Whether you’re on a diet in an attempt to lose weight or because you have a specific medical condition, eating out can be a minefield full of bad choices. With a bit of pre-planning and know-how, you can make healthy choices no matter which restaurant you choose to dine in. Here are five ways that you can make sure you are eating as healthy as possible when you dine out:
Start With a Salad and a Glass of Water
Many restaurants put a bowl of bread or tortilla chips on the table before your meal gets started. Instead of munching on these carb-laden goodies, ask for a side salad and a glass of water. A salad is an obviously healthier option but has the added bonus of filling you up. Coupled with a full glass of water, a pre-meal salad will help you eat less when your main course arrives.
Get Your Dressing on the Side
Whether you order a starter salad or a salad as a main course, ask for your dressing on the side. No matter what type of dressing your salad is covered with, it is often added in abundance and adds unnecessary calories. Rather than pouring your dressing onto your salad, dip your fork in the dressing before you pierce your lettuce. This will give you an appropriate amount of flavor with just the right amount of dressing.
Choose One Starch
When you are asked what sides you would like with your meal, opt for a single starch rather than two or three. Choose pasta, rice, potatoes or bread. If you’re having a sandwich as a main course, don’t forget that it comes on two pieces of bread! Instead of having French fries or a baked potato with your sandwich, opt for steamed vegetables or no side at all.
If you are given the option, choose brown rice or bread or a sweet potato instead of a white potato. These are healthier options and are often tastier. As an added bonus, these healthier options are nutritionally dense and will keep you satisfied for far longer than their white counterparts.
Read the Menu
Don’t be pressured into making a quick decision when your waiter comes around. Read the menu thoroughly and if you need more time, ask for it! Many restaurants are jumping on the healthy bandwagon and are offering more nutritious fare. Some restaurants even have a section in their menu dedicated to low-calorie, healthy options. Don’t gloss over the menu simply because you feel pressured! Doing so may cause you to look over the healthy options that require no substitutions or special tailoring.
Don’t skip meals out with your friends because you are following a special diet. No matter where you eat, you can find something healthy on the menu. If the menu doesn’t have nutritional options, don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions! Remember that you’re paying for the meal and should be able to order as you like, within reason. Skip the carbs, load up on veggies and your meal will be as nutritious as if you had made it yourself.