How To Make Healthy Choices When Dining Out
Updated: Jul 27
You may feel when dining out that it can be difficult to find healthy choices on the menu. Unlike cooking at home, you can’t control the amount of fat and sodium in a dish prepared in a restaurant kitchen, and when you are hungry or stressed, you may tend to make rash decisions. While it may take some careful planning and good decision-making, it is possible to maintain a healthy diet while dining out when you focus on YUMMY options.
You Choose The Restaurant
Avoid visiting all-you-can-eat and buffet restaurants, where portion control is a challenge. These establishments invite you to consume more calories than you need, and make it easy to indulge in items you’d normally try to avoid. Instead, research restaurants in the area, and browse the menu to help you make an informed decision. You will find that most establishments have their menus posted online, which can help you to choose wisely, and have a plan of action before hunger and temptation strike.
Understand The Menu
Remember that foods served fried, crispy, buttered, creamed, or covered in cheese contain higher amounts of fat. Look for foods that are broiled, steamed, baked, roasted, or grilled. Choose lean meats, such as skinless chicken breast or fish. If you prefer beef, opt for a leaner cut, such as sirloin. Most restaurants also offer vegetarian options.
Additionally, it is wise to be mindful of sauces and salad dressings, which may contain a hefty dose of sugar and calories. If you are unsure of the menu description, how your meal will be prepared, or the ingredients that will be included, ask your server directly. If they are also unsure, most servers will gladly check with the chef if needed.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a substitution, such as swapping out butter for extra virgin olive oil when preparing your meal. If a healthy entree comes with a less than healthy side dish, inquire whether or not other options are available, such as a baked potato or vegetable of the day in place of French fries.
Make Good Decisions
Dining out encompasses more than just choosing a restaurant and understanding the menu. Say no to extras, such as appetizers, cocktails, and the basket of bread. Sugary beverages are just empty calories; so maybe stick with an unsweetened iced tea, or water with fresh lemon. Ask for salad dressings and sauces to be served on the side, so that you can control the amount you will consume.
If you crave something sweet after your meal, choose desserts mindfully. Ask if smaller portions are available, or consider splitting a dessert with a friend. As an alternative, eat half of the entree and pack up the rest to take home for another meal.
Maintain Your Diet At Fast Food Restaurants
Sometimes it’s inevitable that we need to swing by a drive-thru. Many of these establishments have adapted to include healthier options, such as salads, grilled chicken sandwiches, and fruit cups. Click here for a list of the healthiest fast food dishes to order from Eat This, Not That. Also consider that sometimes it takes just as much time to stop by a grocery store and get something pre-made, such as a fresh turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread.
You Are In Control Of Your Health
Keep nutrition at the forefront of your mind when eating out. While it may be tempting to indulge, especially if you are in the middle of a stressful divorce procedure, remember the health, wellness, and body you want at the end of your divorce journey. When you follow these steps, you can work on your goal of maintaining your healthy eating habits, and still enjoy a delicious meal — without cooking it yourself.
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