I have a confession. I eat out. A lot. And when I say a lot, I mean that I probably eat two-thirds of my meals per week from restaurants. It’s not the healthiest choice, but it’s what best accommodates my life. My schedule is super busy and unpredictable (and okay, I’ll admit I’m not the best cook AND after a long day of running around LA, the last thing I want to do is make dinner…). Because of this, I am a master at staying healthy while eating out. I have to be, or else I would weigh 500 pounds. So if you live a similar life or just want some tips for how to make healthy choices while eating out, follow the 5 tips I’ve provided below and you’ll be feeling awesome!
1. Drink Wisely! It can be tempting to indulge in sodas, cocktails, milkshakes, or other high-calorie beverages when eating out. But it’s wise to stay away from the fountain beverages and fruity cocktails as they are loaded with calories, sugar, as well as some nasty chemicals you probably don’t want in your body. A medium Coke contains a whopping 182 calories AND 44 grams of sugar. And chances are you’ll end up with a refill at some point during the evening. I usually order water with lemon, sparkling water, or an unsweetened iced tea when I’m at a restaurant. That way I can drink all I want without the extra calories or sugar crash!
2. Skip the bread. Many restaurants provide you with complimentary bread and butter. And while that warm sourdough and melted butter is remarkably enticing, it’s best to stay away. Because let’s be serious, once you take one bite, you’re probably on your way to finishing the whole basket (been there, done that). Plus, bread is loaded with refined carbohydrates and provides little nutritional value. AND chances are you’ll end up full before your meal even comes out!
3. Order “On The Side…” Restaurants tend to be overly gracious with their sauces, condiments, and dressings. And while that is very kind of them, it might not be so kind to your waistline. Order your dressing or sauce on the side and you’ll be surprised how little you actually need to add flavor to your meal. If I get a salad, I prefer to dip my fork in my dressing instead of glopping it all over my veggies. It’s a great way to be conscious of your condiment consumption.
4. Eat Slowly and Consciously. These are two of the hardest things for me. If you’ve been waiting for your meal for awhile and the waiter FINALLY brings out your tacos after what seems like forever, it’s easy to jump in and start shoveling food into your mouth. Plus, chances are you’re at a restaurant with someone and that if you are, in fact, eating with someone, you’re probably talking to them. AKA NOT focusing on your food. Slow down and be conscious of your food. I’m not saying to ignore your date, but try to be aware of how much you’re eating and the rate at which you’re eating it. Eating fast while distracted leads to over-eating.
5. Control Your Portions. I’m going to be real with you. Most (if not all) restaurants over-serve. Their portions are GIGANTIC. And assuming you’re not Michael Phelps, burning 10,000 calories a day, chances are the plate in front of you contains more food than your body needs. It’s easy (and often just feels “right”) to clear your plate. Be conscious of the portion size you’re being given. Box up part of your meal and enjoy the leftovers for lunch the next day. It’s a win-win!