How to Enjoy Meals out and Stay Healthy
Eating out doesn’t have to be associated with eating badly. It just depends on your mindset when you do visit a restaurant or café, and how you view it. Many people associate dining out as a ‘treat outing’, and rightly so, as going to a lovely restaurant and having chefs cooks for you is a treat in itself. But it doesn’t directly mean you have to eat the dishes which you know are the naughtiest.
If you’ve started to feel on edge about eating out, in fear of it ruining your diet and fitness plan, then you may be viewing it through the wrong eyes. Here’s a number of factors to bear in mind when it comes to enjoying nights out at restaurants, without going back on the progress you’ve made so far.
- Limit how often you do eat out
Dining out should be enjoyable, but it doesn’t have to be something you do every weekend or numerous times a week. It can get expensive, so look at saving some money and reducing temptation to over-indulge by limiting it to a couple of times a month.
If you don’t want to reduce the number of times you visit a restaurant, then remember that eateries are much more flexible than they used to be. You can request to reduce the amount of cheese, or to skip the mayo. And if you know you’re going to be eating out a lot because you simply enjoy it, work around it by planning lighter meals in the morning.
- Check the menu’s beforehand
Most restaurants have online menus, so you can easily plan your courses before you head out. But don’t forget, many restaurants are able to adapt dishes, so if you do see something that you worry is too calorie heavy, there might be ways around it if you put a request in.
Some of the larger, bigger name restaurant chains provide a full list of nutritional information online, too. Take a look at this before you go to avoid ordering something you’ll later regret!
- Stick to a two-course meal plan
The temptation to get three courses when you dine out can be high, because the options available to us are often more exciting than what we have at home! Decide before you go whether you are going to choose a starter or a dessert and stick to it. If you’re adamant you don’t want to indulge in a sickly sweet dessert, but know you’ll be drooling when you get there, tell yourself to have a coffee afterwards. This will fill the gap, and afterwards you’ll feel satisfied and pleased with yourself that you didn’t cave for the cake.
Dining out is meant to be an enjoyable foodie experience though, so make sure you’re not restricting yourself too much. If you skip dessert, don’t beat yourself up for sharing a cheesy garlic bread with your partner as a starter.
- Think about lean eating
Most restaurants will offer a range of dishes which are based on lean proteins. The most popular is chicken dishes, or you can also go for turkey or lean red meats (like beef or pork fillets). Keep this in mind when browsing the menu, and try to avoid the fattier meats, like chops, battered or deep-fried versions.
Prawn, chicken and tofu dishes tend to be more on the lighter side. You could always ask your waiter for grilled versions of meats too, if you are worried they are going to be fried too heavily.
- Be cautious about drinks
If you’re a keen socialiser but wanting to improve your health and fitness, it’s crucial you consider your alcohol intake. It’s too easy to get carried away in restaurants, especially when handed that fancy cocktail menu.
Try not to exceed the recommended units a day, which is 2–3 for women and 3–4 for men. Be aware that cocktails are loaded with sugar, so even if they don’t sound too overly indulgent, the sugar in the juices can make a real calorific drink.