Wednesday, August 5, 2015

10 Tips for Eating Healthy in a Restaurant

Going out to eat is fun... no matter if it's a treat, or if it's because you just don't want to cook that night. It's so nice to have someone else cook the food and clean the dishes. However, if you're trying to stay healthy, it can be difficult and scary at times. The choices on the menu can be overwhelming. And when your spouse or friend is ordering fried this or extra cheese on that, it can be hard to make the right choices.

Lately, my husband and I have been so busy, that it's just easier to order a meal than to cook one. And that's okay every once in a while. But be prepared! It's okay to splurge sometimes, but you can also keep that healthy diet going. There's no reason you can't find something on the menu that won't have you regretting decisions later. When you go out to eat, here are my top 10 tips for staying healthy, while enjoying yourself as well!

1. Have a plan. 

This is the most important tip for ANY healthy eater. It's so much easier to eat clean, when you have a plan in place. Before you go to the restaurant, look up the menu online. Look through all of the items, and see what you can and can't have. If you are still weary, call the restaurant to ask about the dish that's caught your eye. This way, there will be no last-minute struggle, when the waiter comes by to ask for your order.

2. Don't be afraid to speak up.

Don't be afraid to ask questions, make changes or make additions. If you would rather have a burger without the bun, no cheese and add extra lettuce, by all means you should ask! These days, it is much more common to customize your meal. If you don't know exactly what a word on the menu means or the ingredients of a certain item...ASK! You will never regret knowing exactly what you are putting into your body.

3. Order a salad ASAP.

When you order a side salad first thing, you get a bit of a jump on the bread basket. Plus, when you get some wholesome veggies in your stomach, you are more likely not to overeat. Make sure you ask for a vinaigrette or light dressing on the side, and either omit or go easy on the cheese and/or croutons. Take your time eating the salad, until the entree arrives. That way you don't get tempted with bread or chips.

4. If you can, ask the waiter to skip the bread basket.

This goes along with the tip above. If you are with a group of people that doesn't mind, ask the waiter to pass on the bread. You won't even have to worry about the temptation. This isn't always an option, as you may be eating with someone that would like some bread. If that's the case, stick with your salad, and take your time.

5. Order your entree first.

Once you have mentally chosen the meal you will order, close your menu, and try to order first once the waiter comes to the table. I am more likely to change my mind, if I hear my husband ordering the truffle mac and cheese right before me. I mean I want truffle mac and cheese too, but it's not something that will be best for my healthy lifestyle. (Like I said earlier, splurging is great sometimes. Believe me, I've had the truffle mac more than a few times ;) )

6. Read between the lines.

Sometimes, menus aren't very specific when it comes to actual ingredients of a meal. Beware of words such as creamy, breaded, crispy, buttered or stuffed. Those words can mean extra fat, deep fried, smothered in butter, etc... Try to look for words like grilled, roasted, baked, etc...

7. Skip the sugary cocktails.

It's definitely okay to have a drink with dinner. However, you'll want to try to stay away from daiquiris, pina coladas, margaritas, or anything else that you know will be really sweet and filled with sugar. Instead, order a glass of wine, a light beer, or a vodka seltzer. This will save you so many calories at the end of the day.

8. ALWAYS order water.

No matter if you are drinking an alcoholic beverage, tea, diet soda, etc... Always order a water to go with your meal. Water can help fill you up and keep you full in a good way. Drinking a lot of water throughout the day is also a good thing to keep in mind. Not just when you're going out, but especially when you know you will be tempted with food. Water is so good for you, and if you are drinking something alcoholic, it can prevent that nasty hangover the next morning.

9. Box up half.

Either when you order, or when your food comes to the table, ask your waiter to bring you a box, or box up half of your meal. If the food is already in the box, you won't be tempted to eat it all in one sitting. Hey, I'm all about the leftovers! Plus, you've already had your salad and plenty of water. Half of the entree (which is usually huge) should be sufficient.

10.  Ask yourself if it's worth it.

My last tip is kind of an alternative. If you're going out for a special occasion, or just really craving a certain type of food, you should ask yourself "Is it worth it?" If it is, live a little and get what you want. If you're really wanting the Reese cookie dessert (we had one at the end of our anniversary dinner. SO worth it), and it's worth it to you... go for it! One Reese cookie never hurt anyone ;) You don't have to feel bad for indulging a little.

Do you have any tips or tricks you use when going out to eat? I'd love to hear them! Comment below or on my facebook page.

Until next time...

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