Eating out is such a wonderful luxury, however it can sometimes be tricky to make healthy choices when eating out. As dining out is seen as a treat, it can be more than tempting to feel like you deserve some dishes that might not be all that good for you.
January has come and gone and you may have already packed in your new year's resolutions and completed your Dry January challenge. For some, February may feel like a luxurious month where you've allowed yourself to drink alcohol again, or you've started eating candy again after a very long month without it. To top it off, February plays host to Valentine's Day which for some could mean being wined and dined, going for a girl's weekend away, or eating some chocolate chocolate. But, it doesn't have to be this way if you'd rather stay health-conscious. Of course, it's great to have a treat now and again, but if you eat out regularly and you wish to adopt a healthier lifestyle, you may want to rethink your decadent order.
A healthy lifestyle isn't all about food; it consists of healthy eating, regular exercise, enough sleep, drinking enough water, and looking after your mental health. However, healthy eating plays a big part in living a healthy life – because as we all know, you are what you eat. So here are some tips and tricks to make healthy choices while eating out.
1. Don’t Bother With The Bread
Fellow Bustler Toria Sheffield discussed eating healthy at restaurants and said, "Granted, bread is freakin' delicious, so definitely destroy that bread basket if you want to — however, as registered nurse Gianna Rose says in an article for LIVESTRONG, white bread has little nutritive value, so if getting loaded up with vitamins, protein, and fiber is what you're going for, you might want to keep this tip in mind." So remember this advice when the bread basket is heading to your end of the table.
2. Drink Water
Keeping an eye on what you consume isn't limited to just the food that you eat, it also encompasses anything that passes your lips, including drinks. It's common knowledge that water is vital to our survival and keeps us feeling great, but there are plenty of other benefits to upping your water intake. Hannah Helsabeck writing for The Huffington Post discovered that drinking more water enabled her to "over-snack less," improved her digestion, and helped her to feel "...stronger and have greater endurance in the gym." Needless to say, drinking alcohol on a regular basis isn't great for you, so try to steer clear of any alcoholic beverages. Keep the water flowing during your meal to ensure you stay fully hydrated and reap the benefits.
3. Don’t Share
Sharing food can be really fun and even romantic, but it could end up with you making some unhealthy choices, or not being involved in the choosing process at all. Your friend or date may insist you try their favorite dish and if you're no good with peer pressure, you might find yourself giving in, rather than explaining your new lifestyle.
4. Don't Be Afraid To Ask Questions About Your Food
There is no shame in asking questions about your food, in fact your waiter would probably rather you asked and were fully satisfied, than you say nothing and your food isn't what you expected. This way you can ensure there are no surprises, such as fatty sauces or deep fried foods, when you were expecting a more healthy option.
5. Ask For Extra Veggies
Vegetables are such clever foods and they can contain an assortment of much needed vitamins and nutrients. According to Dr. Mercola vegetables have an array of health benefits. He said, "Eating more fresh vegetables is one of the simplest choices you can make to improve your overall health. A vegetable-rich diet can help protect you from arthritis, heart disease, stroke, dementia, cancer, and can even help slow down your body's aging process." To ensure you are eating a well balanced diet, ask for extra veggies to accompany your main. You could choose a side salad, a couple of veggie side dishes, or even request that the chef adds some extra vegetables straight into your main dish, such as in a pasta dish or a stir fry.
6. Make Some Swaps
Do some research on healthier versions of your favorite foods. For instance, choose whole grain carbohydrates like brown rice over white rice and wholegrain pasta. Steer clear of anything fried and pick white meats and fish over red meats and processed meats. The UK's National Health Service has a whole list of healthy food swaps to help inspire you to eat well.
7. Keep Your Eyes Peeled For “Red Flags”
CNN advised readers to look out for "red flags" in the menu when deciding what to order, "When you sit down to order, scrutinize the menu for red flags that indicate foods are high in calories: descriptions of creamy, crispy, fried, breaded or smothered." Obviously there's nothing wrong with eating high calorie foods, but eating high calorie healthy foods while exercising regularly, is the better choice when trying to stick to a healthy diet. From hummus to nuts, Glamour has a fantastic article listing healthy foods with high calories, for the times when you've hit the gym hard and you need to make up your daily calorie allowance in a healthy way.
8. Don’t Be Tempted By Offers
You may have hit your favorite restaurant at happy hour, when there are some incredible deals and offers to be had. But, don't be tempted into choosing an unhealthy option just because it's cheap or seems too good to miss out on. Your body will thank you once it is digesting some delicious nutritional food, rather than a stodgy pizza loaded with fatty cheese and processed meats.
9. Pick A Light Dessert
If you're going to have a dessert, opt for a light, healthier choice rather than a thick, creamy option which could be more taxing to break down in your tummy. The American Heart Association gives tips on eating out and said, "Even if they aren't on the dessert menu, many restaurants can offer you fruit or sherbet instead of high-fat pastries and ice creams." By choosing a lighter dessert, you can still satisfy your sweet tooth but in a healthier way than say, wolfing down some cheesecake or chocolate pudding.
Whatever healthy eating route you go down, make sure to ask for advice from your doctor or a nutritionist, to ensure you're getting everything you need in your diet. Then all that's left to do is enjoy trying new, healthier options at your favorite restaurants.