Helpful tips on how you can maintain a healthy diet whilst eating out.
September 8th 2015
I am sure we have all experienced firsthand just how hard it can be to eat healthy while eating out. When you cook at home, you know exactly what ingredients have been used to prepare your meal and you have complete control over your meal. However as soon as we step into a restaurant or cafe we are not only bombarded by temptation but we also lose control of how our meal is cooked and what ingredients are used. It is therefore extremely easy to consume a meal that you think is healthy, eg: salmon, green veg and mashed potato, when reality the salmon in sautéed in butter, the veg is seasoned in salt and the mashed potato is filled with cream and butter. There is nothing worse than when you have worked hard to maintain a healthy diet all week and then accidentally consume your whole days’ worth of calories in one meal when you eat out. So that is why I have formulated the following tips on how to eat out without undoing all your hard work throughout the rest of the week.
1) Don’t go to a restaurant starving
If you arrive at a restaurant starving then your eyes will often order more food than your stomach can handle. This results in overeating and a glutinous relationship with food. Instead have a small snack (eg: a piece of fruit, yoghurt) several hours before dinner.
2) Eat your meal slowly
This applies to both at home and when dining out. There is no need to inhale your food. No one is going to take your meal away from you. If you eat slowly, you not only allow your stomach receptors time to send feeling of fullness signals to your brain, but you also cherish each mouthful more. This practice is referred to as mindful eating. It involves enjoying every mouthful as much as the first and embracing the flavours.
3) Portion Control
Take a look around the restaurant and look at other people's meals. If they look like massive servings then ask your waiter for a half serve of your meal. Alternatively instead of ordering a large main meal, opt for a side salad and a entree.
4) The after dinner dessert craving
After dinner we all know how easily it is to be tempted into ordering a dessert. If you can subside the cravings then for calorific purposes it's best you try and avoid the desserts. If you're dying for something sweet then share a dessert with your fellow guests or swap your dessert for a skim milk coffee or tea.
5) Make dining out a special occasion
If you make dining out a mundane and/or daily task then it takes the element of luxury away from the experience. Instead if you plan to dine out once a month then it becomes a special occasion and can be viewed as a well-deserved reward or treat. It also reduces the amount of high calories meals you consume per month while dining out in restaurants.
6) Ask for dressings and sauces on the side
When ordering your food ask for dressing and sauces on the side of your meal. That way you can only use as much as you need for flavour without allowing your food to swim in calorific sauces and dressings.
7) Opt for the right types of foods
Try to avoid any deep fried foods or highly processed foods. Instead opt for meals made with fresh ingredients that are grilled or poached. In addition avoid fatty meats such as bacon and salami and instead opt for lean meats. Opt for meals that contain a large amount of fibre (green leafy veg) as fibre helps to provide early satiety and keeps you feeling fuller for longer.
8) Dine out with people who share the same health goals as you.
If you dine out with other people who are health conscious then you won't get as much food envy as you would get if you dined with someone who ordered indulgently. Surrounding yourself with people who have similar health goals to you also helps keep you motivated in your overall journey to achieve optimal health.
9) Ask questions.
Feel free to ask the waiter how a certain meal is cooked if you are worried about the salt content or calorie intake. Most waiters are used to be asked questions about their restaurant's menu and are surprisingly more knowledgeable that you may expect.
Adopting some of these tips may be just what you need to maintain a healthy diet while eating out. Remember it's all about eating a well-balanced diet. The occasional meal out should not be frowned upon or avoided; instead you should just make more educated and healthy choices when dining out.