When eating out, it’s hard not to have the ‘treat-yourself’ mentality. And for some reason when you’re treating yourself, it’s easy to pretend as if those calories don’t exist because they’re ‘worth it’. Well, news flash, those calories do count! AND, if you’re like me, you end up eating out way more often than you intended, and before you know it that ‘treat yourself’ mentality turns into your everyday diet. Yikes! Having a ‘eating out healthy’ mentality can keep you from gaining weight, make you feel better, and is just plain good for you!
I’m busy, and I’m not ready to swear off the occasional stop at a restaurant or fast food joint! Which is why I’ve decided to give my eating out habits a makeover. I’ve shared my top 10 tips for eating healthy when you’re out, below.
#1) Check Online Menus
Eating out healthy can take some planning. Checking menus online before gives you the chance to not only check if there’s anything healthy to eat in the first place, but also gives you time to debate the best option to order; as well as work it into your other meals, calories, and macros for the day.
#2) Ask for substitutions
Don’t be afraid to ask for a side salad, or a side of veggies rather than a side of french fries, or potato salad- I have never had a restaurant turn me down. Just remember to watch the sauces and dressings on the side salad- with a thick creamy dressing a salad can be just nearly as bad for you as the fries! Just ask!!
#3) Avoid fried foods
Yeah sorry, no matter what way you spin it, french fries and chicken strips just aren’t that healthy! Opt for choices that are baked, or prepared with unsaturated oils.
#4) Go Raw
Just think about it this way, you know exactly how a raw veggie was prepared, whereas cooked veggies like a side of brussel sprouts or broccoli you don’t know exactly what oils, seasoning, or sauces are being added that could be unhealthy. You can always ask and confirm cooked veggies are prepared to your liking (but you get my point, be mindful).
#5) Go for whole grains
If you are planning on ordering a burger, sandwich, or pasta, try to find a whole grain bun, bread, or pasta substitute.
#6) Utilize the lettuce wrap
Some restaurants may not have a whole grain option for a burger bun, but they most likely have a lettuce wrap option whether it’s on the menu or not – even better! Restaurants are trying to become more health conscious for those who care about eating out healthy!
#7) Portion Control
A CSPI survey found that restaurants often serve two to three times more than food labels list as a serving. Either order something smaller, or plan on taking half of your meal home.
#8) Slow Down
Eat your meal slower. On average it takes your brain 20 minutes to catch up with your stomach. People who eat a little slower, find themselves feeling fuller after eating less.
#9) Go Light on the Drinking
Most popular/’fancy’ drinks that are featured at restaurants are super sugary and contribute to your calorie intake probably more than you give them credit for. If you must drink, leave the Margs and Pina Coladas behind (sad I know), and go for something lighter like wine, a light beer, or a vodka tonic.
#10) Skip Dessert
As a sweet tooth myself, it pains me to say this, but most desserts at restaurants are crazy packed with calories. If you do eat dessert, hold off until you get home and indulge those sugary cravings for something a little healthier like a piece of dark chocolate, or a small scoop of sorbet. Still satisfying but way healthier. Or if you just can’t live without the Cheesecake Factory cheesecake (I couldn’t lie to you guys), order it to go and eat smaller portions of it over the course of 3-4 days.
Do you have any tricks that you swear by when eating out healthy?! Share your thoughts and ideas below!