Eating healthy can be a bit of a challenge if you frequently eat out. But dining out for convenience, lunch or dinner meetings, and various other reasons is often unavoidable. Thankfully, a growing number of fast food chains and restaurants are introducing healthier options to more health-conscious clienteles. But even without that welcome change, there are different ways you can make healthy food choices when eating out at restaurants. The important thing is to keep staying healthy while eating out a primary goal and work out a plan on how you can enjoy the best of both worlds.
Think ahead. You do not have to know every detail to plan ahead. Create a healthy eating plan for the day when you know you are dining out. Avoid skipping meals which can make you overeat. Make a mental note of the meals and snacks you had prior to your next expected meal at the restaurant. The key is not to overindulge, especially if you are trying to manage your weight.
Be mindful of ingredients. Most restaurant menus provide detailed descriptions of what goes into every dish they are offering. Make it a habit to study the menu carefully before placing your order. Try to steer clear of anything deep fried, creamy, and other potentially calorie-rich or fatty items.
Control portion size. Portion sizes are usually larger in many restaurants. If you are eating out alone, you can ask the server to split your order in two and have the other half to go. That way you can enjoy half of your meal, take the rest home, and just heat it for your next meal. Controlling portion size is easier when you are dining out with family, friends, or co-workers. Many restaurants offer group meals for everyone to share. Alternatively, you can share your large-size meal to others when the group option is not available.
Skip the sugary drinks. Liquid calories are among the things you need to consider when you have to make healthy food choices when eating out. Steer clear of sodas, iced teas, fruit juices, and other sugary drinks. If you want to drink anything other than water, you can ask for unsweetened drinks or for low- or fat-free milk on your coffee.
Avoid add-ons. It helps to keep in mind that everything that goes into your plate can add to the total calories of your meal. Try to limit the “extras” by extra gravies or sauces they may be offering. Ask for salad dressing to be served on the side. This can help you control the amount of dressing that goes into your salad.