If you are a restaurant diner, sticking to a healthy eating plan can be difficult.
Restaurant food is meant to look, smell and taste great but no matter what your health and fitness goals may be, it is possible to dine out and still stay on track. These days, you can find healthy foods almost everywhere.
The trick is to know what you’re getting into before you get to the restaurant.
See The Menu Beforehand
If you know where you are going to eat, a good healthy eating trick is to make your menu choices prior to getting to the restaurant.
Making your selection early will enable you to have plenty of time to select the healthiest choices, plus you’ll be less likely to be influenced by your friends to make more unhealthy choices.
Many restaurants have their menus online and some with nutrition information readily available.
Go online, search for the menu, make your selection and stick to it.
Go For Fish
Choose fish, white fish is extremely low in fat and is a great source of protein, while oily fish provides omega-3 fatty acids, which is a ‘good’ type of oil which has been shown to help protect against heart disease and may help prevent other diseases such as cancer.
If you are not a fish fan, go for lean meat, ideally chicken or turkey and go for grilled or baked as opposed to fried.
Drink Water Before and During Your Meal
Water is a great choice for drinking before and with a meal, instead of sugar-sweetened drinks. Replacing sugar-sweetened drinks with water can help reduce your intake of calories and added sugar.
Try to limit alcohol as well. Drink a glass of water for every alcoholic one, this will enable your body to stay as hydrated as possible as well as fill you up.
Have a Healthy Snack Before You Arrive
If you’re hungry when you arrive at a restaurant, you may end up eating too much.
One way to prevent this is to eat a healthy snack before you get there. A low-calorie, high-protein snack like yogurt could make you feel more full and help prevent overeating.
Don’t Starve Yourself
Don’t starve yourself during the day to compensate for a planned evening meal out.
It’s a common strategy and we’ve probably all done it. If you have your normal daily meals you’ll arrive at the restaurant healthily hungry and not desperately hungry.
If you are really hungry, you are far more likely to choose the most tempting and satiating foods, which are more likely to be the fattening options.
Try Eating Your Meal Mindfully
Mindful eating means making conscious choices about what you eating and giving your full attention to the eating process. Take the time to enjoy your meal.
Mindful eating has been linked with healthier food choices in restaurants.(Source)
It can also help improve your self-control and prevent you from overeating.
Starter And A Salad Or A Side
A good way to keep your meal sizes smaller is to order a starter as your main course but fill it up by adding some sides.
Go for a side salad, a serving of veg or both, if you are that hungry.
Sauces And Dressings On The Side
Where possible, always ask for any dressings and sauces to be served separately.
This will allow you to add exactly the amount you want to your meal and avoid a meal that’s fat and sugar-coated.
Choose tomato-based over cream-based sauces; as well as containing less fat and calories, tomato sauces contain the antioxidant lycopene, which may help prevent prostate cancer. Men should aim to have seven or more portions of tomatoes or tomato-based foods per week.
Switch to whole grains.
When it comes to carbs, brown is better.
Whole-grain foods like whole wheat, brown rice, and oatmeal, contain more nutrients and fiber than processed white bread.
Not only are these complex carbohydrates healthier for you, but they also help keep you full longer.
One Or Two But Not Three Courses
If you can, try to stick to one or two courses instead of full three course meal.
However if three courses are must, opt for a salad or soup to begin (vegetable soups are a great option, try to avoid cream-based ones) then go for fish or chicken as the main and finish up with a fruit based dessert.
Watch portion size.
Being flexible about your diet and food choices is linked with better overall health and weight management.
It’s helpful to think about how a meal fits into your diet overall.
If you are following healthy meal patterns most of the time, go ahead and treat yourself. An occasional treat can be rewarding.