Restaurant Hacks: How to Eat Healthy When Dining Out
If you caught my IG Stories recently, you may have voted in the polls about what exactly it is you want to see. A big request I got was for tips for healthy dining out. Then my mama came into town, and while we both love workouts, we also loooove a good meal! Salads are great and all, but hey, there's more to life than salads, amiright?! So I couldn't wait to share this!
The following is straight out of my SommerFit Guide: Lifestyle Nutrition, which is PACKED with tips like this, as well as grocery shopping hacks, healthy recipes, and more!
I often hear of women missing out on outings with friends, for fear they will “slip-up” and make bad decisions regarding food. I don’t want this to be you! Life is includes spending time with friends and being social, not being fearful! With a little preparation and confidence in your decision-making, you can fully enjoy all the wonderful outings while not sabotaging your progress and goals!
Here's 10 Tips for Eating Healthy While Dining Out:
1. Plan ahead. This a BIG one. You know by now that having a plan empowers you to stick to your goals. Knowing that you are going to eat out will help you better prepare to stay on track, rather than ordering with your eyes once you’re already seated at the restaurant.
Most chains post their menus online, so you can decide before you ever set foot in the restaurant what you’re going to order. It also allows to you the flexibility to, if you don’t see anything that’s healthy online, pick another restaurant.
I also recommend eating a small healthy snack prior to going out, especially if you’re feeling particularly ravenous, so you don’t over-order or make bad decisions.
CLICK TO VIEW: My Interview with Health Magazine
2. Have it your way. Most restaurants are more health conscious today, so be assertive, and ask the server to substitute or change something from the menu version to make it what you want. This is not the time to be a pushover. For example, ASK for extra veggies instead of French fries; ASK how things are prepared; ASK for dressing on the side; ASK. If you don’t ask, then nothing can or will be changed. You’re the one consuming this, so have it your way!
3. Order from the “healthy” or “light” entrées. Many restaurants offer healthier choices on their menus, and some will even list the calories and nutritional content of such foods on the menu, so you can see what you’re getting. BEWARE of the phrase “low-carb”. This doesn’t always mean low-cal, depending on how it’s prepared!
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4. Drink water first! Drinking water before and during your meal will help fill up your stomach so that you don’t eat as much.
5. Have your portions made your way. Many restaurants serve huge portions, sometimes enough for two or three people. Instead of eating it all, you have options here, such as:
eat a smaller portion and bring leftovers home for another meal
ask to box half your entrée before it even gets to the table
split an entrée with a friend if you’re in a group
order an appetizer in place of an entrée and add a small soup or salad.
6. Eat slowly. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the message from your stomach that you are no longer hungry, so eat slowly to avoid over-eating.
7. Skip the fancy drinks. If you’re treating yourself, perhaps you want an alcoholic beverage, and that’s okay! If you must order one, choose wine, a light beer, a vodka-tonic, or a simple martini. Those pretty, fruity concoctions often contain tons of added sugar! Want to skip the alcohol and soda, but want something fun? One of my favorite “mocktails” is sparkling mineral water with lime or lemon juice.
8. Don’t be tempted. Many restaurants serve bread and butter or chips prior to your meal. Ask the server to skip it, or if you’re out with a group, pass it along to another person, and don’t keep it right in front of you. You can say, “I’m not in the mood for that.” If you say, “I can’t have that,” you’re only making your brain want it more. If you’d like, ask your server for veggies to eat your salsa or guac instead of chips. After all, chips are only a vehicle for the dip, right?!
9. Start with a Salad. Order some healthy greens before you get your meal to get some major added nutrients—but be careful with that salad! Keep it a tasty, but healthy salad with vegetables (some marinated), some nuts, and some fruits. and avoid lots of cheeses, meats, croutons, and creamy sauces (oil and vinegar is best here!). Ask for dressing on the side so you use only what you need!
10. Don’t Load up on Carbs. Instead choose a lean piece of meat such as chicken breast or fish that is grilled or broiled. You can even ask the chef to prepare it with little or no oil. Steer clear of anything with the words: creamy, breaded, crispy, sautéed, stuffed or gravies, as they’re often loaded with hidden fats. Instead look for STEAMED, GRILLED, ROASTED, or BROILED.
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