Going out to eat is not only a tasty activity — it’s a social one, too. As we now set our sights on summer vacays and sunshiney happy hours at outdoor restaurants and poolside bars, we have plenty of temptations. Plus, no matter the time of year, it’s always tempting to have someone else — a professional, no less — whip up a meal for you.
So, there are plenty of reasons to want to dine out from time to time. However, there’s only one problem when it comes to dining out.
It’s tough to be healthy.
From extra-large portions to hidden unhealthy ingredients, a non-home-cooked meal can completely derail your efforts to eat well.
Fortunately, though, you can have the best of both worlds if you keep in mind the following seven tips for healthy eating, no matter where you sit down for a meal:
- Check the Menu Beforehand
You know where you’re going to eat, but do you know what you’re going to order? Have a look at the menu before you visit, so you know what you want to get. Otherwise, the delicious smells wafting through the restaurant, combined with the hunger you feel, can lead you to make a less-than-healthful decision.
Knowing what you’re going to order means you might not even have to look at the menu once you’re at the restaurant — temptation avoided.
- Don’t Arrive Too Hungry
You might think it’s best to eat as little as possible before going out, just in case you indulge. Arriving hungry, however, means you’re more likely to scarf down your food quickly and end up overstuffed because you didn’t give your body enough time to catch up and let you know it’s full.
Next time you dine out, have a little snack if you’re extra hungry before you go. That way, you can eat more reasonably when you arrive. This tactic is especially important if you’re meeting up for dinner and drinks, since certain snacks perfectly complement imbibing.
- Request a Box ASAP
Restaurants notoriously overstuff our plates with double-sized portions of food. You might be tempted to eat more than usual, too, if the food’s just sitting there in front of you.
Get ahead of your cravings, and ask for a box as soon as your meal arrives. Pack away half of an extra-large plate so that you’re eating an appropriate amount for your main course.
- Ask About Ingredients
A grilled steak with vegetables seems like a healthy choice, but there might be hidden ingredients that make your meal an unsuspecting calorie bomb. For example, some restaurants will finish off a grilled steak with a pat of butter on top. They might sauté a serving of seasonal veggies in high-fat oil, too.
One of the best ways to eat healthily while you’re out is simply to ask questions. Find out exactly how your food is going to be cooked, and ask about potential adjustments that could make the meal easier on your body.
- Drink Lots of Water
Sometimes, we mistake our hunger cravings for dehydration — if this happens while you’re in a restaurant, it just means you’re going to order and eat more food than your body needs.
A solution for this issue is to sip water all day long before you go out to eat so that you’re well hydrated. Drinking water throughout your meal also helps you avoid the calories in sugary drinks or alcoholic beverages.
- Don’t Default to Salads
Salads may seem like the safest option, but not all salads are created equally. With cheese, creamy dressings, bacon, and other fatty toppings, some tally more than 1,000 calories.
Only order a salad when it’s veggie-laden and topped with naturally crunchy nuts or seeds. Ask for a vinaigrette or other light dressing on the side, so you can control how much dressing is on top of your salad, too.
- Slow Down and Enjoy
It’s likely you don’t go out to eat all the time. As mentioned, make sure to take a minute to chew and really savor every morsel. Put your fork down between bites, maintain a conversation — do whatever it takes to help yourself eat at a reasonable pace. If you master this dining style, you’ll be better able to pinpoint the moment your body feels satisfied, so you can stop eating.
By keeping some of these simple tips in mind, you can enjoy your next meal out without sacrificing whichever healthy eating plan or diet you may be working to maintain. Sure, it’s fine to indulge sometimes. But, healthy eating is great for your body, of course, and it’s always worth it to consider how you can eat more healthily. Hopefully, you can now feel confident that you’ll make the right food-related decisions… no matter where you are!
Featured Photo via Pexels.