Eating healthy at home is one thing… you get to choose simple, wholesome ingredients and prepare all sorts of nutritious meals. But it can be much more challenging to eat properly at a restaurant. Sure, they have options that sound healthy… but closer inspection usually proves that those sautéed veggies are swimming in oil, that turkey burger has more fat than a Big Mac, and the ‘seemingly-innocent’ salad is actually drowning in fatty dressing and covered with greasy croutons and shaved artificial cheese. The point is: restaurant menus can be misleading! But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a special meal without fear of weight gain.
While I’m the kinda girl who can appreciate a night in, watching a movie with my family and friends, and make my own dinner… I do LOVE eating at restaurants on occasion. If you know anything about me, you know I’m NOT a fan of chain restaurants and I always prefer to go to a local cafe or a favorite ‘hole in the wall’! I feel like they have SO much more local flavor and are generally more charming and exciting than most chain restaurants.
I love to go out to lunch with a friend or enjoy dinner out with my parents. When I’m home on college break, I make sure to go out for breakfast with my friends. We’ve been doing it since high school and we love to try out fun cafes! Along the way, I’ve learned the importance of eating a balanced diet, regardless of where I am. Here are my 3 tips to ‘eating healthy’ at a restaurant:
1. Order ‘a la carte’– When you’re eating at a resturant it’s often tempting to order the pasta with homemade sauce or the fresh cooked lasagna… while that’s fine to do on occasion, those foods are often PACKED with unnecessary fat, carbs and calories. BUT, if you order ‘a la carte’ you can get just what you want! My suggestion? Try 2 plain eggs with a carb for a breakfast… a salad with grilled chicken or salmon for lunch or dinner!
2. Buy the whole meal but eat half the portion– Let’s be real, sometimes you go out and the last thing you want is another grilled chicken salad, I get it. That’s why it’s totally fine to splurge every once in a while! I’m ALL about that balanced life! So go ahead, get the burger and fries or steak and potatoes! Just remember that restaurant portions are usually WAAAY bigger than an actual ‘serving’ so instead of packing on all those calories, order a side salad and eat half your entree! Take the other half home and enjoy it the next day! That way you get TWO tasty meals! Half the price… half the calories! Good for your wallet… good for your health!
3. Eat healthy all day– So you know your going to a fancy dinner with friends or family at night and you’re tempted to ‘bank’ all your calories for dinner, well… DON’T! Seriously, not eating all day in hopes of ‘saving’ calories WILL backfire. You’ll end up STARVING by dinnertime, and the thought of ‘saving half your entree?’…well it’s NOT going to happen. Trust me, eat a healthy breakfast and a balanced lunch and you’ll be ready to enjoy a reasonable dinner. You’ll be a lot less tempted to eat too much!
4. ‘Portion control’ your dessert– My favorite part of any meal is… dessert! I love dessert! And ‘special occasion’ dessert is quite possibly the best thing ever. My whole family loves dessert and we’d all be willing to eat a lighter dinner in order to ‘save room’ for dessert! So do just that when you’re out! If you love dessert like me, plan on having some! Maybe it’s a small scoop of chocolate sorbet (my fave!!) or a sliver of g.free, vegan chocolate cake (YUM!) Whatever your treat, make sure that it’s small and ‘portion controlled’ and then, savor every bite!
5. Enjoy…and move on!– So you just went to a lovely dinner… did you enjoy it? Did you have fun?! Then don’t feel guilty about it! Be happy with your food choices and simply move on. If you ate more than you had planned on, don’t dwell on it. Eat a light, balanced breakfast the next day and go right back to your healthy eating routine!
Eating out is supposed to be enjoyable! With all the ‘diet obsession’ these days, it’s all too easy to feel guilty about enjoying rich food… but don’t do that!! Eat like a ‘French woman’ and enjoy your dinner out! Eat slowly but happily, enthusiastically but consciously. When it’s time to go, leave the restaurant feeling satisfied! Hello Healthy Eating is ALL about moderation, balance, and happy, healthy food choices!
How about you?! Do you like to eat out? How do you eat healthy at a restaurant?