We often associate ‘eating out’ with eating unhealthily and ‘home-cooked’ with healthy. Even though most of the time the association holds true there are many ways to make eating out an enjoyable and healthy experience… an important skill for those that are too busy to cook every meal at home. Here are 9 tips for eating healthily outside of the home.
1. Ask for it your way. Don’t be shy to ask for your meal to be customized. Ask for extra salad instead of the potatoes, rice, or bread. Ask for your salad dressing on the side. Ask for your food to be cooked in olive oil instead of butter. If the restaurant can do it they usually will without charging you extra.
2. Order a salad before ordering anything else on the menu. If your meal doesn’t come with a salad, order a salad as a starter or share a salad with a friend. This way you’re not ordering while hungry and can make healthier decisions with more ease.
3. Ask how the food was prepared. This is something that you sometimes won’t be able to tell from the menu, so ask your waiter whether the food is cooked in an unhealthy way such as being breaded, pan-fried with butter or deep-fried.
4. Order from the “healthy, light, low fat” entrées. One of the easiest ways to make sure the food you’re eating contains healthy ingredients, is a good portion size, and is cooked in a healthy way is to simply order from the ‘healthy’ section on the menu. That said, you can easily go overboard on the appetizers or dessert, so keep in mind the other tips mentioned.
5. Ask to “triple the vegetables, please.” Many restaurants will use vegetables and greens to garnish a plate. Ask for extra vegetables and even offer to pay for the addition; it is rare for the restaurant to charge you but it would, nevertheless, be worth it.
6. Do the fork dip. Ask for your salad dressing to come on the side and then dip your fork into it before going for the greens. This method ensures that you get the flavour of the dressing without your salad being drenched in the extra calories.
7. Ask the waiter to skip the bread basket. The bread basket is my downfall. Just smelling freshly baked bread makes me want to spread butter all over it and devour it. So, as hard as this is to do, ask your waiter to skip the bread basket and the temptation as well.
8. Don’t drink your calories. You really shouldn’t ever drink your calories, but if you must, ask for freshly squeezed juice (no added sugar).
9. Skip the dessert. Skip or share a dessert. My moto here is to ‘try it, don’t eat it’. If everyone is ordering dessert and you just can’t resist, try a bite or two from someone but don’t have a whole dessert just for yourself. If you skip dessert at the restaurant, you can always have a bit of dark chocolate at home.