One of the biggest challenges of a competition prep is trying to find food on the go. Even seemingly innocuous choices can wreak your diet plan thanks to added sauces and cooking methods that add way too much sugar, salt and fat. To complicate matters, keeping an eye on your macros is essential, so even if you can spare the calories, you can’t log what you didn’t measure yourself. That said, there are a few options to keep you from staying home throughout your entire prep or dealing with hunger when you’re out.
I was super lucky today. While at Kensington Market getting my groceries, stores were having sidewalk barbeques as part of the Pedestrian Sunday festivities. My favourite fish store was grilling shrimp, lobster tails and calamari outside and it all smelled amazing. I was on my way home from the gym and hungry as always, so I decided to brave the line up.
First, I asked the fellah barbequing if he would make me something un-sauced, which he was happy to do. I went for the calamari since there is absolutely nothing better than fresh calamari off the grill. A second staff member was slathering each plate with a seasoned olive oil before serving the portions to customers. While that was tempting, and technically olive oil is ok for me, I chose to go without since it would be hard to know exactly how much oil was added. Olive oil is very healthy but ridiculously high in calories so I always make sure to measure it carefully. I did indulge in a little lime juice and hot sauce (I was fortunately able to read the ingredients first) and the result was delicious. Maybe it would have been better with the grilling sauce and oil, but I’ll never know!
My usual plan for eating on the go is to pack my own food. This can be challenging, but its doable. I’ve been known to carry a small cooler in my purse with seasoned meatballs and veggies that don’t taste too bad cold. I do feel like a dick sitting in a cafe subtly trying to hide the fact that I’m eating out of my purse while my husband eats like a normal person. I haven’t been chased out of a dining establishment yet.
My emergency go-to food is normally a Quest bar. Luckily they’re getting easier to find, although at $4 a pop (roughly) it’s not something I’d want to rely on too often. They are only about 200 calories and high in protein, but still not what I could consider a “clean” food so I try not to fall back on this too often. Ideally, I like to eat right before I leave the house and pack something clean, but that doesn’t always happen.
Another good takeout choice is the chicken salad from Aroma. I skip the carrots and just enjoy the grilled chicken, lettuce and onions. I’ve grown accustomed to eating salad without dressing and this is a pretty filling and healthy meal.
If you do have to eat in a restaurant, your best bet it to keep things as simple as possible, i.e., meat, vegetable, starch, no sauce. Make sure you ask the server to cook everything “dry” so there aren’t any unseen surprises. Sadly, if something tastes too good, you should be suspicious. Portion sizes are an other issue with eating in restaurants. If you’ve been measuring and weighing your food diligently, you should be able to eyeball the right portion size but it can be hard to stop eating when there is food on your plate.
Ultimately, if you’re prepping for a competition or just trying to lose a few pounds, plan to stay home for your meals as often as possible. It’s only temporary and won’t wreck your social life. The bonus is: whether you’re going on stage or just getting healthy, the fit life is very expensive so bowing out of the restaurant scene for a few weeks will be a welcome relief for your bank account.