Is It Possible to Eat Healthy at Restaurants?
In our busy, fast-paced lives, dining out at restaurants has become a more common occurrence. Whether it’s a work lunch, a social gathering, or simply a desire to enjoy a break from cooking, restaurant dining is a convenient choice. However, many people wonder if it’s possible to maintain a healthy diet while indulging in restaurant meals. The good news is that with some mindful choices and strategies, it is absolutely possible to make nutritious choices when dining out.
Before heading to the restaurant, take a moment to review the menu online if available. Look for healthier options like salads, lean proteins, and vegetable-based dishes. This way, you won’t be tempted by less nutritious choices when you arrive and feeling super hungry!
Restaurant portions are often much larger than what we need. Consider sharing a dish with a friend or asking for a takeaway container right away to pack up half of your meal for later. This also reduces wastage of the meal.
Choose Grilled or Baked
Opt for dishes that are grilled, baked, or roasted instead of fried or crumbed. Grilling and baking typically use less oil, reducing the total fat content of your meal.
Watch Out for Sauces
Many restaurant dishes come smothered in heavy sauces that can be high in kilojoules, sugar, and salt. Request sauces on the side, so you can control the amount you use.
Load Up on Vegetables
If possible, order a side of steamed or sautéed vegetables or a salad with lots of colourful veggies. These provide essential nutrients and fibre while helping you feel full, therefore eating less of the food higher in kilojoules.
Opt for lean sources of protein like chicken, turkey, fish, or tofu. These are lower in saturated fats compared to red meats, so should be consumed more often, especially when eating out more than once per week.
Be Mindful of Beverages
Sugary drinks like soft drinks and cocktails can add a significant number of kilojoules to your meal. Choose water, unsweetened iced tea, or sparkling water reduce the amount of kiloujoules consumed when eating out.
Skip the Bread-Basket
Those tempting pre-meal bread baskets can be an unnecessary addition to the meal. Politely decline or limit yourself to a small portion.
Dessert in Moderation
If you have a sweet tooth, consider sharing dessert with someone at the table or opting for a fruit-based dessert if it’s available.
Listen to Your Body
Pay attention to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Don’t feel obligated to finish everything on your plate if you’re satisfied. As mentioned before, consider getting a takeaway dish and take the leftovers home.
Remember that dining out should be an enjoyable experience, and it’s okay to indulge occasionally. The key is to strike a balance between enjoying your meal and making healthier choices when possible. If you’re unsure about the nutritional content of a dish, don’t hesitate to ask your server for more information.
In conclusion, eating healthy while dining out at restaurants is entirely feasible with a little planning and mindfulness. By making smart choices, being mindful of portion sizes, and prioritising nutrient-rich options, you can savour your restaurant meals guilt-free while staying on track with your health and nutrition goals.