It can be tough to eat healthy when eating out. Restaurants know how to pack in the calories, and it’s often hard to find something on the menu that doesn’t have too much fat or sugar. But with a little bit of planning, you can still make healthy choices when eating out.
Here are some tips to help you make the best choices when eating out:
Check the Menu Online Before You Go
One of the best ways to make healthy choices when eating out is to check the menu online before you go. This way, you can see your options and decide what to order before getting to the restaurant.
Here are a few things to look for when you’re checking the menu:
- Healthy entrees: Look for grilled, baked, or roasted entrees. Avoid anything that’s fried.
- Vegetarian options: Most restaurants have at least a few vegetarian options. These can be a great way to get your vegetables without having to order a side dish.
- Salads: Salads are another great option for getting your vegetables. Just be sure to watch out for high-calorie dressings or toppings.
- Soups: Many soups are loaded with vegetables and can make a great starter or main course. Just be sure to avoid cream-based soups, which can be high in calories.
Once you’ve looked at the menu and have an idea of what you’d like to order, call ahead and ask about the nutritional information. This way, you can ensure that you’re getting something that fits into your diet.
Make Smart Substitutions
If there’s nothing on the menu that looks like a good option, don’t hesitate to ask for substitutions. Most restaurants are happy to accommodate special requests. For example, you could ask for grilled chicken instead of fried chicken or request that your salad be dressed with olive oil and vinegar instead of a high-fat dressing.
Here are some other smart substitutions you can make:
- Ask for whole-wheat bread instead of white bread
- Choose lean meat, like grilled chicken or fish, instead of fatty meat
- Get steamed vegetables instead of fried ones
- Order dressing and sauces on the side so you can control how much you use
Avoid All-You-Can-Eat Deals
All-you-can-eat deals can be tempting, but they’re not always the best choice if you’re trying to eat healthily. That’s because it’s easy to overeat when you have an unlimited supply of food. If you do decide to take advantage of an all-you-can-eat deal, be sure to stop eating when you’re full.
You can try to control your portion size by asking for a to-go box when you first get your food. This way, you can pack up the portion you don’t intend to eat and save it for later.
Also, be sure to fill up on healthy foods first. If you start with a salad or soup, you’ll be less likely to overeat the less healthy items.
Pick the Right Place to Eat
When you’re trying to make healthy choices, not all restaurants are created equal. Some places are better than others when it comes to offering healthy options.
Here are a few types of restaurants that tend to have healthier options:
Dinner restaurants: Fancy dinner restaurants are more likely to have healthier options than fast-food or casual places. That’s because they typically use fresher and better-quality ingredients.
Vegetarian restaurants: These places usually have a wide variety of healthy options since they’re catering to a health-conscious crowd.
Asian restaurants: Many Asian cuisines, such as Chinese and Thai, emphasize healthy ingredients like vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. They also tend to use less fat and oil than other types of cuisine.
When you’re trying to eat healthily, it’s best to avoid fast-food restaurants and other places that serve mostly processed foods. These places are less likely to have healthy options, and the food is often high in calories, fat, and sodium.
Don’t Skip Mealtime
If you’re trying to lose weight, you might be tempted to skip meals to save calories. But this strategy can backfire when you eat out. That’s because you’re more likely to make unhealthy choices when you’re famished.
To avoid this, be sure to eat something before you go out. This way, you won’t be as tempted to order something unhealthy just to satisfy your hunger. You can also bring along a healthy snack, like an apple or a handful of nuts, in case you get hungry while you’re waiting for your food.
Eating out doesn’t have to be a diet disaster. With a little bit of planning, you can make healthy choices that will benefit your health without sacrificing taste or convenience. Use these clever tips to help you make the best choices when eating out!