While working in the corporate world, business dinners are inevitable. If you’re a person trying to get a new deal, most likely you will have to wine and dine your potential client and/or customer.
Jack’s Business Dinner Scenario
Time: 6:30 PM
Jack is anxious as he drives his rental car in search of a parking spot outside the restaurant. He is meeting up with two work colleagues and three managers from Santech Industries.
Santech Industries is a potential new client that could help Jack get a $2,000 bonus if he is able to complete this deal. Jack feels nervous about this dinner.
Not only is the pressure on from his job, but he also hired this handsome young guy named MicVinny to be his travel fitness coach. This was Jack’s third week of working with MicVinny and he was seeing awesome progress with his health.
But this night was different from the other nights. This was the first time Jack had to eat at a restaurant with his co-workers since starting his new fitness plan.
Additionally, Jack was going to be eating in front of strangers who he needed to do business with.
How was he going to survive?
Luckily, Jack remembered this exact article and pulled this page up on his phone!
Why is a business dinner stressful?
First impressions are everything. When out in the working world your job is to make money.
In order to make money you have to work for a business.
In order to get money into a business you have to have a service that others would want to pay for.
For most of us, business starts through networking and conversations.
Work dinners are a key aspect of doing business for most traveling professionals. It literally allows you to break bread with others.
The problem is that after eight hours of being at work, you like to think of the nighttime as your time. That’s why business dinners are more intimate than lunch meals.
You’re giving up your night for your job. Not having that typical evening “alone time” causes you to feel somewhat stressed out.
The way you talk, dress, joke and eat is controlled by those you spend the most time around. If you work a typical 8 hour day, you spend more time around co-workers than you do your family.
If they follow a crappy diet, guess who else is going to follow a crappy diet?
When out at a dinner, everyone is trying to impress everyone else so everyone is going to do what comes easy. What comes easy is to order what everyone else is having.
In the case of the healthy traveler that means you’re going to have to resist peer pressure. That means you will most likely look like the odd man out.
Or will you…….
How To Prepare For A Business Dinner
If you know there will be an important dinner meeting with prospective clients you have to get your head right before it even starts.
Pay attention to whether or not you exercised for the day. If you’ve had time to lift weights 1-2 hours before the dinner, then you know your food choices should include lots of protein and some carbohydrates.
Your body needs those macronutrients as fuel so you can properly recover from your workout.
If you worked out in the morning/lunch hours, then hopefully you already had a good post workout meal consisting of protein and carbohydrates.
Tonight is more about not going over your maintenance calories for the day. So you have your choice of a high protein, high fat meal (think paleo) or a high protein, low carb meal.
High fat, high carb should ALWAYS be out the picture!
If you didn’t workout then dinner is still all about maintenance and not going over your calories for the day. This meal should consist of as many healthy vegetables and lean protein sources as possible!
Other Business Dinner Prep Options
Practice Intermittent Fasting While Traveling
If you think that you’ll be surrounding be too much tempting food during your trip you can always practice intermittent fasting.
Just skip breakfast (and maybe lunch if you can handle it) and eat at dinner.
Intermittent fasting does not give you a pass to eat whatever junk food you want!
It’s just a good method to ensure that you stay within your maintenance calories for the day.
Your meal will be larger than the normal “3 times a day” template, but you’ll feel more satisfied and know that you stayed close to the amount of calories you needed for the day.
Drink A Protein Shake Before Dinner
A simple tip when eating out frequently is to drink 20-40 grams of protein before dinner.
Protein aids in creating satiety in your body. By drinking this beforehand your appetite won’t be as large.
Plus you had something your body truly needs which is protein! As a bonus it’ll help with that sweet tooth of yours if dessert is present!
How To Survive The Business Dinner
Now that you had a pre-dinner game plan, its time to head into that dinner like a Boss!
You want to display confidence because that’s what will garner the respect of everyone else.
Let’s get this out the way.
This is where most people get scared and cave in.
If your goal is truly to get in better shape, lose weight, gain muscle, etc., then you know alcohol consumption will not help!
“But what if everyone else is ordering alcohol, I don’t want to stand out”
Which is going to look more impressive to a stranger?
A herd of sheep with their heads down, or that one black sheep in the middle sipping some water with their head held high!
You need to remind yourself that:
“My dream is bigger than that drink!”
If that is true, then you wouldn’t care about what everyone else is drinking. If you really do get questioned why you’re not drinking, just tell them the truth!
“I’m currently on this workout routine where I can’t have alcohol.”
You just shut that down. The next thing they will ask is probably about your workout routine.
Guess what, you’ve just became the most interesting person at the table.
You’re not being like everyone else and caving in! That’s how you flip that around!
It’s all about confidence!
What You Should Order From The Menu For Dinner
When looking at the menu your eyes should go towards the salad options first (See: How To Confidently Create A Healthy Salad From Any Restaurant Part I and Part II).
If they don’t have great salad + protein add on options, go ahead and see what main courses fits the plan.
You want to go with high protein meat sources.
Do not order anything fried!
Look for grilled, steamed or sautéed versions. Expect there to be extra oil/fat on the meats cooked from any restaurant.
Always add a side of extra vegetables with your entree. Again, try to avoid butter/oil if possible.
Your carbohydrate sources should consist of rice and baked potatoes (white or sweet potato).
No extra butter, sour cream and/or cheese! Your carbs should be natural with no sauces.
When There’s No Good Healthy Food Options
If you’ve searched that menu and all you see is fat plus carb sources, I’ll give you a couple of options:
Order More Salad
Double up on the salads! If those are the best options, go for it.
Practice Portion Control
If the salads are horrible options, its time to practice portion control.
Try to pick the “best” option you see. Despite it having lots of fat and carbs in the same meal, you’re going to eat only one-fourth of the dish.
Yes, just one quarter of the dish.
You will stop eating the food for 10 mins. During this 10 mins you’re going to have conversations, listen to others and drink as much water as possible.
Once that 10 mins is up, see if you’re hungry.
If your stomach is not shouting at you with hunger, then that’s it for now. You don’t need to eat another bite. If still hungry after 10 mins, go eat another 1/4 of the dish and repeat.
If unable to finish the food, you can always take the food to go or you can just throw it away.
I’m a person that hates wasting food, but remember that in realty you’re not wasting food!
This is food that people should not be eating anyway! All you are doing is preventing someone from getting heart diseases.
It’s ok to toss it, don’t lose sleep over it!
If you get hungry later that night on your way back to your hotel or home, you’ll be in a better situation to actually order a healthier food option than you were if you continued to eat that poor restaurant option.
I’m scared none of this would work, what if they keep asking questions
If they keep going deep and intimidating you I have a simple solution.
Tell them about me!
That’s right send them directly to this website!
My About page tells my history.
I have an electrical engineering and international business development background. Do you know how many business dinners I have been to in my life?
Do you know how many times I regretted caving in?
Do you know how I finally lost all that weight and stayed in shape despite traveling 24/7?
By using the advice above!
If you want to look different, you have to do things differently.
I work with high ranking professionals such as managers, CFOS and CEOs. I know how much they secretly want to live a healthy lifestyle but feel like they have to do what others at these business dinners want to do.
Stop giving into the game of business dinner peer pressure.
Take the lead!
Get the deal done!
Have some fun!
Be confident and make that business dinner work for you!