As the holidays approach, making dinner at home can become a drag, especially after hosting a large gathering. While making your own meals is often considered the healthiest option, some days you just want to eat out! Eating out doesn’t have to damage your healthy lifestyle. In fact, there are many tactics that can be employed to make your dining experience more nutritious, yet still delicious!
To begin, simply prepare before eating out. If possible, plan ahead! If you know where you’re going, it is easier to scan the menu for healthy options and determine if that particular restaurant is the best fit. Choosing restaurants with a broad range of items can help to ensure whoever is joining will find a satisfying option, while still allowing you to find a dish to meet your nutrition needs. When ordering, weigh your selections and look at the details. Look at how the items are cooked, what they are served with or whether the restaurant has options of leaner meat or an entrée with more balanced contents. When looking at cooking style, remember that those items fried, scalloped, pan-fried, or stuffed are often higher in calories, while those steamed, broiled, baked or grilled have less calories and are considered healthier options. To avoid overly large portion sizes and to control sodium intake, try to ask for butters, dressing, sauces and gravies on the side. Also, don’t be afraid to talk to your server! They have answers. If you are unsure of the details of cooking methods or contents of a menu option based on the description, or if you are wondering if healthier substitutions are possible, ask your server.
Lastly, eat slowly. Enjoy the experience. Eating slowly can also ensure that you’re not eating out of false hunger, as it has been shown that it takes a full twenty minutes for your brain to receive the message of fullness from your stomach. Eating quickly can increase your chances of overeating, which can contribute to discomfort and weight gain.
Keeping these tips in mind, you can increase your chances of maintaining your healthy lifestyle outside of the comforts of your own home. Bon appetite!