How to Make Healthy Choices out at Restaurants
For some reason, living a healthy lifestyle has become synonymous with boring. You can’t eat this, you definitely can’t eat that. And don’t even think about eating there. Heaven forbid you get invited out to a night out at a restaurant with friends! The temptation! The mountains of calories! Who will eat your plain chicken and steamed broccoli at home? You might as well just throw the towel in and say goodbye to having fun because being healthy means being boring.
This couldn’t be more wrong.
Sticking to a healthy diet and healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a night out with friends. Restaurants nowadays offer more healthy options than ever before. And even those restaurants where you’re like, there’s absolutely no way this place even knows how to spell the word healthy let alone cook something healthy - there are some restaurant hacks you can do even at the greasiest (i.e. tastiest) of places.
Here are some restaurant tips you can use to stick to a healthy lifestyle no matter your lifestyle:
- Check the menu beforehand. Having a plan of action of what you’ll order going in will leave you less tempted to browse for spur-of-the-moment unhealthy menu choices. Plus, most restaurants list their nutritional information on their websites that will give you a good idea of what you’re getting with each item.
- Order your salad dressing on the side. For some reason, restaurants like to serve salads that have been marinating in dressing for what seems like 48 hours. These calorie heavy dressings offer very little nutritional value. Ordering it on the side and using only the amount you want can save yourself anywhere from 100 to 300 calories.
- Every health guru worth their salt always advises against drinking your calories...so I’m going to tell you the exact same thing. Don’t drink your calories. You can unwittingly consume hundreds and hundreds of calories through just your drinks (especially during the holidays when there are parties, champagne, and family galore). But...if you are going to indulge in alcoholic beverages, make smart, low-calorie decisions. Instead of eggnog (around 240 calories a cup) or a margarita (some have upwards of 700 calories!!), choose lighter options. Mixed drinks like vodka and club soda have just 100 calories. Limit yourself to just one and avoid the sugary mixers that will only leave you craving more sugar.
- The old saying holds true. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to tell your stomach you’re full. So eat slowly. Not only will you enjoy the food and conversation more, you’ll have a better understanding of when you’re actually full versus thinking you’re full when the plate is empty.
- Think Portion Control. Again, it’s no secret. Restaurants like to load up those plates with piles of food like they’re going out of business. What they say is an entree for one could really be split into two or even three meals. Tell yourself beforehand you’re only going to eat half and take the rest home. Not only will your waistline say thank you but so will your wallet. And you too, probably the next day at lunchtime.
- Choose sides and toppings wisely. Opt for veggies options when choosing your sides and toppings. A loaded baked potato can add anywhere from 400 to 600 calories while a side of fresh mixed veggies is just 150. These choices are healthier and higher in fiber, keeping you fuller longer. For condiments, substituting the restaurant's “special sauces” (aka calorie rich sauces where you don’t know what’s in them) choose ketchup, mustard, relish, or salsa.