Many people are worried that they’ll never be able to go to a café or restaurant again if they’re going to lead a healthy life. Trust me, you can! This is something I get asked all the time. There is no need to give up your social life because you fear you can’t eat a healthy meal when you’re out.
I’ve been leading a healthy life for years and have never had an issue with eating out. Do remember, life is about balance. I follow an 80/20 approach. 80% of my diet is clean and 20% is eating foods which aren’t 100% clean. It’s important for our mental health that we aren’t so strict on ourselves and our diet. Your body listens to what you do most of the time, not what you do on occasion. If you eat a meal which isn’t healthy and you stress about it this creates a stress response in the body, leading to digestive havoc. So do the best you can when you dine out and don’t stress! Enjoy the moment, your body will break down and assimilate the food much better in doing so.
Here are my top tips and tools to stay healthy when you’re eating out:
Check the menu online before-hand
Most restaurants have their menu posted on their website. Checking the online menu before you go will give you extra time to make an educated, healthy choice.
Have a healthy snack before you go
Enjoy a protein rich snack prior to eating out to keep your blood sugars stable and prevent you from over eating on the wrong foods.
Ask for vegetables or a salad as a side substitute
A lot of menus have fried foods such as hot chips or grains on the side of a main dish. Instead of having these foods, ask for a side of steamed vegetables or a salad. This is one of the simplest and easiest tips that you can use just about anywhere.
Choose your appetisers wisely
Keep the bread and chip baskets away! Many people make the mistake of filling up on appetiser foods prior to their main meal. Breads and chips with dips are not only high in calories, they are actually empty calories and refined carbohydrate. They offer no nutritional value and will be an impediment to living a healthy life.
Talk to your waiter/waitress
Many restaurants are happy to adjust a menu item slightly to keep a customer happy.
Ask for all dressings/sauces to be served on the side.
Substitute creamy salad dressings for a vinaigrette or olive oil. Be aware of the hidden ingredients and sugars that can be included in many sauces.
Remember your portion size
You don’t have to eat everything on your plate! Instead, take a few deep breaths to slow down and pause before scoffing it all down. Enjoy your meal, stop when you feel full. This will prevent you from feeling bloated or “completely stuffed” post-meal. As a general rule of thumb, have unlimited green vegetables and salads, a protein serving about the size of your palm and wholegrain carbohydrate source about the size of a cupped hand. If the servings are too large, ask for a side plate to place excess food and have it taken away immediately or take it home.
Be mindful. Do your best and don’t stress!
Use all of these tips, then let the rest go and enjoy yourself! You can’t control everything so do your best. You will walk away smiling feeling very proud of yourself.