Anyone who knows me, or has followed along here for a while, knows that I encourage finding balance, whether it’s nutritious meals, exercise, or wellness practices.
Balance for me means enjoying one of my favorite meals that are maybe not-so-nutritious at a restaurant or friend’s house once a week, mostly because I look at it from an inflammation perspective and want to keep that low in my body.
And while I’m perfectly fine enjoying that meal once a week, what happens if you need to go out to eat a few times that week? You have people come into town, you’re meeting someone for business, you have a few different times setup to meet with friends.
It happens, so I want to share my top 10 tips for eating healthy while at a restaurant to help you when you need it.
1. Offer to choose the restaurant
One of my favorite ways to have a little bit more of a say in the restaurant choice is to offer to choose a restaurant and book a table for us.
I’ll give everyone 2-3 options to choose from, something I know has healthy food options, and then book a table for us.
If you’re not able to choose the restaurant, there are still plenty of options to choose from below to help you stay on track.
2. Look at the menu before going
Something that happens often is you’ll get to a restaurant, you’ll start talking, and you won’t have time to mindfully make a decision about what you’re going to eat. The waiter/waitress comes over and you quickly scan the menu and blurt something out because you ran out of time.
Before this happens, try finding the menu online and having a look at it, and deciding what you want before you go out to eat. A lot of times if the restaurant doesn’t have a main dish that I like, I’ll order a bunch of sides that are healthy and nutritious and skip the “main dish” options on the menu.
3. Have a healthy snack before you leave
It’s harder to make healthier choices when you’re really hungry, so try having a snack before you go, such as carrots and cucumber with hummus or apples and almond butter to take off the edge.
4. Watch for Wording
There are a few keywords that you can look for on the menu so you know what to avoid, such as:
And instead look for words like:
5. Share with someone else
Sometimes the portions can be so large at restaurants, so to prevent overeating, try sharing your meal with someone else at the table.
If no one is wanting to split a meal, ask them if they could split your meal in half and box up the rest for you before bringing it out to eat. You can save the rest as leftovers.
6. Order before everyone else
Without even realizing it, someone else’s food choice can oftentimes influence our own. They order something and we immediately change our minds about what we’re going to order now.
If you’re most likely going to be with people that will order food you’re not wanting to have, sit closer to the edge of the table where the waiter/waitress will start with orders, and put yours in first.
You could also share out loud what you’re going to eat as everyone is talking about it. When you say it out loud, you hold yourself more accountable.
7. Ask to double the vegetables
Most restaurants don’t make vegetables the main portion of the meal (which they should be), so it doesn’t hurt to ask if they’d be able to double the vegetable portion for you and offer to pay for the extra portion. Most of the time you won’t be charged extra, but even if you are, it won’t be much extra and you’ll know you’re filling your body with needed nutrients.
8. Ask to make a healthy swap
Nowadays, most restaurants are used to having to make healthy swaps for people’s needs, such as dairy-free and gluten-free, so try asking if they’d be willing to make a healthy swap, if you need it, in your meal.
You could also ask if they’d be willing to swap out part of your meal, such as French fries, for a larger side salad. Most restaurants are happy to make the changes for you.
9. Ask for sauces or dressing on the side
One of the quickest ways to ruin a healthy meal is by adding sauces and dressing that has hidden sugar and a lot of additional calories to your meal.
Simply ask for them to put the sauce or dressing on the side, and you can lightly dip your food into it if you want to, instead of covering your meal with it.
10. Skip the breadbasket
I know. Easier said than done, but if you’ve already eaten out that week and enjoyed the breadbasket at your other meal, you can simply ask that they don’t bring out the breadbasket this time.
If everyone else at your table wants the breadbasket, ask for a tea to sip on so you have something else as an option.
My best and final tip is that you remind yourself that there are always ways to problem solve whatever it is that comes up so you can stay on track with your health.
If you found this post helpful, I’d love for you to pass it along to someone else you think might enjoy reading it as well!
Forever in your corner,