But NO MORE.
I've put together a list of healthier alternatives for you to assist in your social life being COMPATIBLE with your fitness, health, and even aesthetic goals!
1. Choose the "make your own" restaurant, such as Chipotle. This is a fitness-lover's dream place, because they can build a meal to their exact tastes AND needs. However, when you are standing at that long counter of options, don't feel like you NEED to pick one of the options they give you at every step of the station. Brown or white rice? How about neither? You have the option to say no thanks, instead of picking the "lesser evil" of the two. (Now of course, rice is not evil, just illustrating that it would be an easy thing to leave out that would save you some macros/calories for later!)
The same can be done with dessert...choose a "build your own" frozen yogurt shop over a place has a limited menu of intricate options. What you put in your mouth is literally in your hands...you pick the toppings and even how much. No worries about anyone else's clumsy fingers putting double what you wanted, etc. Frozen yogurt shops will even let you weigh your bowl multiple times throughout your toppings process! I usually weigh mine before I start putting toppings on at all just to get a gauge on how much froyo alone I have...it's not weird, and it's totally your right. I've never once had an employee be anything but accepting of asking to use the scale before I'm ready to pay. It happens more than you think, so if that's something that would make you feel more on track, DO IT.
2. On that same note, order the BOWL instead of tortilla-wrapped entree. I almost always order a burrito bowl/salad instead of the burrito itself because I can take those calories I saved from the tortilla (one has 45-50 grams of carbohydrate and around 10g of fat!) and use them for yummy fillings like rice and beans! Bonus: those fillings actually leave me feeling more satisfied anyway.
3. Always order sauce on the side. This goes for salad dressings, ketchup, mayo, BBQ sauce...anything. VERY rarely are the dishes actually prepared in a way where they can't separate the sauce from the food before serving it to you.
4. Go with grilled! Skip fried, and sometimes even baked (often restaurants will bake proteins with light breading that's hard to detect and isn't in the description of the dish on the menu). Less grease, oil, breading, and tastes the most FRESH!
5. Order from the "protein" sections of the menu. By this I mean head straight for the "Chicken & Seafood" or "Steak & Chops"-type headings versus the "Pasta"or "Sandwiches & Flatbreads". This does not mean cut out carbohydrate or fat from your meal, but rather make it easier on yourself by literally being able to see each macronutrient separated on your plate. Do you think it's easier to try and estimate the protein, carb, and fat content of a 6 ounce filet, wild rice, and green beans meal, or buffalo chicken flatbread with 8 different toppings/sauces?
6. Not all salads are created equal. Beware of the word "salad" and don't be tricked into thinking it's always a better alternative. A protein-topped salad can be an awesome (and filling) way to go for dinner, especially topped with yummy healthy fats, such as avocado and olives. But some come with so many different ingredients that it can be more of a buffet of kitchen ingredients than a true salad. Feel free to ask them to leave something OFF completely (such as croutons, for example), or substitute something you see they have in its place.
7. If you're going to have alcohol, skip the added sweeteners and go for the hard stuff! Sounds weird coming from a health and fitness fanatic huh? Well, hear me out. When you order a super sweet cocktail, it doesn't taste like you're drinking as much alcohol as it would in a stronger, less diluted drink...aka: you'll be tempted to order MORE drinks, even if you weren't originally planning to. Another way to get around these sugary calories is to order the "skinny" version, although it sometimes feels like they aren't quite as strong, which may lead to a similar scenario, so pick your poison (no pun intended ;)). If you weren't thinking of hard liquor, go with a glass of wine over beer. More antioxidants, less calories (more often than not), win-win.
8. Last, but certainly not least, is always ask if they can modify a dish for you, or substitute a side, even if it isn't listed on the menu. A good example is asking for no cheese in your salad, or on your sandwich. Or as another example I've been at a Mexican restaurant before where I knew they had good ingredients that I would feel good eating if put together in the right combination, but couldn't quite find the combo I was looking for on the menu. I politely requested a bowl with some of their ingredients such as fajita meat, black beans, veggies, and salsa be put into one bowl instead of coming with all the additional sides and wraps that the entrees listed had, and guess what? They happily created it for me. The server may say they "aren't sure" or haven't ever done it before, but if you're POLITE (super important) and nicely ask them if they wouldn't mind checking with the chef, they will. At the end of the day it's literally their job to serve you, so just don't be rude about it.
^^^This is an ideal option when eating on the go for me! I love to be able to put together a huge bowl of whatever my heart desires, while still sticking to my goals :) This is from my local natural market, but I do the same general ingredients when eating at more of a chain, such as Chipotle.
I hope this helps ease any worries about eating out, and how to get the body you desire while still keeping up with social and familial get-togethers.
Just remember, every pro was once an amateur; this hasn't always been easy for me! Even when I first got certified as a trainer I was still figuring this all out.
Baby steps, and you'll get more comfortable and intuitive as you progress!