Once you get over the hurtle of modifying your diet, staying healthy at home gets easier and easier. However, going out to eat is a treat that most people love. It might be a work lunch that gives you a chance to relax in the middle of the day and be social with your coworkers. Or, maybe you have a night each week that you go out to eat with your family. Being that it is currently summertime, many are going on vacation where it is common to eat out for every meal.
Unfortunately, because our society isn’t always as healthy as we like, eating out can be a challenge for those trying to maintain a healthy diet. Thus, working with our nutrition clients on strategies for staying healthy while eating out is a common topic. Over the last decade, we’ve compiled the following list of tips. We’ve found that this list to be the most practical and have the biggest benefits while still allowing you to indulge a little and enjoy yourself. We put these tips in order from what you can do before you head out to eat all the way through order your meal. Follow these tips and you will be set up and ready to go.
6 Tips for Eating Out
- Read The Menu Before You Go: You are comfortable while at home or in your office. You are relaxed and rational. This is the best time to preview the menu and pick what you want to eat. There is less temptation, less peer pressure, and you will be less likely to pick on impulse. Pull up the menu on your computer, read through what sounds good, and make your selection before you head out. This will help eliminate temptation when you sit down at your table.
- Pregame: That’s right, pregame before you head out to eat. No, we aren’t talking about downing a few shots. Have a healthy snack (a handful of veggies is great) and drink a big glass of water. This will keep you from thinking with your stomach when you get to the restaurant and changing your mind from Tip 1. Also, this will help you avoid binge eating on the free bread that gets delivered before your food arrives.
- Be The First To Order: You’ve already picked something “healthy.” So, be the first to order. If you hear other people at the table order, you increase your chances of changing your mind. Stick to your guns, get your order in, and be happy.
- Pick an Appetizer As Your Meal: Most restaurant portions are way too big these days. However, appetizer portions are usually more reasonable (except the loaded nachos). So, consider ordering an appetizer or two as you meal. Additionally, appetizers are often more exciting than main course dishes anyway.
- Ask For Sauces and Dressings On The Side: With those big meal portions comes a lot of sauces and dressings. We like to ask our nutrition clients, “Do you like salad with a little dressing, or dressing with a little salad?” It’s a cheeky way to ask how much dressing you are using. Don’t leave this decision up to the restaurant. Ask for it on the side so you can control the portion.
- Split Your Meal When It Arrives: If you do order from the entree menu, split it in half as soon as it arrives. When the waiter delivers your meal, ask him or her to bring a to go container as the same time. Then, take half of your meal and put it in the container immediately. You will cut down your portion now and get to enjoy your meal again later.
Eating out is fun for everyone. There is nothing wrong with going out, trying something new, and letting someone else prepare your food. We are always pushing to be a little better than yesterday. Avoidance is not the road to long term success, moderation is. Use these tips to help you control your health while still having a good time and enjoying all that eating out has to offer.