It’s not news that restaurant meals have more calories, fat, and sodium than anything you’re making at home. On top of that, they’re often larger and there’s something about eating out that makes it so easy to eat past the point of comfort.
Because of this, there’s a lot of fear that a meal out will derail our health plans or affect how we feel the next day (I’m almost always swollen and groggy), but that shouldn’t be the case. When we take control, change our mindset, and approach meals out for what they are - just another meal - that doesn’t have to be the case.
See what happens why you try the following. And please let me know how it goes below!
- Think of a meal out as just another meal. It doesn’t have to be indulgent. Maybe you don’t need the bread or appetizer or glass of wine if those aren’t things that are part of your usual meals. Aim to make meals out look like you meals in in terms of portion, proportion, number of courses et cetera.
- Focus on your setting. Enjoy the company of your dining partners. Be mindful of what you’re eating and how it tastes. Eating out is an experience, so take it all in.
- Ignore the headings. An appetizer doesn’t have to be one just because of where it lies on the menu. Starters are often pretty hefty, and if they're not, it's likely they can be upsized to become a main. If not, try ordering a few smaller dishes. This way, you get to try more, which is not only fun, but also smart: eating a variety of flavors, textures, and nutrients helps the body feel satiated.
- Ask questions - knowledge is power. At home I’m the kitchen boss and it can be hard to give someone else the power when I'm out. Asking questions puts you in the driver’s seat with the ability to make more informed choices that feel comfortable for you.
- Make half of your plate vegetables. Because so few restaurants offer balanced dishes, you need to put that whole asking thing into practice. Ask for something on the side prepared simply even if you don’t see it on the menu. Ask to double the vegetables that accompany the entree or make swaps for what is offered with your main.
- You’ve heard it before - be picky! Ask for sauces and dressings on the side. With a simple request you can save hundreds of calories and make things taste the way you like them to.
- Keep in mind that just because it’s a meal out, it isn’t necessarily unhealthy. Thoughtful choices can land you a meal that aligns with your nutritional goals.