Tips for making healthier choices at restaurants
Just because you are eating in a different environment doesn’t mean you have to abandon your eating principles and wind up face down in a cheeseburger – read on to find out how to make healthier choices when dining out.
Many of us have good intentions before we set out for dinner, saying we’ll only eat a salad and sip on the complementary tap water. More often than not, by the time we are seated and our friends are ordering a bottle of pinot, all good intentions are out the window and we’re harassing the waiter for extra bread.
So just how can we control ourselves when we’re out for dinner – and not miss out on a delicious eating experience?
1. Don’t arrive famished
It can be easy to think ‘I’m going out for dinner tonight, I mustn’t eat lunch’, but all this does is make you cranky, headachy and more likely to order the most fattening thing on the menu. Try to ensure you’ve had a filling and nutritious lunch so when you arrive at the restaurant you can enjoy the atmosphere and make a more considered dinner choice.
2. Start with a salad
Studies have shown that those who start their meals with a salad eat less food during their subsequent meal. Ask for a simple dressing such as olive oil and vinegar to avoid fatty, sugary versions.
3. Look out for red flags
Terms like breaded, fried, crunchy and creamy are potential red flags on the menu; for healthier alternatives look out for lean proteins, fish and nutrient rich vegetables.
4. Get all the info
While menus are getting better in regards to nutritional information, it never does any harm to ask your waiter how something is cooked or what’s included in the sauces. This is especially important if you suffer from a gluten intolerance or food allergy.
5. Make substitutions
Don’t view the menu as an ultimatum, look at it as a guide and ask for substitutions if you want a healthier side. Going out for dinner is an excuse to experiment with your food, so ask for a vegetable or meat you don’t normally eat.
6. Share your pudding
If you simply can’t resist the dessert menu – share it with your dining partner or opt for the mini version (if the restaurant offers this). Eating out should be about treating yourself and by exercising portion control you get the best of both worlds.
If you want to find out more about healthy eating and how a nutritionist could help you on your journey, please see our page on Healthy Eating.
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