Meeting your friends or loved ones regularly for dinner at a chic restaurant or for a quick but yummy meal at a fast-food joint can be one of life’s greatest pleasures. But, if you’ve decided to eat healthier or to lose weight, dining out can be fraught with challenges. You don’t have to give up on your social dinners to stay healthy, though. You simply have to make more mindful choices and plan a little in advance. Here are four tips to eat and stay healthy when you’re out dining by yourself, or with friends and loved ones.
Look for Healthy Alternatives
Look for healthy dishes and recipes. For example, you are less likely to overload on calories if you opt for a vegan restaurant Boulder or a sushi bar. When you want your meat, look for lean cuts, and grilled, poached, or steamed recipes instead of deep-fried. Anything that says sauteed, fried, pan-fried, crispy, crunchy etc., will usually have a much higher calorie count. Ask if you can get healthy substitutes in your meal. Also, check if you can have sauces and dressings on the side. This can help you control the amount you eat, since these food categories are usually sneakily high calorie.
Eat Slowly and Chew Your Food
Eating slowly lets you eat much more mindfully, such that you take the opportunity to recognize and appreciate the flavor, texture, and taste of your food. Eating slowly also allows your brain to process the signals of feeling full, which stops you from overeating. Similarly, chewing your food much more before gulping it down allows you to feel full faster. It also helps with digestion. Eating slowly also allows you to focus more on the conversation and be better company.
Plan in Advance
If you know you’re going out for a meal, make plans to choose a healthier place and book in advance if it needs a reservation. You can also check out the online menu in advance. See if they offer soups and salads. Both soups and salads help you prevent eating a high-calorie main course. Also, having a healthy mini-snack or a protein bar before you head out not only makes you feel more energetic and enthusiastic for your evening out, but it can also help stave off overeating. If you walk into a restaurant on an empty stomach, you’re much more likely to be affected by the heavenly aromas of rich food being cooked and order a calorie-rich meal and dessert.
Drink Water/Low-Calorie Fluids
Make sure you sip your water at regular intervals. Often, we can mistake thirst for hunger pangs. Sipping water will help you feel less tempted to order high-calorie or carbonated drinks that cause an immediate sugar spike. Water helps you feel full faster and limits your alcohol intake. In the same vein, opt for a cup of coffee after the meal, instead of a rich dessert.
Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to kill your taste buds. Keep these tips in mind the next time you dine out and stay healthy and satiated!