Eating out is often considered a negative thing if you're on a fat loss journey, but it doesn't have to be. While there might be plenty of unhealthy choices you can make, there's definitely just as many good choices you can make if you learn what to look out for.
Follow these easy 12 tips for how to make healthy choices at restaurants so you can stay on track with your fitness journey.
#1 Look up the menu beforehand
You and your friends are likely weighing out a few options as to where you should eat. Look up the menu for each of the restaurants you're considering and make sure there are meals that align with your fitness goals.
If not, simply suggest a different restaurant.
#2 Scan the menu
If you're trying to avoid unnecessary calories, there are certain keywords to look out for. While they may be tasty, they also tend to pack in extra calories. Here are some examples of the most common culprits to avoid:
✅ Instead opt for these healthier keywords:
#3 Modify your meals
Have a look at the different ingredients in each dish. Instead of just assuming the salad is the healthiest option - they can secretly be quite calorie dense if they're filled with multiple fat sources like cheese, avocado, nuts/seeds, hummus and dressing. If you notice that your salad has multiple of these fat sources, don't be afraid to ask for it without certain ingredients.
The same goes for any other dish other than salads; if it's a meal with a lot of rice or potatoes, you can ask for them to be swapped with veggies.
Remember, it's not that either of these ingredients are unhealthy or bad for you, but if you're trying to save calories they are simply some easy swaps you can do.
#4 Ask for dressing on the side
When you ask for dressing on the side, you're able to portion control it a lot more - you can choose to not add anything or just add a couple teaspoons.
#5 Stick to 1-2 meals
It probably goes without saying, that if you choose to have both bread snack, starter, main and a desert, you're going to be eating more food than you normally would at home.
So unless you're making an exception (or the food is just insanely delicious), try limiting the portions to just a starter and main course - or even just the main course.
#6 Go for the protein and veggies
Try to go for a meal with both protein and fiber-rich veggies. They will help you feel full and satiated and meals like this typically tend to be lower in calories. Examples of protein sources could be lentils, beans, chickpeas, tofu, lean meats, white fish, or prawns.
If you're trying to watch your calories, try to limit meals like that have unnecessary high carb- or fat content. Meals like risotto, creamy pasta dishes or pizza. While they are insanely delicious, they're not the most optimal meal to support your fitness journey. Once again, it's not that these foods are unhealthy or bad for you, but if you're trying to control the calories it's better to have them in moderation.
#7 Have a light snack beforehand
I think we all know this.. it can be difficult making the best decision when we're so hungry our stomach is rumbling. And when we finally do eat, we end up eating too much. Therefore having a light snack that's high in protein and fiber can help you curb the worst hunger ... especially if you're going to a buffet 😉
#8 Avoid buffets
Even though an all-you-can-eat buffet sounds like a dream and is often cheaper for the amount of food you get, we also need to remember that it can be difficult to stop after just 1 portion. Need I say more? 😆
#9 Ask for boiled or steamed
An easy way to save calories from oil or butter is to ask for veggies and potatoes to be boiled or steamed instead of fried. When placing your order, ask the waiter how these ingredients are cooked and if you can have it boiled/steam instead.
#10 Share the desert
It's no secret that saying 'no thank you' to desert will save you calories, but if you don't want to cut it out completely ask to share it with the person you are eating with.
Otherwise select a healthier desert option like fruit or sorbet
#11 Limit the fancy drinks
Sometimes it's just nice to enjoy a drink with your meal, but try to be strategic with your drink of choice. Avoid dark spirits like rum or exotic mixed drinks like margaritas and piña coladas. They contain sugary add-ins that add unnecessary calories and processed sugars.
Instead, order a glass of wine, a light beer, a vodka & tonic, or a simple martini or a gin & soda water. These options will be better for your healthy eating goals.
#12 Opt for tomato based sauces
Sauces in Indian dishes are often made from either coconut milk or tomato sauce. You'll save a lot of calories and fats if you opt for the tomato-based sauces. Plus, it will extra fiber and vitamins you won't get from coconut milk.
While it can feel easy to just say no to dinner-invitations while you're on a diet, the healthiest & most sustainable way to live is to learn how to include everything in moderation. Eating out doesn't have to ruin your progress once you learn all the healthy swaps.
My name is Sarah Louise, and I'm a personal trainer. I'm here to help you optimise your nutrition and work on healthy, realistic and maintainable changes to your diet so you can make the most of your fitness journey.
Make this the year you start going after your fitness goals! 😊 Sign up for Online Coaching with me below👇🏼