Everybody is human. As the guests arrive and the holidays approach, there will undoubtedly be more eating out, parties and catered-for meals, that cannot be avoided. Oh well, someone has to do it. It’s easier said than done to stick to clean eating through the summer months for this reason alone. However, there is eating out and there is eating out. There is enjoying yourself and making the right choices and there is indulging yourself through making slightly unwise choices. It’s all about choices. To help you get through these times guilt-free and staying well and truly on the clean, lean lifestyle that you have carved out for yourself, here are some simple tips to bear in mind:

The Starter:

  • Order a big salad and a protein starter or appetiser.
  • Begin each meal with a big glass of water.

The Main:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask if food can be prepared to suit your needs. At the risk of sounding like a snob, it is after all the service industry and you are the customer – you can only ask.
  • Ask for sauces on the side.
  • Look for baked, poached or grilled options over fried ones.
  • Choose the protein and vegetable options and ask for vegetables instead of the frites or potatoes (i.e. not the starchy option).
  • You will struggle to find restaurants who serve grass-fed meat, so choose the fish; grilled fish being one of the leanest proteins you can get (with a good dose of omega-3s).

The Side and Beverages:

  • Tell the waiter to not bring the bread or even take it back if it’s there already.
  • For each glass of wine, drink a big glass of water, or if you don’t feel like wine and water is too bland; sparkling water is a good choice.
  • If confronted with the wine list, choose a Spanish Rioja, a French Burgundy or an Italian Sangiovese (at a push, Australian Shiraz). These wines have the highest amounts of resveratrol (a powerful anti-aging antioxidant). If you have to drink, these are the ones to take.

Being so close to the Italian border, a conversation I have all too often will go a little like this:

Mrs J: Oh Paddy do we have to do the fat test today? I have been to Italy.
PW: And?
Mrs J: Well you know, “When in Rome” Paddy…
PW: Yes, please go on…
Mrs J: “…Do… as the Romans do.” (Sorry about the film quote here. Name the film anyone?)
PW: Well the Italians have other items on their menu apart from wheat and trans-fat-laden pizzas and starch-central pastas and risottos . For instance the Italian’s do some of the best beef in the world – osso bucco for example.  There are many salads that are to die for, basil and tomato, fish and chicken dishes. There’s plenty to keep you interested and well fed for years, whilst passing on the breads and pastas.
Mrs J: I guess you’re right. It just feels right to eat a pizza there.
Cue fat test.
PW: And how does it feel to have jumped 2% body fat in 4 days?
Mrs J: Not good… I’ll work it off.
PW: You are correct there. You sure will. However, you’ve probably set yourself back a week and will have to work every day to get back to the same level. Was it worth it?
Mrs J: When you put it like that… No. Next time I’m going to make better choices.

It’s important to state, that we are all human and I have been known to enjoy a slice of pizza occasionally. However, it is all down to choice here. I’m not saying eating tagliatelle is a bad lifestyle choice and anyone that does is wrong. I am merely saying that if you are concerned with having and maintaining a lean, strong physique, this would be a poor choice. At the end of the day, it’s all about lifestyle choice. There is treat and there is pure indulgence. By all means, take a sorbet or a gelato on your treat day, but not every day and not combined with every other treat under the Tuscan Sun.

Making the right choices day by day, cumulatively creates not only a lot of right choices, but also creates resolve. A certain self-pride, self-worth and self-satisfaction that gets harder and harder to break with every day that passes.

A poster of my childhood comes to mind here: “The choices you make, not the chances you take determine your destiny”. I used to think it was just a cool poster with an inane phrase.  However, now I see how true this is, in more ways than one. I also think that making the right choices is down to how much you love yourself. How much you love your new body, how you’d love to fit in that new dress, how much you’d love to show your family the way you look. It comes down to love and if you love yourself enough, you’ll make the right choice, time and time again.

Enjoy your food. Enjoy your summer. Enjoy making the right choice.

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