6 Tips for Dining Out Without Sacrificing Your Health Goals
Staying healthy can be a challenge when dining out because many restaurants add more fat, sugar, and salt than you would in your own kitchen. Not to mention, restaurant portion sizes are often double or triple what your body actually needs to be full and satisfied! However, it is possible to dine out and enjoy time with family and friends without sabotaging your health. Here’s what we recommend:
- Go in With a Plan!
Check out the menu in advance and select what you will eat to help prevent peer pressure ordering (it’s a very real thing!). Most restaurants offer their menus online, and some even provide nutrition facts and ingredient lists, which can serve as helpful tools when making your decision.
- Eat a Snack Before You Go
It’s easier to make healthy food choices when you aren’t completely starving. To avoid overindulging, have a light snack an hour or two before you go out to eat. Some satiating snack options include carrots and hummus, apples with almond butter, or a handful of heart-healthy nuts and seeds.
- You’re the Customer – Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions!
Don’t be shy! Ask questions about methods of food preparation to help uncover hidden fat and sauces that may not be obvious. Typically, foods that are steamed, broiled, poached, and grilled are prepared with less fat. Ask if foods can be prepared with olive oil instead of butter or if you can swap fries for a side salad.
- Tips for Ordering
Follow these tips to ensure you are limiting your saturated fat and sugar intake while filling your plate with vegetables and lean protein.
- Choose a salad or broth-based soup as an appetizer
- Ask for dressings or sauces on the side
- Fill your plate with vegetables and fruits
- Select lean protein (chicken, fish, turkey) or plant-based proteins (legumes, nuts, seeds, quinoa)
- Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages
- Share your Meal or Ask for a To-Go Box
Restaurants are known for their large portion sizes. To resist the urge to eat more than your body needs, split an entrée with a friend or family member or request a to-go box when your food arrives.
- Have a Mindful Meal and Enjoy
Take your time and savor every bite. Put your fork down in between bites. Slowing down enables your body the time it needs to feel full.