You can dine your way around the world by eating at different restaurants in your hometown, but dining out isn’t always the healthiest way to enjoy your favorite foods. If you’re trying to eat healthier but still enjoy dining out now and then, here are a few tips and tricks to help you maintain your healthy eating habits while enjoying restaurant fare.
Check the menu
When you walk into a restaurant, the first thing you smell is all that fantastic, yummy food that they’re cooking. If you’re hungry, it can make it hard to stick to your healthy choices.
Start by checking the menu before you arrive at the establishment — most restaurants have their menu options listed on their website. This will give you a better idea of the kind of healthy food options, if any, they have available, and make it easier for you to make a good choice.
Read between the lines
Menus can be very descriptive, but they’re not always forthcoming with information such as how the chefs cook the food. A serving of vegetables is usually very healthy, unless they’re boiled in butter or deep fried in saturated fats.
Make sure you read between the lines and look for words such as au gratin, which means your side comes served buttery, pan-fried or in calorie-heavy cheese sauce. Don’t stop yourself from asking questions. Talk to your server about how the chef prepares the food. If they don’t know, ask them to ask the chef.
Double or triple your vegetables
If you get a vegetable side with your meal, it’s usually only a couple of bites worth of veggies—not nearly enough to fill you up. In cases where you get more than one side, try opting for veggies for both sides! Instead of opting for fatty or starchy sides, ask your server to double or triple your vegetables.
Fish is one of the healthiest lean proteins that you can eat — as long as it’s not fried. Fried fish is fatty and full of saturated fats. Instead, order your fish broiled, baked, grilled or steamed, and skip any sauces that might come with it — or order them on the side instead.
Drink more water
We all know that drinking water is good for you, but it can also help you make healthier choices, or at least eat smaller portions, when you’re dining out. Studies show that drinking water before and during your meal means you feel full faster, and you don’t need to keep eating extra calories to feel satiated.
This is not meant to suggest you should opt for water over a meal just to try to avoid calories—that’s dangerous and eating-disordered behavior. But when used right, this little tip can help you stay closer to your daily recommended caloric intake!
If you’ve made healthy choices throughout your meal, the last thing you want to do is ruin it by piling on the calories with a sugary dessert. Chain restaurants are the worst when it comes to dessert. Burger chain, Red Robin, has a pie that contains a whopping 1,372 calories per slice, and even a basic hot fudge sundae at Denny’s can set you back 830 calories. If you need a bit of sweetness to round out your meal, wait until you get home for some fresh fruit sorbet or a couple of squares of dark chocolate.
Keep up with your healthy habits
Restaurants don’t make it easy to eat healthy while you’re dining out, but if you’re informed as to what the menu offers and make smart choices, it can be easy to keep up with your healthy eating habits even while you’re enjoying a night out on the town.