Weight Loss Friendly Restaurant Meals

Week 6: Finding Weight Loss Friendly Meals at Restaurants

Educating you about your body and the food that you are putting into is a crucial component of the LiveLight Lifestyle Medicine’s weight loss program. To do this, Dr. Christy gives her “students” a little homework lesson so you can learn about making smart eating choices and developing them into habits.

My first assignment: research some of my favorite restaurants and find menu choices that fit within my prescribed diet plan.

Planning your meal and knowing what options you have ahead of time helps you make smart decisions and keep you on track! Here are a few of food options at my favorite restaurants that fit within my customized diet parameters. Ps. Cheating off my homework is ok ;)

My Grab & Go Healthy Option at Chik-Fil-A

For people with busy lifestyles, sometimes you just can’t avoid eating fast food. Chik-Fil-A has become one of my go-to options for a quick and healthy meal when I am on the go. They also offer a handy Meal Nutrition Calculator on their website to easily check the nutrition information! SCORE!

12-Ct. Grilled Nuggets200634
Fruit Cup50130
Diet Lemonade1540


My Low Carb Healthy Meal at McCalister’s Deli 

Famous for their deli-style offerings, McAlister’s is one my favorite lazy weekend lunch spots. I have to be a little more creative with my order to make sure it isn’t high in carbs, but it’s totally worth it!

Choose 2 -Turkey Melt, No Mayo, No Bun130114
Cup of Broccoli Cheddar Soup250139
Skinny Green Tea w/ Citrus000


Houlihan’s – Optimal Meal

Houlihans’ has been one of my favorite casual dining options because they always have a ton of menu choices including a “healthy” menu section with lighter entrée, sides and drink options.

(PS.. Plan ahead. nutrition information is readily available on their website)

Atlantic Salmon (5oz)343329
Grilled Asparagus5342
Fresh Fruit77171
Unsweetened Iced Tea000

 Ruby Tuesday’s

Since revamping their image in the past 5 years, Ruby Tuesday’s has elevated their food offerings to include more healthy and fresh options. Even though I’m not a fan of the salad bar, I can always find plenty of healthy things to eat here.

(NOTE: Steer clear of their flavored iced teas because they are loaded with carbs!)

Chicken Bella4261729
Grilled Zucchini4141
Steamed Broccoli5273
Diet Coke000

Olive Garden

If you’ve followed my entire journey you know – I’m an Italian girl at heart and will always have a soft spot for the Italian flavors that I grew up with. So it a treat to still be able to visit one of my favorite Italian restaurants. Guess what! There’s a variety of low-carb options. One key point to remember at restaurants. Portions can be HUGE, you learn about from Dr. Christy and her team. View Dina’s blog on Portion control for more details.

It’s not different at Olive Garden (Hello – can you say soup, salad and no bread please). But I didn’t let this stop my Italian heart… I simply portioned out half of my entrée, box it up, and ate the rest. Plus I still felt full at the end of the meal and had leftovers for the next day!!!

½ Garlic Rosemary Chicken w/ Potatoes & Spinach2701531
Zuppa Toscana220157


You will find that once you do a bit of research and digging of your own, that most restaurants will have low-carb and healthy options to help accommodate your diets needs. Typically chain restaurants have their nutrition information posted online so you can easily keep track, but if not, always use your best judgment to avoid consuming high amounts of carbs.

Achieving My Healthy Weight: Making Strides

Week 5: Making Strides with My Weight

I have successfully made it through a month of my customized diet plan and I’m impressed! Dr. Christy’s program is ah-ma-zing! I have lost 10lbs in total and I have never felt better or seen the pounds melt off so fast. Also, I can’t say I mind the positive comments I have received from my co-workers, friends and especially my husband.

After a month in and losing almost 7% of my weight, I have more motivation than ever to keep moving forward and never look back to the “old” pudgier me and her unhealthy eating habits.

At my latest appointment I was congratulated for my weight loss, given a thorough check-in of my progress and experience thus far and a new diet instruction packet that allows me to be a little more flexible with my eating. While I am still limited on my calories and carbs, I can now add fruit and a few starchier vegetables back into the mix. Hello potatoes!(Or at least half a potato…the amount of starchy vegetables I’m allowed per day on my plan.) My new packet also included some reading materials and homework to familiarize me with the types of healthy food and habits it will take to maintain my healthy weight once I reach it. My homework consists of doing a little research on my favorite restaurants along with incorporating a small amount of exercise into my daily regime.

It was reassuring to hear from Dina, LiveLight’s physician assistant, that adding this exercise into my routine did not mean I had to dress up in full gym attire and go to the gym to sweat it out for an hour everyday. Nor did I have to enroll in a grueling video-based exercise program like P90X or Jillian Michaels. This exercise program is for real people living real lives. I’m just thankful that Dr. Christy and her staff understand how important it is for weight loss & exercise to not only be achievable but also maintainable and realistic for my busy schedules. That’s why Dina encouraged me to start off in small doses and noted that just walking the dog can count. I was also surprised and relieved to hear that Yoga and Pilo (short for a pix of Yoga & Pilates), my favorite form of exercise, can count towards strength training.

The further I get into this weight loss program, the more I realize that Dr. Christy and her team are truly experts and visionaries in their field of obesity medicine. While I wasn’t technically considered obese at my starting weight, I was overweight. If I hadn’t found them when I did – it easily could have led to obesity or other serious health issues like high blood pressure or diabetes.

Now more than ever, I have every confidence in Dr. Christy and her team to help me become the healthiest me I can be.

healthy grocery shopping challenge for weight loss

Achieving My Healthy Weight : The Grocery Store Challenge

Week 4: The Grocery Store Challenge

Going to the grocery store has become a mission involving a lot of time devoted to reading the nutrition labels. My husband has been gracious enough to go along for the ride with me. While he isn’t officially enrolled in the program, I admire his willingness to make changes to help motivative me and help me to succeed. He consoles me when we visit the grocery store and pass all the aisles filled with sweet-smelling candy, baking paraphernalia and pasta that we are no longer able to visit. He encourages me to not even look down the aisle, knowing when it will tempt me. He has also been a great coach in making me more aware of the quality of the food we buy.

While I have been surprised at the high carb content of many seemingly “harmless” foods I am used to eating, what I am most surprised about is the amount of unnecessary ingredients some of my favorite foods have. Checking the nutrition labels has made me be more conscious of not just the nutritional information, but also of the ingredients I am putting into my body.

As I mature as an adult, I have began to think more about what types of food and substances I consume and how they affect my health. It is no longer about buying the food that is the cheapest or the brand that I recognize the most, but about purchasing the food that is the best for me, my body and my family. Most of the food we purchase is labeled either organic or natural or at least has a shorter “healthier” list of ingredients. Dr. Christy also provided me with an amazing and comprehensive guide to grocery store shopping, telling which foods and aisles to avoid and which brands are the best.

Sometimes when I check the back of the food packaging I am investigating, I get a bit frustrated. I wonder why the brand or the manufacturer chose to put certain unnatural or unhealthy ingredients inside. I then remind myself that the food industry is in business to make money and not worry about my health. There are a number of different documentaries devoted to this very controversial topic like Food Inc. and recently released, Fed Up. I digress because I realize I am not going to lead a food revolution, but I know there are small things I can do to make a difference. And that starts with the food choices I make today.

This coming week will mark the one-month anniversary of my new diet. Since I began this journey, I have dropped a dress size and finally been able to fit into some old skinny jeans. (Woohoo!) It’s amazing to see and feel the difference a loss of 8 pounds can make. Even more so, the educational aspect of the program empowers me with the information to not just change the look of my body but change my health. I can’t wait to see what Dr. Christy has in store for me at my next appointment.

control your eating habits

Achieving My Healthy Weight: Taking Control of My Eating Habits

Week 2 & 3 : Taking Control of My Eating Habits

After the first week of my low-carb high protein diet, it seemed like my body was finally accepting the change in my eating habits. One of the biggest changes I have noticed is the absence of that sluggish feeling that turns you into a couch potato after you eat a high-carb meal like, well, potatoes. (I wonder if that’s where the saying came from?)

While sometimes I do still miss my high-carb “friends,” most days I do not feel like I am missing out at all. I have even found a way to beat the cravings when they do come. I’ve always loved searching for recipes on Pinterest and even though my diet has changed, I am still using it more than ever. Instead of pinning so many recipes to my sweets & desserts board, I am now been pinning recipes that are healthy and low carb. Healthy does not have to mean tasteless and there are plenty of recipes out there to prove it. You just have to not be afraid to get a little creative!

Food Recipe Makeovers

I have been extremely successful in doing some recipe makeovers that have allowed me to enjoy the flavors I love without the carbohydrates. I have found that zucchinis can be a great alternative to pasta and all you need is a food grater and a zucchini and voila, instant noodles! My husband was also adventurous enough to let me make a pizza with a crust made out of cauliflower. Looking back, I should have made two because it was that delicious! Even my dog wanted to lick my plate. I had no idea that I could have low carb pizza that tasted that good.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

For the Crust
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
For the sauce
  • 1/3 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
For the toppings
  • 1 small handful of spinach
  • 1/4 lb ground turkey sausage
  • 1/2 cup shredded italian cheese
  • 1/2 cup white mushrooms

Pulse/grate the cauliflower into a small grain using a blender or food processor. Cook in the microwave for 4 minutes. Combine the rest of the crust ingredients with the cooked cauliflower and flatten out onto a parchment lined pan to form a circle. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes and remove the crust.

Sautee the garlic until golden and then combine the sauce and oregano into a sautee pan on low heat for just a few minutes. Next spoon the sauce onto the pre-cooked crust. Add your toppings and then set the oven to broil for about 5 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Weight Loss Success – Let’s Celebrate!!

After my second successful week on the diet, I had my first follow-up appointment at the clinic. While I knew that I felt lighter and certainly looked thinner, I had been waiting for my official weigh-in from the Doc’ to celebrate.

Hearing that I has lost 6 pounds was like music to my ears. Finally these pounds were starting to move!

Happy with the progress, Dr. Christy encouraged me to keep doing what I was doing. She even gave me some tips and a plan to navigate special occasions for an upcoming celebration in my family. It was great relief to know that there is enough flexibility in the diet to help me navigate real life. So when I’m offered a roll or piece of cake, I know just what to do.

Using MyFitnessPal alongside the program to help keep track of my food intake has also made a big difference. Although I have used it before, when I was not being held accountable to log all my food everyday, it was easy to slip or get “calorie amnesia” as Dr. Christy says. Now, especially  since I have someone rooting for me, I feel like I owe it to myself and to Dr. Christy to do my best.

Making a decision to do something about your weight also means making a decision to change your lifestyle. And that’s exactly what week two and three of this diet has taught me.