A Healthy Guide to Eating Out

When the Christmas season hits your oven goes into hibernation as you spend 80% of your time eating out and celebrating with friends over the party season, and although a hearty meal may sound comforting in these cold months, your waistline may not be loving it. But, there is no need to cancel all of your plans just because you're trying to eat well, there are a few tips and tricks you can follow to ensure that you choose the healthier option at the restaurant without sacrificing taste and your social life. 

Check the menu before you go 

This may seem way over prepared for you, but I do this everytime I'm going somewhere without fail. Most restaurants have a website with a link to their menu so check it out beforehand, this way you can be prepared and choose the healthier option in advance and if there are no healthy options, maybe see if you can go somewhere else....

Choose a restaurant with good quality food

If it's a good restaurant then the ingredients should be fresh and of an excellent quality, this means locally sourced food and nothing that can be thrown from the freezer straight into the oven. If a restaurant has quality food it will usually highlight where the food is sourced and the farms it uses. Check online and read reviews about the place before you go as to whether other people felt the food was fresh. Maybe checkout your local farm restaurant or pub that sources from the farm next door. 

Work out the rest of your day 

Now you've got your restaurant sorted and your meal in place it's time to plan the rest of your day around it. If you don't mind being more lenient then don't worry about this step, but if you are being stricter about your diet it will come in handy. If you know there are a certain amount of calories, fats, carbohydrates etc in your meal, make sure you cut down the rest of the day to make up for it. For example, if you know you're going for an Italian, it might be a good idea to drop your carbohydrate intake beforehand, stick to higher fat and protein meals. 

Tailor your meal 

Don't feel bad about adjusting the meal to suit your needs because at the end of the day you're the one paying for it, plus if it is fresh food it shouldn't be a problem anyway. Now if you're on a really strict diet sure you can ask for plain chicken with vegetables but most people won't need that. Instead, if you want less carbs then swap your side of potatoes for a salad or extra vegetables, if the sauce on the meal has lots of salt/sugar, ask for a reduced amount or a pot of it separate so that you can add as you need. It's the little things...

Portion control  

A lot of restaurants are guilty of giving you portions way bigger than you need, and if you are trying to stick to a balanced diet, maybe you should avoid a buffet. But just eat until you're full and ask for the rest of your meal to take home or give it to a friend. The great thing about eating out is that you usually eat slower because you're busy talking at the same time. This gives your stomach time to register what you're eating and how much your eating so you will probably eat less and become full quicker than if you were scoffing down a meal in front of the tv. 

Just enjoy yourself 

All of these points are ways to adjust your meal to make it healthier, but the most important point is that you should have a healthy relationship with food. Each point allows you to enjoy what you want without over indulging and that's the main point to take from this. Eating out is a great way to socialise, enjoy fantastic food and relax instead of slaving over the stove, so enjoy the experience and if you want, indulge yourself a little.....moderation is key. 


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