EATING WELL IN KANSAS CITY - February 2019
You Can Eat Healthy While Dating—Here’s How
By Angela Watson Robertson
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, maybe you’re thinking about taking your special someone out on a romantic date, or you’re actively meeting lots of new people and going on a lot of dates these days. Regardless of your relationship status, at some point while dating (which often means eating and drinking out quite often), your health and nutrition goals may start to conflict with your social calendar. Yet, one doesn’t have to derail the other. You can eat healthy and stick to your health goals while dating. Itt just takes some planning and thoughtfulness.
I remember when I was trying to eat healthy while going on 2-3 dates a week in my late 20’s and it was really difficult. On top of that, I often felt a lot of social pressure to order an alcoholic drink on every date or eat a heavy, comfort-food type meal in order to prove that I was a lot of fun and I was having a good time. Yet, in hindsight I wish I’d stayed true to my nutrition and health needs more while dating. I didn’t know then what I know now about how important nutrition is for my mental and physical health or how to creatively dine out with food sensitivities or diet restrictions. So, now I’m passing on these tips to you so that you can stick to your health goals for 2019 and enjoy a busy social or dating life.
How To Eat Healthy While Dating 101
Know your date.
As a health coach, I know that whom we spend most of our time with directly affects our lifestyle choices and thus our health. So, first things first—If at all possible, I’d suggest choosing to date people who have similar lifestyles as yourself. In this day and age with social media, it makes it a lot easier to know the type of person you’re about to go out with ahead of time.
The great thing is that will most likely happen naturally, as you’ll be drawn to people who have similar interests. Don’t be afraid to ask potential dates what their diet and lifestyle or drinking habits are while you’re getting to know them online or over the phone before your first date. Call me a buzzkill, but this is important. I’m not the first or the last person who didn’t think to find out if my date was a huge drinker before arriving to dinner and saying, “I’ll just have water.” Then I discover he’s already had three Gin and Tonics. Let’s just say we weren’t the best match.
If you’re married or in a long-term relationship (LTR)- this will be much easier as you most likely already know if your date is on a diet or has food allergies.
Be Straight Up.
Sticking to your healthy lifestyle can be more difficult if you are often meeting with new people who don’t know you well and/or don’t have the same lifestyle or goals as you do. That’s because we all want to impress our new friend and seem super fun, and often we wait until down the road to say, “Oh yeah, I actually am gluten-intolerant, and I’ll never want to go to Italian restaurants with you,” or “Actually, I don’t like to drink.” So, take it from me, if you’re honest right away you’ll save a lot of time and awkwardness.Most of the time and before a date, you have a few conversations with the person. Let him or her know a bit about how you live your life and be as open as possible. Ask the same of your date, and you’ll find intimacy grows a bit easier. Plus, you’ll be setting up the foundation for a relationship where you can take care of your health as a team.
Choose the location wisely.
Don’t just think about where the popular places are to hang out. Also consider the type of food they serve and how open the wait staff is toward modifying the menu. Ask yourself if you’ll be able to stick to your meal plan or diet restrictions at the location. If you don’t drink, but you feel awkward not drinking if your date is—consider is there a fun, non-alcoholic drink on the menu you could order instead?
If you have strict diet requirements or food allergies and sensitivities, it is your job to take care of yourself. So, do your research. When I had to avoid dairy and gluten and I was dating a lot, I had a ready set list of the select restaurants and bars in my city that served food I knew I could eat. That way any time I was setting up a date, I had a few options to suggest. Worst case scenario if we were meeting somewhere I couldn’t eat much on the menu, I’d just order a salad without croutons.
If you’re married or in a LTR- by now you know what each other likes and it’s just a matter of finding somewhere each of you can eat well in the way that suits each of you best. Plus, compromise goes a long way. Maybe this week you go to the Mexican place he loves and you just order a salad, but next week he joins you at the vegan restaurant that you love.
Check the menu ahead of time.
It’s super helpful to research the menu of the restaurants and bars before arriving, especially if you have diet restrictions. Before you sit down with your date, have an idea what food and drink you’ll order or questions you need to ask the staff. If you’re uncomfortable asking in front of your new date, call ahead and ask the manager if they offer menu modifications or have a gluten free menu. This applies whether this is your first date or your 400th. Plan ahead and look at the menu to make sure it fits with your healthy way of eating.
Get creative with your order.
It’s easy to just order whatever your date is ordering or whatever sounds good, but you can get creative and stick to your health and nutrition goals if you put a little thought into it. If you need to avoid gluten, order your burger on lettuce, or choose a lean protein like chicken or fish and add some side vegetables. Make sure to tell the staff it must be gluten free.
If you’re going out to meet a new date at a bar for a drink, but you’re not much of a drinker or you’re trying to limit alcohol, stick with sparkling water with lime.
Cooking at home?
If you’re planning to cook at home for your Valentine, here’s a simple and healthy recipe for two. I’d recommend purchasing wild caught salmon instead of farmed, and pair the meal with my favorite, organic red table wine from Trader Joe’s: Green Fin Red Table Wine.
One Pan Salmon in Honey Garlic Sauce with Vegetables
1.5 lbs wild salmon fillet
1.25 lbs (4 cups) sweet potatoes, cubed
1.25 lbs (4 cups) brussel sprouts, halved
2 Tbsp avocado
3 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 large garlic cloves, grated
1 tsp salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Chop the sweet potatoes into bite sized pieces. Cut the brussel sprouts into halves.
Make the honey garlic sauce. In a small bowl add honey, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and whisk.
Place salmon fillet in the middle of the baking sheet. Pour ⅓ of the honey garlic sauce over the salmon and spread with a brush.
In a medium bowl, add butternut squash. Drizzle with 1 tbsp oil and 1/3 of honey garlic sauce. Mix well to coat and transfer to the baking sheet on one side of salmon fillet in a single layer. Repeat this step with brussels sprouts.
Bake for 30 minutes and serve hot with a side of brown rice or quinoa.
Recipe modified from: https://ifoodreal.com/one-pan-salmon/
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Angela Watson Robertson, MBA, CIHC, INHC, a.k.a The Reinvention Warrior, is a well known nutrition blogger and health coach who teaches you how to transform your life starting with the food you eat. She has created simple, effective tools to help you reinvent every area of your life- from health, career and money to relationships, spirituality and sex. Find her free wellness tips, nutrition courses, and coaching programs at www.angelawatsonrobertson.com. Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter.