Restaurant dining is set up to look, smell, and taste wonderful, which means nourishment can sometimes take a back seat when menus contain main courses slathered in butter or rich sauces, greens with creamy toppings, and few whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Restaurants, from supersized quantities to a lack of nutrients, can represent a substantial risk to your waistline if you don’t plan ahead of time. But don’t let this stop you from having fun; simply follow these suggestions the next time you eat out to minimise the damage.
Here’s a list of seven tips on eating healthy when dining out:
1. Before you arrive, eat a healthy snack
Arriving at a restaurant famished may result in binge eating and additional carbs. Before you enter the restaurant, eat a granola bar or a high-protein snack to help you avoid making emotional food choices. Not only will this result in fewer calories consumed, but it will also be less expensive.
2. Drink plenty of water
Water is an excellent choice for drinking before and during meals, particularly if it is substituted with sugar-sweetened beverages. Water can help you cut back on calories and added sugar by replacing sugar-sweetened drinks with water.
3. Don’t prefer all you can eat buffets
People are notoriously inaccurate when it comes to estimating portion sizes. So, when you’re faced with an endless supply of food at a buffet, deciding how much to eat can be difficult. If you have no other option but to eat at a buffet, a smaller plate may help you eat less.
3. Choose what you eat
Optimize your meal by including lean protein meals, low-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables, and healthy grains from all food categories. Look for entrée salads that are freshly prepared and provide “balance in a bowl.” Entree salads, for example, with baked or grilled chicken, beans, or shellfish, contain protein as well as fibre and other nutrients. So you can control how much dressing you use, request dressing on the side.
4. Green isn’t always good
Isn’t the green salad that comes with your dinner fine? Wrong. Dressings, croutons, and cheeses can turn a healthy side dish into a calorie-laden disaster. The same is true for green juices and smoothies — adding sugar can significantly increase the calorie count. Before you order, familiarise yourself with the ingredients.
5. Know how it’s cooked
The manner food is cooked can have a big impact on how many calories it has. Steamed, grilled, roasted, or poached foods are ideal. These cooking methods, in general, result in less fat and, as a result, fewer calories. Pan-fried, fried, crispy, crunchy, or sautéed foods are typically higher in fat and calories.
Don’t be scared to request that your server assist you in making your meal more nutritious. You could, for example, request a salad instead of the usual fries or chips with your meal. You can also request that items be prepared with less oil or cheese, that the breadbasket be removed and salad be served with dressing on the side, and that an appetiser portion of the main meal is served. You can even frequently order “off-menu” — for example, ask the chef what vegetarian dish he can prepare for you or if grilled chicken and steamed vegetables are possible. Many restaurants are delighted to comply.
7. Drink carefully
What do soft drinks and alcoholic beverages have in common? They’re bad for your health—as well as your waistline. You may always drink water or unsweetened iced tea with your meal. But what if you just have to have a little bit of alcohol? Avoid sugary margaritas and pina Coladas, which will add hundreds—if not thousands—of extra calories. Instead, like Mark Langowski, get a glass of red wine (for the antioxidant benefits) or vodka with a splash of club soda and lime.