When you’re trying to eat healthier it can feel intimidating to go out to a restaurant. Today I’m here to let you know that eating out at a restaurant DOES NOT have to ruin your healthy eating habits. Create some strategies and guidelines you can use as tools to help you make the best decisions based on your environment, and go from there! A little preparation can help you enjoy yourself without sabotaging your healthy lifestyle. At the end of the day, balance is everything! If you’re going out to enjoy whatever you want and not think about it, then go for it and enjoy every minute of it! Balance it out the next day by getting back on track with your healthy eating regime with lots of hydration and clean nourishing foods.
1. PREPARE: PLAN + CHECK THE MENU AHEAD OF TIME
Having a plan is key. When I know I’m going out for dinner, I typically eat lighter meals during the day. If I’m going out for lunch, I eat a lighter dinner. It’s all about balance! I like to look up the menu ahead of time for any place I’m going out to eat at. Some street restaurants have their menus right outside so you can check out their food before committing, which is perfect for those spontaneous days. Knowing what options you have ahead of time makes it easier to pick a healthier meal. I know whenever I’m put on the spot and haven’t checked out the menu ahead of time, I feel rushed and order whatever seems appealing in that moment- this is not a good idea if you’re super hungry! Checking out the menu ahead of time is ESPECIALLY important if you have any specific dietary requirements.
2. BE SELECTIVE: DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR SUBSTITUTIONS
Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions! Most restaurants are equipped for dietary restrictions nowadays. If a meal looks delicious to you, but there’s something about it that doesn’t work for you, ask them to substitute for something more suitable. Whenever I order a salad I like to ask for my dressing on the side so I have control of how much is going on my salad, and I almost always substitute the dressing for a simple heart healthy vinaigrette. Sometimes a salad looks amazing but I don’t want the chicken it comes with, so I’ll ask for avocado or walnuts in replacement. You do you!
3. BALANCE YOUR PLATE: AIM FOR HEALTHY SOURCES FROM DIFFERENT FOOD GROUPS
I follow a protein-fats-fiber plate. Essentially, I like my meals to contain a good source of protein, healthy fats, and fiber (complex carbs) to leave me satisfied. If you’re eating a particular way, when you go out try your best to mimic what you normally would eat at home. The protein-fats-fiber is just what works for me and keeps things easy! If I’m out for lunch or dinner I typically gravitate toward fresh salads because they can easily contain protein-fats-fiber. I like salads that come topped with ingredients like grilled chicken, salmon, or walnuts for some protein (salmon and walnuts also contain a great source of healthy fats!), fresh veggies and fruits (especially berries) for fiber, pumpkin seeds for heart healthy fats, and an extra virgin olive oil vinaigrette for a heart healthy dressing. If I’m ordering a starter I like to share an order of baked yam fries (skip the dipping sauce, they’re flavourful enough) with my hubby or whoever I’m with because I LOVE them and they’re nice and filling! If I’m going out for breakfast or brunch my order is without a doubt avocado toast with poached egg on sourdough bread no questions asked. BAM, good sources of protein-fats-fiber. It’s delicious, packed with nutrition, and FILLING. I will even suggest a spot that serves avocado toast because I’m that person…
4. BEVERAGES: DITCH THE SUGARY DRINKS
Skip the sugar and keep hydrated. If I’m going to have a drink besides water, my go-to is a gin and club soda with ice and fresh squeezed lemon or lime, and I’ll order a glass of water with it as well. If you don’t fancy gin, vodka water with ice and fresh lemon or lime is also another option. If you’re a wine drinker, aim for dry wines as they are low in sugar. I do love a fancy drink from time to time that’s infused with herbs and fruits! My trick to those drinks is to swap out the pop or juice (if it’s in the base) for club soda and rely on the herbs and fruit infusions for flavour. It’s actually delicious and I personally prefer it that way!
5. SLOW DOWN: EAT SLOW AND ENJOY YOUR COMPANY
It takes our brain some time (around 20 minutes) to receive the signal that indicates we’re full. When you eat quickly, you’re likely going to overeat and feel extremely bloated because you’re brain hasn’t caught up to your stomach yet. When you slow down and take time to enjoy your food and company, you give yourself time to feel full and satisfied. Sit back, eat slow, and enjoy your company!
I hope you enjoyed today’s healthy tips for eating out! I would love to hear if you have any healthy tips when it comes to eating out. Comment below and let me know what strategies and guidelines you follow, are any of ours similar? Have an amazing day!
Photos by @lovecraftphotography