11 Top Tips for Healthy Eating when Eating Out
Written By: SportsShoes
Along with exercise, a commitment to healthy eating choices is an important part of any fitness regime. That said, no matter how dedicated we are, eating out is often a trigger for many of us to lapse and derail that hard work and discipline. But, the truth is, maintaining a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to mean cancelling all your social plans, and likewise socialising with friends doesn’t have to sabotage your hard-won fitness. With that in mind, here’s how to eat more healthily when eating out.
Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV
1. DO PLAN AHEAD
Make sure to plan ahead and check the menu before you leave the house. Waiting until you’re already at the table, hungry and within the sight and aroma of food, is a recipe for making unhealthy meal choices. Decide on your choices before you go – and stick to them.
2. DO HAVE A HEALTHY SNACK BEFORE YOU GO
For the same reason, it’s perfectly fine to have a small, healthy snack before you leave the house. Make it low calorie and high protein, for example yoghurt, to make you feel more full. This means you’re not ordering food on an empty stomach and you’re less likely to splurge on unhealthy options, or overeat.
3. DON’T GO ALL YOU CAN EAT
It takes the strongest willed of us to resist the lure of piling our plates at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Try to steer your choice of restaurant away from here. If you’re overruled, fill your plate half with vegetables to start - and before you make any other choices.
4. DO BE MINDFUL OF HOW FOOD IS COOKED
How your food is cooked is important. Bear in mind that any dish that is sautéed, fried, crispy, pan-fried or crunchy is likely to be high in fat and calories. Opt for menu choices that are grilled, steamed, baked or poached, as they will be the healthiest options.
5. DO ORDER SALAD TO START
Failing that, an option that’s vegetable heavy and fibre rich, such as a chunky vegetable soup. Again, this will help fill you up and make you less likely to overeat when it comes to later courses.
Photo by ELEVATE
6. DON’T BE AFRAID TO SUBSTITUTE
Don’t be afraid to ask for small tweaks to menu choices – most restaurants will be more than happy to oblige. For example, if your choice comes with fries, ask for a side of vegetables or a jacket potato instead.
7. DO SWAP OUT FOR THE HEALTHIEST OPTION
Likewise, if you fancy a choice such as pasta, there’s no need to deprive yourself – eating out is supposed to be fun after all – and who wants to spend money on food they won’t enjoy? Simply opt for its healthiest version. Swap creamy pasta for a tomato or vegetable based sauce.
There’s also no need to skip dessert! Instead, choose fruit based dishes instead of rich, calorific chocolate or cream based options.
8. DO EAT LEAN
Avoid fattier cuts of meat such as rump steak, and opt for lean protein based meats such as chicken or turkey where you can remove the skin.
9. DO EAT SLOWLY
It takes around 20 minutes for the body’s hunger signals to reach the brain indicating that we’re full. That means fast eaters are usually overeaters. Eat slowly, enjoy your food, put your fork down and join in the conversation at the table - and make sure to drink plenty of water – allow your brain time to catch up with your belly!
10. DON’T FORGET WHAT YOU’RE DRINKING
Don’t forget that drinks can be a major source of calories. But that doesn’t mean that you have to sip water all night either. Avoid sugar laden cocktails (mojitos are out) and opt for lower calorie options such as vodka tonic, a glass of wine or a light beer.
11. FINALLY…DO BE MINDFUL OF YOUR TRAINING SCHEDULE
Probably the most important of all - think about where your meal sits within your training and nutrition strategy as a whole. Planning a long run tomorrow? You’ll need to take on a carb-rich evening meal and avoid anything likely to trigger a digestive upset such as very spicy or fatty foods. It follows from that, if you’ve done an earlier heavy training session, you should be focusing on both protein and carbohydrates for recovery. Healthy eating isn’t all about low calorie options, but also about optimising your food and nutritional choices to achieve your fitness goals. Try to make sure every meal choice reflects that.