Sticking to healthy habits can be easy with home cooked meals, but what do you do when dining out?
This is the number one question I get asked as a health coach. Foods made at home is usually going to be your best bet, but I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve for staying healthy while dining out.
Look at the menu ahead of time. This is a big one. By looking at the menu ahead of time, you’re able to select a few healthy options without being tempted by hunger, the smell of French fries or the look of your neighbor’s plate.
Order first. Always be the one to place your order first. If you wait to be the last, that usually means you’re indecisive and waiting for everyone else to order to see if something sounds good. That’s great if they are ordering a salmon salad, but what if it’s the sound of pizza that is calling your name? Hmmm….
Pick one item to splurge on and keep the rest “clean”. This only works if you go out to eat occasionally. If restaurant food is a staple in your diet, then move on to tip number four! Instead of feeling completely deprived while everyone else is enjoying bread, wine and dessert, pick one of these things to indulge in and politely pass on the others.
Don’t be afraid to customize. I always hear the excuse of, “well I didn’t want to be that person.” Here’s the deal. With so many food allergies and dietary preferences these days, restaurants are used to customizing orders. Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions, no cheese, sauces on the side and grilled instead of sautéed (to cut down on added oils). Usually, wherever you go you can add a lean protein to just about anything, order a side of avocado (healthy fats!) and a veggie.
Dip your fork in the sauce or dressing. So you really want that Caesar dressing or eel sauce on your sushi roll? Order it on the side and dip your fork (or chopstick) in the dressing or sauce to get a little taste, but not go overboard.
Practice portion control. The never ending dilemma – how much is too much? If you’re dining out, chances are that portion size is too big. I suggest choosing a lean protein appetizer and veggie side or splitting with a friend to keep portion control in check.
Eat mindfully. Food has become the forefront of the social scene. It can be easy to lose track of how much you’re eating when you’re deep in conversation (or drinks). The key here is to allow your body to identify when it’s satisfied by eating more mindfully. Simply putting your fork down in between bites forces you to eat more slowly which allows your body to properly digest food and regulate hunger hormones.
Eating out doesn’t have to be a huge road block in your health journey. I hope these tips help you during your next meal out so that you can enjoy (and prepare for) it!