How you can eat outside and still choose healthier options?

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Some of the main reasons why we choose to eat are simply that our lives are getting busier, and of course that many of the options are cheap, and it’s very convenient too. But what if you care about your health and want to choose healthier options, is that possible? Absolutely, you can choose healthier options when eating out, you just need to be aware of hidden calories such as sauces and some food additives. Restaurant food usually does not contain food labels so you really need to ask. Personally, however, even when I choose to order the best option I often also really feel that my digestion is struggling after eating out. So what can we do to minimize this?

First, if you know which restaurant you are going to then you can check out their menu online and plan what you’re going to order. Many restaurants also provide calorie counts. Look for dishes that align with your dietary goals, such as meals with vegetables and lean proteins, and generally the simpler the better. Restaurant portions are often very large, so sharing or asking for a smaller order can save some calories as well. I know it’s hard, but try to say no to appetizers as many of them contain more calories than the main meal. Choose dishes that are steamed, grilled, roasted, or broiled, rather than fried or sautéed. Also, try to avoid meals named “creamy”, “battered” or “breaded”, as they are usually high in calories and fat. Instead, ask for side salads with dressing on the side, and choose fruits and vegetables. Avoid drinking many extra calories from drinks such as lemonade, iced tea, soda, and alcoholic beverages as they will only give you extra calories, not nutrients. Additives are delicious but can also add many calories, so ask for sauces on the side so you can use a little less.

Of course restaurants and fast food places try hard to make their items delicious, so they add extra salt, oils, and sugar to make them tastier. Many places also use low-quality, cheap ingredients to save money, so to be really aware of that. While saving time and money, you actually pay back with your health.

Also keep in mind that the actual calorie content can vary widely depending on portion size, preparation method, and specific ingredients. Examples of high-calorie foods include burgers, especially when they’re large or have added components like cheese, bacon, or mayonnaise; pizza, with thick crusts and high-fat toppings like pepperoni, sausage, and extra cheese; fried chicken sandwiches or chicken buckets are usually high-calorie due to the batter and frying process; pasta dishes with creamy sauces, like fettuccine alfredo or macaroni and cheese, are high in calories; nachos are typically loaded with cheese and other high-fat toppings like sour cream and guacamole. Chinese take-outs such as chicken, sweet and sour pork, and fried rice can be high in both calories and sodium. Desserts such as cheesecake, chocolate lava cake, or cookies often have a lot of sugar and oil. And even drinks can add a surprising amount of calories to a meal, for example a soda and a large milkshake can easily exceed 800 calories.

Water is wonderful at controlling hunger signals, so drink plenty of it and you’ll find it a lot easier to say no to the extras, like the appetizer or large desert, that look so tempting but you know are not going to be good for you.

Of course, I understand that knowing what you need to do and applying it are very different things and not always easy. However, if you start to make one tiny change then you will still see the benefits on your health, both mentally and physically. Ideally, making your own lunch and eating out less often is the best option. However, even if you don’t, you can still be healthy, just pay a little more attention and when you do eat out, just enjoy it.

Resources:

Chuck Dinerstein, The American Council on Science and Health, March 29 2021. “Eating Out Is Killing You”. https://www.acsh.org/news/2021/03/29/eating-out-killing-you-15439

Eva Gesteiro et al, National Library of Medicine, March 16 2022. “Eating out of Home: Influence on Nutrition, Health, and Policies: A Scoping Review”. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8953831/

Science Daily, March 25 2021. “Frequent consumption of meals prepared away from home linked to increased risk of early death”. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210325084824.htm

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competition history

Ayda competes regularly in fitness competitions and is currently preparing for the 2023 North American championships.

NPC North American Championships, 2022
NPC North American Championships, 2022
NPC North American Championships, 2022
CPA Toronto, 2021

You’ve probably heard so many people say “I love what I do”, BUT in my case I can truly say it from my heart. I’ve competed in sports all my life, but it wasn’t so long ago that I really understood that actually I can only ever compete with myself.

“You are perfect, until compare yourself with someone else”

I started contest prep in 2011, and since then I didn’t stop competing. In some competitions I got first place, in some it went not so well, but every competition that I prepared for taught me something more about myself and helped me take the correct direction, which I believe has shaped my work and my life in such a positive way.

When I competed in my first bikini competition I had just moved from my home country Turkey to Canada, and was getting used to the Canadian lifestyle — and, of course, the language too, which was the hardest part for me. I always wanted to do a fitness or bikini competition, but when I was still in Turkey the work and cultural differences made it so hard to do.

So I was in Vancouver BC, working at Steve Nash Fitness Club, and one of my co-workers, who was a competitor herself, asked me “why you are not competing?” I started asking myself and questioning if I could do it? I’d never done anything like it before… Maybe you’re asking yourself the same questions right now! Of course I told myself “absolutely, I can’’. And my competition journey began!

Each show that I competed in gave me more knowledge about my body, and how I can improve. Of course, it’s not easy to correctly identify what’s missing with training and nutrition, and this learning process and all of the experiences pushed me to learn more… I’ve been a personal trainer since 1993, but I wanted more and began my nutrition studies. I finished my Comprehensive Nutrition and Sports Nutrition degrees.

And yes, I am still competing! You can see a list of all of the competitions that I’ve competed in further down this page. And right now, AGAIN, I am getting ready for my next show…!

I’ll warn you right now, it wasn’t easy at all. The easiest part was the training, which was already part of my daily life. But posing, dieting, supplementation, getting a bikini, finding a trainer… This was much tougher, not the mention the cost for the registration, jewelry, tanning, hair and make-up, they cost a lot too. 

But I wouldn’t let anything stop me, and right after my first show — WBFF in May, 2011 — I immediately started looking for the next show to compete in. I was hooked!

I am so happy to be able to help other competitors who are willing to work and improve their mind and health at the same time. My goal is to create healthy and happy bikini competitors, who want to challenge themselves and put in the work that needs to be done to reach their goals. There is really no easy way to get there… But there is a smart way.

I look forward to working together and sharing my knowledge with YOU to get you in the best shape of your LIFE!!!!! 

AYDA HAS COMPETED IN

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