Tips For Staying Healthy While Eating Out

Going out for food can be an extremely enjoyable experience, or it can be a nightmare of stress. It’s not uncommon to throw all your regular healthy eating guidelines out the window the minute you step inside a restaurant either because navigating healthy choices is too difficult in that environment, or because restaurants are a trigger to indulge for you.

Unfortunately, this can seriously derail your health goals and end up doing more harm than good if it’s a frequent occurrence. It’s important to have fun, enjoy good food and spend quality time with loved ones, but there are a few simple tips and tricks to attain this without sacrificing all your health goals. Here are a few tactics to try. 

1) Choose Your Restaurants Wisely

The single best advantage you can give yourself to make it easy to stick to healthy choices while dining out is choosing the right restaurant. Some restaurant menus contain very little in the way of fresh or wholesome food. If their entire menu is highly processed and low in nutrients, there’s not much you can do.

Instead, look for restaurants that use whole food ingredients and make their food at least mostly from scratch using a balance of produce and proteins along with the other food groups. Don’t be shy to ask staff how certain menu items are made, which ones come already prepared, and what ingredients they’re using. 

2) Order a Vegetable Dish with Your Meal

One trait that’s common across many restaurants is a distinct lack of vegetables in main course dishes. Mains tend to be delicious and decadent, but void of the fiber and vitamin-rich benefits vegetables can add. 

Ordering a side vegetable dish either for yourself or to share can help bring more balance to the meal. Fiber is important for satiety (feeling full) and the health benefits of the nutrients in vegetables are too valuable to skip out.

3) Don’t Hesitate to Take Food Home

This tip ties in well with the previous one. Many people hesitate to order an extra dish of vegetables because then they think their meal will be too big. That’s okay! Enjoy the vegetables with your meal, eat until you’re full, and pack up the rest if there’s anything leftover.

This will allow for a more balanced dinner without the pressure of needing to “clean your plate”. Plus, having ready-made leftovers the next day is always a bonus.

4) Slow Down and Check in with Your Fullness Cues

When you’re out enjoying a meal with loved ones, it’s easy to become so distracted by the conversation and environment that you lose connection with how your body’s feeling. This is what’s known as “mindless eating”. When you eat without paying attention, you’re much slower to recognize when you’re truly satisfied and you become more likely to accidentally eat to the point of discomfort.

After all, it takes approximately 20 minutes for your body to register that you’re full from eating. Taking a few pauses to sip some water and pay attention to how you’re feeling could be the one tip that saves you from going past your point of comfort.

Don’t forget balance is key. Enjoy your time eating out but try keeping these tips in mind to see if they allow you to feel better both inside and out.

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