It can be so hard to go out to eat while you are trying to lose weight and stick with your specific eating/diet plan. When I was about halfway through my weight loss journey, I was so obsessed with getting to my goal that I cut myself off all social events that included eating. I stopped going to my friend’s birthdays and started avoiding any sort of social situation that centered around restaurants and food. My obsession with dieting and my all or nothing mentality led to a pattern of disordered eating, which I still struggle with today. I remember going to a restaurant with my friend in Houston and I had so much anxiety over the entire dining situation (what should I order? Is everyone going to watch me eat?, Will the waiter judge me if I have a super complicated order? What if I give in to the bread basked and “ruin” all of my hard work?) that I started crying while reading the menu and had to leave. It was a terrible feeling and it seems so ridiculous when I think back on these moments, but to me, going out to restaurants was harder than final exams in college. It took me a lot of time to get through my fear of dining at restaurants, but I learned to use my Rabbit Food Pyramid guidelines at restaurants to help me make better choices and stay on track.
I really loved Lidia’s idea because I (obviously) know how challenging it can be to make healthy choices at a restaurant, so I want to give you guys some ideas of meals that you can order at popular chain restaurants so you can enjoy the experience and be stress free when it comes to deciding what to order!
My first RFFMBT Restaurant Hop location is: Panera Bread!
Panera has tons of locations and some great menu items, and with a few tweaks, you can have a perfectly balanced RFFMBT friendly meal!
Here is what I had at Panera last night!
My Order: 1 full Fuji Apple Chicken Salad, no chicken, no pecans, dressing on the side and a whole-wheat baguette. THAT WAS EASY! Now let me show you the breakdown!
The Rabbit Food Pyramid Breakdown
Produce: mixed field greens, romaine, red onions, vine-ripened tomatoes, and apple chips
Whole Grain: ½ whole-wheat baguette
Protein: Gorgonzola cheese
Plant Based Fat: 1 spoonful (eyeball 1 Tbsp) of white balsamic Fuji apple vinaigrette (made with olive oil)
For an even more detailed description of my swaps, let me break it down a little more for you:
The original Fuji Apple Chicken Salad comes with:
All-natural, antibiotic-free chicken, mixed field greens, romaine lettuce, vine-ripened tomatoes, red onions, pecans, Gorgonzola, apple chips & white balsamic apple vinaigrette. A side of potato chips, 1 apple, regular baguette or whole-wheat baguette.
If you look at the ingredients, they list 2 proteins (chicken and gorgonzola) and two plant based fats (pecans and white balsamic – contains olive oil). Now, take your pick between what you would like as your protein: chicken or Gorgonzola? Since I am mainly vegetarian I opted for the Gorgonzola cheese for my protein serving. Next, choose your plant based fat: Would you like pecans, or white balsamic dressing? Since they don’t have a fat free dressing option (such as plain balsamic vinegar) I opted to keep the dressing and leave the pecans behind. When adding your dressing, note the amount that they provide you with. Restaurants usually load healthy salads with calorie/fat bombs of dressing which make some salads just as fattening as a cheeseburger. Try to eyeball 1 Tbs of dressing for your salad or dip your fork full of salad into the dressing to avoid too much plant based fat. Also note the size of your whole-wheat baguette. Panera tends to be very generous with their baguette portions, after all it is called Panera BREAD! I usually cut my baguette in half and give the rest to a friend or box it up right away so I am not tempted.
I know that some people look for the nutritional information (calories, carb, fat, etc.), but I have found that counting calories is just not a great match for me and my past all or nothing eating style. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that I stick to balanced portions from the 4 food groups in order to stay on track. If you need the nutritional value for this meal, you could always use the Nutrition Calculator on Panera’s official website.
For more tips on dining out, read my RFFMBT Dining Out Guide!
I cannot wait for my next Restaurant Hop! Suggestions for future restaurants are welcome!