If you eat healthy at home, you might think a little common sense is all you need to stay on track when you venture out to restaurants. And you’d be right–at least, sort of. Food you find in restaurants is rarely anything like what you keep in your kitchen. So while being smart may lead you to the salad section of the menu, the abundance of toppings that dress up those greens might be more laden in unwanted fats than what you’d commonly equate with a healthy salad.
Eating out is a time-saving alternative as well as a social function to share with friends that shouldn’t be skipped. Try these tips, and the next time your order’s up, your scale won’t have to do the same.
Know Before You Go: It may seem silly to research your restaurant, but it’s a must if you want to get a glimpse of the food you’re about to eat. In the same way you’d review a dining establishment online, look up the menu so that you can make a selection based on good eating strategies not hunger. Some restaurants even offer nutritional information on their websites that aren’t printed on their menus. Use the facts provided to learn about serving sizes, sodium levels, protein amounts, and more. The more you know the less your body has to grow.
Ruin Your Supper: Mom always said that snacks will ruin your appetite, and she was right. If you don’t trust your willpower when you’re at a restaurant, eat a snack before you head out. Choose something with protein and fiber to help you feel, such as an apple and almond butter. Wash it down with a large glass of water, and you’re less likely to fill up on no-no foods when the waiter takes your order.
Pick a Protein: Protein is a must for building muscle and keeping hunger under control. Look for entrees on the menu where protein is the star of the show. For example, grilled steak, seared salmon, blackened chicken, or lamb chops are all great protein choices that will taste great and fill you up.
Keep It Clean: Restaurants use lots of sauces and gravies to make a dish look and taste more appealing, but with it can come a side of unhealthy fats as well. When ordering, keep it clean. Ask for vegetables to be steamed instead of sauteed in butter. Skip sauces all together, or ask for them to be put on the side so that you can control the portions. If a piece of meat is served fried, ask if it can be grilled or boiled instead.
Be a “Bother”: Lots of people have dietary restrictions these days, so restaurant wait staff aren’t surprised when people need to ask question or make special requests. Even if you aren’t allergic to nuts and can stomach gluten doesn’t mean that wanting to eat
healthier isn’t a dietary need for you. Ask questions when you have them, and see what ways food can be prepared in ways that better suit your fat-burning needs.
Eat Slowly: No matter what you order when you eat out, choose to chew at a slower pace. Wolfing down your food makes it hard for your body to tell you when you’re full before it’s too late. Your body needs time to digest. Give it the time it needs by having a conversation with your dinner guest, or even just people watching or reading the paper when you’re dining solo.
Getting healthy doesn’t mean swearing off eating outside of the house. You can do both, and still see the fat-burning results that you’re working toward.
What healthy-minded tricks do you use when going out to eat? Share with others in the comments!