Often it can be daunting to go out for a meal if you’ve started eating healthier and you’re confused about which is a healthy choice on a menu and worried you’ll ruin all your hard work by choosing a ‘bad’ meal. However, this is not the case at all, one bad meal will not undo all your hard work; consistent poor food choices will.
I’ve listed some tips below for those of us who do try to maintain healthy eating but don’t want to give up going out and enjoying ourselves with friends and family for meals. I believe, and say, that food is meant to be enjoyed and if the thought of going to restaurant fills you with fear because you’re scared of ruining your hard work then food is no longer enjoyable and this is when a poor relationship with food can start.
- Drink Water Before Your Meal
Hunger can often be mistaken for dehydration. When you’re looking over the menu sip on some water and by the time your food arrives you may not be as hungry as you first thought you were and will consume less of the food on your plate.
- Request The Bread Basket To Be Removed
Bread baskets on the table before the meal arrives are so tempting – before I was diagnosed gluten intolerant I could easily fill myself up on the contents of the bread basket and then struggle with my meal once it arrived. So I absolutely get it with the bread basket but the bread is very filling leaving you less room for the nutritious food of the actual meal.
- Start With A Soup
Consider starting with a small portion of soup rather than going straight for a main course. A vegetable soup can be a great choice, these are often on menus and can be filling and nutritious. Following this with a half portion main course means you can experience more dishes!
- Ask For Salad Dressing To Be Served On The Side
Salads are often thought of as the healthy option yet salad dressings can be very high in fat and calories. If the dressing is served over your salad before it arrives to your table you have no control over the amount that is put on. Having your dressing served on the side allows you to control how much you pour on to your salad or even better dip your fork into the dressing first and then into your salad, you still get the taste of the dressing but with much less fat and calories.
- Ask For A Half Portion
Portion sizes these days are HUGE in restaurants this is mainly down to the fact of larger plates being manufactured not just for the catering industry but for home use too.
As we often feel compelled to clear our plates – being told when younger to clear the plate, or feeling bad we’re at a restaurant and don’t want to waste food/money – order a half portion then you will not be presented with an enormous plate of food which you’ll struggle to finish.
- Ask For Vegetables
So this may sound totally obvious. Find out if the dish you are ordering comes with vegetables and if not order a couple of side dishes of vegetables to share on the table. Ask that the vegetables not have any dressing on them. Additionally, ask if there are alternative to chips (fries) such as a baked potato instead.
- Share A Dessert
Or don’t! If you have room for a dessert after your meal and you really want one, have one or share one. Sharing a dessert is romantic but is also economical and healthier. But if you want to, indulge yourself! After all the occasional dessert can be seen as a reward so enjoy it.
These are just some of the tips which can help you when out for a meal. I hope they are useful for you if you do sometimes find it confusing navigating a menu and just remember; food is to be enjoyed, do not feel guilty for enjoying your meal, savour it, enjoy it and if you do order something you think isn’t the best choice nutrition wise just know that one plate of food once in a while is not going to ruin your hard work.