“Healthy eating and eating out are not mutually exclusive”, says Lauren Walsh, Head Dietitian at Best10, “all it takes is a little planning.”
Here are a few tips from Lauren and her team on how to make healthier choices when eating out:
If possible, have a look at what’s on the menu before you arrive. This takes the pressure off and gives you time to see what healthy options are available, preventing you from panic ordering the wrong thing.
Avoid going to the restaurant absolutely famished! Have a handful of almonds or a piece of fruit beforehand – this will prevent you from overdoing it on the bread basket or ordering a less healthy option.
The empty calories in alcohol and soft drinks can add up quickly. Sticking with trusted H20 is the way to go when you’re trying not to add unnecessary calories to your meal. If you want to indulge, have one glass of wine, a beer or a “skinny” cocktail, such as vodka and soda, but make sure you accompany it with a large glass of water. If you crave more flavour in your water, ask for lemon, lime or cucumber slices for your glass.
Did you know that meals at restaurants contain almost 200 more calories than one you would prepare at home? Restaurants and fast food retailers use extra fats and salts when preparing food, which results in increased calorie consumption. Portion sizes are often also a lot more generous than what you would have at home. Sharing a meal or taking half home is a great way to avoid overeating. So, while you may not always be able to control the content of the meal, you can monitor the quantity of what you eat. It’s totally ok to leave some food behind on the plate!
When it’s time to order, ask if parts of your meal could be swapped out, such as fries for additional vegetables or a salad. This will help boost your vegetable intake and lower calories consumed.
When it’s time to choose a salad, you’re better off avoiding items like grated cheese, potato salads, creamy dressings, bacon bits and croutons- these are all vehicles for extra calories.
Try using squeezed lemon as a substitute for salad dressings. If you do decide to go for dressing, order it on the side and dip your salad fork into the dressing, then into the salad- this will help you consume less dressing.
The bottom line? You don’t have to avoid your favourite restaurant to stay in shape – just follow these tips and aim to balance eating out and cooking at home where portions and ingredients can be controlled.