5 Healthy Dining Tips to use When Going Out to Eat
Let’s face it, it’s very hard to go out to dinner with your friends, go to a party, or a family holiday and not be tempted to eat everything. Self-control is very hard when there will be food available in mass quantities. Here are 5 healthy dining tips that can help you stay focused when going out to eat.
I have on many occasions declined going out because I was afraid I wouldn’t have the self-control to not order something that I would regret after. On average when you go out to eat you are consuming an extra 253 calories and 16 grams of fat. According to a study by the USDA, almost 75% of us eat at a restaurant at least once a week, and 25% dine out every two or three days. One problem with dining out is portion sizes have increased dramatically and most of us, including me, have to polish off the whole plate. I’m guilty of not listening to my body when it’s telling me I’m full but feel the need to clean off every ounce of food on my plate. Now let’s get started with those 5 healthy dining tips for going out to eat!
1. Don’t Go Hungry
The first of your five healthy dining tips is to not go out hungry. Many of us are guilty of the infamous bread basket that comes out and three pieces later you have consumed a couple hundred calories due to hunger. I would not advise going the whole day skipping meals because you’re preparing for your social night out. During the day, eat your normal meals such as small salads, chicken and green vegetables, yogurt, eggs, protein shake…etc. Before going out to your social event make sure to eat something, whether it’s some fruit, small salad, or a healthy snack.
Eating your normal meals through the day will prevent you from indulging on the bread basket or consuming too much of your oversized dinner that most restaurants offer. So, before going out make sure you have a small healthy snack otherwise it will be like grocery shopping on an empty stomach. We all know how dangerous that can be! Your motivation to staying on track is going to your event, not on an empty stomach. This strategy will prevent you from choosing a meal motivated solely by hunger, and instead help you make the logical choice for your body. So remember to have a nice filling healthy snack before going out!
2. Easy on the Alcohol
It’s so easy to drink your calories when going out. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram, which is almost twice as many as protein and carbohydrates. To put it in perspective, alcohol has two fewer calories than fat which is 9 per gram. Also, the calories in alcohol lack nutrients, so it will be stored as fat. For example, wine and beer both have high carbohydrate contents which release insulin leading to added body fat storage.
Additionally, it is important to remember that consuming alcohol leads to lower inhibitions which can lead to the making wrong kinds of food choices. Another idea to help you consume less alcohol or food is to have a glass of water before your meal comes out. This will help keep you full, and in the long run, help you with digestion. Moderation is key, so if you want to have the one glass of wine go for it, but stick to one glass.
3. Be the one to Choose the Restaurant
Choosing the restaurant has so many advantages. One, you are able to preview the menu before going out which is key to deciding which plate is most beneficial to keeping you on track on your healthy lifestyle. Two, you can choose independently owned restaurants which usually have more natural, fresh, healthier ingredients on their menu. A great way to find healthier restaurants is using the app YELP. You can put in keywords such as vegan, healthy, natural, paleo…etc, and find many choices with reviews on the establishment.
4. Getting a Doggie Bag
This is a great tip for the consumer who has the need to finish the whole plate, which I am guilty of. I suggest asking your server for a take out bag before your meal comes out and store half away for a later time. This is very helpful, and since you didn’t go hungry to your social event, you don’t need to overeat.
5. Read Key Words
Many restaurants have a low-calorie menu, or ‘good for you’ choice section. So, the last of our healthy dining tips is to be smart when reading these, since the claim may not always be true. You want to stay away from certain words like creamy, battered, fried, cheesy, or buttery. When looking for a balanced meal, look for a lean protein such as fish, chicken or steak.
You can also stick to complex carbohydrates which could include brown rice, sweet potato, and whole wheat pasta. Also, when getting a salad ask for the dressing on the side. The number of calories in salad dressing is staggering. When people think eating healthy is getting a salad, it’s not healthy anymore when dousing it with creamy dressing and cheese. There are 73 calories in 1 tablespoon of Ranch Salad Dressing, and 2 tablespoons of creamy caesar are 170 Calories. What I do when getting a salad is requesting balsamic vinegar on the side. This controls how much dressing you are putting on your meal. A little dressing goes a long way, so having the ability to dip your salad with the dressing on the side which will surprise you how little you really need. Making smart choices and looking at keywords is a great way to stay on track.
These five healthy dining tips should help you make healthier and smarter choices when going out to social events. They are great tools to help you succeed in maintaining your healthy eating habits. As a quick review: do not go out hungry, take it easy on the alcohol, be the one to choose the restaurant, get a doggie bag, and read into the keywords on menus are your tools to success. Staying focused, motivated, and knowing your options will lead you to become a better you!