Going out to eat is a favorite activity for many. Especially to catch up with friends or family. However, for those focusing on a healthier diet, it can be quite stressful. Here are 5 tips to help you with healthy eating out.
The first step to healthy eating out is to research where you are going. The majority of restaurants now have menus on their websites. You can view and study the menu at home to determine which restaurant fits your dietary needs best. This is also helpful if other people have dietary requirements. Try to select the restaurant that has the best options for all parties attending.
Consider calling your chosen restaurant to see if they offer a healthy choice or dietary-specific menu. Restaurants are usually more than happy to accommodate dietary requests, especially if they have advanced notice.
Once you know what restaurant you are going to, you should prepare yourself for dining out. This means ensuring that you are not starving when you get to the restaurant. If you are going out for dinner, ensure you eat your light but regular meals throughout the day. If you go out for lunch, consider a smaller breakfast and a lighter dinner. This will help to prevent overeating while at the restaurant.
Restaurants are known for rich, decadent foods. Therefore, when trying to eat healthier you should consider substitutions for your meal. Consider swapping fries for salad, or steamed vegetables. Switch mashed potatoes for a baked potato with toppings on the side. Consider the hidden fats and calories by asking for all dressings and sauces on the side. You can also add additional vegetables to a burger or sandwich. If you are unsure about any substitutions, you could consider a vegan meal as they are often an easy, healthier option on the menu.
Remember to also ask your server for healthier option recommendations, as sometimes these are on a special menu.
When checking the menu, be sure to focus on how items are cooked. These are usually clearly laid out in the menu. Items described as ‘grilled’, ‘steamed’, and ‘broiled’ are typically cooked with less fat than ‘fried’ and ‘breaded’ items. Also look for descriptors such as ‘creamy’, ‘rich’, and ‘smothered’ as they typically feature heavy cream-based sauces.
Restaurant portions are often much too big for one person, as such many people opt to share meals. However, it’s best to avoid sharing dishes as you can easily overeat, especially when splitting 2 meals. When your food comes on a single plate, you can easily visualize how much of everything you should eat for a balanced meal. But, when sharing it is difficult to remember how much you have eaten as there is no initial visual.
Often people may also overeat when they order too much food to begin with. Order a single dish, and let the server know to leave a menu. This allows you to order more later if your meal was not enough. Remember to chew carefully and take your time while eating. Often we eat too fast, which means that our brain often finds out too late that our stomach is full.
Eating out doesn’t need to be a stressful experience for those working on their health. Follow the tips above for healthy eating out and enjoy your time with friends and family. Also, remember that one less healthy meal will not derail your health and fitness goals. Simply continue to follow your routine the next day, and stay consistent with your workouts and routines.