If you follow these tips not only will you enjoy your meal more when dining out, but you’ll also feel satisfied and happy at the end of the meal.
According to government surveys, the food you generally eat when you’re not home is nutritionally worse in every way than the food you eat at home.
However, the good news is that almost all the restaurant chains have added healthier food options to their menus, if you know how to look for them.
So, follow these few tricks in order to enjoy a healthier dining experience.
Customize your order
Don’t hold back from customizing your order. For instance, if an item is fried, ask for it grilled. In case it comes with French fries, ask for a side of vegetables instead. Ask for a smaller portion of the meat and a larger portion of the salad; for salad instead of coleslaw; baked potato instead of fried. You’ll be surprised to see that very often, the restaurant will actually cooperate.
Ask how the food was prepared
For instance, cholesterol-free does not mean fat-free - the dish could still be filled with calorie-dense oil. Neither does "lite" necessarily mean light in calories or fat.
Order from the "healthy, light, low fat" entrées on the menu. Most chains will even list the calories and nutritional content of such foods.
Beware of the low-carb options
Restaurant chains have jumped on the low-carb bandwagon, offering numerous low-carb options on their menu. However low-carb doesn’t mean low-cal.
Split a dish with your dining partner
According to surveys, restaurants often serve two to three times more than food labels list as a serving.
Opt for double appetizers
In case there is a nice selection of seafood- and vegetable-based appetizers, consider skipping the entrée and having two appetizers for your meal. Often, that is more than enough food to fill you up.
Order a salad before ordering anything else on the menu
According to scientists at Pennsylvania State University found that volunteers who ate a big veggie salad before the main course ate fewer calories overall than those who didn’t have a first-course salad.
Salads shouldn’t be fatty
This is a vegetable course - keep it tasty but healthy. Which means avoiding anything in a creamy sauce, and skipping the bacon bits and fried noodles. Instead, load up on the raw vegetables, treat yourself to a few well-drained marinated vegetables try adding in some fruit or nuts.
Watch out for hidden fats
Any menu description that uses the words creamy, breaded, crisp, sauced, or stuffed is likely loaded with hidden fats. Watch out for words such as: buttery, sautéed, pan-fried, au gratin, Thermidor, Newburg, Parmesan, cheese sauce, scalloped, and au lait, à la mode, or au fromage (with milk, ice cream, or cheese).
Skip the bread basket
If you must have something to munch on while you wait for your order, ask for a plate of raw vegetables or some breadsticks.
Skip the fancy drinks
In case you feel like ordering an alcoholic drink, make sure to skip the margaritas, piña coladas, and other exotic mixed drinks. They include sugary additions that only add calories. Instead just opt for a glass of wine, a light beer, a vodka and tonic or a simple martini (without the chocolate liquor, sour green apple schnapps, or triple sec).
But make sure it’s not fried. You can surely find low-fat and low-sodium options. Besides, you can order seafood in so many different way, like: steamed, baked, broiled, sautéed, blackened, or grilled. Stay away from any sauces, or ask for them on the side.
Drink water throughout the meal
Doing so will slow you down, help you enjoy the food more, and allow the message get to your brain that you’re full - before your plate is empty.
Say NO to dessert
If you must, you can always have some sorbet or maybe a small piece of chocolate at home - which is a much better option health wise than a triple chocolate meltdown or a mountain of ice cream topped by a one more mountain of whipped cream.
Remember, going to a restaurant shouldn't be an excuse to eat unhealthy foods it should be a great opportunity to enjoy good food, in good company and a time to relax.
How do you manage eating healthy while eating out? Please share with us in the comments section below.