Eating out is a part of modern life. Whether you’re grabbing lunch on your lunch break, meeting friends for dinner, or simply in a rush, it can be difficult to stick to a healthy diet. However, making healthy choices when eating out is possible with a little bit of planning and knowledge. In this article, we will provide tips and strategies to help you make smart choices when eating out.
1. Research Your Options
Before heading out, research the restaurant’s menu and look for healthy options. Many restaurants now provide nutritional information on their menus, making it easier for you to make informed choices. If the restaurant doesn’t provide nutritional information, you can still make healthier choices by selecting grilled or baked dishes, lean meats, vegetables, and whole grains.
2. Choose the Right Restaurant
Choosing the right restaurant can also make a big difference. Look for restaurants that offer healthier options, such as salads, grilled chicken, or fish. Avoid fast-food chains and restaurants that specialize in fried food or heavy dishes.
3. Watch Your Portions
Portion sizes in restaurants are often much larger than what you would eat at home. To avoid overeating, consider sharing an entrée or taking half of your meal home. Another tip is to order from the appetizer menu or order a smaller portion from the menu.
4. Be Mindful of Your Beverage Choices
Beverages can be a significant source of calories and sugar. Opt for water, unsweetened tea, or sparkling water instead of sugary drinks. If you must have a soda, choose the smallest size and try to limit it to one.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Make Substitutions
Many restaurants are willing to make substitutions to accommodate dietary needs. Ask for vegetables instead of fries, a side salad instead of coleslaw, or grilled chicken instead of fried chicken. Don’t be afraid to ask for modifications to your dish to make it healthier.
6. Avoid Hidden Calories
Sauces, dressings, and condiments can add a significant amount of calories and sugar to your meal. Ask for dressings and sauces on the side so you can control the amount you consume. Avoid cream-based sauces and opt for tomato-based sauces instead.
7. Look for Healthy Snacks
When on the go, it’s easy to reach for unhealthy snacks like chips and candy. Instead, look for healthier options like nuts, fruit, or vegetables. Many restaurants and cafes offer fresh fruit cups or vegetable platters as a side option.
8. Plan Ahead
If you know you will be eating out, plan ahead. Eat a light snack before heading out to avoid overeating. Bring healthy snacks like nuts or fruit with you to avoid the temptation of unhealthy options. Consider packing your lunch or snacks from home to ensure you are eating healthy options.
9. Indulge in Moderation
Eating out doesn’t mean you have to completely give up your favorite foods. Indulge in moderation and choose healthier options for the rest of your meal. For example, if you want a slice of cake for dessert, choose a grilled chicken salad for your entrée.
10. Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Finally, if you do indulge in an unhealthy meal or snack, don’t beat yourself up. One unhealthy meal or snack won’t ruin your healthy eating habits. Simply get back on track with your next meal or snack and continue making healthy choices.
In conclusion, eating out doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your healthy eating habits. By doing your research, choosing the right restaurant, watching your portions, being mindful of your beverage choices, making substitutions, avoiding hidden calories, looking for healthy snacks, planning ahead, indulging in moderation, and not beating yourself up, you can make smart choices when eating out. By following these tips and strategies, you can enjoy eating out without compromising your health goals.
But what if you have dietary restrictions or preferences, such as vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or dairy-free? Here are some additional tips for making healthy choices when eating out:
For Vegans and Vegetarians
Look for vegetarian or vegan options on the menu, such as vegetable stir-fry, lentil soup, or tofu dishes. If there aren’t any vegan or vegetarian options, ask if the chef can modify a dish by replacing the meat with vegetables or tofu. Avoid dishes that contain dairy, eggs, or honey if you are vegan.
Choose dishes that are naturally gluten-free, such as grilled fish, roasted vegetables, or salads. Look for gluten-free options on the menu, such as gluten-free pasta, bread, or pizza crust. Be aware that some sauces, dressings, or condiments may contain gluten, so ask for them on the side or choose gluten-free alternatives.
Avoid dishes that contain cheese, cream, or butter. Choose dishes that are made with olive oil, coconut milk, or nut milk instead. Look for dairy-free options on the menu, such as dairy-free cheese, yogurt, or ice cream.
In conclusion, healthy eating on the go is possible with a little bit of planning and knowledge. By researching your options, choosing the right restaurant, watching your portions, being mindful of your beverage choices, making substitutions, avoiding hidden calories, looking for healthy snacks, planning ahead, indulging in moderation, and not beating yourself up, you can make smart choices when eating out.