It's great to be able to get excited about going out to eat again now restaurants have reopened, rather than having to cook for yourself every evening. If you are on a health-kick, however, trying to navigate mouth-watering menus can be really daunting. In this month’s article I'm sharing my top tips for healthy eating out.
1. Check the menu in advance
Find out what is on the menu before you go – failing to prepare is preparing to fail!
2. Fill yourself up with the good stuff
Have a healthy snack before you go out (eg an apple and some nuts) so you don’t arrive starving. Avoid breads, prawn crackers or anything similar when you're there and nibble on olives instead.
3. 1,2 or 3-course meal?
Have a starter and a main course, or just a main, (you could even order two starters instead of a main course) and replace dessert with a coffee. If you really want something sweet, share a pudding rather than eating a whole one. Try to stick to just one glass of good quality wine and remember to drink plenty of water.
4. Watch out for hidden sugar
When ordering food, be aware of sauces, pickles and dips as they are often a source of hidden sugars. Ask for sauces and dressings to be served separately.
5. Always order vegetables
Make sure you order a side of vegetables and/or a salad with your main course or ask to substitute chips/potatoes for vegetables and/or a salad.
6. Foods and drinks to avoid
Fried foods; sweet and sour dishes; rice (or share some); noodles; burgers; fries; potato dishes; bread; naans; chapattis; prawn crackers; milkshakes; fizzy drinks.
7. Best Oriental, Indian, French and Italian food choices
Oriental and Indian: sashimi; fish or chicken teriyaki; tom yum soup; Thai fishcakes (avoid the sweet chilli sauce); coconut-based Thai curries; Indian tikkas; fish or chicken satay; tofu-based dishes; chana masala; dhal; stir-fry dishes.
French and Italian: fish, chicken, meat or vegetarian-based meals with vegetables and/or side salad; king prawns in chilli, garlic and tomato sauce; soup; garlic mushrooms; salad (avoid sugary salad dressings), starter pasta portion with a large salad.
8. You are in charge of what goes in your mouth, not your waiter or fellow diners
Checking out the menu in advance will help you overcome any feelings of being anti-social. Have an idea of what you are going to eat beforehand and ensure you feel comfortable with it, in order to bypass any awkwardness at the table. If you feel the issue lies in being ‘out of control’ around food, remind yourself of your health goals and consider whether your food choices are worth it (they may well be and that is OK: enjoy the food!).
9. Choose as wisely as you can
It may sometimes feel impossible to pick a truly healthy option when eating out, so just choose as wisely as you can. It is better to eat less-than-perfect food than nothing at all.
10. Drop the guilt
Do not feel guilty if things do not go according to plan: simply savour the moment. Tomorrow is always an opportunity to start afresh and get back on track.
Christelle is a Registered Nutritionist specialising in weight loss, energy, and blood sugar management. She is running an online 21-day ‘Summer Sizzler’ nutrition/meal plan and Pilates group programme starting on 14 June 2021. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to add your name to the waiting list. Need some personalised help with your health? Visit www.keepcalmnutrition.co.uk to book your complimentary Health Transformation call.