Diets can sometimes make having a social life very hard, like when you go to restaurants with friends you could spend 10 minutes scanning the menu ruling out all the things you can’t eat – often with a feeling of guilt. Healthy restaurants are hard to find these days, but our Nutritionist Marcela Soto has come up with some no fail dining out solutions and tips.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle means that you have to change the way you eat but it does not mean you have to change the way you live and socialise. Our 15 tips for dining out are a great and easy solution to your problems. These tips mean that you can eat out and have a laugh with friends at normal and healthy restaurants, while also changing your body and getting fitter.
This doesn’t mean you have to avoid certain restaurants or find healthy restaurants all the time. This advice can help you plan ahead so that it doesn’t take that extra time and stress in a meal situation.
Healthy restaurants – Basic guide for dining out while on a lifestyle change
- Think before and plan where to go
Before you make your restaurant choice, plan ahead. Do a bit of research to stop you having to stress when you get there. This is your time to have a look at the menus and find healthy restaurants with a decent variety of food options for you.
Find somewhere that you can enjoy, without having to worry about the guilty feelings later on. Remember, if it makes it easier and more enjoyable for you then it makes the whole situation more enjoyable for everyone, including your guests.
- Take your time looking at the menu and make careful decisions. Look for the healthy options section.
If you were not able to research the restaurants before, or someone else has chosen a restaurant, then try to take your time at the restaurant so you make careful and good decisions.
More often than not, restaurants usually have a healthy restaurants food options sections. For example, foods under 400 calories; or low fat. You can always ask a waiter or waitress to help you if you need a push in the right direction.
- Read carefully to find things like:
Read the menu carefully. Look for food that is baked, grilled, steamed, toasted or boiled. These are usually the healthier options and have less calories.
Try to avoid food options that may have more calories such as fried, deep fried, breaded, buttered, creamy and crispy foods. These are very heavy and unhealthy foods, and will be packed with a lot more calories than the other options above.
- Eat the food that has less calories first
Eat the healthier foods first because if you are full, you are not as likely to choose unhealthy foods later. So, fill up on low calorie healthy food options at the beginning of your meal. For example, start off the evening with a salad for a starter, or even a soup. Something like but refreshing and delicious at the same time!
- Avoid the “all you can eat” or “buffet” style restaurants if you can’t control your food portions
Have control of your food portions!! Going to a Sunday buffet is fine every once in a while, but indulging in these “all you can eat” restaurants constantly will have a detrimental effect on your weight loss efforts.
Take control of what you eat and how much you eat at normal and healthy restaurants!
- If you go to the buffet, don’t go up more than once
If you do go to a buffet-type meal, then don’t go up to the buffet more than once. Try to fill your plate with vegetables, so it leaves less space for the high calorie options, which could come later.
Remember, eat everything in moderation! You can have a piece of chocolate cake but don’t eat the whole cake.
- If it’s “a la carte”, ask always for salad and/or steamed vegetables
Make sure on a set menu to ask for side dishes that are salad or steamed vegetables so that you avoid unhealthy options like french fries or potatoes.
Also, if you do choose to go for a vegetable side dish then make sure to check with the waiter or waitress that the vegetables are not fried or covered in butter.
- Ask to have the dressing of the salad apart
When you order a salad, ask the waiter or waitress for the salad to be put on the side. Salads are very healthy until you add heaps of high calories fat-filled sauces to them.
Be sensible with your choices. The sauce may not seem like a lot of food but it can be those extra calories that ruin a good day.
- Don’t ask for extra cream or extra cheese or other extras
Never ask for extra or added food to be put on your plate. You do not need the extra good. Your eyes are too big for your belly.
- Choose lean meat or chicken, with no fat, no fatty cuts.
Choose lean options, like chicken or turkey. Ask for the cuts to be with no fat or added extra fat. Or even remove the added fat.
- Before the bread basket comes, ask for a green salad as entree
The bread basket can be a disaster waiting to happen; even at healthy restaurants. To avoid this disaster, ask for a green salad before it even arrives to help you beat your cravings.
If you do want some bread, always go for the whole wheat option and try to eat half.
- Prefer dressings like balsamic vinegar, lemon, and salt/pepper – avoid mayonnaise based or creamy ones
Ask for low calories salad dressings at healthy restaurants, like balsamic vinegar, or lemon and salt/pepper. AVOID the creamy dressings that are usually high fat, or ask for the mayonnaise.
- To drink, avoid sweet juices, prefer always water or calorie-free drinks
Fruit juices are often perceived as a healthy option but, these drinks can actually be worse for you than sugary fizzy drinks like Coca Cola.
Always go for water as your number one option, or try to choose calorie-free drinks.
- As a dessert, select a cup of sliced fruits
If your whole table is eating dessert, choose the fruit option so that you don’t feel you are missing out when everyone else is enjoying the final course of the meal at healthy restaurants.
- If you have coffee or tea, make it with low-fat milk or almond milk, try no sugar added
Coffee and tea are other options for a little treat during dinner but always ask for the drink to be made with low-fat milk or almond milk and DON’T add sugar to your drink, even at healthy restaurants where they have preceived “healthy sugars”.
About the Author
Bochakorn began her education in conventional medicine as a nurse, then shifted to embrace natural healing and integrative medicines. Her training and certifications abroad include: Nutrition and Western Herbal Medicines, Acupuncture and Moxibustion.
During her therapeutic sessions, she may also incorporate other aspects of integrative medicines when required, including: acupuncture, cupping therapy, moxibustion, nutritional, supplements and herbal recommendation.