Eating out at a restaurant or cafe is fun and exciting but can also be intimidating for some individuals if they are aiming to improve their nutritional and health status or trying to stay within their recommended caloric intake.
Some people may feel this type of way because they feel that they are not in charge of what they eat. Well…who can blame them? We are exposed to the restaurants choices on the menu or buffet table and what you see is what you get and that’s that, but this is why it is important to know how to deal with these situations properly.
Below are some tips on how we can make healthy food choices whilst eating out and throughout the day.
1.Get the menu beforehand
You can access the menu of most restaurants online, that way you can skim through what type of food they serve and pre-plan what type of food you are going to order. Some restaurants have a ‘lighter’ version or ‘low than 600 or 500 calories’ section on their menu – which are generally healthier than their other food choices.
If you can pick your meal before you go, it will make it easier for you to resist temptation (and that awkward moment when the waiter stands over you as order under pressure).
2. Do you really need to eat three courses?
Some restaurants may persuade you to get the three course meal set. Don’t buy into that. You will feel satisfied with a starter and main or main and dessert. This also helps you to not over-consume too much calories.
3. Be aware of those sly calories.
So you might start off eating healthy – your salad for starters comes in and you are enjoying it. You may even want to put some dressings on it to give your salad that extra flavour….but some of those salad dressings tend to be very high calories, fat and sugar. In turn, your nutritious and healthy salad becomes a calorie-densed, unhealthy one. Try to stay away from the creamy dressings!
4. Don’t be scared to edit menu items
You can always personalise the menu items. I mean, at the end of the day, you will be the one paying for your meal right? So it should be exactly what you want and you’re well within your rights as a consumer to make reasonable alterations to set menu items. French fries can be swapped with sweet potatoes, or egg fried rice can be swapped with boiled rice. Also, many places will even accommodate you if you ask the waiter to tell the chef to use less oil, butter or salt during food preparation.
5. Plan the rest of your day
Opt for lower calorie, higher protein and vegetable meals for the rest of your day. Try to get about 70-80% of your protein needs in before you go. This means that you have plenty of calories left over to have something you like and you will still hit your protein requirement for the day. Protein sources are the most expensive part if a meal and in some restaurants the portion sizes are small, thus, you are less likely to get 40g or so of protein from a restaurant meal unless you’re in a ‘meat-oriented’ eatery.
Also, after planning the rest of your day – you can you can put into a food diary or apps like MyFitnessPal to see whether you have gone below or over your recommended calorie intake.