Sticking to your new diet while out at a restaurant can certainly be challenging, especially if your friends are indulging. Clients of mine have expressed that they sometimes feel insecure about coming across as uptight when ordering very healthy food around a date. And, even family can be persuasive about sharing an indulgent meal. Standing your ground may seem difficult as first, but eventually it will be automatic and those around you will be used to it. Perhaps your friends will even be inspired by your dedication and start eating healthier as well.
Here are some tips on how to stick to being healthy at a restaurant:
- Learn to say, “No, thanks.” When your date or friends protest, just ignore them and change the topic. Do not feel the need to explain why you are ordering your salad and/ or a side of veggies. If want to partake a little bit in the indulging, have a French fry or two, but do it because you want to.
- Sharing should be avoided unless you can agree on a dish. If you don’t want to share, smile and just say you’d like to order for yourself. If you do want to share, give your companion/s a few different options of healthy dishes you would order.
- Look at the menu ahead of time, while you aren’t hungry. Decide what you want to eat while you are home. Basically, just pick out the healthiest option and order it once you get to the restaurant. If you choose what you want to eat while you are starving, it is difficult to avoid indulging.
- Go for the grilled fish, chicken or lean meat.If you are vegetarian, you may fear that pasta and rice-based mains may be your only choice. This is not true. If there is no plant-based, vegetarian main dish such as a vegetable curry, stir-fry or a minestrone soup, ask the waiter or chef if they can make prepare a large salad for you. Otherwise, order a variety of vegetable sides.
- Get rid of that bread plate! Others may want to eat bread, so you don’t want to prevent it from being put on the table, but you can ask for your bread plate to be removed once you sit down. You can also have everyone take from the bread basket and then have the waiter take it away.
- Start out with a salad. The first thing to look at on a restaurant menu is the salad selection. If there are limited salad options, look at the vegetable side options. Usually, you can find steamed veggies to enjoy before or with your main meal. Having some green before your main meal will facilitate digestion and prevent you from over-
- Avoid anything fried. Go for whatever is grilled and steamed instead. Those are the healthier cooking methods.
- Stay clear of starches such as rice and potatoes at night. Order extra veggies instead.
- Order dressings and sauces on the side. Choose olive oil and balsamic-based dressings as opposed to mayonnaise-based dressings. Simply drizzling lemon on top will boost the flavor.
- Avoid drinking with your food. Enjoy 2 glasses of water 20 minutes before your main meal. This will also help to keep you feeling full and prevent you from over eating. Do not drink with your meal. Liquid dilutes the digestive enzymes.
- Have a protein-rich snack prior to eating out. This will keep your blood sugars stable and prevent you from over-eating the wrong foods at the restaurant. Options include a boiled egg or a hand full of nuts of seeds.
- Never consume more than two alcoholic beverages. If you can avoid drinking altogether or just have one glass of wine, then do that instead. Alcohol will cause you to have less control over your choices and can trigger cravings as well, since it depletes your body of nutrients. Order a wine spritzer instead of getting two full glasses of wine. Red or white wine are definitely the healthiest choices. Stay clear of cocktails, which can be incredibly high in sugar.
Remember, you will be happiest making the decisions that will give you the least guilt afterwards. And, a good partner and true friends will be supportive of that. You will also be able to have a more beneficial relationship with them when your feel best about yourself and don’t feel they pushed you into anything.