If you’re trying to lose weight or make healthier eating choices, you may think that dining out is off the menu.
However, you would be wrong. There’s no reason why you can’t enjoy eating out without sabotaging your health kick; you just need to make the right food choices.
From skipping dessert to exercising portion control, read on to discover five top tips for eating out when you’re on a health kick—your waistline and your wallet will appreciate it!
1. Check the menu before you arrive
Having to make a quick, last-minute decision, especially if you’re watching what you eat, can be stressful.
Therefore, to avoid feeling put on the spot and under pressure, take the time to check out the menu before you arrive at your chosen restaurant.
When you pre-select the items that you’re going to order.
This enables you to make your food choices without others influencing you and without feeling the need to make a decision in a matter of minutes.
2. Stick to 1 or 2 courses
When you eat at home, you’re highly unlikely to prepare 3, 4, or even 5 courses, so why would you feel the need to do this when eating out?
If you’re trying to limit your calorie intake, it’s a much better idea to limit yourself to just one or two courses.
Ideally, unless you plan to order fresh fruit or a low-calorie sorbet, the best course to forgo is dessert, as these dishes are often high in fat, sugar, and calories.
3. Keep it lean
When choosing a protein, it’s best to opt for lean options such as chicken or turkey, where you can remove the skin, as these have fewer calories than fatty cuts of meat.
If you don’t eat meat, then opt for fresh fish or a healthy vegetarian option such as a legume-based dish.
You should also avoid any dishes that are battered or fried as these will be much higher in fat and calories than proteins that are steamed or boiled.
4. Order side veggies
If you’re worried about still feeling hungry, then order one or two side dishes of vegetables such as spinach or green beans, as these will help to fill you up without adding too many extra calories.
Make sure you ask for your veggies without any butter, oil, or cheese, as these will instantly make your side dish more fattening and less of a healthy choice.
5. Limit your alcohol intake
It goes without saying that, if you’re on a health kick, you should try and limit the amount of alcohol that you drink.
Often referred to as “empty calories,” alcoholic beverages are often high in sugar, which can significantly increase the overall calorie count of your dining out experience.
Instead, try to drink water or another low-calorie alternative, and if you really must have an alcoholic drink, opt for a low-calorie option such as gin and slimline tonic or a glass of champagne.
6. Drink water before and during your meal
Not only is water good for you, but it’s also great for filling you up when you’re eating. In fact, many people mistakenly think that they’re hungry when, in fact, they’re just thirsty.
Rather than drinking lots and lots of water before and during a meal, it’s much better to take frequent sips in between mouthfuls, as this will help your body digest the meal better and help you to recognize when you’re full.
7. Ask how the food is prepared
How a dish is cooked can have a significant impact on its nutritional value and calorie content.
If you’re not sure how something is going to be prepared, there’s nothing wrong with asking your server to check this for you in the kitchen.
If you’re eating at an establishment where you can see the chefs in their chef aprons with pockets, then you can ask to speak to them directly.
As mentioned briefly before, you should avoid any foods that are fried, or worse, deep fried, and focus on dishes that are cooked using minimal amounts of butter or oil.
8. Avoid buffets
If you struggle with self-control when eating out, you should avoid all-you-can-eat buffets like the plague.
Yes, they may offer great value for money, but they’re not so good for helping you to keep trim.
If you’ve been invited to a special occasion and you have no choice but to dine at a buffet restaurant, try to fill your plate with proteins such as prawns, chicken, and small amounts of red meat rather than piling it high with complex carbs such as white pasta and rice.
9. Exercise portion control
Last but not least, when you’re eating out but trying to watch your weight, it’s vital that you exercise restraint when it comes to your portion size.
Some restaurants will serve much bigger portions than others, but that doesn’t mean that you have to clear your entire plate.
Listen to your body and, when you’re full, stop eating, even if it means leaving your plate half full.