Choosing food when eating out in restaurants can be a minefield. The array of dishes on offer can often contain unfamiliar ingredients and terminology. This leads to many opting for ‘safe’ choices such as salads or simple dishes. Unfortunately this often reduces the enjoyment of a meal out and may actually be poorer choices. These choices can leave us unsatisfied or not be nutrient dense enough to meet our dietary needs. The effect of this can often lead to even poorer nutrition choices a few hours later when trying to fulfill cravings. This is easily avoidable and healthy restaurant choices can be stress free, here’s how…
Quick Tip 1: Green is Go
Generally speaking where healthy eating is concerned anything green is good for you. Ingredients such as spinach, green peppers, avocado, kale, Edamame, Seaweed, Broccoli or Green Beans are all great choices. When reading a menu, read all of the meal not just the title. Think of a meal as having the main ingredient as the headline and the accompanying ingredients as the good bit, the content. Ensuring the dish you order is bulked out with green ingredients will see you with a nutrient full, healthy plate in front of you.
Quick tip 2: Choose a protein packed starter
One of the most common problems within most people’s diets, not just eating in restaurants, is under indexing on protein. Many may think this is purely for those looking to build muscle. This isn’t the case. Protein also helps digestion, hormone balance and bone strength. Battle Oats have a great post on the benefits of protein.
When dining out portions are often no the size we are used to, especially where the protein element is concerned. An easy way to get around this is to order a protein dominant starter. This can take the form of anything but some examples are muscles, chicken skewers or beef carpaccio.
Quick tip 4: Read the menu
Not only does this tie into quick tip 1, but also before sitting down. Not many people will leave a restaurant once seated if they then don’t like the look of the menu. The last situation you want to find yourself in is choosing between the best of bad choices. This is why it is important to scan the menu before sitting down. Try to think about the points above and look at the quality of meals available.
If you know where you are going, have a scan before leaving the house. This will allow you to make a confident choice upon arrival and not be distracted by other items. In addition, if you are browsing in the street, if you don’t like what you see you can simply move onto the next restaurant.
Quick tip 5: Always order water
The importance and benefits of water are pretty clear to most people. However, when eating out, to make healthy restaurant choices keeping your glass of water topped up is key. I’m not saying order only water, just get a jug for the table alongside other drinks and sip on it regularly.
Keeping your glass full of water will help you digest food. Not only this but we often think we’re hungry when in fact we are thirsty. Sipping on water will stop you making impulsive choices and over eating. Water will allow you to feel satisfied and allow you to enjoy your meal more, as well as all of the standard benefits water has.
Enjoy your meal and have confidence in your choices
So there we have it. Five simple tips that may help you make confident and healthy restaurant choices next time you are out. Above all remember to enjoy yourself. Real food is always better than junk food as I explain here, so restaurant food will normally be better than fast food.
If you have experience of eating healthy restaurant food, add the, to the comments below. What are your experiences?