Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Look at the menu ahead of time | Health & Fitness

Napa’s inhabitants are pretty lucky. As people visit Napa from different towns and other states, Highway 29 leads to the promised land of food and wine. Their adventure in a culinary theme park awaits them. Highly decorated chefs and elite food industry enthusiasts saturate the valley, making it a food and wine mecca for food enthusiasts from around the globe.

Fortunately for locals like myself, these award-winning food destinations are a stone’s throw away from my place of work and my home. A drive to the Oxbow public market or a stroll through Main Street takes less time than waiting for a set of commercials between innings of a Giants game. If we want to go out of our way, we can take the five-minute trek to Yountville and frolic throughout its goldmine of award-winning restaurants.

Along with this vast array of culinary influences, comes menu items such as burgers, pasta, pastries, mind-blowing Mexican food, and pizzas that would put Diners Drive-ins and Dives reviews in shambles. Chicken sandwiches from R+D, a few tacos from C Casa, and some of the best donuts or bagels from Winston’s are just a few tantalizingly decadent treats. An adventure on a food tour of Napa is similar to a state of bliss in an unforgettable dream you wouldn’t want to wake from.

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As locals living in a food paradise, we are presented with potential obstacles that can afflict our well-being. Obtaining takeout or ordering DoorDash is easy. So, why would we want to cook something nutritionally balanced and healthy at home?

Additionally, it shouldn’t be surprising that too much of a good thing can lead to sub-optimal effects on our body’s physiology. Carbohydrates from buns, tacos and pastries increase insulin secretion in our bloodstream and promotes over-absorption of carbohydrates.

Furthermore, our restaurants know how to please their customers and want us to embrace their masterpiece of food by supplying their patrons with generous portions. People who experience days with limited physical activity can’t utilize all calories from carbohydrate and fat-dense foods in one sitting.

The result is likely to store excess calories as fat and increase insulin production later in the day. Failure to match the physical activity demands and utilize the calories as fuel from foods promotes excess fat weight, increased abdominal girth and the threat of insulin resistance-better known as pre-diabetes or diabetes.

Humans love to go along the path of least resistance. Driving to a favorite restaurant is simple. On the other hand, perusing through the produce aisle at our local grocery store, obtaining a lean protein, and assembling these items in our home kitchen take more effort.

Fortunately, there are some tactics to split the difference between indulging in too many treat foods and avoiding the seemingly grueling task of cooking at home.

A tactic that has proven helpful to our personal training clients who often go out to eat is to look at the menu items of the restaurant they’ll be visiting ahead of time.

Ninety-nine percent of the time, food institutions provide lighter food items with optimal nutritional value. By looking at menu items in advance, we can see if there are items such as salads or lean protein-themed dishes. Perhaps a grilled shrimp salad would better suit our nutritional needs than a hamburger or flatbread. If a burger and fries are placed in front of us, we’ll eat it. However, if a salad is placed in front of us, we’ll finish the healthier items on that plate.

Preparation is a potent tool for our success. To mitigate the unhealthy effects of eating out too much, we can look at the menus of our favorite restaurants ahead of time to make healthy decisions for our nutritional success.

Sean McCawley, the founder and owner of Napa Tenacious Fitness in Napa, welcomes questions and comments. Reach him at 707-287-2727, [email protected] or visit the website

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