Eating Out In Chicago While Staying Fit
I’ve been in the hospitality (food & beverage) industry ever since the beginning of my career, and I was lucky enough that my career landed me in what I think is the best restaurant city in the country, Chicago. Actually, I’m not the only one to think this – Bon Appetit magazine voted it this in 2017.
After living in Chicago for my first couple of years and fully emerging myself in the best restaurant city in the country, I gained a few pounds…call it the Chicago 15. I realized that because of my job and passion for food, I’d always be involved in the restaurant scene so I needed to make a change. The change involved committing to work outs at Fit Results full time (5-6 days a week) and focusing on balance in every other aspect of my life; including meals out.
Before (over indulging) & After (learning balance)
Because of my job & my ability to finally figure out balance in the past couple of years, I get a lot, and I mean a lot of questions about my favorite restaurants in Chicago – specifically the healthy ones! So here are a few of my tips on how I stay in shape while constantly eating out, followed by a few of my favorite restaurants where I find it easy to keep it healthy:
- Plan ahead – I always take a peek at the menu before heading out to a restaurant so I can plan a healthy (but delicious) choice in advance, and not make a spontaneous decision in person while starving & super tempted!
- Share plates – One of my favorite ways to dine with friends, and something that went from a culinary trend to now the norm! It’s so much more fun to try a little bit of everything, and a great way to keep your portions small – yet satisfying.
- Maintain a routine – I live for this. Throughout the week I always have a set routine that typically includes my 6 or 7am morning workout at Fit Results, a protein smoothie (usually a coffee one), a veggie & protein packed salad for lunch, and then dinner is typically out. If the rest of my day is prepped & planned, I find that I won’t splurge at dinner because I want to stay the course!
- Don’t show up starving – I used to make this mistake all the time, and would always end up ordering whatever I (thought I) wanted which was fun at the time, but I’d always wake up feeling awful and completely regretting it! I find that filling up on a healthy lunch during the day is a huge help.
- Drink a lot of water – No shame, I’m a huge wine fan & always go for a glass (or two) at dinner, but in additional to that are several refills of water throughout the night to keep me full & hydrated. I also love going for a decaf coffee at the end of the night instead of dessert to curb my sweet tooth.
Ok, what you’ve all been waiting for!
Here are a few of my favorite Chicago spots where it’s easy to keep it healthy & fun to share plates. These places use seasonal & local ingredients which is huge for me.
S.K.Y.: Recently recognized as Chicago’s best new restaurant by Chicago Magazine & if you haven’t been here yet, you need to make it a point to ASAP. If you’re a South Loop resident, it’s located in Pilsen & super close by. I absolutely adore the team there; their attention to detail is the best in the biz and there are so many amazing dishes, you truly can’t go wrong. (I splurge on the desserts here, it’s totally worth it).
One of my favorite S.K.Y. dishes: their Hamachi Sashimi – photo by @infatuation_chi
Aba: If you’re looking for good vibes, a gorgeous interior and rooftop (once it warms up), and delicious Mediterranean plates to share – this is your spot. I went here with a couple of Fit Results “fit-fam” ladies last fall and we had the best dinner!
Two: I tell everyone about this place; it’s one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago. It’s super unpretentious, and known for its flavorful (and easy to share) Midwest seasonal farm-to-table cuisine. Located in West Town, its right in between both Fit Results locations & the perfect week night dinner spot!
Beatnik: Super chic vibes – such an Instagram-able spot (because, who are we kidding, it totally matters these days) and known for their delicious worldly cuisine (flavors from Asia, Mexico, the Middle East and South America) to share at the table (noticing a theme here?) Also located in West Town, and on the river!
Beatnik’s gorgeous Baba Ghanoush – photo by @fourstarfoodie on instagram
If you make it to any of these spots, let me know how you like them! I’m always available for more recommendations or to join in on a fit-fam dinner;)
You can find me @marymdunn on Instagram!