With the holidays coming up, it can seem almost impossible to keep your good eating habits in check. With family and friends coming in town — it often means you get the joy of hosting them. Ah, “the season of giving” am I right? Unfortunately, this also means eating out at different restaurants nearly every night. This can lead to a ton of “bumps in the road” regarding your diet plans. Going out to eat doesn’t mean that you always have to divulge in a 1,500-calorie meal. Many fast-food and sit-down restaurants have a lot of options that are on the healthier side. This doesn’t mean that these options are the healthiest — but they won’t cause your diet to go into a tailspin! Let’s begin our version of “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives”, only this version won’t leave you in a food coma after.
STOP #1: First, let’s start with a fan favorite: Chipotle. On the bright side, it doesn’t take much effort to make a healthy dish at Chipotle. The killer that will get you — the burrito. The tortilla alone at Chipotle will cost you 320 calories. The smart and healthy option at Chipotle is the burrito bowl. A burrito bowl at Chipotle with chicken, brown rice, black beans, fajita vegetables, corn salsa, and lettuce comes in at 625 calories. This is usually the same number of calories you might have for a traditional meal at home. In this dish, you get tons of veggies, a good source of protein (chicken), and a healthy source of carbs (rice and beans). This is for sure one of the best options to choose from if you’re looking for a filling meal with a low-calorie count.
STOP #2: Another fan favorite – Cheesecake Factory. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE the Cheesecake Factory. The downside to one of my favorite restaurants is that it quite possibly is one of the unhealthiest options around. Luckily, they have a “Skinnylicious” menu option available. One of my favorite items on this menu is the Chicken Pasta. This is a dish that includes penne pasta, sautéed chicken, marinara sauce and fresh basil. You might be thinking, “There is no way that this dish can be healthy…” — but it totally can be in moderation. The serving size is big and leaves you feeling full. This dish comes in at 590 calories! In this meal, you get a good source of protein from the chicken, while also making sure to have some carbs. The only thing this dish is missing is the vegetables. Luckily, you can order a side order of edamame and add it to your pasta. With this addition, it brings the total calorie count to 690. This is a dish that will leave you feeling full, while still being able to enjoy some tasty food. I mean come on… anytime you can have pasta and have it in a healthier way, you can’t say no to that!
STOP #3: Our next stop is at a crowd favorite… except on Sundays. You guessed it — Chick-fil-A. Chick-fil-A will give you the widest variety of healthy options out of any fast-food restaurant. The good-for-you items on the menu include the grilled chicken sandwich, the Chick-fil-A Cool Wrap, and the Market Salad. The Chick-fil-A grilled chicken sandwich comes in at 320 calories with the bun. If you wanted to be really disciplined, you could throw the bun away and just eat the chicken breast to save some calories. With this option only being 320 calories — you could even get two sandwiches and still be in pretty good shape. Next, we have the Chick-fil-A Cool Wrap, which is my favorite. This wrap is loaded with chicken, lettuce, and cheese, all wrapped into a flaxseed flatbread. The wrap is 350 calories and gives you a lot of bang for your buck. I leave feeling full every time I have one. Lastly, we have the Market Salad. The salad includes mixed greens, red and green apples, strawberries, blueberries, and your choice of fried or grilled chicken. (I would recommend going with the grilled chicken option since we are trying to be healthy, here.) The salad comes with dressing, which I recommend staying away from since it’s high in fat. Instead, go with the light balsamic vinaigrette. This salad with dressing comes in at 390 calories. You get a good mix of protein from the chicken and carbs from the salad with this meal. Overall, Chick-fil-A provides some great healthy options for a person on-the-go.
STOP #4: Our last stop on our tour is Buffalo Wild Wings. With family and friends in town and Sunday approaching — who doesn’t want to have wings and pizza while watching football?! Good news, with Buffalo Wild Wings you can. Their 6-count traditional boneless wings are only 430 calories. I recommend going with one of their dry rubs to keep the calories down. You can choose from their Buffalo, Chipotle BBQ, Dessert Heat, Lemon Pepper, or Salt & Vinegar seasonings. By adding on one of these seasonings you only add 5 calories to your meal. The wings are a great option because you feel like you’re having a cheat meal, but in reality, you are having a relatively normal number of calories in one meal! If you are looking for something to spice up your options at Buffalo Wild Wings, they just recently added their cauliflower wings. They bread up a ton of cauliflower and then fry them to perfection. This may not be as healthy as raw cauliflower, but it is a great alternative if you are trying to satisfy a craving! An order of small cauliflower wings has 440 calories, so again it’s not going to upend your diet! You can get the cauliflower wings tossed in any of the dry seasonings as well to add some kick to them.
There you have it, the ultimate go-to guide of healthy options to eat while you are out with family and friends. You no longer have to dread finding something decently good for you on the menu. With this guide, you will be able to stay on top of your diet and make sure that the holiday season doesn’t ruin your progress. Now, go enjoy a meal out with your loved ones, guilt-free courtesy of McGohan Brabender!