Health wise this can be tricky, I know! But you don’t want to give up your social life and make yourself an outsider because you fear a healthy choice is impossible when eating out. You just have to do the best you can do.
I have mentioned that I follow the 80/20 approach. 80% of my diet is clean and the other 20% is eating foods that aren’t 100% clean but still eaten with moderation in mind. Your body listens to what you do most of the time, not sometimes. Although I advise to making eating out a non frequent event as much as possible. Home cooked meals are definitely the best option but if you eat out once or twice that week, do not stress- your body can handle it and you can make healthy choices. I also believe the ‘stressing’ about meal times can be worse for your health than the meal itself. We need to be so careful with stressing about food because your thoughts will manifest into bodily stress. A stressed body = digestion havoc!
- Get Fresh. The first thing I look at in a restaurant menu is the salad selection. If the salad list contains an abundance of greens and veggies, then I know I can most definitely make a healthy choice here. If there are limited salad options- look at the ‘side options’- usually you will find a garden salad or steamed veggies to enjoy before or with your main meal. I also always recommend crunching on some raw food prior to a main meal to get your digestion fired up. So I usually order a big green salad as a starter to fill me up and get my digestion going. I drizzle lemon and olive oil on my salads. I avoid the cheese in salads if I am also going to have a main- goats cheese would be the best option. I avoid adding all table salt.
- Avoid fried. Get excited about grilled and steamed! Those are the healthier cooking methods. I often say to the waiter, “ Can you request to the Chef to use minimal oil please.” I ask this not because of a fear of fat but because I am more concerned with the type of oils that would be used (such as vegetable oil).
- Main Meal: My main meal usually is a choice of grilled fish, chicken or lean meat. If you are vegetarian I know you fear that pasta and rice based mains may be your only choice? This is not true. If they do not have a vegetable based main dish such as a vegetable curry, stir-fry or a minestrone soup- ask the waiter/chef if they can make you up a large salad with some cheese/egg or an antipasto vegetable platter. Or order a variety of vegetable sides and salads.
- Exclude the starch such as rice and potatoes and order extra veggies instead. I usually recommend cutting the starchy foods at night- our bodies don’t need that extra fuel.
- Order dressings and sauces on the side. Choose olive oil, balsamic and lemon based dressings as opposed to mayonnaise-based dressings. I drizzle lemon on everything.
- Avoid drinking with your food. Enjoy 2 glasses of water 20 minutes before your main meal. This will also help to keep you fuller and prevent you from over eating. Then do not drink with your meal. Liquid dilutes the digestive enzymes.
- Tip: Enjoy a protein rich snack prior to eating out to keep your blood sugars stable and prevent you from over eating on the wrong foods at the restaurant. E.g.: a boiled egg, handful nuts/seeds, Greek yoghurt or a protein shake.