I feel bad for competitors who tell me they never go out to eat with friends because they can’t stay on plan. Really? It’s funny, before ANY competitor steps on stage, she was once a normal person with normal eating habits. What the heck happens once those heels go on? What switch is flipped in her brain that convinces her she can’t go out for dinner on her birthday? You can enjoy going out to eat with friends and loved-ones WITHOUT sabotaging your weight loss efforts or your physique goals. It is possible to stay on track even if you’re not preparing your own food. I love food: eating is a complete sensory experience for me. I love textures, intense flavor combinations, and spices. Sometimes, I need a moment alone with whatever I’m eating: it’s THAT good. But, with anything, the key is moderation. There are times that I’ll splurge, but there are also times that I’ll eat smart. I hate turning down dinner invites just because they do not fall on a designated cheat day. Unless I’m a month out from a show, I usually will not decline social outings where food is involved. How do I do it? It’s really quite easy. The first thing to remember is that you do not have to order exactly what is on the menu. Take a look at the menu and see what kinds of meats are offered: most places will have chicken, at a minimum. Most will also have some sort of fish (mahi, shrimp, tilapia, etc), and hopefully a lean cut of beef. You can order any of these proteins plain-grilled. You MUST tell them to prepare your meat without butter or oil, as all restaurants add one or both before it hits your table. The “shine” that these fats give makes your meal look more appetizing, and all restaurants employ that trick to try to get you to eat more. Now that you have your protein squared away, look at your carb and veggie options. I typically steer clear of carbs unless I can get a plain baked potato or steamed brown rice. My problem with restaurants is their carb portions are usually the largest, and it’s hard to find a plain option that doesn’t have a sauce on it. I usually go for veggies instead, as you can get them steamed pretty easily. Asparagus, broccoli, mixed veggies, or a small side salad are great options. If you choose a salad, inquire about fat free dressings and get them on the side. You can also use salsa as a dressing, or use balsamic vinegar. So, there you go – it’s really not that hard! I do want to take a minute to address eating out, in general. Sometimes you have to live a little, people. Birthdays, holidays, baby showers, or just days when you’ve had enough and want a damn piece of cake. Really, sometimes, only a bowl of ice cream with chocolate syprup will help, and THAT’S OK! If you constantly deprive yourself, you’ll binge. There’s nothing wrong with eating off plan when you really, REALLY want to. The emotions that are connected with eating are extremely powerful and can be a little dangerous. It’s ok to splurge, even when you don’t plan to. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and realize that you’re human. You cannot get fat from 1 meal, I promise. So, read the menu, order smart, and indulge from time to time. Happy eating! Beth is an NPC and OCB figure competitor and has been competing for 3 years. When she’s not rocking the stage in her stiletto heels, she’s either at work as Project Manager at a Pharmaceutical company in Durham, NC or she’s in the gym training clients or teaching spin classes. In her very minimal free time, Beth likes to sleep, eat, play with her dog, and spend time with her boyfriend and friends (who also like to sleep and eat).