11 Tips to Healthy Eating When Dining Out

You can definitely dine outside of your kitchen and still be fit and healthy. I personally dine out all of the time because I love eating a variety of different foods and meals! 

Below lists the best tips to keeping your diet in check while dining out:

1. Say “no” to the free appetizers

This includes the bread basket, the chips, anything that the restaurant gives you before the meal for free is generally a no-no. These are generally high in carbs and are full of empty calories that are meant to increase your appetite so that you order more food.

Pop a piece of gum in your mouth or sip on water to keep your mouth occupied.

2. One drink is fine

You can certainly still have a glass of wine with your meal, but make it one glass not two or three! The best is dry wine which is low in calories, sugar, and carbs, and has found to not have much of an effect on insulin (again, one glass!). A glass of wine may also be a good way to prevent yourself from snacking on the bread basket.

3. Raw over cooked

In almost all circumstances, raw food is more nutrient dense compared to cooked. This is because whenever you cook food, this causes loss of vitamins and nutrients, it may denature proteins, and breaks down fiber in the food. Cooked food is also generally cooked with fat or oil, so unless the restaurant specifically states that it cooks its food in grass-fed butter or coconut oil, assume your food has been cooked with some sort of unhealthy fat. This leads to hundreds of unhealthy calories being consumed without you even realizing it!

You don’t have to eat completely raw, but examples of healthy raw foods to incorporate into your meal might include avocado, cheese, guacamole, sashimi, ceviche, salsa, and smoked salmon.

4. Ask for steamed

After raw, steaming food is best because it only uses hot water to cook it and this helps to keeps the integrity of the nutrients in the food as well. Ask for your food to be steamed if possible or cooked without oil. Most restaurants will be fine with this, and if not, order a raw salad.

5. All sauces and dressings on the side

Be in control of how much sauce you add to your meal. Many restaurants will add way more dressing or sauce then you would have ever used. Dip your fork into the dressing and then scoop up some of your meal.

6. Avoid these diet disaster code words

Diet disaster code words to avoid include battered, breaded, crisped, and crunchy. These are code for high calorie, low nutrient foods and should be avoided at all costs! Or at least limited 🙂

7. Plan to share

If you really want to try the burger or the pizza but you don’t want the whole darn thing, then split it! This way you get to try different foods also without stuffing yourself. 

Split a couple of different dishes with your friend or partner or split one indulgent meal and then order a salad to go along with it.

8. Make your sandwich open-face

This means removing the top layer of your sandwich – I promise you won’t miss it! The most flavor and nutrition is coming from the inside of the sandwich, not the outer layer.

9. Ask for non-toasted

For any type of bread item, whether it be avocado toast, bun for a burger, a sandwich, etc. ask for the bread to not be toasted. Whenever a restaurant toasts bread, they will almost always add butter – and you can assume it’s probably not grass-fed butter! A good rule of thumb is to play it safe and go for non-toasted, or take it a step further and skip the bread all together! See below.

10. Make it a bowl

Skip the tortilla and the sandwich bread and instead make your meal into a bowl. The best part of a burrito or sandwich is whats inside right?! 

11. Skip dessert

Unless this is a special occasion, skip the dessert. Restaurants want to make the dessert as tasty as possible, which means you can bet it was made with tons of sugar and unhealthy fats.

If it is a special occasion and you plan to get dessert, then definitely split something because most desserts are meant to be shared by at least two people.

Main takeaways…

Keep in mind the above the next time you are dining out and remember that it is all about making the right choices. 

About the author: Sarah-Kate Rems is an Ivy League trained Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner licensed in California with an expertise in women’s health and preventative healthcare. She considers nutrition and exercise to be the basis of well-being and is a strong advocate for daily physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet. Sarah-Kate is also a co-founder of The Mindful Tech Lab.

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