When you’re trying to eat healthier, eating out can seem like a bit of a challenge. Avoiding fried, processed and refined foods is much more difficult when you’re surrounded by them and there isn’t much other choice. But don’t let your healthy diet stop you from eating out! Instead, use these five tips to help you think more consciously about what you’re eating at a restaurant so you can eat healthier even when you’re eating out!
1. Skip The Bread Basket
When you sit down at a restaurant ready for your meal, often (and rightly) you’re going to be very hungry. So when your server puts down that tempting basket of bread of bowl of chips and salsa in front of you, it can be hard to resist. However, if you’re trying to stick to a healthier way of eating, filling up on bread and chips before you’ve even ordered your meal is not the way to go. Skipping this first course not only allows you to stick to your healthier eating but you’ll enjoy your meal much more because you won’t already be full. Try asking your server to bring some crudités instead, especially if the other people at your table are enjoying this course and you don’t want to miss out.
2. Be Prepared
Getting to a restaurant and having to rush to decide what you want, often means that you won’t have time to think about the health benefits of what you’re eating. If you’re making a conscious effort to eat healthier, don’t be caught off guard – come prepared! If you can, choose the restaurant. This way, you can choose a restaurant that you know has healthier options, which will make it much easier for you. If you can’t, try looking at the menu online before you go. This way, you can have a look at what healthy choices they are offering and decide what you might want to get beforehand – this will stop you from rushing your decision and choosing something that you may not really want.
3. Starters and Sides
Don’t forget that ordering starters and sides are also an option when you’re eating out. If you don’t see anything on the main menu that you think sticks to your healthier eating, or if the portion sizes look like they’ll be far too much, have a look at the smaller plates that the restaurant is offering. Almost every restaurant will have a side salad, and usually lots of vegetable based starters. Make up your main meal by ordering a few different sides and starters – this way you can get the perfect amount of food and you’ve got a lot more freedom over what you’re eating.
4. Don’t Miss Dessert
If everyone else at your table is ordering dessert it can be very difficult to resist. Instead of completely neglecting the dessert menu and staring longingly at everyone else’s chocolate cake or lemon meringue pie, try ordering a hot drink or a sorbet to get your dessert fix. These are much healthier alternatives to dessert so you won’t feel like you’re giving up on your healthy eating, but you also don’t feel like you’re missing out whilst everybody else enjoys theirs.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask!
When you’re trying to eat healthily when you’re eating out, never be afraid to ask questions about the food. Ask what is in the food, how it is prepared or how it can be altered to suit your dietary requirements. Ask for an ingredient to be left out, or to have something on the side, or to swap your side of fries for a salad. If you are paying to eat at a restaurant, there is no problem with asking for your food to be prepared in a specific way – most restaurants are more than happy to adjust your meal to suit you, and remember, the worst they can say is no, so never be afraid to ask!
Even if you want to stick to healthier eating, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a meal out that might not stick to your diet as rigidly as your other meals. Don’t restrict yourself too much, and allow yourself to enjoy a nice meal out once in a while – this will help you much more to stick to healthy eating in the long run rather than being too strict with yourself.