I sometimes feel like an oxymoron. I think of myself as a foodie (because I love delicious food, trying new restaurants, and dining out), but I equally care about staying in shape and looking good (which requires me to maintain a nutritious, low-calorie diet).
If you’re anything like me, you’ve come to learn the importance of finding a balance between embracing an epicurean lifestyle and being selective about the types of foods and beverages you consume when you dine out.
Diet-Friendly Tips for Eating Healthy when Dining Out
To help you eat healthy when dining out, featured here are some of my diet-friendly secrets that will enable you to enjoy eating healthy at restaurants, without ever feeling deprived.
1. CHOOSE WISELY: When choosing a restaurant to dine at, go online and read through the menu before-hand. This will help you decide (before making a reservation), if the restaurant offers a wide variety of healthy food options that meet your dietary needs. As an example, more restaurants are serving vegan or vegetarian dishes, so this might be something to consider. In addition, check the menus to see if they allow substitutions (like low-sodium alternatives).
2. DRINK UP: As soon as you sit down at the table, order water with a lemon wedge (on the side). Studies have indicated that drinking water helps you feel fuller, which minimizes how much you eat during a sitting. In addition to hydrating your body, you also feel less bloated (since you will retain less water due to dehydration). This makes you look slimmer, especially in your middle section.
3. SKIP THE BREAD: One of the easiest ways to eat healthy when dining out is to say no to starchy carbs, like the basket of bread that is often served at restaurants. At first it might be difficult to watch your friends dig in to those freshly-baked rolls, but over time, you’ll feel empowered the more you remind yourself that you don’t want rolls (either in your mouth, or on your waistline).
4. EAT A SALAD: Another easy way to eat healthy when dining out is to order a salad as an appetizer. Not only is lettuce high in fiber, it’s also a low-calorie way to keep your appetite at bay, so that by the time your entree comes, you consume less (and take more home in a to-go box).
5. EAT VEGETABLES: Even if you’re not a vegetarian, nutritionists and health experts always encourage us to eat more fiber-rich veggies. Ordering a side of vegetables with your meal, or even ordering a full vegetarian entree (with added protein, like grilled chicken) ensures you’ll get a hearty dose of vegetables. Not only are vegetables healthy for us to consume, they’re high in fiber, which will help fill you up (so you’re less hungry).
6. SHARE A MEAL: Not only does sharing a meal with your dining companion cut-down on expenditures, it also cuts your calories in half. Sharing a meal also has social benefits, since it makes you feel more connected with the person you’re dining with.
7. PUMP UP THE PROTEIN: Increasing the amount of lean protein you consume (like grilled chicken and fish) helps you feel more satiated while building lean muscle. At every meal, make sure to get an ample amount of protein. This will also help sustain your energy for longer. When looking at a menu, search for the meals that are protein-rich, like baked Salmon with a side of brown rice and steamed vegetables.
The next time you’re planning on dining out, think about the above tips before placing your order. You’ll not only look better, you’ll also feel better. Cheers to eating healthy when dining out!
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