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The other night I was out to dinner and I overheard a conversation at the table next to me. I know you shouldn’t eavesdrop, but they were talking loud and I couldn’t help it! It was a man and a woman out to dinner and the man asked her what she was going to order. I heard her sigh and say “I guess I’ll just get a salad”. She didn’t seem too thrilled by the idea, so he asked her why. That’s when she admitted, “I’m trying to eat healthy and everything else would ruin my diet”.
This really bothered me. I felt bad for the woman because she clearly was just going to settle for something she didn’t want. However on the other hand she was making a healthy choice when there were several unhealthy choices on the menu.
As a health coach I want to help people make healthier choices, but I also want you to eat delicious foods that you love. So I’ve decided to share with you my top 8 ways to make healthier choices when out at a restaurant:
Don’t be afraid to customize
For some reason we are afraid to be considered the “difficult” table at a restaurant. However it’s perfectly okay to ask the waiter to customize an order. Ask for veggies instead of French fries, sub a whole wheat wrap instead of bread, etc.
Order from the “light” entrees on the menu
A lot of restaurants these days have a separate section on their menu for “lighter” meals, or they have a symbol next to certain menu items that means they are less calories.
Ask for a box as soon as your food is delivered
Then box half of your meal before you even start eating. Another option is to split an entrée with your dining partner.
Order a salad as your appetizer
Most of the time if you fill up on a salad first, you will eat less of your dinner. Make sure it’s a light salad with a low calorie dressing. Even better, ask for the dressing on the side!
Check the menu before you leave home. A lot of restaurants will include the nutritional information for all of their dishes on their website. This will help you make a decision on what to order before you get there. On the other hand, if there aren’t any healthy options that you like, pick another restaurant.
Pick up on the lingo
Watch out for words like creamy, breaded, crisp, sauced, or stuffed. These usually mean the dish is loaded with unhealthy fats.
Ask the waiter to skip the bread basket
You will be much more tempted to indulge in the bread if it is in front of you. Remove the temptation before it is even there by asking to skip the bread.
Drinks like soda, iced tea, lemonade, and many fancy alcoholic drinks contain an enormous amount of sugar. All of this adds up to a high calorie meal.
There you go! Just try to follow a few of this tips to save yourself some calories the next time you go out.