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You Absolutely Can Eat Out AND Eat Healthy!
We all know that a good home-cooked meal is always the healthier option, but many people actually rely on the convenience of restaurant meals every single day. A huge challenge many face when following a healthy lifestyle is finding the time to prepare and cook healthy meals. For others, their schedule requires them to travel a lot or spend time on the road, making it difficult to carry home-cooked meals. And of course eating out has a social component as well, so you don't have to miss out on the fun to stick with your healthy commitments. Thankfully you can still eat out and eat healthy just follow these simple tips below.
1. Choose the restaurant carefully
Your meal will be as healthy as the options that are offered at the restaurant you choose- so choose wisely. Many restaurants have a menu online that you can review before hand, which makes choosing easier. You can order ahead to avoid temptation and as much as possible, avoid buffet restaurants where you may be tempted to overeat.
2. Choose healthier options
Once you have the menu, seek out the healthier options. Look for broth- based soups instead of cheesy soups; choose pasta with a tomato sauce over the ones with cream sauces. Swap out your side of French fries for a side salad or steamed vegetables and opt for grilled meats over fried.
3. Ask how food is prepared
While some menus explicitly state what you can expect e.g. grilled chicken or steamed vegetables, in some cases it is not clear. The method of cooking can significantly change the fat and calorie content of the food. Often you can ask for a healthier cooking option so ask for grilled, steamed or roasted over deep-fried, pan-fried or stir-fried alternatives.
4. Order salad first
If you are having more than one course, then order a salad as an appetizer so that you get in at least one serving of veggies. Be sure to read the ingredients in the salad, as all salads are not created equal. Opt for the vinaigrette dressings over the creamy dressings and ask for the dressing on the side.
5. Triple your vegetable order
In many restaurant meals, the vegetable dish served on the plate may look more like a garnish while most of the plate will be covered with carbohydrates and protein. A simple way to add nutrients is to change the proportions, so ask for triple the amount of veggies on your plate instead.
6. Order from appetizer menu
Even when you choose the healthier options, restaurant portion sizes can be quite large. If the appetizer menu provides nutritious alternatives, you can order an appetizer as your main course.
7. Ask for the to-go box
If you choose from the main menu, you don't have to clean your plate. Even before you begin to eat, ask for the to-go box and pack away half of your entrée. Once it's not on your plate, you are less likely to overeat.
8. Eat mindfully
We often eat so quickly we do not even notice our body's signals that we are full. Slow down and savour each bite, taking your time to chew carefully. A good practice is to place your fork down in between bites. This way you are not tempted to hurry through the meal and will stop eating when you're satisfied and not completely full.
9. Avoid empty calories
While you may be tempted to nibble on the bread in the breadbasket while you wait on your order, think about the nutritional value. You're consuming empty calories that your body does not need. If you know you will be tempted, tell the waiter not to bring it to the table. Sugar-laden drinks are another source of empty calories so stick with water or tea.
10. Share the dessert
You don't have to avoid dessert altogether, but sharing it with others gives your tastebuds a treat without overindulging.
The reality is that most restaurants try to serve food that keeps you coming back for more, which means that restaurant meals will tend to be higher in fat, sugar, salt and calories. This is way more than a home cooked alternative, and is coupled with monster-sized portions. If you fall into this category of constantly eating out, trying to cook one additional meal at home per week will be a great step for your health.
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