One of the biggest issues many of my clients have is eating out. It’s easy to control what you eat when you buy it, you prepare it, and you know exactly what’s in it. But what happens when you eat at a restaurant?
Some people are too lazy to cook, so they spend a lot of time eating out. Others like to entertain, so they take clients or friends to a restaurant instead of eating at home. And there are some who don’t enjoy eating out. Regardless, there will be times during your fitness journey where you need to eat outside of your own home, and restaurant meals can be a huge obstacle.
How to Eat Healthily At Restaurants
Eating out is a regular part of modern day life. Indeed, with our hectic lifestyle, dining in restaurants is almost compulsory. Juggling between a busy works schedules, being a part time taxi service for your children and visiting friends there seems to be less and less time to be able to eat. So we naturally turn to eating out. Anything from a “sandwich to go” to a fast food snack right up to a full restaurant meal, maybe to celebrate an anniversary, birthday or just as a treat.
Some restaurants mark healthier options on their menu, but they’re still in the minority. So what do you do if you want to eat healthily but don’t want to opt for yet another salad?
Here are some more quick tips when eating out:
- Get exactly what you want – Remember you are paying for it, and generally the restaurant is happy to accommodate
- Don’t tempt yourself – If the meal comes with chips, pasta or white bread, ask the waiter to remove it
- Sauce on the side – Ask for dressings, sauces and mayo on the side you can control the portion size
- Drink mineral water – Avoid high calorie alcohol drinks and choose mineral water instead
Other Tips on How to Eat Healthy At a Restaurant Include:
1. Read the Restaurant Menu
Even if healthy dishes are specially flagged, you can get a clue from the description. Cream or cheese sauces could be high fat, but if they’re only drizzled over the main course then maybe not too much damage will be done. Check how the food is cooked: broiled will be less fatty than deep fried, for instance. High sugar content is less easy to judge, except in the really obvious situations like a Chinese sweet and sour dish. But if something is glazed, that may well be a clue. If necessary, ask your waitress for more information. Most of them will be glad to help out.
2. Go Easy on Fried Foods
You’ve chosen the healthy option of a broiled fish fillet but what about the fries that accompany it? Most restaurants will let you swap those fries for something else on the menu but obviously it’s your job to remember to ask. Even salads may need to come with a warning if the restaurant doesn’t allow you to add your own dressing – many salad dressings are heavy in fat.
3. Check the Children’s Menu
Even if the main restaurant has healthy options, many children’s menus haven’t moved with the times and will be full of pizza slices, deep fried chicken nuggets or even fried mozzarella. Double check what is offered on the children’s menu and don’t be afraid to ask for substitutes if it isn’t up to scratch.
4. Eat Healthy Portion Sizes
Sharing dishes are becoming more common. You may be able to share a “platter for two” between three of you. Some starters may be large enough to share even if they’re not specially marked as being shared. Italian restaurants often offer the same dish as a starter or a main course. You may find that the “starter” size is actually big enough for your main.
5. Check Ethnic Restaurants
Chinese, Indian and other ethnic restaurants often encourage the sharing of dishes. The flavors make an exciting alternative to yet another pizza or burger. Experiment with a selection of dishes, share price between two of you and expand your food horizons at the same time.
Whilst eating healthily at restaurants isn’t always as easy as we’d like, it is certainly possible and doesn’t have fall into the boring category. Indeed, you can use eating out to widen your food repertoire and experiment with dishes that you wouldn’t have the time or patience to create at home.
For those times when you have got a few minutes to spare, check out healthy eating for kids for a wide range of tasty, healthy recipes that your kids will adore and that are super quick to prepare.