There’s no way around it: it’s hard to avoid eating out. Busy schedules combined with an abundance of convenient dining options create the perfect storm for dining out, and it can feel like there’s no way to eat healthy while still enjoying your favorite restaurants.
It doesn’t have to be this way, though. You absolutely can eat healthy when dining out. You just need a few tips, tricks, and enough willpower to try a new approach.
Drinks tend to be full of calories and sugar, so start your meal off on a healthy note by ordering a glass of water with lemon. Unsweetened tea is another healthy choice.
If you’re unfamiliar with a restaurant, check to see if the menu is online and have a look before you get to the restaurant. You’re more likely to make unhealthy choices when you’re distracted, hungry, or under pressure to make a decision. Taking this precautionary step makes it much easier to identify the healthier menu items.
If something is fried, pan-fried, sautéed, or described as crispy, it’s more likely to have extra fat from the cooking process.
You can either choose something else, or ask for the dish to be steamed, grilled, or roasted.
Speaking of asking for grilled chicken instead of fried, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. You could ask to swap fries for veggies, for example. Most restaurants are happy to accommodate reasonable requests, so there’s no harm in asking.
Many vegetable sides are quite small. One easy way to get more vegetables with your restaurant meal is to ask for extra and offer to pay for them. Sometimes, the restaurant won’t even charge you for the extra greens.
Some salads are full of healthy, whole vegetables and nutritious toppings. Others are crammed with creamy dressings and tons of calorically dense toppings. Choose wisely!
If you’re ordering a salad, always ask for the dressing on the side. To control how much dressing you use, simply dip your fork into the dressing before getting a forkful of salad. Your lettuce will stay fresh and crispy, and you’ll stay healthy.
Restaurant portions can be downright massive. Some restaurants offer half portions as a health-friendly option. Sharing a meal with your dining partner is also a great way to control your portions. You can also resolve to eat half of your meal and box the rest up to take home. Make it easy on yourself by asking for a box when the waiter brings your meal, and immediately put half in the box.
No matter how often you dine out, remember that it can be done in a healthy way. Just follow these tips, be mindful of what you’re eating, and enjoy your meal.