As a long-time foodie and a newly accomplished Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, I’ve been working hard to strike a balance between trying all the new amazing restaurants that open up and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It’s hard… I know it from lots of personal experience!
Eating out and eating healthy rarely go hand-in-hand. Beyond common sense, there are some tricks I’ve discovered to make sure I don’t deprive myself of some occasional restaurant splurges.
Do your research
Most restaurant menus are available on-line… do your homework before you go and then you can sit back, relax and enjoy your night out without worrying about going overboard or making poor choices.
Pretend you’re gluten-sensitive!
Even if you’re not! Most restaurants will respect your wishes to skip the bread basket. Although it might be tempting to try, often times, and the bread is just mediocre — but we will eat it because we’re hungry and also just because it’s there! It’s easy to forego–give it a try… it will save you lots of room to enjoy your meal.
Order only from the left side of the menu
Break tradition… skip the entree! Apps & small plates are usually featured on the left side or top of many menus. Choose from here, and you can feast on 2-3 small plates rather than just ordering a large entree.
Parlez vous Francais?
Familiarize yourself with some common cooking techniques and ingredients. This will give you a leg up when reading a menu: Sautee means it’s cooked quickly in lots of butter or hot fat, au gratin is often with breadcrumbs, butter & loaded with cheese, aioli is a rich garlicky mayonnaise, frito or frite means deep fried… kapeesh?
Prep your day
If you know you’re going out to dinner, eat lighter meals earlier in the day rather than your normal 3-egg breakfast and Subway lunch.
Give up your membership to the “Clean Plate Club”
Some people split their meal in half right when it arrives, and then ask for it to be wrapped up immediately. Some enjoy sharing an entree between 2 or 3 people. Think about how uncomfortable it is to have indigestion, bloating and gas–choose to really enjoy those first few bites–then pack it up and you can really enjoy it again tomorrow!
Don’t beat yourself up
If you over-did it a little, no worries! Take a long walk before heading home–shake off the guilt–then plan to have a light food day tomorrow to help balance things out. Negative self-talk doesn’t help you nor help keep you on track for your wellness goals. Bon Appetit!