Enjoying a night out or brunch with friends can be a real treat – especially knowing you can still eat healthily and not let all your hard work go to waste.
While an occasional planned splurge is fine – after all, moderation is key – it’s best to know your healthy options and how to look for them on any menu. Use these tips when you’re dining out so you can relax knowing it’s your relationships that are growing, not your waistline.
Here are all the tips you need to ensure your healthy eating goals don’t stop you from enjoying a night of fine cuisine with loved ones.
1. Plan ahead
Many restaurants have a nutritional information menu with calories and macronutrients listed. This is a great way to see what meals are truly healthy and which ones are simply not worth the splurge.
Even if the specific nutrition details aren’t listed, you can try searching for the calories in your meal of choice online. Chances are a few results will pop up, giving you an average idea of the meal’s nutrition breakdown.
2. Navigate the menu
Knowing how to navigate the menu and decipher what the descriptive words mean can help you make healthier choices. Beware of terms like: creamy, crisp, sautéed, stuffed, buttery, pan-fried, au lait and á la mode.
In general, these meals will be more calorie dense and not as healthy. Instead, opt for choices that include terms like: steamed, grilled, baked or blackened.
Generally, these will be your healthier options, but will still be packed with flavour. If you want to keep it super clean, ordering chicken or fish with veggies prepared in one of those manners is generally a safe bet, and an option that most restaurants can accommodate.
– RELATED: Do Calorie Counts On Menus Make A Difference? –
3. Don’t be afraid to ask
Never feel shy about asking for what you want. Many restaurants will prepare your food to order even if it’s not on the menu. Simply ask your server how the dish is prepared, and make substitutions as needed.
If required, have them go light or forgo the oil in cooking, ask for grilled instead of fried, substitute out heavy sides for veggies, order all dressings or sauces on the side, etc. Remember, it’s their job to accommodate the customer.
4. Enjoy your meal
Whether you’re grabbing a quick bite or dining out at a nice restaurant, take the time to enjoy your meal.
Research at the European Society of Endocrinology found that people who wolf down their food are two and a half times more likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes than those who take their time. So savour each bite, sip water throughout, put down your fork between nibbles and focus on your companions.
Yes, you’re there to eat, but make sure you enjoy the whole experience. Dining out is a great way to bring people together, so try making good conversation and not just eating the food.
Nothing’s worse than walking away from a meal feeling so full you could pop. When you’re halfway through your food, stop and ask yourself if you’re still truly hungry. If not, wrap the rest of it up to go and enjoy the rest tomorrow.
5. Avoid guilt
Guilt will ruin any good evening, and that’s the last thing you want after a nice meal out. If you’re really craving something, or if it’s a special occasion, go ahead and order that special dish; just be conscious of your portion size and the rest of your meal choices that day. After all, it’s all about balance and moderation.
Find nutrition information and more in every issue of TRAIN for HER magazine.