Going out to eat at a restaurant does not mean you have to give up your healthy habits to enjoy your meal. With the many temptations and smells surrounding you in a restaurant, it can get difficult trying to stick to your plan. Here are some ways to help you stay on track with those health goals when you dine out.
Prepare Ahead of Time
Reading over the menu before going to the restaurant gives you an idea of what you are going to be faced with so when you arrive, you have a plan. Looking through it will give you more time to carefully explore your options and to choose a couple of healthy items you may order when you get there. Most chain restaurants will even have their nutrition information on their website.
Know Your Menu Lingo
When reading the menu, look for the words: baked, grilled, roasted, light, boiled, steamed, poached. These are usually items that are not cooked in a lot of oil or butter. Steer clear of the words fried, buttered, pan fried, au gratin, creamed, crispy. These items are usually prepared with a lot of fat.
Ask your Server For Some Options
When you arrive at the restaurant, you already have an idea of what you may order because you looked it over ahead of time. However, you can always ask servers for their recommendation. You can say something along the lines of, “What would you recommend if I am looking for something lighter?” or “What are some of the healthier items on your menu?”
If your entree comes with sides, do not be afraid to ask the server if you can swap the fries for baked potato, steamed or roasted vegetables, or a side salad. In some cases, they may even be able to double the vegetables and replace the potatoes altogether.
When ordering items that come with sauces or dressings, ask for them on the side so you can control how much you want to add.
Be The First to Order
You have your healthy choice in your head now that you have spent quite some time to plan ahead. However, your friend orders first and orders the crispy chicken and then it’s your turn. Do you reconsider your meal choice or stick with it? Your eating behaviors are highly influenced by those around you so to avoid the temptation, place your order first!
Hold the Bread Basket
Ask the server to hold the bread basket. If you want something to munch on while you wait, start with a salad to share to fill up on leafy greens before the main course arrives.
Choose A Treat For the Night
Pick one treat to indulge in! Whether it is an appetizer, the bread basket, a drink, or dessert, truly savor every bite of your treat. However, remember to only stick with one treat, so be choosy!
Next time you are out, try these tips to make healthier choices and don’t let eating out sabotage your efforts for staying healthy!
By Joanna Li, R.D. - Expert Dietician