Many people enjoy eating out, and your healthy eating plan shouldn’t stop you from enjoying a meal in a restaurant with friends or family. Dining out is an opportunity to leave the diet at the door and indulge in some of the little luxuries you are avoiding day to day. However, it is easy to finish the evening feeling remorseful for treating yourself.
Here are 6 tips for dining out that will allow you to enjoy your meal without the extra helping of guilt.
Skip the Sauces
When choosing your meal opt for meals that aren’t coated in creamy sauces, they are likely to be loaded with butter or cream, and while they will undoubtedly taste fantastic, they are likely to be high in calories. Also, avoid adding additional calories by steering clear of high calorie condiments; the average serving of mayonnaise for example (approximately 15 g) can contain over 100 calories! Opting for tomato-based pasta sauces, choosing vinaigrette for your salad over creamy dressings or skipping the side serving of mayo are all great ways to reduce the calorie count of your evening meal.
Fill up on Vegetables
It’s a common misconception that vegetarian or vegan automatically means healthy. This is not the case. Many vegan foods are loaded with calories and have a high fat content. However, there is no denying that a dish laden with fresh seasonal vegetables will offer nutritional benefits. Opting for a vegetarian or vegan dish can allow you to maybe reduce the amount of red meat you are consuming, which is said to offer a number of health advantages. It will also help you to feel full and satisfied.
Many restaurants now offer an exciting selection of vegan dishes that aren’t ‘just a salad’. The Flintgate Pub in Surrey for example, pride themselves on a full and vibrant vegetarian and vegan selection, as well as offering vegan ales too! Skipping the meat no longer needs to be boring.
Don’t Drink your Calories
Don’t skip having a drink all together, but it is easy to consume way more calories than you thought by drinking them. Stick to clear liquors with diet mixers, dry wines, light beers or diet sodas to reduce your calorie intake.
Choose Lean Meats and Fish
When checking the menu, opt for dishes containing lean meats or fish instead of fattier cuts. These can include:
- Chicken breast – lower in fat than thigh meat
- White fish – such as cod or haddock or, ask for poached rather than fried
- Oily fish – such as salmon, higher in calories but rich in omega 3 and fatty acids
- Pork loin – over fattier cuts such as belly or bacon
Exercise Portion Control
If the children’s menu offers a good selection then why not order something from it? It will allow you to enjoy a smaller portion of your preferred food without feeling bad for clearing your plate. Also, don’t be afraid to ask if you can have a smaller portion of your favourite menu choice. This can’t always be done, if meals are portioned in advance for example, but if you don’t ask you don’t get. Maybe a member of your party is in the same position as you and would like to split a dish instead, bulk it out with a side salad or portion of seasonal veg to ensure you feel satisfied.
This is the most obvious tip. If you are dieting then eating rich and decadent desserts will obviously be counterintuitive. Be sure to get a healthier treat in, to enjoy when you get home, so that making the choice to skip pudding is a little less painful. If you really can’t resist, then split a dessert with someone in your group.
Everything in Moderation
These tips will help you to reduce calories or increase the nutritional value of your dining out experience. However, everything is fine in moderation, and if you don’t make a habit of eating out regularly then a little bit of what you like won’t hurt you! So, eat what you know you will enjoy, because nothing kills a meal out more than food envy! You won’t thank yourself if you are left dribbling over your dinner companions’ plate, while picking at your undressed salad.