Most of our social interactions revolve around food. We are always meeting up with our friends and family for a drink, breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Of course it is ideal if you have health-conscious friends that make this task easier, but it is not always the case. Plus, it is important to have certain flexibility around your eating habits so you enjoy yourself and don’t feel deprived. Here are my top tips on how to manage when eating out:
1. Check the menu before hand. I know, I know, geeky mode on, but trust me on this one. If you check the menu before, you can take the time to scan through the healthiest options available and have your decision made before going. Sometimes we get caught up in a conversation once we are there and don’t have the time to make the best choice available.
2. Ask for water and drink a glass before your meal. Water keeps you hydrated and you’ll make sure that you are not thirsty while you are eating. Often times we tend to overeat if we are dehydrated. Skip the fancy drinks and save in cash and empty calories.
3. Skip the fries and ask for veggies as a side dish. Even if you order something that has fries as a side, ask if they can be substituted for boiled or grilled veggies or a fresh green salad. You’ll pump up the nutrient density of your plate and lower the amount of fried foods of your meal. If you are having a salad, ask for olive oil as a dressing or ask for the dressing on the side since the amount they put on it is usually too much.
4. Share your food. Check in with yourself, how hungry are you? If you are really hungry and need the nourishment, go ahead. If you are not so hungry, why not share an entrée with a friend? Perhaps this way you can both split a salad and another dish. Also, don’t be afraid to leave food on your plate, just ask the waiter to prepare it to take home (yay! food for another meal without having to cook).
5. Skip dessert (or at least share). I know, you did not want to read this one. Unless the restaurant is more health-conscious, I do not recommend having dessert since you do not know what ingredients are in it. You can either: a) pledge to yourself “I’m not having dessert and do not look at the dessert menu” or b) it is your “treat time of the week” and decide to share it with one of your friends. Another recommendation? Skip the whipped cream.
Ok, I can’t resist, I’ll give you a bonus: make sure you propose a restaurant that you feel comfortable going to every once in a while. You might be surprised about how your friends and family actually react and enjoy themselves. They will quite probably love it! After all, healthy does in no way equal boring.
I hope you find these ideas useful, and most importantly: enjoy yourself. Often times we put too much pressure on ourselves on “eating healthy” or “staying within certain dietary guidelines” and don’t enjoy the present moment with the company we are with. If you do go a bit over from what you would’ve liked, it’s ok. Breath in, breath out. It’s OK. Just eat a little lighter the next day or meal, tune into your body and respect when you body is hungry and when it is not. In the end, it is key that you don’t feel deprived, limited or unhappy. Food is key for life, so have fun with it always!
Written by Irene Alda