There is a lot of information to learn when you first begin your fitness journey. It is easy to feel overwhelmed, especially when you are new to the practice of balanced intake (e.g. flexible dieting) and all the nutrition jargon seems like a foreign language. Tracking your daily macronutrients may be difficult and time-consuming at first, but we promise it will get easier with practice.
When you're starting out, one of the hardest concepts to master is how to count macros when you eat out. It can cause a lot of anxiety or fear and make you feel as though you can't go out and enjoy yourself for fear of "losing progress" or "back-tracking". We've been stuck in this mindset before too, and it is socially isolating. Just remember that these thoughts are completely untrue. A huge benefit of following a balanced intake approach is that you can reach your fitness goals and still enjoy life and food with loved ones.
The best approach to staying within your macronutrient intake for the day and eating the food you want at restaurants is to plan ahead. There are several options you can try. The first thing you should do is look up the website for the restaurant and see if the nutrition information for their dishes is already listed (common at most chain restaurants). If the information is available, just choose what you want, plug it into whatever method of tracking macros you use (MyMacros+, MyFitnessPal, FindMyMacros, etc.), and you're done! Easy peasy lemon squeezy, right? Some fast food places (Starbucks, McDonalds, Chipotle, etc.) even offer a nutrition calculator where you can change portion sizes and substitute toppings to customize the nutrition content of your meal or drink.
What do you do if the restaurant's website does not provide any nutrition information? Always double check with your server in person because some places keep a nutrition handbook on file at the host stand or in the manager's office. Another good option is to look at the menu, choose what you would like, and look up the nutrition information for similar dishes at other restaurants and take the average of macro values. If you want to hit your macros spot on however, you will have to look up each ingredient's nutritional content and then calculate your meal's total macros by hand. Unless you are a few weeks out from competition, this is probably unnecessary. An occasional estimated meal will not negatively impact your progress.
Part of living a balanced life is doing the best you can to take care of your body given your available resources. Don't stress over insignificant details or beat yourself up for overshooting your macros once in a while. Remember, good health is achieved through consistency over time. There is no reason to sacrifice memories that you could be making with loved ones in pursuit of a fitness goal. We believe it is possible to do both and live in freedom.
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